First of all, I must preface my list by saying that though I am a culture vulture, I do not get to see or do half of what I’d like to. Reason: kids. I have no complaints as I’m in a new chapter of life, but my pre-baby life was indeed more culturally satisfying. Still, thankfully, I have a great husband who allows me to fulfill a side of me that needs to be culturally enriched. And given the fact that we live right outside NYC and pay premium prices to do so, I see and do as much as I can.
So, on that note, here is a short top 10 of my richest cultural experiences of 2010:
1. SOCIAL MEDIA: For me, 2010 was my entrance into the world of blogging and Twitter. I had been thinking of blogging for years, but distractions continued to delay my start (mainly working, having kids, trying to do it all). Finally, I asked myself, “What are you waiting for?” and jumped in, head first. Blogging and tweeting have provided the perfect outlet to explore parts of me that had been neglected since I had kids. It has not only brought to my door new skills and opportunities, but a network of wonderful friends and comrades that I feel so grateful to know. My daily life is more rewarding as a result, and SOCIAL MEDIA for me is the top of my Best of list for 2010. Blogging has also led to new work experiences, like my current role at Ruckus Mobile Media. It is a world that I love and hope to enhance fully in 2011. I also attended my first blogging conferences with BlogHer and TBEX and hope to attend more in 2011, starting with Blissdom next month. I have also become a contributing writer to wonderful sites like Traveling Moms, A Child Grows, CBS New York and I’m a blogging ambassador for the fantastic PBS 13 Kids Club. Of course, I have to give credit to New York City Moms, which was the first site to accept my work and has since been sold to Technorati, but really introduced me to the world of blogging and to whom I owe so much.
2. THEATER: An avid theater goer, I bumped up my theater-going in 2011 (since having kids)and saw spectacular shows such as South Pacific at Lincoln Center, Time Stands Still (with the wonderful Laura Linney), Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Public Theater (in its off-Broadway run), Collected Stories, God of Carnage and A Behanding in Spokane. Part of my greatest theater enjoyment was taking my daughter to see Wicked and my son to see his first Broadway show with Elf. More than anything, I love bringing my kids into the theater and watching them take it all in, just as I did when I was a child. Other shows that I enjoyed taking them to includes Freckleface Strawberry, Cirque Du Soleil Ovo and the Gazillion Bubbles Show.
3. FILM: Given the fact that a night at the movies costs us an arm and a leg on top of a babysitter, we don’t see as many films as we’d like, but I did really love The Social Network, Black Swan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Head of Time (a Holocaust related documentary that played at the Jacob Burns Film Center Jewish Film Festival). On the kid’s front, my favorite movie of the year was Tangled, hands down. The producers of Yogi Bear should be ashamed of themselves for bringing that film to the screen.
4. TV: Mad Men, Mad Men, Mad Men. Oh, you get the picture, but I really loved where Matthew Weiner and his writers took the character development this year with all the major characters. I also adored True Blood, Big Love and Bored to Death. I am sure that if I had Showtime, I would also love everything they feature, too, just as I do with HBO. On the daytime front, I still watch The View (I love Whoopi and Joy, could definitely do without Elizabeth) and Oprah religiously when I can, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Going to a live taping of Oprah at Radio City Music Hall was a definite highlight of my year, and I must thank my sister for that.
5. TRAVEL: My husband I slipped away to the Mohonk Mountain House for a weekend alone, which was a treasure. I still have dreams about that spa. We also had a childless weekend in San Diego at the Four Seasons Aviara which was a slice of heaven. We spent a week in California (spending a few days at the family-friendly Hotel Erwin in Santa Monica) and three weeks in the UK and Israel (with time spent at the lovely Hotel Cafe Nina, an experience I will not soon forget). We also spent 10 days in Atlanta, with a quick getaway in Callaway Gardens, a wonderful family retreat, a weekend in Washington, DC, lots of time skiing in upstate NY, hiking in the Hudson Valley, a couple of weekends in Philadelphia and a few weekends at various hotels in NYC such as the luxurious Kimberly Hotel. In 2011, I do pledge to partake in more TRAVEL. My kids still aren’t easy at ages 6 and 7, but they are getting easier, and it’s time to show them even more of the world than they have been lucky enough to have seen.
6. MUSIC: My favorite concert of the year was Peter Gabriel at Radio City Music Hall. The kids and I were obsessed with Laurie Berkner and David Weinstone from Music for Aardvarks and we experienced fantastic concerts at Carnegie Hall, Jazz for Young People at Lincoln Center, BAM and Lincoln Center. Oh, also, I continued my love for WFUV 90.7.
7. Books: I absolutely loved and feel blessed to have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. These are two books that will stay with me forever. I also loved getting in touch with some classics like The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.
8. NYC FOOD: The food in NYC rules,and meals don’t get any better than at Saraghina in Bed Stuy, The Spotted Pig, Miriam Restaurant in Park Slope, Freemans, Commerce, Dafni Greek on 42nd Street and Taboon. I also love shopping for Middle Eastern delicacies at Sahadis in Brooklyn and sitting down for afternoon tea with the kids at Alice’s Tea Cup. As far as Westchester goes, where I live, the food is getting so much better and I applaud Coromandel in New Rochelle, newcomer Alvin and Friends in New Rochelle, Red Plum in Mamaroneck, X2O Xavier in Yonkers, Q in Portchester and Spadaro in New Rochelle (our latest and greatest find, just a few miles down the road).
9. NYC Kid’s Sites: The Intrepid, Imagination Playground, The Noguchi Museum, NY Hall of Science, Stepping Stones Children’s Museum in Norwalk, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Symphony Space, the New Victory Theater, Puppet Works in Park Slope, the Jewish Museum, ice-skating at Bryant Park, Wave Hill, Coney Island’s Luna Park, the Museum of Natural History, the Staten Island Ferry, the Bronx Zoo, the Train Show at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and the list could go on and on, so I shall stop here.
10. LOCAL: I’ve already mentioned the food in Westchester, but I must admit that I do feel lucky to live in a place so in tune and connected to the goings on in NYC. I have recently started a social media meet-up where I live called SoMedia with people who share common interests. Plus, we are fortunate to have the Pelham Picturehouse and Jacob Burns Film Center. I also adore the programming and the new children’s wing librarian at the Larchmont Library where I plan to launch a children’s film festival this year.
Lastly, I just want to touch on a few star interactions and sightings I had this year: Liev Schreiber at the NYT TimesTalks, Marcia Gay Harden at a Blogger’s event at the YMCA, Phillip Seymour Hoffman directly in front of me at the Atlantic Theater in the audience, John Slattery in the audience and lobby at Classic Stages and Julianne Moore eating at restaurant in the Standard Hotel. But best of all, I enjoyed seeing Cherry Jones and Sally Hakwins in Mrs. Warren’s Profession on Broadway and getting to speak to them after the show.
Phew! What a year! Looking forward to more great experiences in 2011 and recording them right here on this blog with all of you. Thank you so much for sticking around.