Friday, August 19, 2011

Close Encounters of the Chocolate Kind

by F. Solomon

Deleting the "Sent From My iPod" message that automatically appears on the bottom of e-mails I send, while juggling a Clover-brewed Grande Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee from Starbucks, so I can begin this post on the train, you would think I forgot where I had been....

Tonight was my prelude to even more encounters of the chocolate kind; tonight was my Yoga + chocolate class at Pure Yoga West. Pure, reputed to be the best yoga in the city, did not disappoint, and I am certain I have never been in a sexier yoga studio. Plush seating and Eastern symbolism were rampant, but I chose to settle on my mat in the empty studio way before the class started to embrace the entire yoga experience, especially the quiet beforehand....

The class was led by Dave Romanelli, whose mantra is not to get caught up in things that interfere with enjoying life--enjoy the moment. I connected with him on his website, where he explained missing a crucial moment at a ballgame when he left early to get home earlier--what was the rush he questioned? His class was very intense, as I read online it would be.  My body is still responding to the poses he had us hold as he told anecdotes. I am thinking these poses are challenging-- has he forgotten about us during the anecdote?! No, he was connected with us at all times, challenging, pushing. At one point, he said not to be mad at him, that we could get out of the pose at any time, as well as the fact that happy people are perfectionists and lazy people generally are not happy. My cross training in different types of yoga helped develop my stamina so even when it burns--as Dave said some poses would--I held up pretty well.

As this amazing class wound down, the sensory overload kicked in! Dave came around and rubbed a special therapeutic lavender oil on us that he gets from Arizona. I keep lavender at work on my desk so I felt very at home.  (I just sniffed my arm and it is still redolent with lavender oil.)

Then the cherry on top, indulgent pieces of Vosges Haut Chocolate, which is amazing. As Dave pointed out, we are lucky enough to have storefronts in the city. My last two trips to the Met were punctuated by trips to Vosges Upper East Side location. Eating them the way the package instructs, while having it described to us outloud and the chocolate's notes dancing on my eyes closed...ahhhh...
My body and tongue remain stimulated by yoga plus chocolate, and it is only the beginning--stay tuned for another encounter of the chocolate kind coming soon....

Photograph by F.Solomon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Myth of Being A Writer

by F. Solomon

Often being a writer, or being introspective about myself as a writer, usually involves me thinking that I do not write enough, and beating myself up about time that I could have been writing and was not. Thinking that if I prioritized time that I could really finish something. The story that I have been writing in three states and still am not sure if I am in the middle or what is going on....

Enter my friends, who romanticize me being a writer and I have to admit that being a writer for me is like having a bit of fairy dust on everything I touch, taste, see, smell or hear. Everything can be inspiration, I really am a sponge. And my friends--my non writer friends--act like I really am a fairy. It is a charmed existence.

Wandering in museums, a friend of mine sends me an e-mail of a couple in a black and white photo. Surely this couple would have, in our modern times, described their relationship on Facebook as it seems complicated given the caption beneath the photo, and indeed the photo was worth of a story, something that I could make up!

And so there I am in the International Center of Photography looking at their amazing Elliot Erwitt exhibition with the cool black and white photo sent from my friend. The same friend who allowed me to lead as we were walking streets in Chelsea and I am taking photos as I go for the story that I have dragged through almost four states now.

A co-worker of mine tells me "train stories" to inspire me. Today's story of a woman telling the very intimate details of a one night stand did inspire me. Many of her stories have inspired me; plus, I have my own train stories. I watched a couple last week on the train; well, I assume they were a couple. His very avid approach to her. Her train leaves as she looked at him; resisting a kiss and then very definitely accepting, and then kissing him! I was mesmerized and am sure that that scene will come back to me at some later time.

A conversation with another friend, in which I told him something that he thought was surprising, led him to accuse me of making up a word! I said I am not making this up, and he said that I was a writer; he just assumed that I made a lot of things up. Him saying to me that I am a writer, just accepting that even when I have told him of my struggles, gets to me.  He still sees things and tells me about them so that I could make up a story about this thing or that. His stopped telling me about himself; saying he did not want to see his reflection in a story of mine. Which I would never do...

...but I do absorb a lot. Writer goggles on, everything is fodder. Everything has a bit of fairy dust and sparkle. I am so thankful for the gift -- to see a story, to know how to "feel" a story.

