nyc


take a trendy midtown hotel and add some fake snow,bear skin rugs, fun cocktails, and what do you get?

the best new lounge/bar in which to while away your Wintry nights in NYC.

lodge

enter the Hudson Lodge in the fabulous Hudson Hotel, located near Columbus Circle on West 58th St. if you’re not looking for it, the Hudson is easy to miss, as there’s no flaunting signage or grand entrance — you have to spot the glowing yellowish lights on a grayish building, and an immediate escalator sweeps you up into the main lobby and into all the fun.

the Lodge definitely met my expectations — which were high, as the promise of a ski bum-esque bar in fave venue not far from my apartment greatly entices — and it opened at the perfect time of year, just as we’re heading into Winter. i went with the singular goal of plopping myself down on that big square bed/backless couch thing draped with animal pelts, and after about an hour of standing around (yes, the only problem was the lack of sitting room available, as all tables have to be reserved prior), our group managed to snag some real estate front-and-center.
ski bunniesAlex, Jessie and me, chilling on the communal couch-bed and singing along to the fab DJs and karaoke. and those fun cocktails we’re sporting? they were called Snow Cones, and they were delicious. if you go, you want to get one. trust me on this.

we were really impressed with the quirky and fun DJs as well; so much so that Alex and i are still talking about DangerKat. any description i attempt to attribute to this girl would absolutely not do her justice, so please, just check her out. she was spunky, dancey, personable, creative, and incredibly unique — we were super jealous of how she could sport a paint-splattered chambray shirt down to her knees and a scarf that looked like a couch throw, and yet be the most beautiful person in the room. the girl oozed personality and presence, and we both kinda want to be her when we grow up. she and her hubby make up the DJ group DangerJelly…and we intend to strategically plan our next HL night around their DJing schedule.

dangerjelly

Hudson Lodge was a win on all levels! definitely recommend checking it out for some ski bunny-style fun. it’s the quintessential NYC style apres-ski bar — without the skiing, but with all the Winter fun.

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once upon a time, before i got so busy that i spent zero seconds doing anything in my apartment other than diving into my bed like it was the Fountain of Youth, i used to be a writer.
or, at least, i fancied myself somewhat of one. recreationally. in my own head. when the spirit moved me. or something like an Indian Summer Day or a Pinkberry sign made me feel spontaneously inspired and glad to be alive.

then i decided i’d start a blog in case anyone else in my little world thought i might have something interesting to say (or happened to stumble upon it and have a few seconds of his/her life to devote to often nonsensical random ramblings and sometimes pretty pictures that make everything better). or maybe i just was looking for an outlet to unleash my utterly girlish side. or because “everyone else who wanted to write” was doing it and goshdarnnit if i let myself be left out.

then i somehow contracted selective amnesia and forgot about certain things in my life that i once held dear, like blogs and frozen yogurt and how amazing an early morning run along the Hudson River feels on a Wednesday, when most of the city is still fast asleep.

i went looking for THIS last night, but my local joint didnt’ have it yet. fail. will stalk until mission completed.

however, THIS certainly started my day off well this morning:

so after some well-needed introspection about what’s missing in my life and a renewed desire to prioritize my time around what i love most, i’m (hopefully)  back in action. and hoping to finally get this blog looking more like a well-tended-to child rather than a neglected little ragamuffin.

let’s hope this resolution lasts longer than my love affair with spin class (it was my knee, i swear).

i’ve always been a sucker for a fairytale.

i’ll admit it: as wishy-washy as i may seem about real-life “falling in love” and the prince who sweeps the maiden away, i crave the unreality of a fairytale with all the ardor of a little girl pinning her hopes on the Second Star to the Right and praying for the Magical to happen. if i could procure a position as a Disney princess, i’d move to that fantasy world in a heartbeat.

no even lie. tell me a pretty story, and i’m (maybe) yours forever. the more dragons and unicorns and mermaids, the more i’ll love you.

combine this fairytale affinity with my intense appreciation for all things Shakespeare, especially modern remakes of his beloved plays that add their own unique spins and interpretations, and you can only imagine my delight at winning Monday’s online lottery for Shakespeare in the Park. the play? Into the Woods, Shakespeare’s very own fairytale, starring Amy Adams & Donna Murphy (who was outstanding beyond all reasonable belief as the Witch).

photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

since i went into this summer hoping beyond all hope that i’d close it with a Shakespeare in the Park experience tucked beneath my skin, i was suuuuper excited. i expected it to be good; after all, this is a highlight of NYC theater during the summer, and set right in the heart of Central Park. what i didn’t expect was to be entirely rivted to every movement by every actor in the musical, laughing (it was hilarious!) and ultimately crying (surprisingly, at the inclusion of touching family dynamics and the realization that we need to hold close to us those whom we never wish to lose). i will venture to say this is one of the most unique, engaging theater performances i’ve seen in a long, long time. everything about it was just right.

for starters, the multi-tiered treehouse of a set was absolutely incredible. it was impossible to become disengaged for even a moment as the actors treated it like a playground, constantly drawing our eyes to all corners of the set and enacting a truly dimensional performance. i had to fight an intense desire to climb up and crawl into that hollow “tower” at the very top, where Rapunzel lounged and let down her hair.

talk about a perfect little nook!

treehouse set of Into the Woods in Central Park

i love how this play weaves together the stories of so many fairytale characters. Cinderella & Rapunzel fall in love with fickle brother princes who later leave them for Snow White & Sleeping Beauty; Jack (as in, the Beanstalk boy) is befriended by the spunky, fiesty, bold-mouthed Little Red Riding Hood (who stole the show for me, clad in an indie get-up that included knee socks and a candy-red bike helmet and admittedly almost enjoying her seduction by the Big Bad Wolf); and all the while the staple of any fairytale, the wonderful and fearsome Wicked Witch, cavorts around with her hysteria and her awesome terribleness that you can’t help adoring.

i was extremely impressed with the entire cast, as well as the song-writing (some of the lyrics were HILARIOUS). and at the ending, when the father and son had their “moment” and portrayed the indelibility of family ties, i couldn’t hold back the tears.

i kept thinking of Hamlet’s assertion that the purpose of theater is “to hold the mirror up to nature” and show humanity exactly what it looks like at its very essence, exposing the rawness of life and emotion and evoking feeling within us that might otherwise lay dormant. i felt like this play did that for me, as i sat with tears in my eyes and thought about a world where beauty and ugliness coexist; where tears mingle with peals of laughter and nothing ever turns out exactly the way we expected it would — but in the end, that’s just how it was meant to be.

and i left grateful for my little life and this small pocket of space and time, where actors on a stage reminded me the importance of holding close those who i’m blessed to love the most.

 

it’s never quite a love story in this city
until it is
the sky falling down in pieces
clouds and shadows tumbling like ghostly acrobats
bruising my thin skin
and as always, i’m caught unawares
in the clutches of dusk and you

you, who found me at my armageddon
in the days of falling skies
& shrapnel stars,
reaching for my hand with your electric touch
as though this made sense;
as though girls like me did things like kiss a familiar stranger
on a quiet street–
brandishing your charm & ego like a faithful noose when you said
“do anything but stand still”
and i couldn’t remember how to move
that first time you leaned in —

you make me tremble,
a ribbon in a storm

and we both know this is
only the beginning,
like a child opening treasure chests in a forgotten attic
with her heart in her throat
and i will leave you with my name on your lips
&  the advent of a certain kiss
wavering in the balance

In these days of smaller moons & wider skies
deep as secrets kept only until daybreak,
I struggle past feverish dreams of falling
to wake with Summer hanging on my morning lips
and you are gone but
everywhere,
just the way I hoped it’d never be

til one day or every, I will see you again
pass you like a stranger in a liquid crowd
pulsing cross a Midtown street
as you go the wrong direction
(if the right one was ever ours)
and your name will catch in my throat,
a foreign object around which I must relearn to breathe
like a child choking on a hard candy,
terrified by how something so intoxicatingly sweet
can blacken you out completely

and at best
I’ll wake up to a gray sky
& wonder if I even dozed at all,
missing you in the silences
while talking in my sleep
yet again.

what’s better than doing a long run through a pretty park on a Spring morning?

