Tag Archives: Albany

Grooving with The Suffers

I don’t know what you did Wednesday night, but I doubt you more fun than I did. It was one of those wonderful Albany nights that come along, with unpredictable frequency, when everything flowed. It was just a great night.

A big part of the enjoyable evening was a concert at The Egg. A band from Houston, called The Suffers, were playing and we had tickets for the 7:30 show. I had heard their music on WEXT 97.7 and liked their sound, but we weren’t sure what to expect not being overly familiar with the band.* Promptly at 7:30, the 8 member band walked onto the stage in the Egg’s smaller theater, and immediately heated up the underpopulated room.

The lead singer, the ripe Kam Franklin, acknowledged the size of the crowd and promised a great show, which she ultimately delivered. Her vibe is absolutely juicy with laughter, terrific banter and a voice that is rich with range and tone. While there were glimpses, to me, of Tina Turner and Brittany Howard, Kam is completely her own unique ray of light and was simply a joy to watch.

The tight 90-minute set was fun, sexy and completely captivating. The audience was appreciative and many took advantage of the available elbow room and danced in and out of their seats. It didn’t matter how many people were present. Those of us there, knew we were the lucky ones to be able to say we were at The Suffers first Albany show. You should make a point to be at their next one.

 

*Once again 97.7 WEXT feeds me new music.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Trying on Rent the Runway

I like clothes. Period. Honestly, I’ve been like this my whole life. One of my earliest memories is of a lacy pink “bra” and panties set that I had when I was about 3 years old. I recall whipping off any clothing that may have hidden this fabulous outfit whenever our doorbell rang, keeping our visitors waiting at the door until I was ready to  be seen. True story.  I’m still a bit enamored of lingerie, but most days I manage to keep my undergarments private, choosing instead to exert my sartorial sense in a more appropriate manner.

And, man do I love pretty dress.

There have been a bunch fun events in recent months and I’ve been giving my wardrobe a workout. I’ve got an embarrassing amount of clothing, with a fair amount of pretty dresses mixed in, but I was getting low on new looks. I didn’t want to buy another thing to add to my (double-sided) garment rack, nor was I interested in spending money on a garment with limited capacity to be repeated…

What a perfect time to sample Rent the Runway.

I signed up for an account, but not a plan, and began stalking the site. Eventually, I downloaded the app and started receiving fairly aggressively frequent emails. No worries. It left me in a position to sit back and see what kind of offers came my way, finally jumping when I scored a 30-day Unlimited Plan for $106. I was able to select and borrow four items at a time with unlimited exchanges. There were no cleaning, shipping or insuring charges and most of the gowns I had my eye on were part of the plan. Great.

I ordered my items on a Thursday and received them the next day, all bundled together in a compact fabric bag looking surprisingly small. I unzipped the bag and hung the garments on back-of-the-door hooks, giving the wrinkles some time to loosen up.

Then the party began!

It was like the best dressing room in your favorite four stores – lighting that familiar because it was in your home, all your shoes in one place, and every piece of lingerie necessary right in your drawer. Winning.

I loved one of the two gowns and, fortunately, it was the one which was my first choice for an event next month. This dress would have cost $80 to rent, had I not purchased a plan and instead simply rented this particular item for 4 days. There were two sweater dresses, also, for work and weekend wear, and one of the two has worked out really well. I think I’m going to keep it another week and wear it for a third occasion. The other? Not so much. The fit wasn’t great and that’s kind of everything with a sweater dress, don’t you think?

I’ll keep you posted on the remainder of the month with an update or two. Share your experiences with a clothing delivery/rental service in the comments!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, concerts, Dinner, Events, Fashion, favorites, holidays, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York

When Friday is Tryday

It seems like there have been a lot of Good Fridays recently. A visit home, my birthday, the annual union picnic, a couple of galas… I’ve lost count of how many there have been but, it’s safe to say, it’s been quite a few Fridays since I’ve been home, wrapped in my favorite bathrobe, by 8:00. And last night, it felt pretty damn good. 

The week has been draining. A cold is kicking my ass, our world feels increasingly out of control and I can’t seem to find the time to take care of everything in my usual fashion. After a really physically active week (26 miles and 2.5 hours of yoga)last week, I’ve been too exhausted to exercise in recent days and so I’ve felt sick and sluggish.  Not a good combination for me mentally, to be honest.

So, last night I decided to push myself and take a run for the first time in a week. I figured if I couldn’t run consistently because of the hacking cough I’m currently victim of, I’d walk. I just needed to try. 

It was nearly dark when I hit Delaware Avenue and I wondered if maybe I had underdressed. Should I have worn gloves? A hat? The thermostat said it was a moderate 55 degrees, but my body has been struggling to maintain an even temperature and I felt a little chilly. I found myself, surprisingly, running a bit faster than usual. The miles started to add up.

As always, my thoughts ran with me. I reflected on memories recently made and how different my life is from last year, from even six months ago. Letting go, and making the changes necessary to open myself up to something new, has been difficult for me.  It feels like a combination of walking, running faster than it seems  I am, and not necessarily being prepared for whatever lies ahead. And worth trying, of course.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Events, friends, Local, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized, upstate New York

When Pollyanna met Polly

The summer after I moved into the house I currently live in, my neighbor, knowing that I would be seeking a position as a school librarian, offered to introduce me to someone who might be able to help. He offered to take me for a ride to go meet a woman who purportedly had some influence with the school district. Her name was Polly Noonan. I had no idea who she was, but my ignorance made her no less interesting on the afternoon she and I met.

