Going off the menu: Our EatWith Sunday in the city

Thanks to my friend Naama Shefi, Director of Communications at EatWith, my man and I enjoyed a lovely Sunday brunch today at the Lower East Side’s historic Essex Market.

“Eat dinner with fellow food lovers at the home of a chef in your city or when you travel,” says EatWith’s website. Friendly, hungry people can browse shared dining experiences going on in over 150 cities, or book an EatWith chef for a private event.

I’m a huge fan of all the sharing enterprises that have rushed the market, tsunami-like, in the past few years. Pioneers like Craigslist, and now sites like Airbnb and NeighborGoods, have removed the middleman from the equation and allow people to share and sell their own stuff directly with other individuals. In these affairs, the personal reputation you earn makes or breaks your interactions, which seems like a pretty fair way to go about business to me.












A somewhat less Libertarian-y reason I enjoy these kinds of doings is that they’re a great way to meet fun people who also like to get out into the world. This morning, we sat near a Caribbean pediatrician, a young investment banker, and a native Texan who now writes movie reviews for The Hollywood Reporter. Not a bad haul!

Oh yes, and the food was also wonderful. Emily and Anais made tiny beer mustard deviled eggs, an asparagus bruschetta on olive bread, and a grilled pineapple sandwich on a sticky cinnamon roll, as well as other treats—all as good as they sound. The cucumber gin basil fizzy totally sealed the deal.

So get thee to EatWith, I say! It’s a fun and fresh method for getting one of your three squares in while brushing up on your conversation skills, and maybe even acquainting yourself with a new culinary idea or two. For example, I will now be making all my sandwiches on sticky cinnamon rolls.

Essence of Self: not just a spa in New Jersey

I chanced to peep a sign reading Essence of Self across the street from the Ringwood, New Jersey Park-n-Ride this past weekend, on my way to my first solo writing retreat. My first thought was “Awesome name!” My second was, “Hey, maybe it’s also significant…”

I decided to go on a weekend writing retreat by myself because: a) I’ve heard from many other writers that they’re super beneficial, b) I wanted to earmark some time to work specifically on the personal writing endeavors I’d lately been neglecting (namely my journal and a story about a guy I met who hands out these funny business cards), and c) I’m smitten with the idea of one day embarking on a longer-term silent meditation retreat, but know I don’t have the cojones yet. Baby steps!

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What I found following my sunny 36-ish hours at the pretty amazing Castle at Skylands Manor (yes! I stayed in a Castle!! somehow, it wasn’t expensive) was:

  • A renewed appreciation for the sound of water bubbling up from a fountain
  • A renewed appreciation for my busy, wonderful life in the city
  • A reminder that bug spray season is here
  • At least 10 new big-ass journal pages had been filled with tightly-spaced handwriting
  • The realization that even if the only book I ever publish is a self-bound volume that describes years of my travels and social life in unnecessary detail, I’ll still be very happy (because that’s apparently the kind of thing I love to read)

All in all, time well spent. Now, back to the incessant ice cream truck jingles and sooty windowsills of my home in Williamsburg!

Fellow scribes (or anyone): Have you gone on a solo creative-type retreat somewhere? What was it like?

It’s a great time to be a grassroots fundraiser

So says I! (And I didn’t even know about The Shins song until I wrote that and Googled it to see if it’s a thing.)

I recently wrote a blog post for my client and badass crowd-resourcing platform ioby that starts on this positive note. Call me a Pollyanna, but I just reread it on their website and was cheered to find I still believe it’s true.

Operation Tea Party Hard 80

I found this on Flickr when I searched for “grassroots” (Posted by Anonymous9000: “Brilliant handmade Rorschach mask with the scientology Cult’s Oak Cove building in the background”)

When our parents were our age, how did they raise money to build a new community garden, get a mural painted on an underpass wall, or start an after-school reading program? I’m sure, heroically, they organized bake sales, passed the hat at church, and put up fliers on lampposts.

All of that stuff is great (especially the bake sales), but today’s neighborhood leaders also have The Mighty Internet at their disposal, and the difference is night and day. Case in point: since its founding in 2009, ioby has helped 450 local improvement projects get off the ground with almost $1.5 million in crowdfunded cash.

This ain’t your mama’s Rice Krispies Treat (though, again, I love those, too)! Let’s hear it for the Internet and awesome orgs like ioby. Being a grassroots guy may never have been sweeter.

How writing conference organizers embarrass themselves

By asking me to speak!

Oh, I joke. I’m really hoping to not embarrass my friend and fellow writer Tracy Sayre at her next awesome Writers Work conference, coming up on Saturday, June 27 in Manhattan.

Her excellent conferences provide newb and experienced writers alike with opportunities to network, hear useful advice from interesting speakers, and sometimes even take a few minutes to write on the fly and share what happens.

I’m super touched that Tracy asked me to hold court on the topic “How to Pay the Rent with Your Writing”—something I suppose I have been managing to do for a while! Now, I just have to think of what to say…

There are still a handful of tickets left as I type this. Git yer hands on ’em now and I’ll see you there!


Writers Work