Seven Quick Takes Vol. 18



Well I started my weekend off by tripping off my front step, twisting my ankle and landing in the grass. Fortunately it’s not sprained or broken, but it’s turning some interesting colors and I’ve got ice on it. So good thing I walked a lot this week so I can sort of take it easy on the poor foot tonight.

When I fell off the step, I was wishing there was a Willoughby near by to help out, but, like a true 21st century woman, I made it to my car and drove over to my parents’ for dinner. Such lack of romance in my world!


I have almost finished unpacking from NYC–a few things left in the suitcase, and some laundry items. But now it’s time to start talking Orlando packing! I’ve got the beach bag packed with my suit, towel, and a full sunscreen arsenal, bien sur! Next is packing a bag with the maps, reservation confirmations, Guide Books and other navigation and logistical items. And, of course, lots of books have to come. I mean, what’s the good of lounging by the pool sans books? Never! I’m thinking about bringing some Big Books to re-read.


Speaking of re-reading, it’s time for the Annual Jane Re-Read! Every Summer, Starting Memorial Day Weekend, I re-read all of Jane. I’ve gotten a head start this year, in that I’ve already read Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, so Pride and Prejudice is up next. I’ve also got the books I bought in NYC–Extra Virginity, French Provincial Cooking, and a few others.


Rejoicing in the long weekend with a lot of reading, music, writing, and Les Miz auditions on Sunday. I’ll let you know when I know. First rehearsal is next Wednesday.


So this is what next week looks like: Monday off; Wednesday first Les Miz rehearsal; Saturday off to Orlando. Wowza. So I’m hoping to get a lot of packing done this weekend, as well as cleaning. I also want to do some cooking, since I just got back from a restocking trip at the grocery.


Hopefully, my ankle will just be fun colors, since I have to workout this week to continue prep for Orlando. I don’t want all my NYC prep work to go to waste! I’ve got a pretty good plan of treadmill work + cardio circuits for this next week. Sadly, swimming is out, because it’ll only be in the 60s here. It is almost never warm on Memorial Day, and that’s when pools open around here.


A blog keeping note: I write a regular column for the Catholic Women’s website Suscipio. I’ve included a link to the website, and all my columns, under the “writing” tab above. So check it out. 🙂

NYC sources and links

This is a compilation of all the places we visited, in case you decide you want to, as well. 🙂 I’ve tried to note the general location in town, but the websites provide much more detail than I can.


Vive La Crepe (several NYC locations, we went to the Upper West Side one)

Eataly (7 restaurants, 200 Fifth Avenue)

Petrie Court Cafe and Wine Bar (at the Met)

Ellen’s Stardust Diner (Midtown/Times Square)

Bombolini (Upper West Side)



Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue)



Central Park



Eataly (food stuffs, book store, home wares, totes and tees)

Met Opera Shop (at the Metropolitan Opera)

Metropolitan Museum Store 

The Strand Bookstore  (Corner of 12th and Broadway; used, new and rare books)



Once the Musical  (Tues-Sun, dark on Monday, W matinee and evening performances. Curtain 7:00 PM, pre-show 6:30.)

Bernard Jacobs Theater (Theater District)

Metropolitan Opera (Upper West Side)


NYC Trip Diary No. 7

Wednesday morning

Wednesdays morning began with doughtnuts. But not just any doughtnuts. Doughnuts from Bombolini.

(They don’t have a working website at this moment, apparently…so no link, sorry!)

These are little pieces of perfection. They’re not really doughnuts, they’re more like creme puffs. My Aunt brought back four of them: nutella, lemon creme, raspberry and s’mores. I very much wanted to eat all of them, but I confined myself to the first two. They were so, so delicious. And eating them overlooking a great vista of NYC? Basically perfection.

We decided to hang out at the apartment before I left at 12:45 for my flight. While my aunt worked out and showered I finished packing and then read her copy of The Devil Wears Prada, which I’d never read, even though I love the movie. The book is very funny. While traveling I also polished off Return of the Native and Italian Food (the book I bought at Eataly).

