Entries in family (3)

Sunday
Jul202014

Risk and Relaxation

Tour Eiffel in Paris (© 2014 Amber Drea)

Summer may be a time of relaxation for most people, but it's been the opposite for me. Between family visits, work deadlines, storytelling shows, literary readings and a European vacation, I've had little time for kicking back. It's the third week of July and I haven't even hit the beach yet! A travesty in and of itself. I supposed it's better to be busy than bored — though that's never a possibilty for me (see this Louis C.K. quote). In writing/storytelling news, I was featured on episode #539 of the Risk! podcast — titled "3 Women" — along with stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito and feminist sex educator Betty Dodson (my story starts at the 20:06 mark). I'm pleased with how the piece turned out, thanks to the directing skills of Risk! host Kevin Allison and sound design by Risk! audio editor Jeff Barr. I also performed at the July editions of No Name Super Storytellers at Word Up bookstore and the Lamprophonic reading series at Bar Thalia — check out photos here and here, respectively.

Mott Lake in North Carolina (© 2014 Amber Drea)I made my biannual pilgrimage to North Carolina to visit my mother in May. We celebrated my sister's 16th birthday, which featured ladder toss, hula hooping and an appearance by a baby pig named Lady Chubbington. We also visited the North Carolina Museum of Art, ate dinner at Poole's Downtown Diner (which serves the best mac & cheese on earth), took a walk through the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, kayaked at Mott Lake and played many rounds of Cards Against Humanity. 

Jeb at Stirling Castle in Scotland (© 2014 Amber Drea)In June, my husband, Jeb, and I met up in Paris for a week-long adventure that featured stints in England and Scotland. Highlights included viewing the full moon rise over the Eiffel Tower, watching comedian Stewart Lee at Soho Theatre in London, eating fresh local seafood at Cafe St Honore in Edinburgh and touring the Tullibardine distillery in Blackford. Detailed accounts of my dining and drinking experiences can be found at LobsterLover.me and NewYorkDrinkie.com

Gin & Tonics at the Beefeater distillery in London (© 2014 Amber Drea)

Following our return from Europe, my 10- and 12-year-old nephews came to stay with us in New York City for three days. I took them to a New York Yankees game (they lost), to a public pool on the Upper East Side (so many rules!), to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (beware of creepy guys who talk to themselves, then fall asleep and snore loudly) and to Brooklyn Bridge Park for the Macy's fireworks display (so many people!). Despite some crankiness ("How much farther to we have to walk?" / "I'm hot." / "I'm cold.") and questionable sportsmanship during a game of Monopoly Empire, they were impressively well-behaved. I almost can't wait until they visit again next year! (Yes, I can.)

Fireworks on the Brooklyn Bridge (© 2014 Amber Drea)

Saturday
May182013

Springtime Shows and Shenanigans

Cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (© 2013 Amber Drea)

Spring has been full of excitement. In April, my drinking-themed storytelling series, Another Round Storytelling, relaunched at LaunchPad in Crown Heights with comedian and performer John Flynn, host of "Oh, Hey Guys!" at UCBeast, and ginger-rum cookies from Spirited, a boozy bakery run by Kimberly Wetherell. This month's show on May 2nd featured Cammi Climaco of Ask Me Stories and Six x Six at the PIT, and June's edition will welcome the sexy storytelling of Jefferson, who hosts the Bare! and Spill! series. In addition, I'll be doing some storytelling of my own at Local Stories on Monday, May 20th, at Three of Cups in the East Village at 8:00 p.m. The theme is "elimination," and my tale will recount my breakup with religion. And on Thursday, May 30th, I'm reading a new piece of short fiction at Molasses Books in Bushwick alongside Ben Bush, Michael Thomsen, David Moscovich and Matthew Jent. Dubbed "Selfies: A Supergroup," the reading will deal with the concepts of image, self-consciousness and the individual in community. Stay posted on all my upcoming events here.

