Learning A New Language: Month 2

Have you guys ever noticed how EVERY treadmill at your gym is completely taken in January, and then around February…crickets. Where did all the people go?!  Creeping away from their New Year’s Resolution, that’s where!  Which is kinda what happened to me this month…

funny-new-years-resolutions-going-to-the-gym-funny-someecards1As you’ll recall, I started January on a super high note with my language learning…I was playing the CD’s, writing daily phrases on our kitchen chalkboard, even texting in the mother tongue!  But then I lost that thing we know is SO essential to turning a resolution into a habit: motivation.

Around mid-month when I really noticed my progress slacking, I asked myself what the problem was (well, besides I just really suck at learning new languages…the struggle is real!)  But more importantly: I find language learning incredibly boring, so would push it back as far as possible into my day, putting other things way in front of it: reading blogs, going to yoga, sweeping the floors…seriously, anything that wasn’t language learning!  And then before I knew it, it was time for bed, and guess what?  No practice for Jess!  I reminded myself of Gretchen Rubin’s magical words of advice:

“Things often get harder before they get easier.”

So here’s what I changed towards the end of the month to address my problem of procrastinating my studies: I set my alarm (and coffee pot timer!) an hour earlier in the morning (I’m a morning person anyway so this wasn’t so terrible), and now study for an hour before my day starts.  This still hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s simple or enjoyable, and I’m not quite sure it will.  But you know what will eventually happen if I keep with it?  I’ll speak Bosnian a little better.

How are you 2015 resolutions/habits coming along?  Feel free to vent in the comments below!;-)  




Intermission: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Theater-Curious Incident of the DogThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” has totally captured both critic and audience.  No doubt in anyone’s mind; this is the play to see this Broadway season.  Another “Brit on Broadway” import, and a story of such universal importance and reach . We all relate, its ideas cross borders, it strikes a major chord while playing in a minor key – and hits us in our core.  How often does THAT happen?

This drama perfects what I term the “essential p’s”  -  plot, production and  performance.  All three of these elements magnificently align for a moving, perfect whole in this absorbing drama.  The story in truth is relatively simple – but that is not necessarily the point here.   Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night.  This show is ripe for discussion; you’ve just got to talk about it.  So thank you Jess for allowing me to get my thoughts out on paper.   

In the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, the breath taking pace of today’s technology creatively captures the story line, and indeed this is what captures our minds in addition to our hearts.  In many of the stage scenes, you feel like you have left terra firma, and are inside your computer’s hard drive, observing as well as participating in its inner workings.   Not only do lighting effects and imaginative staging dynamically augment this contemporary story, but in the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” it dominates this particular production.  There simply is no other way to tell this tale involving so much motion and emotion – both externally and internally – without pushing the limits of lighting and staging.

Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night. 

“The Curious Incident of the Dog….” is based on a mesmerizing, successful novel -  written uniquely in the first person singular – of the same title. It centers, literally and figuratively, on an autistic teenager, Christopher Boone – who is indeed a first person singular in every possible way, a beautiful being. He discovers his neighbor’s dead dog one shocking morning, and this provides the backdrop for an intelligent, thrilling, emotional journey..  Christopher is what is termed an “idiot savant” – his particular genius is math, he is a geometrically walking trigonometry table. Math never lies and an innocent like Christopher can only understand truth.  He is disturbed and touched by this dog’s untimely death. So he decides to use complex mathematical formulas (aren’t you slightly jealous of people who can take Pi beyond the usual 3.14 ?!!) and must leave his comfort zone to solve this crime.  Genius as he is in mathematics, Christopher cannot understand simple daily activities and has never traveled by himself, let alone outside his neighborhood.  He lives in his own specialized autistic world with his Father as sole parent, and he is about to cross boundaries and meet people way beyond his small universe.

HINT:  what is essential to the heart and mind is invisible. Doubtful any mathematical equation could be more slight…yet more complex.  From the ordinary to the extraordinary…..with so many stops along the way.  Yet sometimes you have to go in complete circles before you get anywhere. This story of love, family, survival is a complete experience, you feel entirely satisfied, a rich completeness as the curtain drops.  It’s a contemporary catharsis of which ancient Aristotle would mightily approve.  Such pathos, I was searching for my Kleenex.

I reserve solo special raves for Alex Sharp, a recent Juilliard Drama School Grad playing the teenage lead.  He is BEYOND amazing, what an auspicious Broadway debut. Personally I think (as do those in the know) a Tony nomination, if not a win, is assured. Such a physical role, he is in every scene – in mind and matter.  And BOTH matter on stage.  Keen intelligence as well as stamina is required for the portrayal of an autistic savant teenager, this is a challenge for any actor, let alone one spanking new to the boards. Bravo Alex, you are fantastic.

