About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

Where To Find Me


By Category


101 in 1,001 – The Results

For the past 1,000 days, I participated in Day Zero’s 101 Day Project, a unique challenge that inspires you to set and achieve your personal goals in life. My friend Caitlin had started one, and I was intrigued. At that point, I had been in five years’ remission from cancer and was basically a lump when it came to goal setting. The diagnosis had resulted in my having a hard time looking in the future, as I got in the mindset of “Well, anything can change quickly.” I thought that starting the list would be better than a so-called bucket list in inspiring me to look forward again. (And I’d just beaten cancer… why would I want to think about kicking the bucket?)

The challenge runs 1,001 days—I started September 12, 2010 and ended today, June 9, 2013. To count, tasks must be specific with a defined result that represents some amount of work on my part. Here’s a summary of my first list and what happened. Bolded items are ones that were completed. Not bad for my first try, with 54 of 101 goals achieved. I start Part II tomorrow, and will aim for 75 next.

Continue reading

An Adventure In Homonyms

Tonight, I was reiterating a story I read on Buzzfeed to Alex: A man left his iPad on a plane, and when he realized it was missing, it was no longer on the plane. In short, the woman who stole the iPad started taking self-photos with the device, which automatically uploaded to the Apple iCloud. Now the man knows what the thief looks like and hopes the collective power of the Internet can identify the culprit. Read more: Selfies Of iPad Thief Delight Original Owner And Rest Of Internet.

I’d gotten no further than telling Alex, “A man left his iPad on a plane, and when he realized it was missing, it was no longer on the plane,” when Alex replied. “So what? They get tossed out all the time. Don’t leave it on a plane if you want it.”

I was taken by surprise, and asked him why he’d be so laid back about losing an iPad.

“They’re worthless,” he said. This, from one of Apple’s original fan boys?

“But you don’t realize why this story’s funny,” I said. “The person who jacked the iPad keeps taking selfies and they’re automatically uploading to iCloud.”

“Huh? What does Apple iCloud have anything to do with this?”

“Umm, it’s an iPad. Apple product.”

Then we realized we were both talking about different iPads—me the electronic device, and he the “eye pads” that some airlines hand out to help you fall asleep.

Life suddenly made a lot more sense.

The Evolving Main Street

Yesterday, Lexcie and I drove to New Jersey to check out towns along New Jersey Transit’s Raritan Valley line, as we’re still keeping options open in case our plans to move to Westchester fall through. It was an interesting mix of towns, but the one that caught my eye was Somerville, mainly because it had a varied, fun Main Street. We spent a few hours walking through town, mostly stopping at antique stores like Antiques Emporium (where I found some nice Fiesta pieces I don’t have) and Somerville Center Antiques, then eating lunch at the East Star Buffet (quite generic Chinese). We also drove through some other central business districts, including Westfield, which I didn’t find as interesting, because many of the stores were places you’d find all over (Claire’s, Urban Outfitters, Esprit), and the traffic was awful.

I’ve always loved main streets. I grew up—and still live—in Islip, Long Island, which has its own thriving Main Street. I ran away to Main Street when I was two. It was the first place I was allowed to go on my own, which mostly consisted of trips to my aunt and uncle’s independent video store or the comic book store. My mom opened her bridal store there in 1989. As we grew older, most of my siblings’ and friends’ firsts jobs were on Main Street, including my own at Country Health and Diet Foods, where I worked for eight years throughout high school and college. Hours were spent at the Classic Cafe and Islip Movie Theater, both at where my sister worked.

Islip’s Main Street has changed drastically over the years—many of the old stores I grew up with have closed, replaced by nail salons, more upscale restaurants, hair salons, nail salons, jewelry stores, and nail salons. (And did I mention nail salons?) Mom’s store moved to East Islip (but still on Main Street) back in the mid ’90s. Another of the “old guard” recently announced it’s closing—Granny’s Yarn Shoppe—as the owner is retiring. The health food store, which closed in 2005, has been replaced by an expanded Islip Beauty Store.

But one of the “old guard” that closed in 2006—the Islip Movie Theater—is coming back, and most locals I know are pretty excited about it. (Read the Newsday article about it here.) It’s a place we’d spend many nights and weekends, and for many folks (including me), it was the location of our first dates. A plan was proposed a few years ago to turn it into a dinner theater, which eventually never materialized.  (I went to the exciting—and often tense—public meeting about it in 2007.) It feels like the Main Street I grew up with is coming back, even if it’s only one place. The theater’s set to open mid-March; perhaps the only difference now is that I’d be grabbing a slice afterwards at Gino’s instead of Andy’s.

