Friday, December 22, 2006

Lawsuit Safe Season's Greetings!**

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that the United States is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

**I can't take credit for this gem, it came from here. Aren't lawyers the best?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Jazz disappoint me. . .

I realize most of my readers do not follow sports or get as excited by sports as I do. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, I often find it difficult to find datable guys who get as excited by sports as I do. Strange, right? Despite my date's lack of interest in most sports (I discovered this at the game) and despite the extremely disappointing Jazz loss to the woefully bad Knicks, I still managed to have a good time. Throughout most of the game I stayed seated and restrained myself to clapping and average levels of cheering matching my date's somewhat disinterested involvement in the game. However, as the Knicks continued to hang close and then took the lead, I could no longer chit chat with the game in the background. I decided the Jazz needed me. I cheered them on with encouraging words of "defense" and "Go Jazz!" and called players by name when appropriate. I wasn't courtside by any means but sitting only 30 or so rows back gave me the impression (perhaps false) that they could hear me, so I persisted despite the fact that I could feel my voice faltering. When the Jazz managed to come from behind enough to put the game into overtime, I was on my feet and yelling myself hoarse. Perhaps this isn't the proper behavior for a date but I was being myself. Sadly, all of my yelling and screaming and believing in this great team was for naught and the Jazz lost by a basket at the buzzer. Tragic.
I am sure these aren't the details you were looking to be recounted but there isn't much else to tell about the date. We met at my office and chit chatted on the subway ride there, missed the tip off because we had the slowest concession lady ever - it took her at least 5 minutes to find a lid for my date's drink - and then we talked on and off throughout the game. I think I asked most of the questions. I think he might be interested in me but I really don't know, I'm not even sure if I am interested. We left Madison Square Garden in the surge of shocked and excited Knicks fans out to 34th Street and immediately went back underground to the subway. The night ended as I jumped off the 1 train at Columbus Circle - hard to have much of a goodbye with all those people around and the doors threatening to close. So that was it.

This morning I woke up and soon realized I couldn't speak. My voice was gone. Lucky for me, I have a "usual" breakfast and lunch order so I didn't have to be vocal to get fed today. Work however is a different story - I spend a lot of time on the phone so I spent a lot of time returning phone calls with emails. The bigger problems are coming tomorrow when I have a 9 am conference call and Thursday when I have a hearing . . . I think I drank about 6 liters of water today (that is not an exaggeration, I have filled my 1L water bottle at least that many times) and a couple of cups of tea with milk and honey. There has been some improvement but certainly not enough to have a phone conversation let alone talk to a judge! Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Monday, December 18, 2006

From SoHo to Harlem

Saturday morning I lingered in bed and on my couch much longer than I should have and didn't venture out until nearly 2 pm. I met up with Brooke for some Christmas shopping for my sub-for-santa, a 12-year old boy in Harlem. We found the most helpful Gap employee ever to fulfill my kid's "church clothes" request. Unfortunately my assignment did not have a great deal of detail on sizes - "boy's large." Not too helpful, especially when the Gap has determined that a 12 year old is an XL and I am used to brothers who were nearly 6 feet tall at 12. I bought the large and steered clear of pants, purchasing shirts/sweater only and stuck in a gift receipt. It was actually really fun buying boy's clothes, I just hope he likes them!
Then we headed down to Spring Street to see this street art gallery. It was 4:00 by the time we headed down there but unfortunately it was closing at 5:00 and when we finally found the end of the line wrapped around the corner and down the block, we were told we had more than an hour's wait ahead of us. It was a fun artsy crowd with an unexpectedly high number of attractive men. Instead of waiting in line we wove in and out of the line to look at the art on the outside walls - some samples are pictured here.
I liked the vegetable crates that had actual vegetables in them. The string was pretty fun as well. Brooke just got her master's in visual arts administration (correct me if I'm wrong Brooke but I think I finally remembered) so she was pointing out various artists. I really do not know anything about street artists. I found it pretty sad that they had all of these artists come and put this together only to be destroyed by condos. I think they should have kept some of it, those would be some funky condos! I think I would live there.
As we were leaving the artshow, Brooke got a phone call. Right there on Spring Street with the noise of the City blaring behind her she got a long-awaited job offer to work at a gallery she really likes. It was exciting and I hope I wasn't too much of a distraction jumping up and down and taking photos of her to capture the moment! We then continued our shopping expedition in SoHo at Eastern Mountain Sports in search of "scouting stuff" for my 12-year old. I found this is another place in the City where attractive men seem to congregate. After I collected some good gear and I was heading for the checkout, Brooke spotted this guy from the Strokes so we hung out a bit longer so she could get a closer view. I wish I was cool enough to say I also knew him and recognized but I'm not. We attempted to do a little more shopping but gave up and went back to my place to wrap the gifts for the sub for santa party in Harlem.
The party turned out to be better than expected. I dropped off my gifts and ran into friends. I started talking to a guy I don't know very well and before I knew it I was asking if he is a Jazz fan since he is from Utah (I knew this because we were on the same flight back from SLC after Thanksgiving and shared a cab home). He said a little bit and before I could think about what I was doing I told him that was too bad because if he was a fan I would invite him to the Jazz/Knicks game on Monday night - not sure when I became so flirtatious but maybe it was my "49% Naughty, 51% Nice" t-shirt. Then he claimed to be a Knicks fan (as a joke because honestly, who could like the Knicks right now?) and I had myself a date. It was that easy!
I didn't stay at the party too long, instead leaving with a group to watch The Family Man - a Christmas movie I really like. My basketball date went as well and I was sitting next to him on a futon when the futon decided to convert itself into a bed - permanently! There was a brief moment of cuddling - only joking around because there were two other people on the futon and 4 or 5 other people there. It was fun. I'm not sure how interested I am in this guy but I am looking forward to tonight.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bachelorette Party

