Remembering Mabel

On Wednesday March 12, 2014 I laid my sweet cat Mabel to rest. I had no idea how emotional the experience would be. She has been a part of my life since 2000 but always on the periphery. She was rarely cuddly, always skittish and and every so often, had abhorrent manners. 

But now that she is gone my bedroom doesn’t even seem like mine anymore. I feel like I’m in some unknown hotel room. Mabel made that room. It was her room that I lived in. She was always in it, on the chair, on the window sill and in earlier days when she could jump, on the bed. I never realized how much I talked to her until now. I would talk to her about everything and before she was deaf, she would often respond! She was the meowingest kitty I have ever met. 

Mabel came into my life when Rick and I lived in Soho back in 2000. One of Rick’s co workers had rescued Mabel from the pound so that her cat could have a companion. Well as we know, cats rarely like having a new cat in the mix and they didn’t get along at all. So Rick offered to take Mabel off her hands. I came home from work one day and Rick was there with the big surprise. I was excited too! I had never had a cat before so all of this was very new to me. And of course having a pet in New York made this still new city to me much more homey. I didn’t see Mabel for about three days. She hid under our couch except at night to use the litter box and eat.  She soon became a part of the apartment but was never very friendly. One part of Mabel that everyone commented on were her tiny chopped off paws. Who knows who originally owned her but when they declawed her they just chopped off her digits instead of removing the claws, so she had the tiniest little front paws. It was so sad to look at and wonder about the pain she must have gone through. 

                                                                        Those lil paws!

The day Rick moved back to Atlanta and the apartment was mostly empty and I was left all alone, Mabel was the one who was there for me. It was probably the first time we really bonded, when I sat sobbing uncontrollably not sure what this Harlem move and my life without Rick would be like.

                                            Our first year in Harlem 2002 - Chunky Kitty!

When we were installed in The Castle, after several months Mabel changed. She became more confident, striding around the house, she even would venture outside and sunbathe on the terrace. I think it took another year for her to finally jump into bed with me and paw for cuddles. And for the rest of my time in that bedroom, every morning began with Mabel making biscuits on my head. No matter how hungover I was or how exhausted I was, she was persistent! I had to nearly suffocate under covers in hopes of catching a few more Zzzz’s in order to avoid that paw in my eye.

Since Wednesday I have been reminiscing about Mabel and stories have come in from around the world about her. One of my favorite memories of her was some random night when James was living with us. We were drinking and Mabel came down stairs and announced herself with a loud meow. We started laughing and she continued to just meow every time we said something. It went on for 30 minutes and James and I were on the floor with laughter. Another time when Angela and Colin were visiting from England Mabel became obsessed with Colin’s shoes. Every time he took them off she would run up and stick her paws in them and sit on his shoes. Again, hysterics. Patrick McDonald called with condolences and reminded me Mabel was his boon companion when he evacuated the East Village during Hurricane Sandy and spent a week in my room while I had escaped up to Hudson. And then there is the famous Mabel photo I snapped of her licking herself in the most debaucherous position. When I posted it on Facebook one friend said he spit Coke out on his screen he laughed so hard. Adam Shapiro used it as his profile picture for months. It’s quite a gem. 

                                                                The infamous photo

I’m not sure whether I was a bad daddy or not but I never took Mabel to the vet until this year! She always seemed fine and the thought of taking her in a box in a cab to the vet sounded like disaster and months of cat therapy so there she stayed, in The Castle for 11 years. She never had any issues, minus one pee spree that lasted several weeks ruining duvets, needlepoint pillows and rugs. But I called the vet and they suggested keeping her in the laundry room for several days with the litter box to make sure she knew that’s where she had to go. It worked! It wasn’t until I moved to Charleston last year that the peeing began again. I of course assumed she was mad at me for leaving her. Again, I thought it would make more sense to keep her in a place she loves then move her. My roommate, Justin, was happy to take care of her since he had recently moved in and brought his cat, The Colonel, to The Castle. The past year has been really rough. She peed on everything, multiple times, and whenever I was home I had to take the whole bedroom to the dry cleaner. We ended up rolling up all rugs and covering the entire room in plastic. One guest who stayed in the room for two weeks adored Mabel until she peed in her suitcase on the last day. Another guest who was going to stay for a week left after one day when Mabel peed on her in the middle of the night! 

