Feels like I’ve been speaking these words a lot lately. Like, for instance, in its most common form, “Aly, it’s never too late to become a Broadway dancer;” which over the past few years has transformed into “back-up dancer” and most recently, “professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars.” (Of course, there’s always the chance that my non-existent acting career could take off in which case ABC will then ask me to be a contestant on the show.)
It’s not an unattainable dream, this ability to become an electrifying dancer. I’ve had the proper training—from ages 5- 10 I took jazz and tap at the local studio, performing in recitals decked out in dazzling sequined costumes—and I’m quite comfortable in any kind of tard, be it “leo” or “uni.” So you see, I was cut out for dance, I just stopped short of realizing this talent, blinded by my countless other abilities.

Then, last year, I decided to pick up where I left off. I enrolled in a beginners Hip Hip class at NYC’s Broadway Dance Center. Now, I don’t know if Broadway Dance Center is the primo dance school in NYC, but that was definitely not a “beginners” class. The room was full of people who had been dancing their whole lives, who unlike me, continued after the age of 10 and didn’t dedicate their time to other passions. They were there with their taped up feet, perfectly ripped tights and cut-off sweatshirts, looking like real dancers; while I was in a pair of umbro’s and a tank top.

But that aside, I left that night a little disappointed. I’m not going to lie here—I thought I was going to go in there and really wow ‘em. I’m telling you, I’ve got great rhythm (thank you mom & dad). Ask around, I’ve been known to cut a rug or two. So you can just imagine the disappointment when I was stumbling over my own feet and couldn’t remember a simple “5-6-7-8” sequence. First class= bust. So onto the next, an “open” class as was written in the description. Little did I know this was “open” to all dancing levels—even more ego-killing than the first class. Wrong choice. I ended up standing in the back by the mirrors and bars while my eyes tried to keep up with the quick pattern of moves that came together so fluidly for everyone else. That was the last Broadway Dance Center saw of me. But alas, summer is over, fall is upon us and winter is approaching—the perfect time to get back in the game.
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Next stop…Steps on Broadway. I’ll give it a go, hopefully will stick it out longer than 2 classes and reach that level of accomplishment—which will manifest itself as a big recital, with costumes and an audience and me on stage under lots of lights! If my dream of making it to Dancing doesn’t pan out, I’ll be just as happy if I can come full circle in my dancing life cycle and perform in recitals until well over the age of 35.

And anyone reading this with the slight bit interest to join me, come along—humility loves company!


inoFor any NYC area foodie out there who likes good Italian food and wine on the cheap, I highly recommend visiting a little restaurant called ‘inoteca. There are actually two locations throughout the city—in addition to a sister restaurant, ‘ino— with the most recent outpost in walking distance of my office. So yesterday evening, after an over-priced glass of wine at the Campbell Apartment and a sudden increase in appetite, my friend Channing and I decided to take a stroll down 3rd Ave. for some grub. We weren’t really feeling the Murray Hill bar scene so we kept walking until coming across an unpretentious looking, fine dining Italian restaurant on 24th and Third. A quick glance inside the windows of ‘inoteca left me a little nervous about exceeding my week night dinner allowance. However, the feeling quickly subsided after sitting down and looking over the menu. For an Italian small plate restaurant with the standard menu sections of “antipasti,” “bruschette,” “Panini,” “primi,” and so on, ‘inoteca’s prices seemed quite reasonable. (Just a little heads up to those of you who haven’t been to ‘inoteca— all menu items are listed in Italian, but they provide a separate dictionary menu of sorts so you don’t order the duck hearts baked in phyllo when you thought you were getting the chicken parm. )

