Entries in nature (3)


November Is National Novel Writing Month

Fallen tree branch in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (© 2012 Amber Drea)

As I write this, New York City and its surrounding areas are dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, and my heart goes out to everyone who is suffering during this tragedy. Fortunately, my husband and I live in a neighborhood of Brooklyn that remained relatively untouched (other than being stuck without a train line into Manhattan). The last three days at home have been relaxing—the perfect prelude to National Novel Writing Month, which starts tomorrow. For the next 30 days, I'm devoting all my personal time and energy to cranking out 50,000 words for a first draft of my novel. I set up a profile on NaNoWriMo's website, and I'll need all the support I can get, so add me as a buddy if you're participating too. 

Green Fall Pond in Voluntown, Connecticut (© 2012 Amber Drea)

Nostalgia plays a significant role in my writing, so a recent visit to my old stomping grounds in Connecticut definitely got the creative juices flowing. After a hike with a high school friend and her children at Pachaug State Forest, my husband and I stopped by Green Fall Pond and then headed up to Moosup for lunch at Riverview Restaurant. We drove past the Aldrich Free Public Library, where I spent many a Saturday and most of my summers as a teenager. 

Aldrich Free Public Library in Moosup, Connecticut (© 2012 Amber Drea)

Despite my decision to become a shut-in for a month, I plan to make two appearances in public: The Renegade Reading Series on November 8th and the Honey-Mouthed and Poison-Hearted storytelling night on November 15th. In hopes that I will be featured at more events in the future, I created a new page on my website where you can find more details and links. Of course, you can always follow me on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on my endeavors. And if you've needed the motivation to finally write that novel you've been thinking about for years, get your NaNoWriMo on with me this November! Then we can celebrate with a bottle of booze from this place on December 1st:

Marie's Lake Street Spirits in Moosup, Connecticut (© 2012 Amber Drea)


Portland, Promotion and Publication

Sunset in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (© 2012 Amber Drea)

This year has been jam-packed with change: a new job, a new apartment, a newfound sense of focus. In January, I was promoted to managing editor at my magazine, and the position has been both challenging and fulfilling. I'm also putting more energy into my fiction and recently published a short story called "Filipino Baby" at Northvillereview.com. Inspired by the Cowboy Copas song of the same name, the piece was originally written for a mixtape-themed reading at the Asian American Writers' Workshop. As a result of this re-prioritization, my blogging at Newyorkdrinkie.com has slowed down quite a bit, but Lobster Lover is still going strong. This summer, I tried plenty of lobster rolls in New York, Connecticut/Rhode Island and Maine.

Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (© 2012 Amber Drea)

Speaking of the Pine Tree State, my husband and I vacationed in Portland in July and had a wonderful time. We stayed at the Percy Inn, a quaint, literary-themed bed and breakfast on the West End, and our room was named after John Keats. We ate a lot of delicious seafood and drank a lot of delicious drinks, most notably at Fore StreetLocal 188 and, of course, Portland Lobster Co., the best place to get a lobster roll in town. We also enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings, including a sunset lighthouse cruise on Casco Bay, the geological formations at Two Lights State Park, and the sun, sand and ice-cold water at Crescent Beach State Park

Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (© 2012 Amber Drea)

Other travel adventures took me to San Francisco to visit my best college friend, Jessica, and to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to see my mom's side of the family. While in California, I toured Alcatraz Island, walked among the tall Sequoias at Muir Woods, tasted wine in Sonoma County and explored the Sutro Baths. I also indulged in top-notch cocktails at Jasper's Corner Tap, Fifth Floor Restaurant, Elixir, Bourbon & Branch and Smuggler's Cove, as well as tasty food and drinks at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar and Tsunami Sushi, but my favorite meal of the trip was Jessica's home-cooked crawfish étouffée. In North Carolina, I checked out the local dubstep scene with my brother, played mini golf, ate gelato and got manicures with my sister, went out for dinner and dancing with my mother, and kayaked down the Cape Fear River with the whole family. 