At this time I figured I needed to finally take her to the vet to see what was wrong. Thankfully she was in fine health but her kidneys were giving her trouble, a typical occurrence in older cats. The solution was to start her on (very expensive!) wet food. Mabel was now in hog heaven and the peeing stopped. But now someone had to feed her stinky wet food every day. When I was in the room she would cry out first thing in the morning for wet food. But through the year she started crying for it in the middle of the night, then not wanting it, then eating half. I spoke to the vet again and it wasn’t good. Mabel was on the decline. We could give her medicine every day but it may not stop her confusion and anxiety. So with the vet's total agreement, we decided to put Mabel down and let her go now, instead of when she is even more uncomfortable. 

                                                                Mabels last photo

I have never watched an animal die. When I as a teenager, took my beloved Ponce to be put down, I don’t remember having the option. I just took her to the vet (driving and absolutely falling apart while playing Björk’s Hyper Ballad) said goodbye and they brought her back in a box for me to bury underneath my bedroom window. But this time I brought Mabel in after our final morning cuddle and I held her as the vet euthanized her. On a light note, the vet sat me down while they were prepping Mabel (putting a tube into her front left leg so they could inject easier) and explained what would happen. She told me that they would first relax her to sleep and then inject her with the lethal dose. She was sure to say, “the first injection is the same drug Michael Jackson took!”

So there we were in this room having a surreal moment together. They gave me some time with Mabel and she was clearly scared and I just held her in my arms and rocked her while her eyes darted all over the room. Then when the vet came back in I held her down as the vet gently took her leg and injected. To my amazement Mabel wasn’t struggling, it was like she knew it was time. She just sat there as I petted her. She took one deep breath and then went limp in my arms. Again, a flood of tears. The vet soothed me, “She is still with us! Just sleeping”.  And then came the next shot. It took about five seconds and she was gone. The vet hugged me and said, “You gave her so much love and such a wonderful life. She was so lucky to have you.” And then she left and I sobbed over her body. Kissing her head and saying my last goodbye. 

For some reason I thought I would be ok enough to run errands afterwards but I just glided down 77th street in a daze, hailed a cab and gave my address. I had to repeat it three times since I was crying so much I couldn’t speak. And then the next surreal moment of the day happened as my cab driver flew past 116th street not knowing that was the street to turn on to get to 122 Street since Marcus Garvey Park blocks the remaining turns. We drove up to 125th and around to home. It was his first day on the job and was still learning the ropes. I patted him on the shoulder, gave him a good tip and wished him luck. He was so sweet and nervous. The surreal part is that around that same time two buildings exploded on 116th street. If we had turned we would have been in the middle of the mayhem amid the death and destruction. No place to be after what I had just gone through. 

Back home I mechanically cleaned up my room, threw out her litter box and rearranged the room to give it a fresh energy, but every night this week I woke up in the middle of the night unable to sleep again. The silence was depressing. Recently her late night meowing was a nightmare, but before that, there was always the patter of her paws or a jump in the bed in the middle of the night. A comforting sound. Now nothing. 

I know I did the right thing but messing with nature is still deeply disturbing to me. She was so happy that morning before I put her in the carrier. But now it is done and she is in a better place. I’m at the airport heading back to Charleston and can’t wait to get my hands on my little Fergus. I know one day his time will come too and I can only pray that it will be many years away.

I love you Mabel!

The Charleston Journey - Part One

Here I am heading back to New York on Virgin Atlantic flight 45 from Heathrow. I just watched Lincoln (loved it but was fairly confusing at times and apparently filmed by the light of one single candle) and opened my computer to see if there is internet. Magic, there is not! What a blessing. Five more hours of ME time. 

