28 December 2006

So long, Gerry

Mike, Gayle, President Ford, Mrs. Ford, Jack, Susan, and Steve on the South Lawn of the White House. September 6, 1976

27 December 2006

Thanks ya'll

My family stopped acknowledging holidays and birthdays when I was a kid, so it's nice to know that I have friends that are thinking of me during the holiday season.

Thanks for all the snail mail. I love getting fun things in my mailbox.

Thanks for the gorgeous handmade flourite and peridot drop silver necklace and comb. The necklace is simple and sweet -- hopefully a reflection on its wearer. If I'm lucky, the comb will make me as smart as Franu.

Thanks for the very badass skull necklace that looks so dainty and real (with a jaw that opens and closes!). I love it and plan on wearing it to work on a regular basis.

Thanks for the lovely Bath and Bodyworks gift basket containing all sorts of skincare goodies (shower gel, lotion, etc) plus an aromatherapy candle and bath scrubbie.

Now, none of you know each other (or are in contact with each other), but in addition to your wonderful holiday wishes (much love to you as well) you included soap, jewelry and a comb.

Um, are each of you trying to tell me something???

Do I smell? Do I need to comb my hair? Do I need to dress better? :-)

Why do people always tell me that?

Has this ever happened to you?

Used to happen to me all the time when I was growing up. Explains a lot, now that I think about it.

25 December 2006

Good movie

Pookie, Ann and I went to watch Blood Diamond Saturday night. Damn, when did Leo grow up and turn into such a phenomenal actor?

The movie is good, and if you've got some time to kill, completely worth watching.

It tugs on the same heartstrings as Hotel Rwanda in that it puts the things that were in the news into context and on a more human scale. My only complaint, and it's not even a complaint as much as an observation, was that I thought the idea of a self-sacrificing mercenary that believes in integrity and honor to be contrived. But, bringing that element into the picture allowed the movie to make some interesting detours into the less often heard plight of whites in Africa. Not all whites in Africa are corrupt and exploitative, and civil unrest doesn't discriminate. The movie also poses an interesting question -- what would Africa look like today if it didn't have all its natural resources. It might be a better, more peaceful place.
Interestingly enough, according to this article in Grist, the diamond industry has mounted a defense against this movie in an effort to curb any unfavorable publicity. It seems strange to me since even though the movie's storyline is fictional, this is what happened in Sierra Leone. While the civil war has ended, the diamonds are still bloody -- children are still being captured and families are still being torn apart in Africa in some part to the diamond industry.

Merry Christmas and observations on language differences beyond the Mason Dixon line

Merry Christmas from NC!

American Gothic revisited. I love this picture of Pookie and Ann because it reminds me of Grant Wood's famous painting. (Click on the picture of Pookie and Ann to see the album.)

Pookie and Ann have invited me to visit them in their new digs in Ballantyne, NC -- a golf course dotted, swimming pool specked, tennis court checkered planned neighborhood in surburban Charlotte. I just barely managed to fly in yesterday morning and have yet to get over the size of their home.

For the same monthly mortgage as they paid for their junior 1 BR in Bayside, Queens, Pookie and Ann now have a 4 BR (this includes a ginormous master suite), 2.5 BA, formal living room, formal dining room, huge family room which is overlooked by another sitting/recreational area upstairs (which leads into the other 3 BRs), huge modern kitchen with breakfast bar, breakfast nook, separate laundry room, fireplace, deck, swimming pool, 2 car garage and a yard. A real yard!

In NC, Pookie and Ann's house is known as a "starter home." Which leads me to the conclusion that while New Yorkers and Tar Heels both speak English, the Mason-Dixon line holds more than geographical or historical significance; the invisible demarcation between former Union and Confederacy states also marks a language barrier. In New York City, a "starter home" is a 380 sf studio apartment on the top floor of a 6 story walk-up building with no laundry or parking, and the monthly mortgage is several hundred dollars more than Pookie and Ann's.

After admiring Ann's taste in furniture and decor and starting my loads of dirty laundry, yesterday involved going out to eat, napping, a movie, eating some more, and then going to sleep. Pookie and Ann watched in amazement (or was it disgust?) as I inhaled two entrees of NC-sized proportions for lunch. Once again, my theory on the Mason-Dixon line language difference proves correct as NC dishes are easily twice the size of NYC sized plates.

