Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simone the Psychic at Sant Ambroeus

On Saturday night I went out with my best friend Jessi and my boyfriend Justin to grab a late bite and drinks at Sant Ambroeus in the West Village. We ate al fresco on the sidewalk and took in the scenery, which consisted mostly of drunk passers-by. We noticed a large drag queen reading peoples’ palms at a table nearby. He/She was peering into diners’ palms and speaking quickly and in a hushed voice. We were a bit wine-buzzed ourselves and we were feeling open-minded, so we welcomed The Palm Reader when she shimmied over to our table. She laid it out for us: “I won’t charge you but I do take tips. My name’s Simone.” Off the bat this was an auspicious situation, the name Simone also belonging to Justin’s beautiful new niece.

Simone turned first to Jessi. She thrust a small black flashlight at Jessi’s life-line (it’s long) and started spitting out rapid-fire psychic observations:            
Simone said Jessi in an over-achiever and a perfectionist. (True) Jessi is stressed at work. (True) Jessi is too picky. (True) Simone told Jessi to go out dancing that night, to let her hair down and to flirt with not one but two guys and to get their phone numbers. And Simone told Jessi to stop going for her same “type.” (True!) How did Simone know Jessi planned to go out on the town after our meal? (Jessi had plans to meet another girlfriend at a club; Justin and I had plans to meet our friend Bill Maher in our living room.)                                                                                                      
Next up for psychic observation: Me
Simone said I’m too focused on my family. (True?) She said I’m stuck between being a homebody and wanting to go on wild adventures. (True) She said I should take a vacation. (True) (And ironic considering my most recent post on… taking vacations.) And Simone said I procrastinate. (Guilty)

And then Justin:
Simone said Justin is entrepreneurial. (True) And then Simone said that Justin needs to tie the knot with his significant other soon. (Hmm) And she said he had recently made a big purchase. (True??? Justin won’t tell…)

Jessi and I were sold! We forked over some cash and asked where we could find Simone – did she have a card? No she said. But she “works the block” (By West 4th & Perry) and she’s often at The Stonewall Inn and the Cubby Hole.

On Monday I asked Jessi if she ended up flirting with 2 guys on Saturday night and getting their numbers. Did she venture outside of her type? No, she said, she’s too picky :)


P.S. Sant Ambroeus is delicious! The appetizers are pricey but the main courses are on par with NYC pricing. We had the Tagliatelle Saltate Alla Bolognese and Penne Al Pomodoro E Basilico.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We’re the weird ones.

I’m a big fan of Bill Maher, and I’m a big fan of taking vacations. So when Maher spoke about the ridiculousness of the American attitude towards time off in his New Rules soliloquy this past Friday, I perked up. And please keep in mind that the below quote was meant by Maher as a joke. But his message is sincere. 
  • "New Rule: American workers must get at least as much paid vacation as the Chinese slaves who make their iPhones.”

Allow me to paraphrase Maher’s explanation: 138 nations mandate vacation time by law. The United States is not one of them. The French take a minimum of 30 paid vacation days. The English get 28 paid days off. The Swiss get 20. Our government requires 0.

And when some Americans do travel they think it’s weird when Europeans dip out for a siesta after lunch. What these Americans don’t realize is that we’re the weird ones. The Europeans have the right idea.

Of course a majority of Americans don't even take all of the few vacation days they get. They’re too scared to seem less valuable to their bosses, especially because we live in the only “big boy country” (Maher’s phraseology) where losing your job means also losing your healthcare.

And Maher concludes: “And then you won't be able to get the Prozac that helps you forget how depressed you are about having no free time.”

Maher makes the valid (and to me, quite obvious) point that Americans have an overall skewed view when it comes to vacation time. And after all, we are a nation founded on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of HappinessIt really is ironic that such a lazy culture frowns upon taking time off from work. It’s commonsense to me that workers need downtime to unwind and refresh, in order to ultimately be more productive in the workplace. (And in their personal lives.) Somehow our nation (and especially NYC) has demonized the idea of taking days off from the daily grind. Prior to my current career in yoga I had one coworker who proudly pronounced she had missed a family member’s wedding for a work event. She had made the comment in an attempt to gain respect. Instead I felt bad for her. Many of my friends are terrified to even request the days off that they technically have. And in many cases HR may indicate two weeks, but what employers really expect is less than five days. And five days or even two weeks vacation time max allowed during a whole year? That’s an INSANELY small allowance of personal time. And for so many Americans it’s not spent in the sun or the sand or even on the couch. It’s spent going to the doctor, taking care of kids, doing tedious errands, etc. God forbid we hard-working Americans take extended periods of time to just play.

And it’s not just American adults who are downtime-deprived. I’ve heard horror stories from babysitters who say they’ve told kids to go outside and play, and the kids ask, “What should we do?” Many kids these days are directionless without their Wii’s or iPads or whatever. Our current culture doesn’t necessarily foster imagination. Tots are so used to coexisting with technology or being carted from one organized activity to another – so many of them can’t just go outside and play.

But back to the older set: Everybody’s literally working for the weekend. “Work hard/play hard” is the saying. Spend Monday through Friday hunched over a keyboard only to be able to enjoy binge drinking on both Friday and Saturday nights. And then repeat. And repeat. Forever. Instead let’s aim for a more (to some, weird) European lifestyle. Have a glass of wine with lunch. Take a siesta in the afternoon. Take all of August off. And – somehow! – still get your sh*t done. It boils down to priorities. My priorities are to do work that is meaningful and of service, and to have good old-fashioned fun – to eat meals with my friends and family, to get besos and high-fives from my nephew, to linger over half-cafs at Starbucks with my dad, to go biking along the Hudson with my boyfriend, to go on adventures in truly beautiful places like Napa and Peru… to really pursue happiness.  

P.S. Martha Beck speaks to the importance of engaging in ‘deep play’ in her book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. Read an insightful interview here. Good stuff. 

images via pinterest

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