For lunch we ordered Indian food–I was glad to see that Indian food does indeed come with a ton of sauce, so I haven’t been making it wrong all these years. 🙂

After that, it was time to, sadly, leave. My aunt hailed me a cab and I headed for JFK.

Now, this cabbie has a death wish. I swear it. Now, I’m normally OK with cabbies doing their crazy thing, but this one was a LOT crazier than usual. We almost wrecked about six times, and I mean, literally, like, 2 centimeters from the bumper. Scary. And he didn’t turn on the meter. Again, weird.

So we got to JFK and then he’s trying to figure out my fare, because he didn’t turn on the meter. Sigh.

We figure it out. I pay him, and head to the curbside baggage check. The guy takes so long I think hes absconded with my ticket and my ID, but he does, eventually come back. I worry my luggage won’t make it to CMH.

I go through security and then begin the five thousand year march to the American Airlines terminal. When I get there, I am in desperate need of sugar and Gatorade, which I procure, because JFK is as hot as the fifth circle of Hell.

And at my gate, there are no. seats.

I don’t mean like the seats are taken. I mean there are no seats for “non handicapped” passengers. There are seats at all the other gates, but not this one. I’m over an hour early, so I sit at another terminal and read Beautiful Ruins until it gets closer to my time. Then I sit against a pillar.

JFK’s AA gates are very disorganized. They call us all up–not in groups, like they’re supposed to, but in a cattle call sort of thing. They’re late. We then sit forever on the runway–about 30 minutes, but apparently we make up time in the air, because we land on time.

I was so glad to be in CMH, in an airport I knew and where everyone was nice, unlike certain people at certain AA terminals in certain cities.

And with that, I was home.

NYC Trip Diary No. 6–Once

After the Met, we went back to the apartment and Jack came to meet me. It was time for dinner and Once!

For dinner, we headed to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, in Times Square. The waitstaff are all aspiring Broadway actors, so they perform during the meal, singing all sorts of songs from “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” to the Confrontation Scene from Les Miserables. (Which also involved throwing straws at each other, a nice touch.) It was REALLY loud, but also really fun. However, you do not come here if you wanted to have a conversation with the people you’re eating with that evening!


The singing waitstaff, doing a Whitney Houston number.

The singing waitstaff, doing a Whitney Houston number.

Our waiter was a great singer (of course), and the food was surprisingly really good. I’d heard you really didn’t go here for the food, you went for the entertainment, but my burger was perfectly cooked, and it came with waffle fries, which are always fun.

Since the curtain for Once is at 7–an hour earlier than most Broadway shows–we had to sort of hustle our dinner, otherwise I would have wanted to try some dessert! The theater where the show plays (The Bernard Jacobs) is only about 1/2 mile from the diner, through Times Square.

Once is a show you want to be early for, because at 6:30, the cast comes on stage and serves drinks and warms up with some great tunes. The actor who plays Da (David Patrick Kelley) came over to us during the pre-show and it was awesome. I will love him forever. 🙂 (He’s a great actor, but he also seemed really sweet.) Eventually the stage hands clear the set while the cast continues to play, and the actor playing Guy (Arthur Darvil, probably best know for Dr. Who) gradually starts the first song of the show, “Leave.” It was such a great way to start a show–the lights gradually went down, an d the show began.

Outside the theater

Outside the theater

The show is unusual in a lot of respects. You really have to see it to get it, and love it. First, the actors are the orchestra, but since this show is about a song writer and a pianist, it works perfectly, and not just as a gimmick (as seen in versions of “Sweeney Todd” where they do this, or “Company”). So the cast members are always onstage, with their variety of instruments. Some of them play upwards of five instruments! (I play two. Five is like, wow.) The Girl (Joanna Christie, Mr. Selfridge) enters through the auditorium and comes up on stage while Guy is singing.