Part of my ME time was to read my monthly Power Path reading. A friend of mine from Brazil suggested the Shamanic site to me and it has been a blessing for many months now. Below are excerpts from the July reading which I found so terribly profound. 

The entire week I was in London I had friends asking me what my life was like now that I am in Charleston and so much of it is in the Power Path pasted below. Charleston is my expansion, a huge discipline and full of magic.

If I were to sum up my Charleston existence so far these would be some highlights:
  • My morning ritual- Wake with Fergus, cuddle with Fergus, stretch with Fergus on the bedroom rug and then lighting incense, turning on Kundalini yoga chants, pouring an iced coffee and enjoying a little morning meditation in the living room as sizzling Southern sunlight beams through the blinds
  • Driving out to the beach with Fergus for a morning walk and noticing the vastly changing landscape of the sand/sea and vegetation
  • Driving to Lowes (which I have done innumerable times) and being transfixed by the great old oaks surrounding its entrance
  • My wonderful walks with Fergus exploring new streets, new plants, new blooms, peeping into unknown historic homes and laughing as the frogs begin their concert every night
  • Watching the sunset over so many dazzling low country landscapes
  • Brushing my teeth on my piazza every night and watching the moons place and size
  • Drunkenly riding bikes up Meeting Street after leaving a Spoleto party in a grand mansion and heading to Dudley’s for a drag show

Charleston has brought me back to a place I haven’t been to in ages. My nature loving side. The part of me who would run barefoot outside until mother called me into dinner. Now that I have a garden I am obsessed with what blooms when, what will work in the sun and shade and what will come back or fade away. 

The Holy City has also let me explore parts of me I didn’t know existed. How wonderful my morning paddle boards have been with Misty. How I adore the yoga, the laughs, the ripple of the water under my paddle and working out in Mother Nature’s finest gymnasium. What fun it has been to get to know a surfer, a water conservationist and a former soldier who calls me ‘bro’. What lessons I’ve learned from working with contractors and learning all about the innards of my home. I will fully admit the move, learning the ropes of trash nights, parking permits, getting a new license and dealing with a contractor who didn’t communicate nearly had me in the mad house. No amount of meditation, yoga or mantras could help. It was absolutely rotten, confusing and stressful. But I pray most of that is in my past now. 

I have met some wonderful people and am so thankful to be back in the same town with some old friends. And I have been saddened to meet a few people with, as Mame would say, “Braces on their brains,” but the time I most cherish is my time alone, at home, with   Fergus. I have been on that glorious, gilded hamster wheel of New York for 14 years now and I admit, much of my non-stop twirling is my own fault. That great and powerful FOMO (Fear of Missing Out!). Hell, even in Charleston for my first three months I was out nearly every night at an event. But I am a curious creature by nature and eager to explore. But I feel like I have an idea of what Charleston holds, and while some of it does fascinate, a night at home with candles lit, a good movie on and Fergus dashing around with his ball is held dear most of all. 

I’ve been meaning to write this for quite some time but besides my brimming dance card with Spoleto and other events, I also had 12 guests in three months. Quite a feat. Each of them was a total treat. What’s a better way to explore a new town than with old friends and family? But it wasn’t until Memorial Day that I had three full weeks alone. It was then that I finally felt at home. That I developed a routine, that I wasn’t stressed with deadlines so I could entertain someone for the weekend. I was just living, loving, admiring and enjoying. 

I’ve started to read more about Southern history, the Civil War, President Lincoln, Mary Boykin Chestnut and Francis Marion. Movies like Django and Lincoln ring more powerful than they may have if I wasn’t living back in the South. I have also began using social media as a way to truly check in on great friends in New York and see what everyone is up to. One thing I have learned is how much I love and miss my New York family. I only recently realized how much we know about each other, how far we have come and how much we understand one another. When Justin had a dinner party in April and invited some of our friends, I went to the bathroom and just hearing all of them explode into laughter (about something idiotic and mundane I’m sure), tears began to stream. These are my always and forevers. They are part of who I am. 