After a full day of eating and napping, I still managed to sleep a full 14 hours, which played well into Pookie's master plan of sitting at home, doing nothing and watching TV as Ann could no longer drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains (sorry Ann!). When I woke, Pookie and Ann were debating whether they ought to wake me or not. After my 12th hour asleep, Ann was starting to worry that I might be sick. Pookie, who knows me too well, felt they ought to let me sleep. There was nothing wrong with me other than it's been a long long time since I've slept in real king-sized bed in a room that doesn't have all the prerequisite noises of a prewar apartment building in NYC (your neighbors having sex, the radiator, the pipes, fire trucks, etc) and not had to wake up to go to work or run errands. It was incredibly restful. Thanks Pookie!

23 December 2006

Greetings from Charlotte, NC

It's 5:00am on Saturday morning, and I've been up all night. That's because I didn't get home from work until some time around midnight. It was just one of many recent early mornings and late nights at work.


My brain's shot. I sit and stare blankly at the television until 3am when I finally force my exhausted body to get off the couch. I have to pack. I have a flight to catch at 7am.

Two weeks ago, I promised Pookie that I would visit him for Christmas. I don't know what I was thinking; I should have stuck to my guns and insisted that I spend Christmas alone. The only day I have off from work is Monday, and it's an extremely busy time at work at the end of the year. But, my visit to Pookie was long overdue, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he and Ann didn't want me to be alone for Christmas.

I like spending time alone. Many people don't believe me because the art of being alone is largely lost on people in the 25-40 age group. There are far too many in that age range who can't do anything unless they have someone at their side for even small things that require minimal interaction like going to the mall or the movies.

What I think people don't always understand is that aloneness can be very liberating. When I'm alone, I'm come and go as my whim desires. There are no appointments that I'm obligated to keep, no one to coordinate schedules with, no need to check in with anyone, no one to answer to but myself. I act according to my mood and motivation, and I can change my mind about what I'd like to do at any given moment without concern that I'm being a "flake" and wasting someone else's time. When I'm alone, it's incredibly relaxing to know that I'm not bound by the needs, commitments or schedules of others, but that my time is my own time to use or waste as I please.

I suspect that those same people may even pity me when I tell them that I prefer to be alone because they don't believe it to be true. When asked what I did over Thanksgiving, I replied, "I had a great weekend. My roommate spent the week at her bf's, so I had the whole apartment to myself. I slept in, went to the gym, ordered dinner in, watched movies, read, and napped." I see the slightly pitying glances that say, "poor girl, she must not have any friends or family." I don't really care, and nor do I try to explain because attempts to make others understand would be misconstrued as defensiveness. It'd only confirm their misguided belief that I spend time alone because I have no other options. The reality is far different.

My desire to spend time alone might be because I don't get enough "me" time -- time to go through the stacks of unopened mail piled up on my desk, to file away bills and documents, to work on my photography, to update my blog, to edit and post pictures that range from my day-to-day adventures in NYC to big trips like Costa Rica (2 years ago), Portland (9 months ago), Hawaii (6 months ago). The end result is that my personal life is made up of piles. Piles of urgent things that need to be addressed right away, like bills, and piles of things that I'd like to work on or put away when I have more time. The "urgent" pile will eventually get addressed when it grows to an alarmingly unbearable size. The "when I have more time" pile hasn't been touched in two years.

It's now 3am, and I'm staring at piles. Piles of three weeks worth of dirty laundry -- the laundry I've been meaning to wash for two weeks but haven't had the time. I open my underwear drawer. It's empty. Even my emergency underwear is gone -- the ugly granny one that can mysteriously be found in every girl's underwear drawer even though she wouldn't be caught dead in it and would never have bought such a hideous thing for herself. Great. Just great.

I dig through the pile of luggage under the rolling clothes rack that serves as the second half of my closet in my 100 square foot room and retrieve my extra large L.L. Bean duffel bag, the humongous one that more closely resembles a me-sized body bag. I start filling it with the piles of dirty clothes. Even my sheets and towels. I've got two hours, and the car is picking me up at 5am to take me to LGA.


Anyhoo, back to the present. The best thing about having no clean clothing is not having to think or plan what to pack. I drag my extra large duffel bag out of the back of the Lincoln Towncar and into the airport. It's 5:40 Saturday morning, and I haven't slept since Thursday night when I managed to squeeze in four hours of QT with my mattress before heading back to work. As I punch my info into the self check-in terminal at the JetBlue counter, I can't help but feel slightly impressed that I managed to make it to the airport on time. I'm notorious for showing up at the airport at the last possible minute. Yes, I've even missed flights (Hawaii and Hong Kong to name a few). The terminal blinks at me: "There is a problem with your reservation. Please contact an agent."

