February 2008


Errrr…See You Later!!! (as everyone reminded me last night)

OPEN ARMS-THANK YOU TO EACH WHO CAME THROUGH LAST NIGHT AT MY “REAL” OFFICIAL-UNOFFICIAL SEND-OFF FROM NEW YORK CITY!!!

(It’s so hard to leave especially since all my peers keep telling me that I’m gonna eventually return to NYC at some point. But still… for now, I have to breathe deep and say goodbye / farewell / see you later / hasta luego…)

The evening started off with a lovely “family dinner” with my niece (yes, niece) Cindy and nephew (yes, nephew) Jay @ Barbuto in the West Village. Neither of us had eaten there before, but upon the strength of Cindy’s co-worker’s recommendation, we decided to check it…and it gets a two thumbs up!! (thanks pat!)

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After our delicious meal, we walked on over to Gaslight to meet up with some awesome individuals who will always have a place en mi corazon 🙂 From hometown to college to music industry to advertising world, I’ve come in contact with a gazillion number of people. Those that showed love last night are beautiful beings who have ridden with me since Day 1 of (respective) introduction. There really are not enough words to express how much each of them mean to me. I love them all for who they are as individuals and their contributions to all things Great!

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Abrazos y Besos a Todos!
 

拥抱和亲吻对大家

. . don’t burn the day. .

Photo Credits: IT Boi aka Jay 🙂 and B. Happy.

 

 

I will go in this way
And find my own way out.
I won’t tell you what to be,
But I’m coming to much more.
Me.

Time is indeed moving slow but speeding, as I am one day shy from departing NYC (tomorrow, 02.28.08). With the birth of the blog and all, I’ve been able to document pretty much all my moves leading up to this point. (Great to have and be able to refer to when I’m 87!! I can say I was cool.) Slow but speeding it surely has been! My previous posts of Give Up To Gain and No Expectations alarmingly come to mind as I enter my remaining 24 hours of Manhattan-life. Crazy, crazy… even still!

As I’ve been counting up towards my days at home with the fam in Boston, I realize how much more of a “New Yorker” I am. The dual question of:

Has New York molded who I’ve become?

Or

Has New York simply provided me a channel to be the person I’ve destined to be?

This double-sided question came about after a friend recently asked me if I think I would lose my New York-sense in the same way I’ve lost a bit of my Boston-sense, while living wherever the road may take me…

Answer to All of the Above:

I may have lost my Boston accent and am pretty much ignorant to its city’s layout and workings, but I can not say I’ve lost touch with my homebody, family sense. And in that respect, Boston is essentially homebase for me, literally. My family and friends back home keep me grounded (regardless of my “big city” achievements) and for this reason, I still have a bit of the Boston in me (along with my sports teams). 🙂

New York has most certainly allowed me to break free from the borders of homelife and in turn, provided me with an outlet to express ideals that I’ve always had within. Growing up and attending public schools in my hometown, diversity was always prevalent, especially at my high school (at once, was the largest HS east of the Mississippi River). We had an after-school club for every ethnicity you can think of from Italian to Cape Verdean to Haitian to Jamaican to Irish to Asian. I was the chic who was in all sorts of nerdboxer.jpg/community commitees (National Honor Society, Executive Commitimg_3144.jpgtee, Student Senate, Key Club, Amnesty International) in addition to sports (basketball and moreso, track). (Go Boxers!) I weaved in and out of different circles with no problem. In fact, I was voted recipient of Housemaster Award (Green House) my senior year – an award voted by my student class for individual who possessed character, leadership, excellence in academic and community service… some gibberish like that.

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Having img_2926.jpggraduated in the top 10 percentile of a graduating class of 700 students, coming to NYU in ’99 was a pretty seamless transition on the level of size and multi-culturalism. I say this because during my freshman year, I met some folks from, say the west coast or midwest, who really had a tough time adapting to NYC and the NYU make-up. Me…Not so much. I felt at home. Options, independence, diversity, cultural stimulants, creative energies — all jumped at me and I loved it. With that said, I would think the latter, “NY has provided me a channel to become the person I’ve destined to be” is the more appropriate answer.