I look forward to the journey in store on Spring Street, in The 118, and around the little town of Charleston. I know I have only scratched the fine porcelain surface of this rich city and I have no doubt it is only going to get better, more inspiring and produce fruits more exotic than one could ever imagine. 

The Power Path Reading for July:


This month we have a triad of themes all working together to provide an incredible opportunity for accelerated growth, change and evolution.

The themes may seem paradoxical and even contrary to each other but their cooperative alignment will support creativity and manifestation in ways you could never have imagined. This is finally the opportunity we have been waiting for, to break through the limitation of how our belief systems identify what is possible and what is not.

All three themes are equally as important this month and your challenge will be to dance with them in harmony and balance, while staying focused on the limitless potential of what is possible. It is extremely important that you not get lost in other peoples drama, suffering and chaos. And remember you can only help yourself and be the best example you can be.

Expansion always brings the potential for higher centered experiences of truth, love and energy. This includes great beauty, inspiration, and the heightening of all your senses and intuition. In order to tap into and experience the higher centers you will need to be available, which may mean eliminating your distractions and energy leaks. It may be time to break away from people and behaviors that have kept you living small. This is the opportunity for making a bid for power to live BIG if you are ready for it.

You must make time to just BE. Expansion is not action, pushing or effort to build something bigger. It is the process of allowing and receiving. It is opening the pores of your belief systems and energetic patterning. You become more porous in order to receive that which will expand you into the next level of vibration from which place you can create something new and magical. Expansion is the feminine counterpart to the masculine Discipline.

Expect the unexpected and always focus on the positive. Pray for amazing things and experiences and opportunities to show up in your day. Acknowledge the magic that already exists while you watch the colors of a sunset or listen to the song of a bird.
Create practices that allow for magical experiences such as taking time to listen to the message of a tree or a plant or a cloud.

In order for permanent and positive change and evolution to occur, the new expanded container and paradigm needs to be anchored. Magic helps with this. Experiences that seem magical and out of the ordinary will eventually be seen as "normal" as we evolve.

Become aware of your environment. Where is the magic? One way to bring magic in is to sing or talk to everything you come into contact with in your environment. When was the last time you sang a hello to your computer or your car, or your kitchen stove, or your office environment or your garden or your favorite place to walk? Try it and see what happens. This could become one of your disciplines.

Buying The 118

I still feel like I am in a foggy dream. I think reality will soak in when I wake up in Harlem tomorrow morning. I bought a home in Charleston. A true dream come true. Last New Year’s Eve I wrote a wish and put it in the annual NYE resolution jar at Claire’s house. It read, ‘Two Years Till Charleston.’ Who knew it would happen only 11 months later?

I came down to Charleston in September to spend 12 days and to see if I truly wanted to live there part time. To feel out the neighborhoods, people, energy. To sum it up, I teared up every day with sheer happiness. 

-Riding my bike down cobble stone streets with a pink sunset guiding my way - magic. 

-Watching Fergus run wild in the dog park with friendly dogs, nice neighbors and cool breezes - so special. 

-Sitting at Nick’s dining room table and writing, working, emailing as wind chimes gonged and the sweet smell of Coastal Carolina wafted through the house - I was home.

Just to feel out the real estate I reached out to Claire and Abigail’s real estate agent, Nancy Rehm at Century 21. We set a date to meet at Starbucks and open dialogue on what I was looking for. If you ever buy in Charleston, buy from Nancy. First of all she is an absolute Southern hoot. The things that fell out of her mouth had me exploding internally from hysterical laughter. And God help you if she turns on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal- it’s an apocalyptic hissy fit and I loved every minute of it.

She is also damn smart, savvy and held my hand through every aspect of this buy. The next day she handed me a folder of houses to look at and the first one was 118 Spring Street between Rutledge and Ashley. We drove over, parked next to a church and took a look around. Built in 1890 the home is a traditional ‘Charleston Single’. Three bedrooms, two piazzas (they aren’t called porches or balconies in old world Charleston) and lots of doors. Apparently there used to be a tax on the number of doors facing the street, so everyone built their houses long ways with one door on the front and the rest on the side. 