Anais Nin said we write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. As a writer I am greedy for experience and blessed for that. Being a writer opens me up as a person to life -- a bud that is never tight --, and I am thankful.

Photograph by F. Solomon

Sunday, August 7, 2011


By Maria C. Ferrer

493 authors participated in the Romance Writers of America’s 2011 Readers for Life Literacy Autographing on Tuesday, June 28, at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

I wanted to be a part of the event so I volunteered to help setup the literacy autographing. I set out books, books and more books; organized some of the chapter baskets/totes for the raffle; put out the RITA finalist banners, etc. At 5:00pm, authors started arriving to find their seats and put their own touches to their seats – pens, bookmarks, posters to name a few. At 5:30pm, the doors opened to the 2000+ romance fans waiting outside, which comprised of RWA members, conference attendees and the general public.

And then organized chaos reigned. The first person on line arrived at 9:30am for the 5:30pm event. Is that a Romance Fan or what?!

One big lesson I learned from watching the authors is to be prepared with lots of promotional materials. Remember, that writing is a business, and you are your own Publicist. So an author needs to put herself out there and make her materials stand out.

Best promotion I saw – a man wearing a t-shirt that read: I Sleep With The Author. He claimed he was the inspiration for pages 274-277!

Best promoter – Caridad Pineiro. Boy, was she prepared. She had bookmarks, pens, flyers, excerpts, a banner for the table skirt and her laptop to run her book trailer. The video stopped people in their tracks and generated a few sales, and isn’t that the name of the game – to sell?

At the end of the evening, authors were ready to stop writing and start partying; Readers were ready to start reading; and RWA raised $47,000 for literacy. ♥

Maria C. Ferrer is a meeting planner by day and a romance writer by night. One of her short stories was published by Star magazine. Currently, Maria is working on a secret baby book and a romantic suspense. She is also the founder of The Latina Book Club, which just won the 2011 Favorite Literature Blog Award from Blogs by Latinas. Visit Maria at and at

This article was first published in the RWANYC blog at

Monday, August 1, 2011


by F. Solomon

Originally, my blog post was going to be exclusively about the phenomenal Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is life altering as I told many friends and people who asked -- even my yoga instructor because I was wearing my Savage Beauty t-shirt in class. Mind you it was not life altering because of the two-hour wait to get in.  I found it amusing actually that there was a brochure that helped you landmark art on your way to the entrance--including the staggeringly gorgeous Joan of Arc and an equally stunning painting of Salome both made more beautiful as you realize you are almost in! Gothic, sexy and intelligent is all I can say about the McQueen exhibition.  It is almost over so you HAVE to go!

I then also saw the new Talk to Me Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA's innovative and cutting edge created an exhibition that is enhanced by using your mobile device...which was where I got really distracted, fiddling with my iTouch and looking at pieces like this one by the Japanese artist Sputniko.

After leaving MoMA, I headed downtown to two of my favorite natural food stores, Integral Yoga Apothecary and Integral Natural Yoga Foods. I was scooping up wakame and poring over natural and raw chocolate when I realized I did not have my iTouch with me. Now I am not the owner of a cell phone, so it's the iTouch I touch the first thing when I get up in the morning. I satellited the store because, as the deep sense of loss filled me that my iTouch was not with me. Blindness comparable to that described in Black Sabbath's Snow Blind came over me as I retraced my steps over and over.  I just could not believe that my beloved mobile device was separated from me. I became lachrymose...then a bit of clarity. I asked a clerk in the store if I could please use a computer in the store to utilize Find My IPhone. The clerk smiled at me and said it's up front.

Reunion.  My iTouch was there and I felt clarity reenter my existence.

I had not left the store because I so believed it would turn up.  I returned over and over to the wakame, where I thought I had dropped the iTouch so I knew it was in the store somewhere. When I had interacted with it in the Talk to Me exhibition, it was not fathomable to me that it would not be with me.

I am very attached to my iTouch.  I know, but that is the world that we live in and I embrace it. Especially since I found it! And additonally it enhanced my view of basic humanity. Someone saw it and returned it, which is beautiful and I am so is why I have never been a jaded New Yorker. I believed especially in the good of people in a natural foods store next to a yoga studio!