My next move to Shanghai (and/or wherever thereafter), will certainly not eradicate neither any of my “New Yorkness” nor “Bostonianess.” These are intangibles, already deeply rooted in the whole pie that is me. So, overall, it was kind of a silly question to begin with, but it definitely made me pause and analyze the whole scenario a bit. Confirming and reaffirming that this is me….

I will go in this way
And find my own way out.
I won’t tell you what to be,
But I’m coming to much more.
Me.

– lyrics excerpted from song entitled “#41” from album Crash by Dave Matthews Band (04.30.96)

(the song that started it all, 01/07)

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. . don’t burn the day. .

 

Monday 2/25 – Ahh THE very last Monday. Slow start to the day, as I didn’t leave my apt till 3ish, since I tempted to re-pack, in the earlier half, in preparation for the real move-out later this week. But, I didn’t get too far since Gab was scheduled to come over in the evening to pick up some random items. (So I just moved a few pieces around to make it look productive.)

I decided to go for a walk without my ipod in ear – in order to take in all the “wonderful” sights, sounds and smell of NYC. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Well it is, but I might as well get used to it because it’s not like I walk around the streets of my hometown with my ipod attached to my ears. It’s really one of those “only in NY” things to do. But for real, I wanted to take in all the random cell phone conversations, the multi-languages spoken, ugh the honking, the sounds of MTA buses, street vendors whether it be hot dog, pretzel and/or halal stands.

I headed up to Madison Square Park and snapped a few photos…

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I then came upon Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s “roadside” food stand in Madison Square Park, serving burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, beer, wine and more… Shake Shack had been voted “Best Burger” in 2007 South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash, plus my friend Edric had been talking about this spot for a while, but I had yet to give it a try. I had a moment of indecision since it was nearing 5pm and I planned to meet up with Edric at 5:45pm for a round of bubble tea, plus dinner with Gab at Spice. So I paced for a period that seemed about 10min, and finally gave in and got in line to try out one of these burgers.
Next, I receive a tap on my left shoulder. I look left, I look up and WOW! It is Jesse (former night manager at Cielo). My immediate response: “Oh my God! The universe really is bringing all sorts of familiar faces to me! I was just at Cielo on the fly the other night and asked about you!” So we got into the whole “I’m leaving NYC… going to Shanghai…thing.” Jesse and I had worked together on numerous occasions back in the day… but since I left GS, we had not seen each other since ehhhh November of 2006. So we each grabbed a burger and chatted up. (Burger is EXCELLENT, by the way.) He is no longer at Cielo, however is doing super well, managing all sorts of venues including Room Service and congrats on Jr #2!!! Soo great to run into him! And just as he said of me, he was a pleasure to work with … “professional yet mellow.” Here, I promised he would make my blog 🙂 …
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Then I headed back downtown to Saint’s Alp Teahouse to meet up with Edric for a last round of bubble tea in the city. (Taro with tapioca, cold. I dare not to deviate from this because the couple times that I have, I regretted and wished I had gone with the taro w/tapioca, cold.) Memorable dialogue of our bubble session:
  • Me: So I’m meeting with Gab for dinner at Spice after this. I already know what I’m gonna get.
  • E: Drunk Man Noodles.
  • Me: Nope. Even though that is definitely a Spice dish. I’m gonna get shrimp fritters, fried calamari, grilled pork chop and maybbbee the fried banana dessert.
  • E: You just had a burger!! And now bubble! Are you pregnant?!
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Classic!! Goes wayyyy back to freshman year!! Oh some things just never change…
img_3039.jpgNext stop! Spice! Always a favorite for Gab/Mimi moments. I stayed on course with the exception of the shrimp fritters (since Gab wanted the shrimp curry dumplings) and I did not have room for the banana dessert…
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Gab & I….I would have to create an entire new blog to devote to all the good times we’ve had throughout the last 8 years. (We’ve also learned that we can NOT talk about sports.) But, it all started in Florence, Italy back in 2000 and was awesome to have been able to re-experience Florence this past summer (2007) again as a tag team. Great heart (though she’s begun to adopt my “i hate people” a tad) + hilarious personality, never a un-laughable moment!
Case in point….(outside of Rugby store). — Gab has this thing about imitating mannequins. Again, started in Florence with Pajama Man.
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img_3042.jpg(The PLAID-dow sparkles!!)
Thennnnnnn… after a quick run to my apt, we head back out to Three of Cups to join in celebrating the Engagement of Tara (with an N) & Aram! CONGRATULATIONS, YAY!!!
Overall, just a nice easy-going day. I’m beginning to get used to this….
. . don’t burn the day. .