But as everyone knows, the prices add up quickly when you go out for ‘small plates.’ However, in terms of portion size, I wouldn’t put ‘inoteca in the same class as other small plate restaurants I’ve been to in the city. For one, the Panini could have been our entire meal (it was basically ooey, gooey goodness of melted fontina, mushroom and truffle oil between two crispy pieces of buttery toast.) And don’t even get me started on the chicken skewers, which we thought were going to come out like an app. sized chicken sate or kebabs. Um, not quite. It was more like a hearty winter time stew, or a crock-pot dinner that’s been simmering all day, with the most tender chunks of chicken that pulled apart with the touch of a fork, all covered in a massive heap of sautéed stewed tomatoes, onions and mushrooms–a true chicken cacciatore. And of course, rounding out our meal was the last-minute order of ‘inoteca’s famous Truffle Egg Toast, which to put simply, is a dinner version of your favorite breakfast French toast only the toast is baked with fontina cheese and poached eggs that are placed in a cut out portion in the center. When it’s all finished, the truffle oil is drizzled over top and the yolks ooze over the concoction, making it one heck of a presentation. Three courses and a glass of Italian wine and prosecco later, we were full—something I don’t think I’ve ever felt after an expensive tapas or small plates meal. And the best part is we got all this: fullness, wine and dinner for, that’s right, $30 each. So glad I don’t have to be a hermit this weekend to save up the money I thought I’d be throwing on the table last night.

So what it comes down to is that if you’re the type of person who likes to try a smorgasbord of menu items, if you’re an indecisive orderer because quite frankly everything on the menu sounds good, but you have no clue what it’s going to taste like, or if you regularly get diner’s remorse and always wish you ordered what the person next to you did, you’ll find a home at ‘inoteca.

And if anyone is salivating right now and on their way to ‘inoteca, call me up, I can be there in 20!

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I succumbed to my cravings! Since New Years I’ve been soda free. But alas, it was 4 p.m. and I needed a beverage, something to cure my sweet tooth. A quick walk downstairs to the bodega (once-named the Jesus store) found me smack dab in front of a glass case filled with an amazing assortment of colorfully packaged “cold drinks.” I was overwhelmed. It’s been so long. The sweetness in my mouth, the tingling of the bubbles on my tongue, down my throat. I spotted what I wanted, grabbed the metal handle of the door and slid it open. With my mouth salivating, I reached in to grab the bottle. Cold and wet. I almost didn’t make it to the cash register without twisting open the bottle cap. But my will power is stronger than my cravings. I reached in my bag to open my wallet and pull out the $1.50, dropped it on the counter, did a quick 90 degree turn and at the pace of a speed walker, headed straight for the elevators back to the office. What came next, the disappointment, surprised me. From what I remembered, Mountain Dew tasted much better than this. It used to leave me longing for another sip. But no. And now, all of that, breaking my New Year’s resolution, for a crappy tasting soda.

Someone was obviously rooting for me and must have made me choose Mountain Dew. I mean any other day, I would have pulled out a Cherry Pepsi or a Sprite from the case. It must be a sign. Okay, Okay, I hear you. I’ll just pick up where I left off, brush it off. Just a little bump in the road. No biggie. At least I still have my “no gum” challenge that I’m kicking a@# at (2 ½ months and counting.)

I’ve always been more favorable of team sports than the individual kind. (Dancing aside.)  I can remember my first gymnastics meet when I was 7. The whole time during my floor routine I was a nervous wreck thinking about how as soon as this was over I was telling my mom “I quit.” And so, that’s exactly what I did, thus defining my childhood and adolescence years as a participant in team sports: basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, all played on a competitive level–in school and club leagues–ranging from moderate to extremely intense (Ahem, Mr. Cocci). I was quite an energetic athlete, a firecracker if you will, who brought fun to the competitive and serious games.

It wasn’t until after college, when I became engrossed in the strenuous and stressful day-to-day life of corporate America, that I decided to take up a strictly social team sport. A sport that as a onetime elementary school student was the essence of gym class and recess–Kickball. NYCSSC is the organization behind this amazingly fun league. They also offer several other sports including dodgeball, water polo and flag football leagues, just to name a few. But for the Valpster’s Summer ’09, Kickball was the game and “Suck my Ki#@” was our name. (Just a note, I voted for “Jiminy Kick It”– but my teammates were for some reason drawn to the former, so it won out.) Eventually,  “Team Kiwi” was what stuck, thanks to my opposition to yelling any words with obscene connotations.