Arthur Darvill (Guy) and Joanna Christie (Girl) in "Once"

Arthur Darvill (Guy) and Joanna Christie (Girl) in “Once”

The book is what really makes this show come alive. The music is seamlessly woven in to the book and the action, and the actors are fantastic, top to bottom. It’s hard to describe how great this show is. It’s not sad, but it’s wistful–in the end, Guy and Girl do the right things, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some pain involved. It’s now my new favorite show, and you must see it. It’s so unique and truly special.

The only teeny note I had was that someone needs to teach Ms. Christie to use her diaphragm to breathe. She was using her upper chest a lot, and that should not be moving, so it was sort of irritating. But she does have a lovely voice, as does Mr. Darvil, who has an incredible emotional range.

Anyway, get thee to this show.

Post show

Post show

Jack and I had a great time, even buying matching Once shirts (Well, OK, his is the guy’s version, and mine’s the girl’s crewneck, but whatever.)

We got back around 9:45, and Jack still had homework. And I had to pack. Sadly.


NYC Trip Diary No. 5 (AKA The Big Art Post)

Tuesday Afternoon
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Love the Met. This was my third visit and I think that after two or three more visits I’ll at least have been in all the galleries. 🙂 
Medieval Gallery

Medieval Gallery

We had a wonderful lunch at the Petrie Court Cafe, which overlooks Central Park and the Petrie Sculpture Court. 
View from the Petrie Cafe

View from the Petrie Cafe

I had a delicious piece of salmon on a quinoa salad, which I’d never had before (quinoa, I mean) and it was really good. The cafe is very elegant, with turn of the 20th century chairs and tables, and an excellent waitstaff. We really enjoyed our meal here.

The Petrie Sculpture Court, outside the cafe

The Petrie Sculpture Court, outside the cafe

We saw a lot of galleries, including the Lehman collection, photography, Medieval art, European Sculpture and painting, and special exhibit entitled “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity.” Sadly, I couldn’t take photos there, but here are photos of my other favorite pieces that we saw:

"St. Christopher Carries the Infant Christ"

“St. Christopher Carries the Infant Christ”

Mary and the Infant Jesus. One of my patrons, St. Catherine of Alexandria, is on the far right.

Mary and the Infant Jesus. One of my patrons, St. Catherine of Alexandria, is on the far right.

El Greco, "Christ Carrying the Cross"

El Greco, “Christ Carrying the Cross”

One of my favorite paintings, from the Lehman collection. Ingres, "Princess de Brogile"

One of my favorite paintings, from the Lehman collection. Ingres, “Princess de Brogile”

Renoir, "Two Girls at the Piano"

Renoir, “Two Girls at the Piano”

In the Medieval Gallery

In the Medieval Gallery

Rodin, "Martyr"

Rodin, “Martyr”

Rodin, "Adam"

Rodin, “Adam”

Filippio Tarchiani, "St. Dominic in Penitence"

Filippio Tarchiani, “St. Dominic in Penitence”

"The Dormition of Mary"

“The Dormition of Mary”

Cupid and Venus

Cupid and Venus

On the roof of the Met

On the roof of the Met

NYC Trip Diary No. 4–The Jeopardy audition

OK I fully realize this is the one most of you want to read. 🙂 So here we go.

I got up at 7:30, got dressed, had breakfast, and took a cab to the Hotel on Broadway. It was a few blocks north of where Aunt Mary lives and I didn’t want to arrive all gross from the walk. 🙂 As I got there, a little girl scootered into the lobby and right into the elevator. She was very Eloise-ish.

The audition was in two conference rooms. We had our picture taken and stapled to our audition forms. There were about 20 people, evenly split between men and women. Most of the people were 40s+ but there were a few folks my age, which was nice, including a guy from Pittsburgh and two from D.C.

The audition is broken into three parts: first the written test, then the “play round”, where you get a game board, use a buzzer, and answer in the form of a question with two other people. Then the interview, which happened in front of everyone and was immediately after your game was played.