OK real quick because I’m finding that my ability to retain memory is diminishing by the day…

Saturday 2/23 – You would think with such an all-over-the-place week, my weekend would be that much morimg_2993.jpge jampacked, but nope! I go back to my industry days when all the weekdays/nights were all crazy, but come weekend, I became a total chill hermit. This weekend was no different. I woke and had brunch with my friend Frank aka “Verucca” along with his fiance, Lauren, where we spoke about all sorts of old times – “hustlin dayz” and Jay Z’s office, PB and Sdoucos – oh man Sdoucos! F and I have seen each other grow in our respective lanes and I’m super proud of where he is now and only look forward to hearing of greater things from him! And then a bulk of our convo related itself to my arrival to Dave World…Let’s just leave it at: “I’m Here.” 🙂 Finally, congrats on the engagement and maybe you’ll move it to July so I aka “Nelson” can make it!

Next, as promised from my earlier Roosevelt Tram excursion, Dan and I’s “word is bond” had us on a G train joyride. Check the perrdy view from the pics of the last stop. You can see Lady Liberty! ….

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And then I pretty much was toasted from my entire week’s adventures. I passed out at 10:30pm allowing me a full night’s rest. I really needed it.

Sunday 2/24 – Well rested was I. I headed into the BK to meet up with friend, Phil for possibly my last BK brunch for a while…(I’ve been averaging weekly weekend brunches in the BK with the plethora of BK folks I know, since I’m finding the city is just too much for me nowaday.) We hit Heights Cafe in well, the BK Heights. (Nice area, I’d consider it a possible dwelling area in the future. Plus my other friend Joy is all about BK Heights since she’s moved there a couple years ago.) But anyway, going back to brunch, I can always count on having randomly wide-ranging, interesting topics of discussion with P. I mean from the initial greeting, we can start talking about what we did the previous day to ending discussion with the invention of velcro with Dave references in between for sure. Speaking of Dave, we then upon my personal request (since I need my fix before I leave the city), watched Dave Driven. Phil has certainly seen me mature thru my Dave stage, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m just as shocked as he is. (Yeah, all these Dave references in one post is much, but I’ll explain in another blog post… soon come…)

Thennnn I dipped back to the city to have a mini Cancun reunion with Gab and Jess at El Cantinero by NYU – where it all began. Funnily, for as many times I walked up and down University Place during my freshman year, I had never been to El Cantinero…but it always looked festive all year round. Great times with these ladies as we reminisced and shared stories of our stupidity during college years in addition to coming to realization how far we’ve come (and how old we’ve become) since Spring Break, Communications Conferences, Non-verbal communications class, Professor Magder and ILA. HA! Bonus was that during all of this, the missing J, Jackie, currently in ‘Bama texted me …. She’s going to have her 10K shoes bronzed and put them up in a shrine with Patricio Swayze photos and surround them with bushes. I also learned that according to Z aka “my boyfriend,” I was known as the “asian chick with cool kangol hat and sneakers” back in one our many media classes. HA! Two pitchers of sangria later, we had been there for 4 hours. Good times!