 Here we are looking pretty snazzy in our Lime Green:


The season started out in our favor. We clinched the win in the first round, thanks to the other team’s forfeit due to lack of players. And in high spirits we set off to Boss Tweeds for a post-game celebration filled with free pizza and $10 pitchers of lukewarm beer. The rest of the games didn’t see the same results, but nonetheless we had a blast on the court and raced to Boss Tweeds to hopefully redeem ourselves on the flip cup table.

If you ask me, there really is no better way to spend a Wednesday evening in the hot summer city months than out on a school court playing kickball with a group of 20 & 30 year olds. It’s a riot to see all of us out there having just as much fun on the court now as we did during the old recess years. And don’t think it was only entertaining for us. We had spectators galore. Random people walking by or friends and co-workers who’d trek down to the LES would cheer us on through the chain-link fence and have a good laugh.

I’m sad to see it all end but I know I can always visit the Action Weekly blog where the Summer ’09 season lives on indefinitely.

I don’t know if the fall season will see a return of “Team Kiwi”, but I can tell you this much– if every season with the NYCSSC league is this fun, it won’t be long before I round up the troups for another go round.

Or maybe it’s that they have the money to do more exciting things since they’re not blowing away their paycheck on NYC rent. Either way, they just got back from one of the most amazing looking (and sounding) vacations–a 6 day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. Now, I just want to make it clear that this wasn’t your normal white water rafting trip where you find yourself one of 8 people in a raft, paddling down class 3 rapids in the Delaware River. Don’t get me wrong, that is exciting, but this blows the Deleware River out of the water. Of course, Jo and Ton wouldn’t joke around; they’ve already mastered the Delaware, and knew that, at the youthful ages of 59 and 61, respectively,  they needed a challenge, something that would prove to their 20-something daughters, and every AARP card holder that age is just a number and these two baby boomers can roll with the best of ’em.

I first heard of their plans when my mom placed the brochure in front of me. Western River Expeditions is the name of the tour company and I could see the draw for my parents from it’s claim of  “crafting  what we consider to be the best rafting vacations in the world.” Here’s the website, you’ll see that this is a no-joke company, allowing only the outward bound, adventure seekers to accept the challenge of their rafting trips. http://www.westernriver.com/

I give my parents props for this one, man. I would have been shaking in my boots on an 18 person raft for 6 straight days, only pulling to the side to eat and sleep.  I didn’t think they had it in them, but from the looks of this photo, it seems that they had quite the time.

Dad[1] Yes, that’s my father. TVal at his best. He’s probably already got this framed and on the wall in his office. That, or it’s the background on his computer.  Looking good, T!

So, until I have an exciting vacation to blog about, I’ll be writing about the adventurous empty-nesters who never fail to amaze me. Here’s to you two, Jo and Ton. And here’s to going balls out at any age!

Why it took me almost 2 years of living in NYC to visit the Brooklyn flea market is besides me.  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. It’s home to some really unique finds; from authentic wares and household furniture to vintage and independently designed jewelry, art and trinkets– it’s a playground for those who enjoy anything that’s not mass-produced. Here’s the website for Brooklyn Flea where you can read about the vendors and look at some of the kitchy finds: http://brownstoner.com/brooklynflea/

What’s more, the weather in NY on Sunday was A+. After Saturday’s dreariness, the Sunny 70+ degree weather was ideal for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and venturing into DUMBO.  Since I’m not all that familiar with the area, I found it so helpful that there’s a huge map on the BKLN side of the bridge pointing out all of the restaurants, retail shops and historic stops in the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO area. I walked up and down the side streets: Front, Water, Jay–meandering into little boutiques, peeking into the windows and at the menus of cafes and restaurants– and was so engrossed in the charm of the area. The old brick buildings and factory signs juxtaposed against the new architecture of apartment complexes and contemporary restaurants was a neat contrast that adds to the character of DUMBO. A description of the area isn’t complete without mention of the carousel on Water street that has been restored and is  open to the public only for viewing. What a beautiful addition to the area- with carvings gilded in gold and fresh coats of paint in rich colors adorning the horses. It’s a must see for people of any age.  And I hear they’re looking to move the carousel into a larger space that allows for people to safely ride. Maybe they’ll bring in a cotton candy machine to make it a full carnival-like experience!