Still feeling pretty good about making it to the airport before the last possible second, my drag my ginormous duffel over to the JetBlue ticketing agent, "Excuse me, there seems to be a problem with my reservation. I can't print a boarding pass."

"Your destination?" says the nice lady in blue.

"Charlotte, NC."

"Ma'am, this is La Guardia. JetBlue only flies to Florida from La Guardia. Your flight leaves from JFK." I glance at the printout with my reservation details. She was right, and I'm a moron. How typical of me. Go figure.

"SHIT!" I throw my duffel over my shoulder and run out the door. I jump in a yellow cab that's just dropped off a passenger and ask, "Hey, I have to catch a 7am flight out of JFK. How long does it take to get there?"

"30-45 minutes at best, and it's starting to rain, so it'll take longer now." It's now 5:50am.

"Listen, if you could do your best to get me there in 30 minutes or less, I'd really appreciate it." It's time for damage control. If I'm going to miss the flight, I need to call Pookie before he makes the trip to the airport, and he needs to think that I didn't miss it on purpose because I'm trying to avoid a trip down there. I leave him a short message.

While I'm rushed, I'm in no way stressed. When you spend 12-14 hours a day in an environment where everything is urgent and needs to be done right away (even when it doesn't), urgency takes on a new definition. In both my professional and personal life, my sense of urgency or pressure has lost perspective. Breathe. Control what you can control and let everything else fall to the wayside (Some days, I'm not very good at doing the latter). I can't make the cab drive faster, and I can't do anything about traffic, so I'm not going to sweat it. I close my eyes and nap.

It's 6:20am when my yellow cab pulls up to the JetBlue departures terminal at JFK. I thank and tip the driver $20 for his timeliness. This time, my boarding pass prints out at the self check-in terminal with no problem. I check my duffel. I'm one of the last people to make it on the flight, but I make it. Once again, I've caught my flight at the last possible minute. Guess some habits are harder to break than I want to believe, but hey, no sweat, right?

22 December 2006

The puny pony has its own website!

After RC sent me the article of the Puny Pony, B found its website. Thanks folks!

Go to: http://www.worldssmallesthorse.com/

Check out the pictures. The history of how mini horses came about is quite interesting. Apparently, some miniature horses were bred to work in mines...

Don't run with sharp objects

This is what happens when I finally have some free time for the first time in weeks. Instead of packing to go to NC, I go out and buy a new toy -- the 2006 Starboard Carve! Unlike the picture below, my board will arrive without man or dog (the dog would have been nice). Nevertheless, I am very excited.

Unfortunately, this is an example of why B doesn't think she ought to leave me alone for extended periods of time.


Considering my two major purchases lately, I think I know which one is the better value, and it's not the one I'll use 2 months out of a year.

17 December 2006

This book sucked

I just finished reading this book. It sucked.

I read it because B told me I'd like it. Because half the women who saw me reading it told me that it was good, and I'd like it. And, after I finished reading it, they told me I ought to watch the movie because the movie was better. I should have just skipped the book and waited for the movie to come out on demand. Any book where someone tells you the movie is better is probably not worth reading.

The book was painfully boring and could have easily been half its length. I hated it. But, because everyone I knew who had read the book told me they liked it, I wanted to like it. I read page after page of bitching and moaning about how hard work is, how mean the protagonist's boss is, how horrid life is because of the long work hours, and how guilty the central character feels because she has to choose work over family and friends. After a while, I began to resent the book because even though I thought it was a drag, I felt I had to keep on reading because everyone was convinced that I'd like it. I kept waiting for the part of the book that everyone was convinced I would like; I kept hoping that the book would eventually redeem itself. It never did.

The book was just an excuse to rattle off lengthy lists of couture clothing. While I like couture as much as the next girl, I don't have to read 368 pages when I can just surf the web, call Bergdorf's or go to Soho. To my disappointment, even the end of the book was boring and predictable. [SPOILER. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK AND PLAN ON DOING SO.] The central character is faced with a situation where she must choose between a successful career and the people she cares about. She tells her boss to "Fuck off." Wow, shocker. The book just managed to have the same ending as most pre-teen coming of age novels.