I had lived in Albany for about 7 years or so, but my local history knowledge was pretty weak. I had learned a little bit about politics, mostly while serving politicians and lobbyists at either PD. Ladd’s or the original Yono’s, and what I learned took away more than a little of my idealism. I became acquainted with  who the major players were locally at the time – Jim Coyne, Tom Whalen, Jerry Jennings as an upstart and the Breslin and McEneny clans, but I had real no depth. Corning was just a tower to me. And cheap plates, of course.

On a sunny day, George and I climbed into his Ford sedan and drove over to Polly’s house. I’m sure it was arranged in advance with a phone call, but I wasn’t privy to that. We just drove up and Polly met us and welcomed us into her home. Twenty plus years later, what I most remember is an exchange we eventually had prompted by a painting on her wall.

The painting, an oil as I recall, was of a beautiful Siberian husky dog. Being a dog person and not really understanding how this dynamo of an old woman with a gravely voice was going to land me a job, I asked if it were her dog. She squawked back at me with “yes,” and then continued to say that Jack had given her the dog as a puppy. Jack Kennedy, that is. The puppy had come from a litter that had originated with a dog that had been given to President Kennedy directly from Khrushchev. Yes, that Khrushchev.

I’m certain my eyes were wide, as she matter of factly related her deceased dog’s lineage. This woman who lived in a simple house remarkably close to the thruway, (and as I’ve come to learn, near Corning Hill in Glenmont), deserved a deeper look.

Since that day I’ve told this story a dozen times, maybe even to you. It’s one of my favorite memories connected to my former neighbor, who I continue to miss years after his passing. Reflecting on it, I think it may have been the exact moment that I first began looking at Albany as being an interesting place with lively history, rather than merely a location for a good quality life at an affordable price.

I didn’t receive a job in the Albany school district, but since that day, I have gotten quite an education about my adopted beloved city. I now know stories about Albany and I find it to be a fascinating little city. Thanks, Polly.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, Observations, politics, Schools, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Celebrate yourself – like a grand dame

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From one grand dame to another…

It’s Wednesday and I’m almost recovered from a fairly epic weekend. I understand that people sometimes have complicated feelings about birthdays, or maybe more specifically aging, but my philosophy is that each one is to be honored and celebrated. You know that Pink Floyd lyric about “shorter of breath and one day closer to death,” right? Well, the way I see it, each birthday that passes is one less that I get to commemorate and I don’t want to waste a single one.

Here’s a recap for you to maybe take inspiration from –

● A hair appointment after work. A little pampering is the perfect way to fill the gap between school and dinner, I think. Maybe you do something similar?

● Dinner at a favorite spot with a favorite person – or two, as the case may be. When our cozy table for two was crashed by a third, it just made the evening more festive. Perfect doesn’t always appear exactly as what we may have planned.

Lark Fest – at least on the early side when I was there, was a fun time. I love when the street is closed to traffic and wandering around checking out booths and eating yummy food is always a win-win.

● Taking a run to work off the eggplant and red wine from the previous night and to prep for the evening of…

● Dancing at June Farms’ 80s Dance Party. What a blast! This has quickly become one of my favorite places to spend time, especially when I’m lucky enough to be with good friends, which has been the case every single time I’ve been there.

● A Sunday morning 5K expanded to a 7+ mile run with the Luna B*tches. It was a beautiful morning to participate in a great local race.

● Some time spent with the New York Times and my youngest son before heading to…

● Saratoga Springs and the Outlaw Festival with two of my oldest friends. I haven’t seen SPAC full like that in a long time and wish I had a chance to connect with all of the folks I knew were there, but it just wasn’t possible.

● My favorite pastry and coffee combo on Monday morning before the drive south.

● An afternoon massage to work out that knot in my right piriformus/IT band.

● Dinner on New Scotland Avenue with my son to take advantage of their Restaurant Week.

● A hot bath & bed.

Was it indulgent? Yes. Did I feel special? Absolutely. Is this something that is possible every single year? No way, but in a month that also includes 2 funerals and a wake, I won’t apologize for how I spent my weekend. Life is short, friends. There’s only so much time to work on becoming a legend to your future grandchildren. You’d better get busy!

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, breakfast, concerts, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, relationships, running, Saratoga, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Getting bent at Fort Orange Brewing

September, with its temperatures that can swing 40 degrees in 48 hours, is flying by. If I look at my calendar too far ahead, I get palpitations, so I’m trying to be in the moment as much as possible. I don’t want to miss anything in my haste to get through a month that is chock full of events and activities. Yoga helps.

When it comes to my practice, I’m happy to take a variety of classes. Fortunately, The Hot Yoga Spot is always upping their game and offering classes in cool new locations – like June Farms or, as I experienced Sunday, the Warehouse District’s Fort Orange Brewing.

Class (approximately 60 minutes) was a total bargain at $12, including a beer. I arrived about 10 minutes early and grabbed a spot in the rear, away from the open garage door that faced the street. Our instructor was terrific – her voice projected well and despite a lack of mirrors, her vocal cues kept us all engaged and focused.

Although I’ve probably been guided through chaturanga to upward dog dozens and dozens of times, something clicked for me during yesterday’s practice. I finally, while in plank, shifted my body forward before bending my arms and the flow was completely different. It felt awesome. Today, my arms and shoulders feel tender, a sensation that I welcome as evidence of my need to use those particular muscles more frequently.  The cool evening also provides me with the ideal excuse to take an indulgent bath. Win-win.

I’ll be stretching those traps and triceps again this Saturday at the 2nd annual Yogapalooza. See you there?

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Filed under Albany, beer, Brunch, drinking, Events, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, sunday, yoga

Albany XXX

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Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

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