The written test was first, and has the biggest impact on your overall score. There were 50 questions. I think I got about 44 of them right, so I felt confident in my answers there. There were a good amount of lit and history questions so I was happy about that. I know I missed the one physics and one chem question. The two people running the addition–who were really fun, by the way–took the papers and graded them as we waited.

After they graded them, it was time for the round. They called up three people at a time and about 10-12 questions were asked. Then each player was interviews, partially based on what they wrote on their audition form (the “five interesting things about you” part), and then what we would do with the money.

I got called up near the end. There was a category of Tennessee Williams plays, which was great, especially since I just auditioned for Streetcar a few months ago. The people loved my voice, so there, all you people who don’t (bwahahaha), and I think I did really well. 

After the audition, the woman asked me if I would need any accommodations if I was selected to play. I said I probably couldn’t do video or music clues, unless the music clues were classical music, in which case I’d be OK. She was really friendly.

So here’s how it goes: If you get a certain score, you go into the contestant pool for eighteen months. About 400 people are called to be new contestants during the season. You may or may not get called, even if you get a high score and are in the pool. So luck does have something to do with it. About 1,000 people–out of the 100,000 who take the adult test–make it to this round.

So now I wait and see what happens. But it was a lot of fun and I thought I did well.

After the audition I took a cab back to Aunt Mary’s, and we headed for one of my favorite NYC places–the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NYC Trip Diary No. 3

Monday evening

Jack got home from school around five, and I persuaded him to visit the Metropolitan Opera shop with me.

Now, you have to understand, I have a deep and abiding love of the Met. When I first started voice lessons, I didn’t care much for opera. But as I’ve matured and learned more about the art form and the voice, I’ve come to love it. That doesn’t mean all operas are my cup of tea (because they’re not), but I love the Met and the productions it puts on. Originally, it was Renee Fleming’s recordings that brought me into opera, but now I have so many favorite singers and productions it’s hard to keep them straight!

So, I had to visit the Met. Ideally, I want to visit there and see a performance, but American Ballet Theater had started their summer season at the Met, so I was denied that (although I love ballet as well–that night’s performance of Onegin looked well sold, probably sold out.) However, the Met shop was open, so Jack and I headed over.

In front of the Met

In front of the Met


I was thrilled when I saw one of Joyce DidDonato’s costumes from Maria Stuarda on display in the shop.

Maria Stuarda costume

Maria Stuarda costume

The shop is amazing–DVDs and CDs of opera and ballet, clothes, jewelry, opera souvenirs…it’s a magical place for opera lovers.

Caruso in Il Trovatore at the Met in 1906

Caruso in Il Trovatore at the Met in 1908-1909

Outside the Met

Outside the Met

I loved getting to see the fountain that’s played a part in many of my favorite movies, including Black Swan and Moonstruck. 

Afterwards, we headed back to the apartment and had a great Greek meze platter that my aunt and uncle had made. Their dining room has a great view of not only the Met and Lincoln Center but cruise boats on the river. Sunset there is awesome.

After dinner I did some reading and talked to Jack–who also taught me to play chess ( I didn’t do tooooo terribly), and I went to bed early because Jeopardy! audition was in the morning. Gulp.


NYC Trip Diary No. 2

Monday Part I

In Central Park

In Central Park

Monday morning started off with a great trip to a local crepe spot, where I had a nutella crepe with orangina (A drink my aunt and I both love) at Vive La Crepe. It was a really pretty morning. After breakfast we headed over to Central Park and walked around the west side of the park, near the baseball fields and Tavern on the Green, which was being extensively renovated.

After that, we headed south for lunch at Eataly. If youy haven’t been there, and you love Italian food, you MUST go. It’s like food nirvana.

Lunch at Eataly

Lunch at Eataly

Aunt Mary and I ate at La Pizza & Pasta. We both chose pasta dishes–I had pasta, and she had an amazing ravioli with peas and pecorino cheese as the filling.