The bay window has two panels of color blocked stained glass and the door was painted purple. I was in love although we walked into Armageddon. The home was bought by a family for their daughter to live in while going to College of Charleston but once she graduated it turned into a college kid fantasy land with four people bunking in, one in the living room turned bedroom, complete with Jameson bottles on the mantle and a rebel flag on the wall.

Student life never ceases to amaze me. In the dining room turned living room there was a mini bar fridge next to the sofa so stoners wouldn’t have to get up and go in the kitchen (the next room) to get a beer.  Above the mantle in that room was a list of ‘Top Ten Quotes to Get Laid’. I kind of wish I kept it.  The bathroom toilets were black with scum (that was the girls room mind you) and the garden was piled sky high with beer and wine bottles. But we saw through all that to the bones, the light, the great Magnolia seen from the back bedroom and the amazing location. 

Next door is Black Bean, one of my favorite health food restaurants, across the street is Octo Batchi, an udon noodle bar, one block away is Xiao Bao Biscuit, a brand new hip Chinese restaurant opened by a couple from Brooklyn, one street away is my favorite restaurant in the world, Hominy Grill and next door to that is a Mexican bar and restaurant called Fuel, located in an old gas station. 

On the west side of the house is a church. Bingo. No rowdy frat boys living next door keeping me up. And I love a tambourine shaking on a Sunday morning. This also leaves me with great views from the top floor piazza. I was hooked.

We looked at five or six more places. One old Victorian on Charlotte Street had 20 foot ceilings and ornate fireplaces in every room, but it needed so much work and was so far away from everything that it didn’t seem worth it. We looked at a couple of duplexes in old houses but for my first home I don’t want to hear heels clicking above me and to have to share a yard with who knows what. 

We visited 118 again, this time Claire came too. She did a thorough inspection and was surprised at its space, condition and location. I had found my home.

I will spare you the next two months of closing procedures. They were relatively painless (Thank You SunTrust!) minus a really horrid situation with my now fired tax accountant who wouldn’t send us some paper work because ‘I am on vacation, I don’t need your money, don’t call my office again.’ Gladly! 

I flew back down Thursday November 29th to close on Friday. I went to dinner with a friend at Hominy and walked by the house. Although the kids got keys to their new home four days ago they were moving out the night before I closed. It was a spin out but one of them saw us looking at the house and asked if I bought it. He was kind enough to let us come in and much to my chagrin nothing was packed or moved! 

I went to bed with a bit of a yank in my stomach and woke up the day of the closing at 8am and took Fergus for a walk back over there, hiding behind a flower shop so I didn’t look like I was stalking them. Sure enough the kids were still pouring beds and sofas out of the house. The cleaning crew arrived and there was no way they could clean with so much still in there so they would come in on Saturday. But the house was glowing in the morning sun and I saw it from a new angle and with new love. Teary eyed again. 

The closing went smoothly and once it was over Nancy dropped me off at the house to putter around. It was finally empty and finally mine. I walked back to Nick’s house, picked up Fergus and brought him back to explore. He is enamored with the second floor piazza where he can bask in the sun yet still hold watch over the street. I went across the street to the deli and met the owner, Charlie. He is a sweet older man and he welcomed me to the area. I bought the essentials: soap, Solo cups and beer. I was having some friends over that night to celebrate and had zero. Rodrigo came over and we cleared the trash from the front yard and sides, raked the back (with a borrowed rake from Abigail) and had a couple of beers until Abigail and Claire arrived. Abigail brought me my own rake, a tool box and a poinsettia as house warming gifts. Claire followed with champagne and wine glasses. 

It was so special to spend the first evening in my first home with some of my oldest friends who I met in Charleston back in 1994. Full circle. We then went to Xiao Bao Biscuit for dinner, had a little too much to drink and then weaved back to our respective homes. My mattress would be delivered in the morning so I had to wait one night to spend the night in the new home.