As many of us who live and work in NYC know, sleep deprivation, unreasonably demanding bosses, conspicuous consumption, status symbols and social climbers are examples of just another day in the big city. For most of us, lives like that don't come with fancy clothes or perks. Neither is it difficult or interesting. It just is.

Go Kobayashi!

Here's a cell phone picture of this year's countdown board at the Nathan's Annual Hot Dog eating contest where Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut duked it out. Kobayashi won with 53.75 hot dogs in 12 minutes and immediately upchucked all the contents of his stomach as soon as the contest ended, prompting his competitors to cry foul. Instant replay showed that he managed to keep everything down until after the buzzer. Chestnut followed a close second with 52 hot dogs.

What was interesting was that the crowd made the contest into an "us versus them" event. When Kobayashi was announced, he stood on a cherry picker over the crowd. He flexed his biceps and raised his oversized shirt to flaunt his six-pack abs. The crowd booed. When Chestnut was announced and raised up in a cherry picker so he was level to Kobayashi, the crowd cheered him and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" Chestnut preened before the crowd, also flexing his biceps. The cherry picker operator then raised Chestnut so he stood above Kobayashi, and the crowd cheered.

I tried to figure out how competitive eating relates to nationality but drew a blank. The sort of athleticism exhibited by both Kobayashi and Chestnut in the realm of competitive eating is true talent no matter what language either one of them speaks, what country they call home, or what they look like. The crowd booed Kobayashi because he wasn't "American." What does that mean? Was it because he he wasn't white? Because he didn't look like them? Because he doesn't speak English? I still don't know.

It was one of the best July 4 days I've had in a long time. JS had called that morning with the brilliant idea to go to Coney Island to watch Kobayashi, and despite the three hour wait and the blistering heat, we had a lot of fun. JS is uncanny in that he always knows what I'd find interesting from random spur-of-the-moment activities to my fascination with competitive eating. Love alone wasn't enough to make things work, but at least I have memories of good times and was able to walk away with happy thoughts.

13 December 2006

This changes the nature of the sport!

I'm sad.

The face of competitve eating, the sport we have all come to know and love, has taken on a new dimension that may possibly mar it forever.

Eating even organizers are being pressured to favor speed over quantity for health purposes, and they're giving in. Can you believe it?!?! It shows an obvious lack of understanding and respect for the nature of the sport.

For 15 years, competitors have traveled to the World Pie Eating Championships in this northwestern English town to gorge on as many meat and potato pies in three minutes as they can handle.

This year, in tune with the government's healthy eating drive and after sustained pressure from the Vegetarian Society, organizers overhauled the sport's rules, presenting the award to the contestant able to eat a single pie in the fastest time. They also introduced a vegetarian category.

Just because one is a fast eater does not make one the "most" (therefore the best) eater.

06 December 2006

This just takes the cake

This ban just takes the cake -- the cake containing trans fats that is. I know New York City had been thinking about this, but I really didn't think people in their right mind would actually let it pass. Does anyone realize that once the private sphere gives ground to the public sphere, it's extremely difficult to regain it back? Seriously, people.

When NYC banned smoking indoors, I was able to live with that. After all, it was arguably regulating the negative externalities of secondhand smoke, not the actual act of smoking itself. I agree with parts of what the city is trying to do with this new law -- restaurants ought to provide nutritional information on their menus. People do need to be more aware of what they eat and how that affects their health. The spirit of this new law is in the right place: to protect the people.

However, it's overstepped its bounds. If this is appropriate legislation, what's next? What if the city makes a determination that listening to music with headphones is bad for hearing? That only certain religions are safe for public consumption? That minorities pose a public danger since they don't fit in? That childbirth is dangerous to women? There are plenty of other things that are dangerous (and illegal) for people living in this city -- guns, vandalism, aggressive taxi drivers to name a few -- that can be changed. So, why this?

One of the things that makes this country so great is that there's always choice. A lot of choice. Choice fosters competition. It encourages creativity and innovation. Without it, we'd just be a second-rate Singapore with slightly less educated and less technologically advanced citizens. (You know Singapore" The city-state that bans chewing gum because it causes people to litter, bans the press for being critical of the prime minister, and bans podcasting during elections. A place where the people have a voice only when it's "good" for them.) I ought to be able to choose what I eat, not the government. After all, who determines what's "good" for me? If it makes me happy to eat food that contains trans fat, and I place a higher premium on my happiness than my health, I should be allowed to eat as much food containing trans fat as I want.