06CURIOUS-slide-UKTL-slideThe rest of the cast – who assume multiple roles in this show – surely deserve great praise. Particularly stand out are Mercedes Herrero, Richard Hollis and Francesca Faridany who plays Siobhan, Alex’s oft quoted teacher. Be apprised, at the Sunday matinee and Wednesday evening performance, Taylor Trensch will play the part of Christopher.

It bears repeating…you have to find a new way to tell a story, an innovative manner. The playwright, Simon Stephens, has done just that with this bold, daunting play, a novel approach to a novel!  Broadway is catching up to film and its imaginative use of today’s technology, not only in musicals which it serves so well, but in straight dramas.


WARINING: Just when you think the show is over, and the well earned applause has stopped, stick around. You are in for a treat! I’ll say no more except stay put and enjoy this interesting sidebar. Intriguing, right?!    

Have you seen the show or read the book?  Let’s chat in the comments below!

By: Joanne Thedorou

||Photo Credit: 1, 2||




5 Tips For Making It Through Cold And Flu Season + Giveaway

You know those people with immune systems made of steel, that never so much as get a sniffle during cold & flu season?  (sidenote: nope, I’m not one of them!)  Being sick is the absolute pits, and I envy those iron men and women warriors even more this time of year, because you know what especially sucks when you’re bundled in 17 layers of clothing and surrounded by a million people?  Having a coughing fit on the subway that’s so bad you actually accept a cough drop from an absolute stranger, and only later think that accepting digestible things from people on the train may not be among the smartest things you’ve ever done.  But desperate times, right?  (yep! true story, happened to me!)

So.  I asked a few of those “I never ever get sick, ever” people what their secrets to surviving the season are (besides get the flu shot and wash your hands, cause I think we’re all pretty aware of those by now, yeah?)  Here’s their tips:

Puffs copy1. Drink A Gallon Of Water A Day

I feel the need to run to the bathroom just reading that, but keeping hydrated is the number one “don’t get sick” rule everyone swears by.

2. Don’t Over Schedule Yourself

All the New Yorkers are rolling their eyes at this one, I know.  But exhausting yourself is a sure fire way to get your immune system really tired, too.  So instead of packing your weekends and evenings full of activities to keep yourself from seasonal depression (come on already, spring!), carve plenty of time to just chill in the comfort (and cleanliness!) of your own apartment.

3. Don’t Touch Things

I worked with a woman once who would always open doors with a tissue or hanky, and wore gloves whenever she was on the subway (even in the summer, but the thin ones!)  While, yes, this can quickly label you as the office germaphobe, here’s a little secret: in the 3 years I knew her, she was never out sick once.  Healthy as a horse, that one!

4. “Neck Check” Before Working Out

It’s well-known that keeping fit during the winter can ward off getting sick, but if you’re starting to feel a bit under the weather, do a “neck check” before engaging in even light physical activity.  If the symptoms are ABOVE your neck (stuffy nose, sneezing, mild sore throat), a light workout is fine.  But if you’re feeling crappy BELOW your neck (body aches, chills, fever), skip the workout entirely and get in bed.

5. Make Yourself An Emergency Kit

You know what’s totally NOT fun?  Running to Duane Reade AFTER you’ve started feeling awful.  Walking around the drugstore like a zombie is nobody’s idea of a swell time.  So, load up on cold and flu essentials before the season gets in full swing, and keep them with you in case you (or a colleague, friend, or random stranger on the subway!) needs something.  A few essentials to keep in your baggie are: Airborne (because prevention!), tissues, nasal spray, cough drops, hand sanitizer, and a feel-better drug (like Dayquil!) to get you through the day.


And a special cold and flu treat for our readers!  We’re partnering with P&G and hosting a giveaway valued at $55, including $50 AMEX gift cards plus Puffs boxes and Vicks coupons.  Exciting right?!  Simply leave a comment below telling us your tips for staying well (and sane!) during cold and flu season.  Bonus points for tweeting out your response using the hashtags #NYTough and #ColdandFlu (just be sure to tag us so we see, @UsedYorkCity.)

The giveaway will end on March 15th, and winners will be notified via email.  Best of luck!






Use Your City: Lauren’s Raleigh

Today we welcome Lauren to the blog, an optometric photographer (i.e. takes medical images of patient’s eyes) from Raleigh, North Carolina!  Lauren shares with us how she stays inspired by using her city, every single day.

Screen-Shot-2012-04-19-at-8.09.21-PMCity Guide: Raleigh, North Carolina

How would you describe Raleigh to someone who has never been?

It is a little big city. Whether it’s live music, a theatre production or festival there is always something going on. Just pick up a free Indy (Independent) Weekly at most any establishment and you’ll be overloaded with options. Or check out their website.

23667_409947169972_4340533_nWhat are three words that define Raleigh?