Last night I went to my first bachelorette party for my very good friend JooYun who is getting married in January. I met Joo when I was a summer associate in 2000 and we became close friends when we started working together in 2001. Joo kept telling me and our other friends Ruby and Katharine that she did not want lingerie because she won't wear it. So we gave her flannel pajamas, this beautiful babydoll and the Booty Parlor Seduction Kit. I think she liked the flannel pjs the best - as you can see in the photo.
The party started at a karaoke bar in Korea Town. I had not been karaoking in years and forgot how much I LOVE it! I think I was a bit of a microphone hog because I was up singing nearly every song, but when I tried to sit one out, I was summoned back to the front! Songs that I found fun to karaoke include: Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, Toto's Eye of the Tiger, Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive, I Will Survive and Guns N Roses, Sweet Child of Mine. What I couldn't believe was how many words I already knew without looking at the screen - especially anything from the 80s!
Songs that didn't work as well include Salt-N-Pepa's Let's Talk About Sex (which reminds me of Mickey for whatever reason, I think we sang it to annoy her in high school) and Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back which I was surprisingly good at but goes really fast and having the words up on the screen made everyone realize how nasty some of the words really are! One girl kept insisting on The Gambler by Kenny Rogers which no one really got into. Bottom line, I think I need to make an effort to go karaoking a bit more often! Joo suggested it for my next birthday, I will have to remember that.
After karaoke we went to a bar in Hell's Kitchen where some of Joo's guy friends were waiting to make the party a bit more co-ed. Since I have known Joo so many years, I have met many of her friends multiple times. Several years ago (close to 5!) Ruby was having a party and Joo brought a bunch of her friends. At one point I was on the roof admiring the view of the City with a group of them and one decided to kiss me. It was quite the romantic moment - stunning views from 40+ floors up, looking at the Empire State Building, the wind swirling around and an attractive stranger who decided to put his arm around me after I shivered. We hung back when the rest of our group went back to the party, he then pulled me over into a corner and kissed me. It was probably one of the sexiest kisses I have ever had. I remember walking back to the elevator in silence, riding the elevator back to the apartment in silence and parting as soon as we walked back into the mob of the packed party. We never exchanged words again! Our paths have crossed a few times since then but I don't think we even made eye contact let alone spoke to each other. He was at the bar when we arrived last night. For most of the night I was talking to other people and although I didn't avoid him, I didn't make any effort to talk to him. As our group dwindled in size I found myself talking with Ruby and two of Joo's friends - one my rooftop kiss ("C"), the other a recently out-of-the-closet boy who I always get along with well. Finally, C and I broke the silence and got past the awkwardness (isn't that word awkward to even spell?) of a five-year old kiss and participated in the group dynamic.
With only six of us left at the bar, one of Joo's friends pulled me aside.
Initially I was startled and nervous because Ruby and Joo are on a new crusade to find me a boyfriend so I was worried they were encouraging this boy to ask me out and speaking of awkward - how weird would that be right there? Luckily that wasn't the purpose of pulling me aside. He wanted to let me know that they were moving to another bar - a strip club actually and he wanted me to know beforehand. I think he felt very self-conscious telling the Mormon girl about heading to a strip club but I really appreciated the tip. They weren't telling Joo that was where they were going but they wanted me to not be surprised. So we all made our way out of the bar and I said my goodbyes as everyone piled into cabs. It was after 2 am so it wasn't really an early departure. I hope they enjoyed the strip club, I just think I found my limit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