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. . don’t burn the day. .

Friday 2/22 – Morning after late night snowstorm. I was sooooo grateful that my 11AM cancelled, because I was a grumpy camper in the AM. I got to go back to napping and hit the doc’s office in the afternoon for all of that travel abroad pills and prescriptions ‘ish. Then downtown I went, to spend a couple hours with my accountant to figure out my ’07 monies.

I later headed into Ft. Greene (Brooklyn!) to Chez Lola (two thumbs up!.. nice call Brook!) for a fabulous dinner and drinks session with some of my most favorite, genuine peoples (Ant, Kyra, Brook, Rashaunah & Marcus). THE PEAR MARTINI was where it was at, FOR REAL!! As R said… “I’m Thirsty!” Smooooth tasty pear + brown sugar/cinnamon combo along the rim and splashes… MMMM!! I had the spicy salmon sandwich with chipotle mayo + thin onion rings. (Again, great call B!!!)

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Seriously, this dinner will stand as a memorable one for me. It was just perfect in every way possible (well minus the delay since Marcus had to find his belt, but we unanimously let slide…). Awesome folks, delicious food, dangerously addicting drink and straight up good times reminiscing: Outkast party, Arista lay off party, Questlove nights, Rhone nights, Summer 2005, Van Hunt/Bembe night, Double Happiness nights, and on and on… Love you guys!! I owe ya’ll some videos! Soon coming!

Of course our night did not end there. We were actually pretty amped for the night. With our previous track record, as abbreviated above, we were looking forward to banking it just one more time before my departure from NYC. These soul summit parties have been a staple in the Ft. Greene neighborhood for years, and surprisingly none of us had ever attended before. So we figured, what the heck, it’s Spinna and all. We packed into R’s ride with “Mimi in the middle” and headed over to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)…and conveniently for Chuck, he squeezed himself into our spot in line after shouting, “Mimi?!! Shouldn’t your ass be in Shanghai already?!” Classic! ….And here we go!

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and where it all began…

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then met up with some FREEdom fighters…Phil & Todd…

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But the “soul summit night of soul classics” were moreso punishment house music (as Kyra translated in German). Ummm music, we were not feeling, but we had each other 🙂 … so we dipped to Moe’s …and eventually called it a BK night!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Hmmm let’s see. I gotta start jotting down stuff now before I completely forget what I’ve been up to in my remaining days here in NYC…

Thursday 2/21 – I woke up on the tired end from the previous two late-night outtings. But, thankfully, I was able to push my first meeting from 1pm to 3:30pm… and even still, I was rushing to get outta my apartment to meet up with my homie, Marcos at Altantic. We were supposed to do lunch but both of our schedules got a lil messy and rather than risk the not being able to meet up at all, I trekked up to his offices even for a brief chit chat. Marcos was THE man who offered (and I gladly accepted) my first step into the music industry at Arista. Yes, yes, the good ol’ days. (By now, ya gotta get used to my frequent good ol’ days references .. until.. I start talking about my days at Family Tree — but that is later coming..)

So, I rush uptown and am late by about 10min and knew we had about an hour set aside for our catch-up. As I’m signing in at the lobby desk, I look to my left and wow….. bringing it wayyyy back is Damon! Damon and Marcos in one day! Ya see, D had once upon a time worked at Bad Boy (2001). As I mentioned in previous posts, I had left knee ACL reconstruction surgery at the end of March, 2001. But, that did not stop me from interviewing at various record companies and PR companies throughout April and May. One of which was with D at Bad Boy. With crutches and full knee brace in tact, I took that interview and left knowing that Bad Boy would be an awful match – reason being – its disorganization. I walked out, totally confused. (I can say this now, cuz D and I have chuckled over this numerous times. We kept running into each other in the subsequent years esp when I was over at BMG/RCA, since Bad Boy was housed under the same roof at that time…and eventually became friends.) Soo yeah, wow D and M! Two total icons for “when it all started” in music for me.