doing one for a great charity and running with a friend the whole way, that’s what. i felt really blessed to be able to do so on March 24, when my friend Hanne & i ran the New York 13.1 series half marathon in Queens to raise money for the international relief organization World Vision. it was my first charity run, and it was a true honor to wear a jersey in support of such a tremendous cause and know that so many people — friends and strangers alike — were supporting me  because i was part of something bigger than myself. i was surprised by how many fans came out to cheer on all the World Vision runners, and it was so encouraging to see them waving at us and yelling “Go Team World Vision!”, as well as exchange encouragement with other runners alongside us who were running for the same reason we were.

it was an ideal race, really, with a 9:30am start time (a welcome change to my 5:30 gun in Disney!) and set in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. the weather was perfect for running (60ish), the course was almost entirely flat, and the spectators were energetic. this was only the third year this race has been in existence and they said it drew about 5,000 runners, which was more than double the turnout from last year. the results showed 3,367 finishers and i was number 1,112, so i’m happy with that.

truth be told, i was simply glad to finish this one in one piece! despite the great conditions and the fact that i should be a pro at these “halvies” by now, having run 3 in the past 6 months, i really struggled with this one from the get-go. it was a combination of factors, really: muscle soreness from refusing to take enough rest days off of Zumba, boot camp and salsa that week (whoops); having not completed any long runs in my training (unless you count the Disney princess half exactly a month prior); barely any stretching or foam rolling; my recurring knee issues that i left unattended; and most importantly, i believe, the fact that i didn’t ask as many people to pray for me this time around! those prayers really carried me through my first two, and i won’t make that mistake again.

the knee pain kicked in much earlier than usual — maybe around mile 5-6 — and twice i had to stop for a quick stretch and some necessary whining. it was Hanne’s company, constant conversation, and support that really helped me buck up and pull through this race despite my constant pain and discouragement at myself for feeling so lousy and not training more or taking care of my injury. thank God for a great friend and running partner!

despite how i felt, i actually achieved my best time and had a PR in this race! who would have thought? 1:57:32. rock on, i’ll take it.

thanks to all my friends and family who supported me and encouraged me — i couldn’t have done it without you. i’m proud to have helped raise money to support World Vision’s relief efforts, and i hope to be able to complete more charity races in the future. if i’m going to continue to be a runner, i want to use it to give back to more than just my own personal success stories.

because in the long run, well…i’d like to be running this race for more than simply myself.

and sometimes, i run for a good reason.

lucky me — i have two of those very good reasons coming up in the next two months!

after all the fun and the incredible self-discipline and personal lessons i experienced running my first half marathon, i decided that’s a nice race length for me to continue pushing myself to achieve. so i decided to continue focusing on training for some more halfs (halves?), and i found two that totally tickle my fancy.

one suits the “fun” side:

 

and the other fits the “help people while doing something i love” bill:

 

does that look like a great lineup or what? yeah…i’m stoked.

so i’ve been dreaming of running the Disney Princess half since its inaugural race, and this year, that dream will finalllly materialize in all its girly, princessy frivolity. yes, i will dress like a Disney princess, and yes, you’ll have to wait until post-race to see the pictures and discover which one i’m choosing. a princess never reveals her secrets…

 

and who doesn’t want a medal shaped like a tiara to hang on her wall?


this girl certainly does.

so, that’s my fun, girly race, and i’ll be weaving through the Magic Kingdom and other such parks on Feb. 26 with a whole mess of other women who all harbor not-so-secret dreams of being Disney-rific as well. and you know what? i don’t remember the last time i’ve been this excited about being a girl.

the other half i’m running is for a much more serious reason than tiaras and tulle. i’m running the 13.1 Queens half marathon in Flushing Meadows Park on March 24 in support of World Vision,  “a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” this is the first race i’ve ever run for a charity, and i’m so honored and blessed to be able to participate on such a great team of people and run for a reason other than personal satisfaction and finish-line fever.

if you want to support me, either monetarily (all donations go to World Vision 100%) or through prayer and encouragement, i’d be absolutely thrilled.

please visit My Personal Fundraising Page to donate or find out more.

and if you happen to be in NYC on March 24 (or Orlando on Feb. 26!), i’d love the in-person support! signs and t-shirts are always a nice little touch as well….

just sayin’.

xoxo,
Shawna Marie

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