The way our representatives today seem to be able to justify giving up our privacy and freedoms for "our good" is very scary and not good for me at all. Once again, the long invasive arm of the law overreaches.

05 December 2006

The Intrepid

Leaving NY and passing the Statue of Liberty.

The first was taken by a coworker from his apartment balcony. The second was taken by another coworker from the building where I work.

Still looking

found: 1 pair of white gold and sapphire earrings (!)

lost and still looking: 1 RUNNING MOJO. Reward offered if found.

I clocked a slow 3.75 miles on the treadmill tonight. I should have run more, but I got bored and...stopped.

D and T (D's gf) are off to London this week, and then he's off on location with his famous movie star client the week after. SL (pilates instructor) is gone all next week shooting a fitness video for Shape magazine. Guess I'll be on my own the next two weeks. I need to figure out how to snap out of this lazy funk.

Safari Planet (that's CRAZY!)

Here's a clip of when Brian Fellow thought rabbits couldn't cut hair. Of course rabbits can cut hair. Duh. That's CRAZY!

Here's a clip of when a parrot tried to steal Brian Fellow's identity. Stupid bird. That's CRAZY!

Here's a clip of when a goat with devil-eyes called Brian Fellow a doo-doo head because he thought goats couldn't talk. That's CRAZY!

In case you haven't noticed, this was just an excuse for me to show my favorite Tracy Morgan character when he was on SNL. That's CRAZY! And, he's hilarious.

03 December 2006

A new play in NYC

There's a new play in town by my favorite playwright, Tom Stoppard. I can't wait to see it!

The Coast of Utopia Part One: Voyage

The man's brilliant.

(I think I was the only person who teared up during The Invention of Love, which I saw twice. Once with John Wood at the RNT, and once at The Studio Theatre in DC. Yes, that's how lame I am, but his work is hella awesome.)

02 December 2006

Just in the nick of time

I did it.

Remember how I mentioned HC and I stopped in Barbara Bui last week (because I saw a gorgeous bag in the window display and had to take a closer look)?

Well, I went back, dragging B with me. To say I have to drag B anywhere when shopping is involved isn't just a gross exaggeration, it's a blatant lie. B loves to shop, and I'm usually the one being dragged somewhere to look at various articles of clothing or accessories. This may sound strange, but I hate to shop and will normally only do it out of necessity (aka the "in-and-out") or when I know exactly what I want and am looking to see if such a thing actually exists. Very rarely will I see something that I adore that I don't need or wasn't looking for, but if I'm still thinking about it after a week, I go back and buy it. It was my lucky day. Barbara Bui was having a one-day sale where almost all bags and shoes were discounted 40%.

The assistant store manager, a fabulous man, recognized me immediately and asked where HC was. (Apparently, she was still sleeping, since she text messaged me around 4pm to tell me she had just woken up and was going to buy paint for her new room.) He was kind enough to tell me that there was only one quilted bag left (the larger one, in cognac), which he was hoping to buy for his sister if it was still left at the end of the day. Should he pull it off display for me?

Yes, of course yes.

Not only did he remember me, but he was just a friendly and helpful as I remembered, bringing out bags in styles he thought I'd like and striking a pose as he modelled each one on his shoulder or arm. At one point, he exclaimed, "My goodness, what I am doing still trotting this around?" Apparently, he had gone back to working on the store displays with a forgotten handbag still on his arm. He really was adorable.

There was also a pair of boots that I would have happily taken home with me -- the assistant store manager very sweetly offered suggestions on how they ought to be worn (could he tell that I'm horrible at dressing myself?) -- but they had entirely sold out of my size. Apparently, there had been a run on the boots since Kate Hudson was seen wearing them in October. (Of course I had to come home and google it.) Bummer.

B told me later that there was bag drama while I was elsewhere trying on boots. A woman came in asking about the bag and was unhappy to hear I had the last one. She demanded B tell her whether there would be a chance that I would not buy the bag (obviously, until I actually paid for it, there's a chance I wouldn't buy it) and then insisted on standing over the it until she saw me pay for it. The assistant store manager, being fabulously smart, asked me for my credit card and left both the bag and card at the register.

Anyhoo, I bit the bullet and bought the bag, and I LOVE IT! I didn't even notice that there was a woman who was eyeing me and the bag like a hawk as I paid for it (I don't always pay attention to when people stare or talk), but B noticed. Drama.

I hope my next bag is going to be black; I seem to be stuck in a brown bag rut.