Entries in writing (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)

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)

Wednesday
Oct312012

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)