Saturday was a little fuzzy but Claire and I did serious TCB. We headed out to Marshall’s home goods store and went through our list we made on a soy sauce stained napkin the previous night of everything from trash cans, comforters, pillows, bottle openers to scrub brushes, cleaning supplies and a coffee maker. We then zizzed home for the mattress delivery and darted back out to Lowe’s for ladders, light bulbs and yard bags. Once we were done I washed those sheets as fast as I could before plopping down on my new bed and taking a nap with Fergus. 

That night I had dinner with Li, Punchy and Wade at Fleet’s Landing and caught a glimpse of the holiday boat parade.  I can’t wait to be a part of that next year on Abigail’s boat. We then came back to 118 and broke open some bottles of wine and enjoyed a warm winter night on the piazza, my new drinking spot. 

Sunday was another whirlwind. My contractor, Anthony, and his cousin Damond met me at the house at 10:30am and we dropped Fergus off at Abigail’s for a puppy play date then headed to Home Depot to figure everything out for the renovation. It is so difficult to pick out everything you need and want in such a short period of time for a place that you hope to be in for a very long time, but we did it. New sinks, faucets, tiles, lighting, gas range, paint colors (this place is going to be poppin’ with color!) and cabinets. Both Anthony and Damond are very good at what they do and had great ideas that helped narrow down choices and make the best decisions. 

Once we were done with that gargantuan task we were starving. I offered to take them to lunch and they asked what I wanted. “Soul Food please”. “Anthony turned around from the drivers seat and peered over his glasses, “Oh you want soul food? I got you covered Mister Cator.” And with that he drove us to his uncle’s house where he left us waiting in the car only to return with a plastic bag for each of us filled with home cooked fried chicken, collards, dirty rice with sausage, sweet potato pie and the best damn crab cakes I have ever tasted. You show me a contractor in New York that will take you down the river of family cooked soul food.

I inhaled the crab cakes in the car and saved the rest for later where I could get nasty with it all alone. We then stopped by his dad’s restaurant where he offered us jumbo cups of sweet iced tea and sat down and discussed the renovations with us. He is a contractor too and had some very good ideas. He was such a lovely man, truly caring and his Gullah patois was delicious to listen to. 

On that note Anthony drove me home where I sat in my kitchen and dug my fingers deep in that juicy, greasy chicken, fried to perfection. Tears of joy welled up again. How blessed have I been on this journey? 

That night was the first I had all to myself in the house. I picked up Fergus from Abigail's and helped her decorate her tree then walked home, sat in bed and worked for several hours before passing out with one big deep breath of gratitude before falling fast asleep after such a busy day and a belly full of home cooking.

Monday was busy just picking up last minute things for the house, locks, batteries, etc. and biking around Charleston learning where I am in the city and trying to remember street names and directions. It was my first morning to wake up and lay out my yoga mat and meditate on my piazza. The sun was intense at 8am and Fergus joined me in stretches. Having that time with him really sealed in the joy of owning this home.

This morning we moved the yoga mat to the soon-to-be master bedroom and laid on the floor together and gazed at the great Magnolia. I can’t wait until that is my morning view next spring when it is in full bloom. 

I am now back in New York, settled into 202. Fergus is passed out since he gets nervous flying, and the sun is setting over Harlem. It’s such a wonderful feeling knowing that 118 is down there, locked up, ready to be spruced up and to be the setting for the next great chapter of my life.

My Non-Saga with Sandy

Here I sit in a gorgeous house in Saugerties with two of my favorite old friends drinking Pumpkin Ale, Fergus passed out on the couch after nipping some steak fat from our stew and a fire crackling in the corner.

Yet the television is grinding and showing us sights from New York, New Jersey and Staten Island that are just unfathomable. Anderson Cooper and Governor Cuomo are talking to people at the Freedom Tower site that said there are 200 million gallons of water left to pump out. What? Whitehall subway, which was just renovated at a cost of millions of dollars, still has two stories under water. Fuel had mixed with salt water,    deteriorating everything quickly and efficiently.