Blue heron sculpture at Ferran Park in Eustis, Florida (© 2013 Amber Drea)

On a personal note, I visited my uncle and cousins in Eustis, Florida, during a recent trip to Orlando for a work convention. I hadn't seen DJ in 12 years and was surprised that it seemed no time had passed. I always had a great relationship with him since I was a kid, and we grew especially close when he lived with my dad and me for a few months in 1992. His children, on the other hand, were only 1 and 5 the last time I saw them, and now they were teenagers. Soon-to-be-13 Stella, who was named after my grandmother, loves Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, particularly the nerdy intellectual Donatello (the one with the purple bandana—her favorite color). She also likes to punch her dad when he teases her. DJ's son, Austin, is impressively polite and hard-working for a 16-year-old whose Instagram handle is 420keepitreal—he puts 30+ hours a week in at his job at the car wash and has already saved up enough money to buy his own vehicle. When he graduates high school, Austin plans to enter the military and has even taken the large-gauge plugs out of his ear lobes so they'll be fully closed up by then. We had dinner at Copacabana Cuban Café in nearby Mount Dora, a quaint town that reminded me and DJ of Mystic, Connecticut—our hometown—but with more gun shops. My uncle and cousins had never eaten Cuban food before, so we tried nearly everything on the menu, and the bill totaled only $88! We were also serenaded by a couple of musicians playing traditional tunes on acoustic guitars. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend going there. And say hi to DJ, Austin and Stella for me!

Stella, DJ and Austin on Dora Drawdy Way in Mount Dora, Florida (© 2013 Amber Drea)

Monday
Jan212013

Hello 2013!

Michael Neff's Christmas tree installation in Brooklyn, New York (© 2013 Amber Drea)

With the holidays and initial onslaught of work deadlines behind me, I'm now ready to greet the new year with a fresh sense of excitement and invigoration. For Christmas, my husband and I went to Chicago, where we laughed a lot with family, kissed a lot of babies and ate a lot of food. It was the first time we spent the holiday with his brother and sister-in-law in at least six years. The four of us even got the chance to have dinner with my husband's 87-year-old grandparents at Marinella's Ristorante Italiano in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. My favorite part of the evening was when my husband's grandfather told us his plans for he and his wife's 65th wedding anniversary party, which will take place at the Lincoln Park Zoo and involve a baby giraffe and/or a woman with a boa constrictor draped over her shoulders. The restaurant also featured its "famous" nativity scene—an incredibly intricate diorama of the entire town of Bethlehem.

Nativity scene at Marinella's restaurant in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (© 2012 Amber Drea)For New Year's Eve, my husband and I treated ourselves to a six-course prix-fixe at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel. The indulgent meal included caviar, seared diver scallops, beef carpaccio with sea urchin or a persimmon salad, Maine lobster or grass-fed steak, and Meyer lemon pudding cake or chocolate stout cake (I ate both desserts, btw). All the dishes were delicious, but my favorite was the raw bar plate comprising oysters, clams, mussels, beer-poached shrimp and avocado-crab salad. Then we hurried over to a friend's house party, arriving seconds after the stroke of midnight. We could hear everyone counting down as we ran down the hallway and just missed the ball drop. Fortunately, they recreated the countdown for us so we wouldn't feel left out.

New Year's Eve 2013 in Brooklyn, New York (© 2013 Amber Drea)So far, 2013 has been off to a great start. I'm about halfway through the first draft of my novel—thanks to National Novel Writing Month—and I plan to spend the next few months finishing it so I can begin the revision process. I've also met a ton of amazing people in the NYC storytelling scene and I'm looking forward to hosting my new monthly open mic series, Another Round Storytelling, at LaunchPad in Brooklyn every fourth Thursday of the month. The first installment was super fun, and I can't wait to hear more boozy stories. The next show is Thursday, January 24th, and features the hilarious Glen Roseberg. Hope to see you there!

Another Round January 2013 flyer (photo © 2013 Eric Medsker)