It’s amazing what you’ll find exploring NY’s neighborhoods. If not carousels and flea markets, your sure to run into interesting people, feast on tasty cuisines or see antiquated buildings.

That’s right– after 2 years working with “Matthew” the Hawk-eye, I found out recently through a third-party source that his name in fact is not Matthew (or Hawk-eye) but Edward! Just when you begin to think you can trust your co-workers, bam- something as deceitful as this happens. Disappointing if you ask me.

But even with his real name revealed, he won’t give up his alias. It looks like I’m going to have to play detective on this one and uncover the underlying reason Hawk-eye has been playing us for fools all this time. Until I have some findings to report, I’ll leave you with this–


So, I work at a company that has got to have one of the greatest recruiting practices, because quiet frankly my co-workers are amazing.  Here’s Alice, my go-to girl for all things of the art and culinary and worlds: alice1

She’s a looker, aint she. Relax, boys… She’s taken.

Anyway, “Al my pal” and I go on little adventures throughout the work day– pick up some lunch, go to the mail room, yadda, yadda. This may sound like nothing interesting, but let me tell you- a minute with Alice and you become so cultured and automatically have this new appreciation for the arts and all things high brow. I’ve even added some great classics to my reading list and have looked into Opera and ballet tickets–something I thought I’d never be interested in– she’s that influential. So I consider her my hero, the one who rescued me from the trenches of post-college binge drinking life and awakened me to what NY (and life as an independent adult) has to offer. I gotta say, I’m beginning to enjoy myself and the things I decide to do in my free time a lot more. So Al, if you’re out there listening– thanks!

Hi world,

Trying things out and exploring what Word Press has to offer.  Right now I’m O.D.ing on black licorice! Enjoying the chewy sugary goodness now, but will probably regret it in a few minutes when I have tummy ache.

Oh, Brit Brit


Last night found me at good old MSG–a fine venue if I say so myself. I was there for no other reason than to get my fix of some fine pop culture entertainment– a full evening of Britney Spears and her Circus tour.  Now, I grew up during the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” days and Never did I attend one of her concerts. But 10+ years later, the situation presented itself when my college roommate secured $10 tickets to see Brit Brit perform live.  It wasn’t something I was going to pass up.. $10 tickets, 8 of my close college friends and a night of circus trix and Britney’s greatest hits… can you blame me? All in all, the “show” was great. Very entertaining. Brits performance however was on the weak side and I found myself–though cheering her on for this amazing comeback (flashback to one year ago when she shaved her head and hit rock bottom)– a little disappointed in her lackluster dance moves. I mean come-on, you’re lip-synching for goodness sake, one would think that you’d be whipping out some amazing dance moves. But no, the dancing was well below par and definitely not the Brittney who “Oops, did it again. ” Except for some flailing and gyrating of her arms, the dancing was left to the quite talented back-up dancers, who I have to say make it so tempting for me to want to jump right on stage and dance my ass off in the center of it all(It’s my secret passion to be a performance dancer).  Brit did make up for her lack of talent when, during the last set she broke out the goods– “Womanizer” and “Slave for you.” Props really must go to the stage crew, costume designers, production team and choreographers whose talents all came together to light up the stage and create an overall energizing display.

It was a once in a lifetime experience; one for the books.  I can now check it off of my list and work on getting some $10 Madonna and Beyonce tickets. Glad I went, glad I can say “I’ve seen Britney Spears in concert” and glad I didn’t break the bank on this one.

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