Cape Fear River in North Carolina (© 2012 Amber Drea)

Back in Brooklyn, Jeb and I love our new place in a quiet section of Williamsburg. We snagged a spacious one bedroom with tons of natural light that's two blocks from the train, and we're settling in nicely. The cats are too.

Cruddy on the perch in Brooklyn, New York (© 2012 Amber Drea)


Mystic vs. Montauk; Sin City vs. the Windy City

Chill chihuahua in Las Vegas (© 2011 Amber Drea)

September and October were unusually busy this year. My husband and I went to Connecticut over Labor Day weekend, and we took the nephews to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, where we saw many animals, both dead and alive. The middle-aged gentleman running the place was extremely friendly in that quirky New England way, and he taught us about the various rodents and birds of the area. My friend's daughter was particularly fond of the owl who snoozed on and off while perched in a cage by the front desk. I also learned that the chickadee is responsible for the swooping song I'd always heard growing up, and we listened to the "sounds of the forest" in a spooky, darkened room. It was fun to revisit one of my childhood escapes—I used to ride my bike down there every Saturday and spend hours exploring the interactive displays and nature trails. For lunch, we went to Sea Swirl, my favorite food stand in Mystic, for lobster rolls and ice cream. That night, my husband and I headed to Brooklyn—Connecticut, not New York—for a bonfire with high school friends who raise egg-laying chickens and grow their own vegetables.

A few weeks later, my husband and I spent a couple days in Montauk, at the very tip of Long Island, to celebrate our second anniversary. Despite a bit of rain, we had an amazing time. Summer had just begun to transition into fall, so the sun still shone bright and warmed the ocean waters—I even went swimming, albeit under the influence of something called a Chum Bucket. We ate well and took a bike ride all the way out to Montauk Point. Vacationing there might become an annual tradition...

The following weekend, we flew to Chicago for my father-in-law's wedding to his longtime girlfriend. It was the first time I'd been back since last Thanksgiving, so I jumped at the opportunity to check out Grant Achatz's new experiemental cocktail lounge, The Aviary, and stopped by nearby iNG while I was at it. (Check out my Chicago Drinkie post here.) I took Metra into the city and walked around downtown, passing by the Steve Jobs shrine at the Apple store and getting up close and personal with the Marilyn Monroe statue, which invites the inevitable lurking of creepy dudes. One guy wearing a bike helmet stood between the statue's legs and snapped about 75 photos of its crotch with his cell phone. Afterward, I had lunch at the incongruously named New England Seafood Co., which served up some of the tastiest lobster rolls in the Midwest. Before we got back on the plane on Sunday, my husband and I had brunch with his 92-year-old grandparents, who are as spunky and vibrant as ever, and then strolled through the autumn foliage at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton, Illinois.

The travel continued in mid-October, when I went on my first work trip, which brought me to a beer distributors convention in Las Vegas. I know it's called Sin City, but I was still shocked at the abundant amount of decadence and debauchery. Smoking, drinking and gambling everywhere 24/7. I was only in Vegas for 48 hours, but was able to hit the pool for a few hours and even got off The Strip to experience Fremont Street, an outdoor marketplace/ freakshow located downtown. After dinner at The Barrymore with a friend of a friend, we caught a performance of Halloween-themed cover band Frank & the Steins. We were feeling adventurous, so we decided to ride the zipline, but there was an hour and a half wait—at midnight. So we had a couple cocktails at Downtown Cocktail Room instead (you can read my Vegas Drinkie post here). Both days I ate lunch at a lobster shack called Lobster Me, which was located in a mall of all places. Two weeks later, I'm still dreaming about the Lobsicle, a tempura-battered lobster tail on a stick. It might be the best thing I've ever eaten. While in Vegas, I also saw the most chill chihuahua that ever lived—he looked like what happens when you take two Xanax and a shot of Tequila.

Now, fall is in full effect, and I'm looking forward to the holidays, which mean more time with family and, in turn, more trips to Chicago and Connecticut. Can't wait!