 This entire situation has been a nightmare that I have only seen on TV and through Facebook and word of mouth. When the hurricane hit Manhattan Rod, Philip and I were cooking a roast chicken, listening to Bizet and shrugging our shoulders when we would look out the windows sighing, “Is this it?” There was hardly any rain (Irene flooded Rod’s home severely) and the trees were whipping around, but nothing too horrifying.  I took Fergus out for a walk that night and saw cracked trees on the bigger boulevards and standing water in some tree beds but that was all the terror felt in Harlem. Our power was on and we breezed through it. 

It wasn’t until I turned on the television to hear the panic in voices and saw images online of water pouring into subway stations and turning the East Village into a lake that I realized what was happening down town. To be honest and totally selfish, the event for me was two days off with all events canceled! WAHOO! I was in pajamas for three days, getting loads of work done on the website I am launching December 1st and getting books and magazines read that were piling up. I even went to bed at 10:30 one night. That hasn’t happened in years.

Way before Sandy was a sparkle in the weatherman’s eye, I had planned to forgo Halloween at the Boom Boom Room with a performance by Grace Jones. Instead I wanted to come upstate and spend time with Angela and Colin who are here from England with their 20 month old girl, Ren. I kept my plan and drove up on Wednesday morning with little to no traffic. What was eerie was the continuous stream of tree service and electricity company trucks steadily humming south to help out. 

The day I arrived we took a magical hike to Kaaterskill Waterfall, a double waterfall that was a favorite subject for the Hudson River School artists. I took Fergus off leash and he bounded up rocks, through mossy streams and around massive tree trunks. I don’t think I have ever seen him happier. As we hiked through the thick, dense, wet forest I caught up with Angela who I haven’t seen in over two years and got to hear little Ren sing ‘Old McDonald’ while snuggled in her baby carrier on her father's back.

We approached the mighty waterfall and saw a mother and her son just gazing at the fall. The mother turned around and asked, “Are you refugees too?” That was the first time I heard that, and I would hear it many times over three days. So many people had escaped up to this rustic paradise where little has been touched by this Big Magilla. The sylvan forests here carry on as they always have.

Today we drove down to visit Danielle at West Point. It was wonderful to see little Ren run through the Civil War cannons, plugged into the ground, muzzle down, to symbolize the end to a nation divided. Yet that is what I am most worried about. Gas is running out around Manhattan, lines are growing throughout the state to stock up. Electricity may not come back on for 10 more days in some places. Staten Island is already barking that nobody is paying attention to them as two young boys were discovered dead in a field, ripped from their mothers arms in a storm surge. There is much anger in the air.

But let’s only think about the positive. I have remained unscathed and Patrick has been staying in my room since he has been flooded out of his home in the East Village. People are sharing cabs, helping each other out and coming together just as they did after 9/11. One comment that has stayed with me was from my favorite burlesque dancer and friend, World Famous *BOB*:
I just had the pleasure of hanging out, serving food to, and walking to the powder room- some REALLY cool seniors at the Park Slope Armory tonight. You can volunteer for a few hours- they really need 5am-9am people. Hanging out with old people is like getting a post card from your future. ♥

Thank you BOB, you are beautiful inside and out. 

The Castle on

I met Wendy Goodman at a dinner last year (thanks Stacy!) and we fell in love.
I have admired her writing for years and she had heard about The Castle for years.
So last month she trekked up to the house for tea and Harlem homemade goodies and snapped away.

Rod and I both thought she would be coming back to take the official pictures and have since
spruced, revamped, trashed and bought countless things only for the scouting pics to be used. Alas. Thank goodness she has a good eye!
Check it out here.

I have also included more images of our house so people can get more of a sense of where we live, work and do our passing out.

Enjoy and come see us.


 This is the front of our house (far left). The architect of our house built the rest of this stretch of the block as well.
 My living room looking out to the garden terrace.
 Dining area with recently acquired 19th century French chandelier. (Haven't tried swinging from it yet)
 The garden terrace.
And last but not least, the bar!!!! And a portrait of me done by Justin Giunta for my 30th birthday.