Next, I scooted back down to the East Village for a dinner with friend, Monique at one of my favorite img_2956.jpgMoroccan restaurants, Cafe Mogador on St. Marks. Among all sorts of topics of discussion, we were trying to figure out how we became friends, and we still don’t know the exact moment, but the gist is… She worked with my sister (when my sister and I lived together in the city a few years back), met me at some point…vibed on the music tip, and from then on became one of img_2960.jpgmy groupies 🙂 Right, M?? So yeah, dinner was fab. And actually, M surprised me with the ordering of straight Henny “because it’s so smooth and will warm us up from the cold” and a drink to follow. I NEVER knew you did it this way M, I NEVER knew. But anyway, apps and lamb tangine with the spicy sauce was where it was at!

After dinner, I popped over to the west side to show my homie, Khairi some love at APT. (Sorry, no boots this time… but the kicks gotta count for something!) I can’t even remember the last time I was at APT…but was cool; got there on the early tip and chilled with some peeps (Kym Ahmad, Sharon, Nina and Sam). Heard the “fist” story and all of that… Here’s us being of course, fools…though, Khairi is missing!

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My initial curfew of 11.30pm of course didn’t stick and we went off to Florent for a late night snack. That experience can be summed up in two words: Stevie Wonder.816.jpg

But upon walking out… ooh la la.. it’s snowing!!!

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And still… I was not allowed to go home even though I was uber tired. It was probably around 1:30AM at that point. However with out of towners in our hands, we decided to “see what was going on at Cielo.” 6851.jpg818.jpg403.jpg343.jpgBeing that I have spent many a event nights at Cielo, I had a good handle on the who’s who in that mix. Upon walking up and through the long ass line outside in the snow, security immediately greeted me and welcomed my party of 5. Now I had no intention of even going inside because I needed and wanted my sleepies, however security thought otherwise and granted easy access into the spot. Promoter chic got all fired up as he had just comped FIVE …$35 per head tickets.. yes that is umm $175 right there along with an irate promoter and pissed off “regulars” in line! Ahh well, that’s how I roll.. 🙂 But seriously, could there have been any more greasy euro-trash, jersey’ers there that night? I mean it was PACKED and I still don’t know who the DJ was. Hands down, the sound system there is one of a kind, and now they’ve even improved on the dj booth/soundboard. But all that oomptah-oomptah-oomptah-oomptah was too much for me. I peaced eventually and got home shortly before 3AM.

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I find it funny though. It is as if the universe is putting me in these places to let me get my last fill’s worth and have me confirm that I will not miss these type scenes much.

NYC will indeed, always be here.

. . don’t burn the day. .


Many have asked me when was the exact moment the thought of picking up and leaving NYC for a life abroad had kicked into my cranium. Truth is, I’ve always wanted to live abroad a bit. I love America and the entitled opportunities that come with being an American but my travels have always taught me so much more about myself, true meaning of living, and deeper understanding of what it means to be an American (the good and the bad – but I will save this discussion for another post).

Not too long ago, a friend (Shout out to Sharon!) had passed around a quote to my fellow open-minded, traveler-friends:

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” — G.K. Chesterton

So true, so true! Whenever I travel, I love to buddy and chummy up with the locals for the real scoop – whether it is where to eat, where to grab a drink, where to hear good music, where to party, where to shop, where to escape etc. I’m curious by nature. I like to probe. I like to be wow’ed. I like to compare/contrast stories and ideals, since this is really the only way to test my own universal knowledge in addition to be open to gaining more. Knowledge = Power.

So when did this bulb hover over my head and decide to illuminate itself through my bones? – Saturday, October 27, 2007.