Islipians and surrounding locals also got another dose of nostalgia today, with the famous Charlie’s Hot Dogs (a food truck that closed operations some years ago) making a special appearance at Hometown Cafe in East Islip for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Lexcie and I went there for a hot dog—only to get in line with at least 400 other people looking to relive the Charlie’s experience. We were shocked! We realized it probably would have been a few hours before a hot dog even reached our lips, so we left. I only hope the theater gets that kind of reception when it reopens.

This was only some of the crowd waiting:

The Road Less Traveled

A Writer’s Book of Days (01/11) – You Are In A Motel Room

Mom, my sister Alyse, and I watched from the window as a freight train rumbled on in the distance. Ten, 25, 50, 80 cars – we lost count after 100. The motel we stayed in was in the Mohonk Valley of upstate New York. My friend Erin was having her Sweet Sixteen party at her new home in Edmeston, a town that falls in the middle of the Schenectady-Syracuse-Binghamton triangle.  We decided to take a road trip up from Long Island.

It’s hard to believe that this was the same New York we live in. We saw green valleys for miles and miles from the hotel room. We’d gone horseback riding, explored Howe Caverns, ate lunch in a town with only one traffic light, tried sulfuric spring water in Saratoga, and passed many, many cows. It was a far cry from the ocean beaches, Long Island Railroad, and miles and miles of strip malls I was used to.

That road trip wasn’t as glitzy as many of the vacations my friends had taken – weeks at Martha’s Vineyard, transcontinental flights to California, resort stays in Mexico. We didn’t have that kind of money.

But I didn’t know that. Mom always made sure our trips – this was our first multiple-day jaunt since I’d gone to Disney World at five – were full of fun, unique, and memorable experiences, even if they didn’t cost a lot of money.

Even though our money situation has improved drastically since then, we still don’t go for the glitz. Vacations are spent meandering and exploring, sometimes throwing the map to the wind. Luckily, my fiance Lexcie shares the same traveling philosophy. Our house is full of treasures from those trips – rocks, seashells, little trinkets picked up at a small town gift store.

It’s finding a stone with the words “THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES” painted on while horseback riding in the Mohonk Valley. Eating stinky tofu in a little mining town in Taiwan. Finding a free pair of roller blades on the side of the road while taking a different route than originally planned. Buying the most comfortable hammocks ever from a seaside shack on Prince Edward Island. Visiting Islip, England just because it has the same name of your hometown.

You never know what you’ll find along the road less traveled.

Splish, Splash, I Love Taking A Bath

A Writer’s Book of Days (01/06) – Write About Bathing

512 square feet. A California king bed. A separate seating area. One person.

And that’s just a hotel room (I think there are plenty of Manhattan apartments smaller than that). Yet  it’s the one I booked for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas. I certainly could have gone for the twin bed, but that room (more appropriate and affordable for a woman traveling on her own) didn’t have a Jacuzzi. That bubbly tub of wonder stole my credit card number the first time I laid eyes on the room description.

I love baths. A hotel’s glass shower stall would not do.

It’s not a luxury I have at home. I do have a tub, but a small one. Not exactly one you can sink into without splashing bubbles and water all over the place. My arm, which doesn’t fit, has to hang cold and limply over the side. When I buy my own house, you bet it’s going to be one of those claw-foot giants.

So hotels will just have to do for now. Accommodations get bonus points (or that extra star on Yelp.com) if they have deep soak tubs like the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla., The Jefferson Hotel in DC, and The Wynn in Sin City. There’s nothing like covering your entire body with a warm, giant quilt of bubbles. It’s akin to putting the first flannels on your bed for winter.

But a Jacuzzi? Movin’ on up, girl.

I never stayed in a hotel room with a Jacuzzi before. In fact, if you asked me which ones have them, I can only think of seedy themed motels with giant heart-shaped or champagne glass tubs. (I presume the reputation of this Vegas casino-hotel means it will be properly cleaned and disinfected.)

You can be sure I’ll be in that tub at least once or twice, and that my toiletry bag (three-ounce bottles and under, since I only pack a carry-on) will have more bubbles, powders, and bath oil than cosmetics. I particularly like those scented fizzing balls with shea butter. That little complimentary bottle of hotel body wash doesn’t have the same effect.

So if you don’t find me at the roulette table, you know where to find me.