don't forget to shut the barn door!

"Now the f-word was really out of the barnyard, where it had had its uses for 500 years, and was running around in public, where it didn't belong."

I have to admit I am not the most hyper-sensitive person to the usage of four-letter words. I am, afterall, a lawyer in New York City where the f-word is freely mixed in with latin phrases such as quid pro quo and res ipsa loquitor as if it is part of the specialized logic we gain in law school. Then again, I went to BYU law school. For all I know, at other law schools across the country the f-word just might be part of the curriculum and is probably included in Black's Law Dictionary with such recommended usages as 1) turning down a low-ball settlement offer or 2) venting about a demanding senior partner or maybe even 3) coaxing the computer to recover that brief that just disappeared from the screen.

That being said, I think the above-linked article is great and I LOVE the quote. It is referring to the fall-out after Eddie Murphy's 1987 movie "Raw" which despite the somewhat lax rated R standards of my home was still off limits and I never saw it. For whatever reason the running-around-in-public-where-it-didn't-belong bit really cracked me up.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Christmas Wish List

It is hard to think of anything I truly need these days. I honestly have more than I could ever need as far as material possessions go. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't feel the tug of consumerism, you can see my selfish wish list here. But for the moment I want to focus on some of my intangible wishes for this Christmas:
  • a warm and peaceful visit with family and friends when I make my way home to Utah on December 22nd
  • senstivity and awareness of the simple things I take for granted now for which I will one day be nostalgic
  • a greater appreciation for the friendships I currently enjoy
  • openness toward accepting new friendships in whatever form they might present themselves
  • a less polarized world where differences are accepted and even celebrated and similarities are sought out and cherished
  • an increased ability to focus on the giving/charitable side of Christmas
  • to convey my sincere gratitude to each person who has managed to touch my life over the past 31 years and helped shape me into who I am today
  • Love - I generally want to bury my vulnerabilities and avoid admitting my ever-present desire to find a best friend with whom I can discover a deep and enduring love but to you I will admit this is my number one Christmas wish
  • a deeper appreciation for God

I'm just under a lot of stress right now . . . at least that is my excuse

Lately I have been struggling with my worst break-out since I was 15 years old. I should remind you that is over half my lifetime ago. I am 31. Shouldn't one of the advantages of being 31 be that I no longer get giant zits intent on taking over my face? This is especially frustrating considering the fact that I cannot remember a night since I was 14 or 15 that I did not thoroughly scrub my face, apply toner and moisterizer before going to bed. I generally tolerate the one nasty blemish that explodes periodically (no pun intended but there it is). But a few months ago when visiting a dermatologist for other reasons I asked for help. He wrote me a prescription and I have added it to my daily routine.

However, over the past few weeks I have started to look like a teenager - and not in a good way. No sooner did I finally vanquish the two and a half week interloper perched on the tip of my nose (it glowed just like Rudolph for the holidays) than three more erupted in an extended line from my chin to my left cheek bone with a cluster on my forehead as well. I have been doing my best to ignore the nasty things when I am not scrubbing them with every weapon in my arsenal but today I realized it just isn't working. I am doomed to having both zits and wrinkles and I am fooling myself if I think no one notices.

A secretary with whom I work asked me - very gently - if the blemishes are from stress. Tomorrow I think I will just opt for a paper bag over my face because no foundation is strong enough to hide these bastards.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bah Humbug

My office is located a short two blocks from Rockefeller Center and all of the Christmas madness that the giant tree attracts. I don't want to be misunderstood. I am pro Christmas and I am pro festive decorations and traditions and all of that. In fact, I have been hoping to find time to photograph some of my favorite lights, decorations, etc. around the City - just haven't been able to squeeze it in yet.