My tidbit on CNN

Who would of thunk last week when I was checking my emails at the gym that CNN would send a little note asking to interview me for a story on Harlem.
Cator: Sure! Sounds fun!
CNN: Great can we come up today?
Cator: No problem!

My friend Bob who works at CNN gives me the skinny: They are doing a profile on Charles Rangel and he mentioned that the biggest number of people moving to Harlem are gay white men.
In a meeting an editor asks, "Anyone know a gay white man in Harlem?"
Bob hits a home run....

Now silly Southern me assumes they are coming up for a screen test. This is a documentary for Soledad O'Brien's show after all! When I get a text that they are 10 minutes away I ask, "When is the official shoot?"
CNN: Um, NOW! Be camera ready!


Alas, I jump into some J. Crew shorts and a Burkman Brothers button down and stare in the mirror for 5 minutes perfecting my CNN smile.

Rose and Bob arrive and they shoot me on my stoop, walking down the street and pretend waving to neighbors.

Then they start dropping the political questions and I get flustered. Sure I know what's going on with ole Rangel but I thought it was going to be all about me being gay in Harlem. Hello!

But I end up pulling it off I guess. Wish they would of added a couple more of my musings but we can't have it all.

You can see the segment here
I'm at the 2:00 minute mark.

Let me know what you think!
Here's to Harlem!

New Restaurant in my hood

YAY! More food in Harlem! And it's NOT FRIED!
Chez Lucienne just opened three weeks ago in the old Slice of Harlem space.
Opened by two boys from Daniel, the place is already packed nightly and hoping to have delivery soon.
But who wants this delivered when the atmosphere here is such a delight?

The build out looks great and the staff is cute and most are french. Zut Alors!
Rod and I went for Sunday brunch and enjoyed watching the people being bused over to greasy Siliva's stop and stare in the window and wonder why the hell the tour guide wasn't taking them there.

I had a country pate and then a hanger steak with eggs. We hit the dessert table (perfectly placed in the front window) and samples flan, rice pudding and pear tart. All perfection.

PLEASE support this new place!

Check out what Yelp kids have to say about it.
Rave reviews.

Obama Mania in Harlem!

Last night was one night I was proud and excited to live in Harlem.

All day there was a buzz in the air.
The voting booths were packed, people were bringing their cameras and children while Shepard Fairey posters of Barack were plastered in every window.

Lucy made a hearty stew for dinner and Rod came up to watch election coverage. As soon as the race started favoring Obama the streets of Harlem grew louder and louder.

Lucy and I decided to head out to the Federal Building on Adam Clayton Powell and 125th Street. There was a jumbo tron, a stage, and loads of people. We really got a laugh at the Aunt Jemima and White Castle vans parked outside serving up snacks to the masses. I have to wonder it was marketing or pure happenstance that the jumbo tron was angled to look as if the statue of Adam Clayton Powell was glued to the tube.

We listened to Jeremy Piven give a quick speech and then took a tour around watching the drum circle and the Euros with their banner 'France for Obama'. We headed home where I picked up Frankie and Rod for another twirl outside. By the time we got the wine poured and the cameras ready the crowds had swelled two fold. The drums were louder, cars had parked in the middle of the street and people were dancing on rooftops. I have never seen Harlem so HAPPY. African American Day parade is always a disaster and there is usually gun violence, but this night was full of positive vibes and smiling faces.

We headed back home for bed; I loaded my pictures up and got into the sack. But the horns were so loud, the screams were so intense Frankie and I both said-screw it! And we went out for a third time to join in the revelry when Obama actually won.

We went back to hear his speech but it was too loud. A marching band got everyone dancing and the streets turned into one huge party.

We were not out for long but I cracked my windows when I finally went to bed at 1am to hear the happy voices as I passed out.

Finally an historic event in New York that doesn't involve terrorism or black outs!