Entries in New York City (3)


Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Performing at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY (photo by Jessica Salinas)Not only was 2016 the best year of my life, it has also been the hardest. I became a mother in January, and my son, Stanley, is a source of pure joy. When he was diagnosed with the rare liver disorder biliary atresia in March, our world turned upside down. He underwent a surgical procedure called the Kasai and spent three weeks in the hospital, during which we discovered he also had bilateral cateracts and needed two more surgeries. The doctors followed his progress and eventually determined that he would need a liver transplant. In June, Stanley was put on the organ list, and we got the call on July 15th. He spent 37 more days in the hospital, 31 of which were in the pediatric intensive care unit due to various complications. As one would expect, the experience has been an emotional roller coaster, so of course I turned to my favorite coping mechanism—writing and storytelling. Talking about what I'm going through while I'm going through it has helped me more than any therapist could and I feel more inspired than I have in a long time. I'm the kind of person who tries to make the best out of any situation, and this one has proven to be quite a challenge, but not impossible. 

One of the highlights of the last few months was performing in the chapel at the Green-Wood Cemetery as part of Encampment: Fireside Tales & Tunes in August. Another was October's All Stars of Comedy: Super Heroes Night at Pete's Candy Store, where donations were taken to benefit the Children's Organ Transplant Association in honor of Stanley. You can watch videos from both shows on my Storytelling page. 

I also appeared on a couple podcasts. I discussed Stanley's diagnosis and treatment on How to Get Away With Parenting and shared clips from old cassette tapes on Lost and Rewound. You can find links to both episodes, as well as other podcasts that have featured me, on my new Podcasts page. 

In addition, I'm relaunching my open mic Another Round Storytelling as a weekly show with cohost Drew Prochaska, starting Wednesday, November 9th, at Over the Eight in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. RSVP here for the event and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

You can read more about Stanley's hospitalization on his COTA website blog. And if you like looking at pictures of cute babies, you can also follow Stanley on Instagram or Facebook

Stanley at home two months post liver transplant (© 2016 Amber Drea)


Summer Sun and Inspiration


Rockaway Beach (© 2015 Amber Drea)I have two goals this summer: to finish a first draft of my book and to hit the beach as much as possible. So far I've got the second one on lock. The first one, not so much. That doesn't mean I've been lazy. Over the first third of the year, I performed on some of the best storytelling shows in the city, including The Anthology Presents The B-Side: Nirvana Edition, Comic Sans: The Virgin Chronicles, Split Personality, FastTrack Storytelling and Treat Yourself. You can check out videos of my performances from these shows and many others on the Storytelling page.  

Amber Drea, Dana Rossi, Chi Chi Valenti and Matthew Trumbull at QED (© 2015 Amber Drea)

I'm especially excited about my appearance on episode #227 (Jackée!) of The Soundtrack Series podcast (download on iTunes here), hosted by knowledgeable music maven Dana Rossi. The episode features my story about the time I had to live in a motel as a kid and my only friend was Heart's album Bad Animals, specifically the hit power ballad "Alone." I performed the story live at QED in Astoria, and the show also included an interview with Chi Chi Valenti, creator of Night of 1000 Stevies, and actor Matthew Trumbull, who shared a tale about the hometown crazy man and his connection to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones. 

Screen shot of Akashic Books' website

I also got a piece of flash fiction published as part of Akashic Books' Thursdaze series. Titled "Acid on the Fourth of July," the super short story details a trippy night in South Florida in the late 1990s. Check it out here


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)