However, I must say that I am anti-crushing throngs of slowly shuffling gaping tourists who travel in herds at least 3-5 people wide as they meander down Fifth Avenue. I am also anti-Saks Christmas light show. Okay, not so much the light show because that has no effect on me but the music accompanying the light show. The music starts around 4:30 p.m. (when it gets dark here) and plays every 15 minutes ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I know this because I have in fact been here all night to witness it (as has a co-worker). Every 15 minutes I can hear the tinkling of cheesy, synthesized Christmas bells playing a bastardized version of Carol of the Bells. The higher tones ring at just the right decible level to resist being drowned out by telephone calls, conversations or even an ipod unless really cranked up (at least in a docking station, I haven't tried with headphones). The bells have now seeped so far into my brain that they are imprinted on my auditory nerve center and now play every 15 minutes whether I can actually hear them or not.

Here is someone's bad video version I found on the web. I think it is pretty and I remember admiring it last year because it is quite clever but I do not remember the music being quite so ear piercing. I have avoided viewing it in person this year because I cannot bring myself to endure the crowds or subject myself to the bells on purpose.

Saks 5th Avenue Christmas Lights

I'm sorry the video doesn't work. I have no idea how to fix it...........

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dessert Party Recap

In case you can't see it clearly in the photo, I made:

sugar cookies
candy cane peppermint sugar cookies
red velvet cupcakes
pumpkin cheesecake squares with ginger crust
fudge
lime meltaways
spiced nuts
peanut butter cups
peanut butter cookies
chocolate chip cookies
pecan toffee

A friend of mine's husband asked me last night why I do it. He was not complaining, he is a fan. He jokingly asked if I do it to make me popular. The answer is I don't know why I do it. There is always a post-party let down but this year seemed harder for some reason. I worked hard and I felt less satisfied with the result. Not the food or the decorations, it all turned out beautiful - practice makes perfect, I guess. The disappointment was the attendance.

I had some wonderful friends show up. One in particular I had not seen since her wedding over a year and a half ago. She surprised me because she is now about 4-5 months pregnant! My first roommate in NYC came and the last time I saw her was my dessert party last year. I was also happy to see a friend I used to meet for dinner with a group of girls years ago on a regular basis but with whom I have never reconnected since moving back to NYC. I also had a great showing from work friends who came for their first "Mormon cultural experience" and left commenting on how attractive all the women are. And believe me, there were a lot of women. You see, it was almost exculsively women. In the beginning I think there were 25 or so women there and 3 boys - one was married, one in a serious relationship and one truly single. As the night moved on, more showed but but the numbers were noticeably female heavy. So why all the mistletoe?

It may seem silly to be disappointed in a party for the sole reason that not enough men showed up but it definitely put somewhat of a damper on the whole thing for me. Maybe I just have too many fond memories of my first few dessert parties when I would pose for photos under the mistletoe with different boys kissing me on the cheek or the time when one guy dragged me under the mistletoe and surprised me with a shockingly passionate kiss in front of an audience. It was fun, I could be flirty and even if I didn't end up dating any of the boys, I still felt like there was some hope out there. Last night I don't think there was one guy in attendance who inspired me to be the least bit flirtatious. The majority of the guys I talked to were married save one or two.

The highlight of the party was, as usual, the afterparty. Two of my oldest friends in the city stayed and talked - one was my roommate my first summer in NYC, the other my officemate. I love the longevity of those friendships. They helped me clean up and as I was lying in bed reviewing the evening as I tried to fall asleep I realized the evening was reflective of my life. There have been times in my life where I craved girl time, I didn't know many girls or just didn't have time to spend with my girl friends because I was always with a boyfriend or I just had a group of guy friends who dominated my time. Over the past few years I have lost those boy friends (big space in the middle of those two words) to marriage or distance and I miss it. I used to have impromptu dinner parties several Sundays a month and one of my guy friends often commented on how few girls ever came to my parties. I was always outnumbered by boys.

But now my life has become very female dominated. I have dinner with girls, I go to brunch with girls, most social functions end up being overwhelmed by women, nearly all of my work friends are women. . . no wonder I don't date! Last week a co-worker invited me to a Knicks game and it ended up being me and three men. Wow! Too bad none of them were datable because those were the best odds I have had in longer than I can remember and I doubt I will see that repeated again any time soon.