Something for Everyone.

What makes someone a tried-and-true-bleed-blue person from Raleigh?

You like a side of Art with your wine.

What is the one Raleigh clothing essential?

Boat shoes, wallabies or sandals.

261966_10151267365329973_84827474_n 550751_10151267366199973_766017666_n 421246_10151267367794973_452493727_nSomewhere super touristy you still like to visit?

City Market and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

What’s the best way to get around the city? Bike, bus, car…

If you’re downtown catch the R line. Anywhere else by car. Raleigh has cabs and Uber!

What is your city’s philosophy?

Good Food. Good Drinks. Great Friends.

75133_10151276996379973_449050848_nDescribe an ideal day in Raleigh.

A morning run and good cup of coffee. An afternoon with your friends perusing a festival, flea market or fair. Dinner and drinks downtown with friends and a night full of live music and/or dancing.

643985_10151308714974973_1307161907_n 257767_10150268598444973_5759927_oWhat hotel do you recommend to visiting friends?

Stay downtown.

What is your favorite place for…

A date night: Drinks and tapas at Buku, a fusion style restaurant and bar – then catch a show at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. Maybe followed by a liquor drink at C. Grace, a 1920’s style bar that frequently has live jazz music and you can get a fabulous, fancy drink for around $10.

A dinner with friends: Natty Greene’s. Good beer, good food. Check out their thirsty Thursday specials.

Working: Cameron Village Library

People watching: Park yourself somewhere in Lafayette Village. They have lots of shops and great things to eat. It mimics France, Eiffel Tower and all!

Shopping (boutique, vintage, chain store): Cameron Village – lots of good places to eat and great shopping! City market is downtown – lots of cute independent shops. And good food all around!

Your coffee shop: Cup – A- Joe on Hillsborough street. Very local.

Your local bar: The Raleigh Times. If you live here you’ll run into at least three people you know. A local favorite and a great way to meet people in the area, or to start off your night.

Your park: Lake Johnson if you’re up for a run or want to rent a kayak or paddle boat for the afternoon. For kids check out Pullen Park–they have a train, paddle boats, and a carousel!

What is one souvenir to bring back from Raleigh?

A few stamps on your hand from the night before.

1504095_10152384993954973_1813221521_nOkay, now some really hard questions…

Mountains or ocean?

You get the best of both. If you’re adventurous, a camp on Carolina Beach is a fun way to spend the weekend and meet new people. A few faves are Topsail Island, Wrightsville beach, and the Outer banks (they still have wild horses…!)  And yet…The Appalachian mountains – full of outdoor fun. White water rafting, camping, hiking, rock climbing. Asheville is a gorgeous town to visit, and if you make it that way check out the Biltmore Estate and winery!

1908366_10152608211914973_3850720149027241151_nChapel Hill or Duke?

Well there is a question.

Cook out or Cookout?

Cookout. Milkshakes. Open late.

Bojangles or Chick-fil-a?

Bojangles Cajun Filet biscuit combo with French fries and honey mustard please! Don’t forget my Iced tea :)

374068_10151308708934973_1167134117_n 269910_10151308708859973_1068111653_n 554061_10151308706799973_1046609858_nWinter, spring, summer, or fall?

The Fall in Raleigh is gorgeous. If you’re going to stay in town I would definitely recommend coming when the leaves are turning. But bring a pair of shorts because the weather is unpredictable!

Thanks so much for sharing your city with us, Lauren!  For more travel inspiration on folks making the most from their city, join us on the following linkups:

-Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox

-Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels

p.s. in case you missed it, here’s Kristen’s City Guide to Fort Collins, Colorado!




My NYC Guilty Pleasures

At a dinner party we hosted this fall, we went around the table and talked about our guilty pleasures.  It was so fun hearing the (sometimes) unexpected responses: watching “19 Kids and Counting”, smoking cigars while drinking red wine, collecting shoes, reading gossip magazines, Chinatown massages…!

Elsie from the blog A Beautiful Mess says:

“I like to photograph guilty pleasures because they change so quickly from season to season. I laugh so hard at myself when I see the first wine I used to buy or the television shows I used to enjoy in my early twenties (… hangs head in shame…).”

Guilty pleasures are also so much fun because they can turn a bad day good, am I right?  I know when I’m having a particularly stressful week, doing any of the below things around the city is an automatic spirit booster:

6886216260_99bfa9a22d_z{eating super overpriced sugar, i.e. macaroons}

img_7627-1{getting a cheap massage}

MTI1MjgwMTU4NzU1MTAxMTUw{perusing delicious scents}

image18{8 hour karaoke marathons, with friends or alone}

fs_0{putting on a lbd and finding a frank sinatra impersonator crooning at a dark, candlelit club}

I’d love to know…what is your guilty pleasure?

||Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,||