Ham and cheese, Eataly style

Ham and cheese, Eataly style

meu board at Eataly

menu board at Eataly

I bought some torrone (nougat, an Italian candy) for my dad, who loves it, and a book on Italian food by Elizabeth David, as well as a neat tote bag/grocery bah/shopper.

Next stop was one of my favorite NYC places: The Strand, “18 miles of books”. I had a lot of fun in here. 🙂 I got a new notebook, and several books, including a copy of Lorca plays, since I did one of his plays last spring. I just love that store and could spend, easily, hundreds of dollars in there (I didn’t, though). The staff is so helpful, too, which is always a plus in such a huge bookstore.

After our shopping we headed home, to wait for Jack to get back from school.

NYC Trip Diary No. 1

Or, a tale of one city, one midwestern girl, and the worst airport in history.

Part the first–Sunday

Dad and I got to the airport at 11, and after checking my bag and going through security, we had lunch at Columbus Brewing Company, which had amazingly good fish and chips.

My flight left Columbus at 1:00 and was supposed to land in NYC at 3:55. We were on the runway for about 15 minutes before we could take off, but we made up time in the air and landed almost on time.

It was rainy and humid in NYC, and JFK is the worst airport ever. First, the American Terminal is about five hundred light years away from the exit. You have to walk up two and half ramps, through the terminal, down people movers, up and down two escalators, and only then are you in the main section of the airport with ticketing, security, and directions to the baggage claim.

I retrieved my bag and headed out to the taxi stand, where I quickly got a taxi, which took me into NYC. The weather made the traffic pretty interesting, but I didn’t really care since I was in a cab.

My aunt lives on the Upper West Side, and the cabby dropped me off at her building, where a lovely doorman helped me with my bag. At the desk I told the concierge that I was a guest of my aunt’s and he directed me to the elevator.

The building is 40 stories and my aunt lives near the top; my ears actually popped in the elevator. There are two apartments on my aunt’s floor, so I found hers and rang the bell.

My Aunt and cousin were home, but they had to run out to go to Mass at the church next door since they had missed early Mass in Baltimore (they’d been there for the Preakness). So I had time to unpack and watch a bit of the movie Big Night via Netflix. (I’d always wanted to see this movie but hadn’t gotten around to it–Stanley Tucci’s cookbook really made me want to see it.)

My aunt and cousin got home around 6:30 and we ordered in Mexican empanadas, which I never had but were amazing. We spent the rest of the night talking and catching up since I hadn’t seen them in awhile. Around 9:30 or so we headed to bed since Jack (my cousin) had school in the morning. I finished Big Night, updated my journals, and turned in. The nice thing about being mostly deaf is that city noise doesn’t bother me (but we were also high up so it didn’t exactly get that loud up there.)

Movie review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

(As I said to my friend, Tiff, who also saw this with me–“It’s not Star Trek II. That’s Wrath of Khan!” I insist on Trek chronology, because I’m difficult.)

This movie blew me away. Really. I don’t want to say too much and ruin it for you guys, but let’s just say if you haven’t seen Wrath of Khan lately (or ever, and in that case, what is wrong with you?), seeing that before seeing this movie will enhance your enjoyment by about 1000%. I know it totally increased mine.

Also: There are tribbles!

Lots of tribbles

Lots of tribbles

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are once again a great team, although Spock was really in touch with his human side this film. Benedict Cumberbatch is a fantastic villain. Great pacing, music, cinematography and effects round out this latest Trek installment.

I so want to say more, but a lot of it is Trekkie speak (My dad is a total Trekkie. I watched a lot of Trek TV and film as a child.). And it’s opening weekend, I don’t want to ruin it for you. But here’s what you need to do:

  1. Watch The Wrath of Khan
  2. Watch Star Trek: Into Darkness

Feel overwhelmed. 

Live long and prosper.