The Fixer-Upper on the Upper East Side

10155008_10152321656079255_1578547742_nI was 23–nearly 24–when I first moved into the second-floor walk-up on East 90th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues. I moved into the tiny, sundrenched bedroom in April 2005. It had taken nearly a week to paint the room because it had been particularly humid and rainy and the walls did not seem to dry. My best friend Sharon and I would meet after work to paint and order a half CPA (Chicken, Pesto, Artichoke), half Billy the Kid (goat cheese, pignoli, peppers) from the now-shuttered Pintaile’s Pizza on 91st and Madison. We would listen to a rotating mix of Joy Division, New Order, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, which felt like the perfect soundtrack to that most existential of 20-somethings experience–the first apartment.

The apartment had not been renovated in probably 25 years. It was a railroad apartment–or a “walk through”–in which all the rooms were connected except for the kitchen, bathroom, and my bedroom. The kitchen floor was covered in a faded black linoleum with white marbling. The hallway leading from the kitchen to the rest of the apartment had floors that partially slanted. The doors to the living room–which was really more like a parlor in the old sense–were hanging off the hinges. There was hardly any furniture in the living room.

The place needed a lot of work. But when I visited it after responding to a Craigslist ad in March 2005, all I saw was cheap rent and the chance to live on the Upper East Side. The apartment came with two roommates–M, a then-25-year old woman who was supposedly working in real estate and K, a then-32-year old woman who was a struggling actress. By the time I moved out seven years later, I had had 12 roommates, four different jobs at five different places, two years of graduate school, one boyfriend (and several flings), and had gone from being an agnostic to working in the field of evangelism for my church. What I didn’t realize–like most 23-year-olds–was that I also needed a lot of work. And that apartment became the place where much of it was done. Continue reading

Lincoln Haikus


Stovepipe hat and beard
Second in POTUS fashion
to Taft’s buttless chaps


His log cabin house
Symbol of his humble roots;
Hatred of beavers


“Party of Lincoln”
Also champion of state’s rights.
Wait, how? Nevermind…


Our Tallest President, in Perspective
Six feet, four inches
Adjusted for inflation:
Mount Rushmore, to scale.


Gettysburg Address
Let’s keep this short, guys.
Three minutes tops. And no, there
Will be no encore.
(drops mic)


Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Lost election but
Won debate. Oh and later
became President.
(drops mic again)


Preserved the union
Emancipated millions.
Greatest of all time.
(no mic drop big enough)

Race to the Finish: Lady Sings the Truth


Courtesy of the Gottlieb Collection. Portrait of Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of the locally made documentary, Being Billie.  The film looks at Billie Holiday’s life, her musical career, the outside forces imposing on her life, and how unique and important an artist she was and is.

I’ve loved Billie Holiday since I was younger, when I listened to a lot of jazz. I remember knowing vaguely that she was a “junkie” and died young. I can’t tell you much about the personal lives of the other women on the CD I had of jazz and blues women – Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald. But Billie’s drug use was something that just went naturally with hearing her name.

And that’s precisely how the government figures in the early War on Drugs planned it – though they probably didn’t know how lasting their branding of Billie would be. The film Being Billie only touches briefly on this, but Billie Holiday was targeted mercilessly and made into an example by Harry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. I’ll talk more about the War on Drugs in the weeks to come, but when I came across this Politico article, I was astonished to see the seeds of the War on Drugs even as early as the 1930s. It’s reminiscent of J. Edgar Hoover’s targeting of Martin Luther King Jr, but Anslinger’s overt racism and relentless pursuit of Billie essentially killed her. Continue reading

The Realistic Dietitian #8: Breakfast!

Breakfast! Not only is breakfast delicious, it’s also incredibly good for you and an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. A lot of people skip breakfast in an attempt to lose weight, but skipping breakfast can actually have the opposite of the intended effect. People also tell me that they don’t have time to make/eat breakfast. I’m sorry, but this is not a good excuse. There are many healthy breakfast options that take five minutes or less to prepare, or are grab-and-go friendly. I bet you can find five minutes in the morning. If you can’t, set your alarm five minutes earlier than you usually would. Or, make something the night before that you can just grab. You can do it! It really does set you out on the right track for the rest of the day.

It is very important to eat something within about an hour of waking up. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and provides your body with fuel to get you through the day. If you don’t, your metabolism begins to slow down and your body goes into a preservation mode; burning less calories because its not sure when you are going to feed it again. Your body is saying, “Hey, are you going to feed me today? No? OK, well i’m going to shut down your metabolism and start storing fat in case you don’t feed me again for a while.” You may hear grumbling, but trust me, this is what your stomach is trying to tell you. This leads to weight gain. Continue reading