Day 236: A New York New Year's Eve.

Illustration by Cecile Mancion

The initial plan for New Year's Eve was to stay at my mom's house and host a small get together with whomever was staying local that didn't want to go out "out." Aurel and I were planning on picking up a few bottles of champagne, some smoked salmon and capers, fresh shrimp, light the fireplace and watch Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper countdown the new year in comfort. The plan was set until I received an e-mail from Ryan who invited us to a small gathering at his apartment in Manhattan. Ryan, a dear friend of mine whom I used to wait tables with out in Hollywood, has invited me to his holiday parties four years in a row where I was never able to make it due to snowstorms, or being in Paris, or getting stuck in Buffalo or having to go to my ten year high school reunion. So this year I thought I'd finally go and canceled our impromptu "loafer" party.

Ryan moved to New York shortly after I left L.A to work in fashion where he wanted to pursue his acting career outside of Los Angeles. Since his big move, he was accepted to the renowned Juilliard School, landed tons of hilarious commercial work, met his boyfriend Michael and just finished writing and starring in his star-studded indie film, He's Way More Famous Than You due out later this year. I'm so proud of him and everything that he has accomplished over these past few years, he never ceases to inspire me. It wasn't terribly long ago that we were slinging hash in Hollywood, stacking plates of steamed veggie egg white omelets, tofu eggs benedict and gluten-free pancakes up our arms to LA folks who lunch. These shifts consisted of us torturing our manager by blasting the worst songs on the jukebox, walking at a snail's pace through the restaurant during the brunch rush, or pretending that we were going to eat food off of customer's plates where he would charge after us threatening that he was going to write our "asses up" in the manager's book. Good times...really.

Aurel and I were the first arrivals at the party, armed with two bottles of Sofia Blanc de Blancs and were able to briefly catch up with Ryan and Michael before the other guests arrived. After several glasses of champagne, nibbling on finger food and the clock inching towards 11:30, Aurel and I looked at each other wondering what we were going to do. We could've stayed at the party but would have gotten stuck on the West Side until 2 am (because the side streets would be blocked off after midnight) or leave and be back at my mom's by 1 am to finish the celebration in the comfort of home. While the party was lovely; we ate, drank and met Ryan and Micheal's vibrant friends (I miss these kinds of exuberant personalities when I'm in Paris), we decided to head out to avoid being on the drunken train back to the Island at 2:30 am. We quietly snuck out, not wanting to make a scene that we were leaving before midnight and scurried across 57th street to 8th in order to get the hell out of the city.

We arrived at 8th avenue where the barricades were already up and were directed by a police officer that the entrance to the subway was around the block because they weren't letting anyone cross the avenue. If we went around the block, we'd miss the 12:14 train and the next one would be at 12:55 and would be jam-packed with the first batch of obnoxious drunk partyers. I calmly explained to the officer that we were just trying to get back on the last somewhat sober train to the Island and that my feet hurt. He looked down at my Marc by Marc Jacobs black sequined booties and opened the gate to let us through. I thanked him, wished him a Happy New Year and we descended into the desolate A/C/E subway station. "Wow, bien joué!" Aurel said, fully impressed with my negotiating skills, something that I would never try in France. One because it would never work (especially with my accent) and two because I'm scared of the French police. 

We made it to Penn Station before midnight leaving us enough time to get a champagne split at the station market that was handed to us already popped open, in a brown paper bag with two straws bobbing out the top of the effervescent bottle. The station was a case of the calm before the storm where the only people around were police officers getting ready for a long night, commuters who could care less about the holiday and homeless people. The clock hit midnight and the cops walked through the station wishing everyone a Happy New Year, two girls who just happened to be there and clinked to one another with their sandwiches, a homeless man in a wheelchair sipping on a can of coke chanted "Happy New Year! Make your dreams come true this year!", a saxophonist played "Aude Lang Syne" and we took a sip of champagne from our straws and had our New Year's kiss in the middle of Penn Station. At the risk of sounding completely cheesy, it was perfect.

This was the first New Year's Eve where I enjoyed the best of both worlds: going out and feeling the excitement of the city but being back at my mom's house for a limoncello nightcap before nestling into bed at 2 am. It was by far, the perfect ending to 2011. Let's hope 2012 echoes this perfection. No pressure...


  1. I love so much about this evening you had! When I first started reading I was waiting for something awful to happen. I lived in Hell's Kitchen for 3.5 years and remember those barricades and how the entire day of NYE I couldn't even get back to my apartment post mani/pedi and I do not have your negotiating skills. So glad you made it back and even happier that you were able to get champagne in a brown paper bag - i have such fond memories of drinks in paper bags from Penn Station (never champagne though!) Happy New Year to you and here's to a fantastic 2012!

  2. "i'm scared of the french police" haha come on!
    I have been arreted in Manhattan once (upper east side) and I almost got killed
    while reaching out for my wallet lol, and I'm far from looking like an criminal.
    I can tell those guys are trigger happy! did you see how they beat the hell out of
    the peaceful occupy wall street protesters? (google Tony Bologna aka Tony "Baloney" there
    is a funny vid from Jon Stewart)
    Meanwhile, in France cops are regurlarly insulted, spitted on or attacked by kids.
    Now, I know that a lot of cops in NYC are italian americans from staten and long island so I'm sure you have sympathy for your "people" ;) and you know how to talk to them.
    Don't be scared of the french police, I'm sure with your cute american accent you can
    make them write off any ticket!

  3. I'm still not sure how you were able to pull yourself away from the unbeatable combination of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. I love how she makes him squirm because he doesn't know how to handle her sense of humor. But champagne in a bag and Seb at your side sounds like the next best option! ;)

    No doubt about it, the Tony Bologna segment has me more frightened of the police in NYC than those in Paris. I'm with Gabe in thinking that you would be able to work your charm on the French police. Stephane and I laughed when we were on our way home from New Year's Eve on the CE because a whole group of policemen's heads pivoted as they watched a young woman in a short skirt and high heels wobble her way down the street. If there had been a criminal breaking into a building on the other side of the road, they would have never noticed. It was like something out of a cartoon.

  4. I spent a spooky, yet fascinating New Year's Eve in The Hague with enough firecrackers and fireworks all around (and bonfires being lit in the middle of the streets) to traumatize even colleagues who have lived in war-torn countries... and it's like that every year! Glad I experienced it, but one time will suffice! Glad your evening was quieter and enjoyable:)

  5. @K - Thanks! Happy New Year to you too! Luckily nothing too crazy happened being in the city this year for NYE. I think if we stayed later, we would have been treated like drunk cattle. It was a good thing we decided to flee. Hey, so did you have that NYE party? I'm looking forward to that post! : )

    @Gabe - Why did you get arrested in NY?! Intolxicated in public? Being too French? : P No really, I hope everything was ok, it sounds scary. I'd freak out if I was arrested in France. And LOL! Italian-American cops from Staten Island are "my people"...yeah, I guess it fits!

    @MK - Yes! Ahhahaha, Kathy makes him SO uncomfortable...he's so refined and she's so brazen (especially with that voice!!) was hard to give up a cozy night of comedy but I figured since I've had an out-of-towner here, I wanted to show him a good time!

    That's hysterical about the police and the drunk girl on NYE in Paris. I can ONLY imagine their little side comments...something the French have mastered!

    @Duchess - See, I wanted fireworks..I feel like that's something that NYC has to add to their spectacular. Nothing makes a holiday more festive and dramatic than fireworks.

    Other than the explosions, did you have a good night? Get your drink on? : )