I was outhpim0702.jpg in Storrs, CT, to run a promotional event for Sony Ericcson’s w580i walkman phone (at the South Florida vs. UCONN football game – my very first ummm tailgating experience.) The day started off as a damper… literally… as grey clouds loomed and spat on us throughout the day with testy winds. I don’t do rain, and I don’t do rain and wind combos. But for the most part, mother nature pitied and saved the real downpours for when we were wrapping up the day’s event. I was able to live with this. Plus, my staff was awesome to work with and super hpim0760.jpgcooperative and were troopers to meet our day’s goals, especially under the weathering circumstances. But overall, I personally was in a dizzy. I knew my contract was ending the following week with possibility of extension, but was not 100% locked in (on my part and theirs). I truthfully, was pulling my hair at the thought of having to wake up and know that I had some stupid powerpoint slide or some stupid client issue to look forward to in my day. I knew I personally didn’t vibe with the 9-5ers either. They were nice folks and all, but there was a disconnect. They had the passion for it all – something that was lacking on my part. I was almost envious of their gusto because I know how that feeling can be so rewarding; I lived it when I was working with music. But in the end, all of which I was doing in agency life was meaningless to me. I hated the feeling and knew I needed a fix – FAST!

So, it was about 4:30pm and I was aiming to catch the 4:50pm Amtrak back to NYC. As I was in line to switch up my ticket to an earlier train, I received a call from a friend, Rico, who I hadn’t heard from for a little while. We shot the shit since I had time to kill, while waiting for the train. He then received a call on his other line from a mutual friend, Jodi, and I encouraged, of course, a 3-way convo. Again, I had time to kill and here were 2 perfect victims to keep me entertained as I waited, LOL!

lightbulb_idea.jpgIn any case, the platform discussion commenced. R told me that he was planning on living in Brazil in the ’08 and J was talking about finally pursuing grad school. Though I was happy for J to take the next step with higher education, I was more interested about how R was gonna live in freakin’ Brazil (sorry J, 😉 ). But really, I more/less asked, “How the hell are you gonna live in Brazil?!?” His response: “I’m going thru this program to teach English abroad.” DING! DING! DING! My keen logic-meter went off the charts. A PROGRAM that TRAINS and CERTIFIES English teachers. Ahhhhh! HA! This was the light I needed to permeate through the dismal, damp dizzies I had been feeling all day long! (A couple days prior, I had re-acquainted with a college friend who I found out was living in South Korea via teaching English, but he did it on the total whim/no certification style.) But THIS… THIS “PROGRAM” got me all sorts of intrigued and excited.

I went home that night and started my intensely focused search on varying programs that would turn this desire of fulfilling my travel jones – a reality. I knew I wanted to do this; I wanted to do this ASAP; and I was in a position where not much would hold me back. (“I ain’t got no kids” etc) I honestly hadn’t felt this excited since my very first internship at Arista Records. (See “The Good Ol’ Days“) After much homework, I narrowed my search between Oxford Seminars and Global Tesol. The training schedule with the latter program was a better match and for that simple reason I opted with Global Tesol, in addition to the optional practicum portion of the course which I thought would be a great training bonus.

Next thing I know, 2 weeks into November, I was enrolled! At the same time, I picked up another contract scenario with a book publishing company to oversee marketing efforts in support of medical/political thriller, Capitol Reflections (which actually is a really well written novel by epidemiologist and former Senior Health Advisor during both Bush & Clinton administrations, Dr. Jonathan Javitt; subject matter: genetically engineered foods).

Thanksgiving passed and I was participating in my 5-day intensive training seminar. Sunday, December 2nd – I was officially certified. I spent my 1st and 2nd weeks of December outlining a timeline and had set the end of February to be my end date in NYC… And here I am now… leaving in a week!!!

What can I say, I was/AM FOCUSED man!

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So there ya have it!

From the dark side of even a dreary day spent outdoors, we can see a glow of something bright…even if found on a train platform.

 

. . don’t burn the day. .

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