So, why do I do it? Why did I just spend two precious non-working days baking, cleaning and decorating for a party that does not necessarily give back? I don't want to break a streak but I may have to think seriously about that question next year before commencing my whirlwind dessert bake-a-thon.

No Accent

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
Boston
North Central
The Inland North
Philadelphia
The South
The Northeast
What'>http://www.gotoquiz.com/what_american_accent_do_you_have">What American accent do you have?
Quiz'>http://www.gotoquiz.com/">Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Shirking my work, I took a couple of fun quizes I found here. This is the first one and it reinforces countless comments I have had throughout my life that I do not have an accent. This was especially disappointing to me when I was an 11-year old transplant to Northern California and the other new girl had a really cool Oklahoma accent. No one sat around asking me to repeat words or phrases. When I was in Australia on a tour with people from all over the world everyone was talking about accents - there was a guy from England, some native Australians, a New Yorker (with a thick accent) and a handful of non-native English speakers. I remember the New Yorker saying to me - you just enunciate really clearly. Despite this, I sometimes catch myself with the slight Utah accent that my sister dreads, mostly when I am in SLC I hear some of it slipping out. But I guess the quiz didn't know to ask how I pronounce words like mountain and fountain - then my Utah roots might be revealed!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remembrance Day

Twelve years ago today my dad almost died. Staphylococcus or staph attacked his heart. I lived over three hours away and was a sophomore in college preparing for finals and dealing with some extreme drama with roommates and the random boy I was dating at the time. My mother tried to soften the blow and shield my siblings and I from the gravity of the situation by pushing it off as not a big deal. The problem was she forgot a conversation we had had with our home teacher when I was home over Thanksgiving wherein my dad commented that a staph infection would kill him because of his weak heart (a result of rheumatic fever when he was young).

Despite the twelve years between where I sit now and that Tuesday in early December when my aunt told me my dad was in the hospital, I have a vivid recollection of the sequence of events and many of the details. I was alarmed that my dad was at the hospital initially not just because of the normal connotations of hospitals but also due to the fact that my father never went to emergency rooms, doctor's offices or hospitals for any reason. My dad's answer to everything is elevate it, take an asprin/tylenol/excedrin/ibuprofren and ice or heat depending on the malady. He is tough and waits things out. Later I found out he tried that approach until he found himself lying flat on his back in his office trying to negotiate a deal with his business partners, to weak to even sit - then he went to the hospital. He had to insist that doctors ran certain tests because he feared it wasn't just the flu. It was too similar to the time before I was born when he had strep which had a similar attacking effect on his heart and he ended up in the hospital for 6 weeks. My mother had told me he went in for tests but I was surprised when he stayed and scared when she told me the result was staph. I feared he would die and I would never see him again.

In 1994 email was new and not so easily accessed. My parents had it and we used it with some regularity but I had to go to a computer lab on campus to use it. I don't believe the behemoth computer I fondly called my Tandy dump (it was actually called a Tandy DMP) with DOS bootup and green lettering was capable of email. And long distance cost a lot, as my father was happy to remind me. I used to frequent pay phones because there was some sort of cheap long distance availble from them. The lack of affordable and easy communication combined with my mother's fear of admitting to her children that their father might die, left me in the dark. The three and a half hour drive from home in 1994 felt further away than New York in 2006.

With roommate relationships extremely strained and a boyfriend who suddenly went MIA, I felt more alone than I had ever been before and rivals only the loneliness I experienced in a dysfunctional and damaging marriage. Outside my roommates I had a few friends but most of them were connected with the oddly absent boy. I was alone and I was scared. My normal coping mechanism was to retreat into myself and seek out a beautiful part of nature where I could think. I remember taking a long drive up Cedar Mountain and reaching a pullout. There was some snow and it was cold. I got out of the car and cried. I cried and asked God why. Then I prayed like I had never before prayed and like I have rarely prayed since. I do not recall making any sort of bargains or promises to God, I just remember begging to have something in my life improve and mostly to let my dad live.

After the drive, I returned to my apartment and decided to bake. I was supposed to be studying for finals but I decided to bake instead. I don't remember specifically what I baked but I know it was more than just a batch of cookies. I remember arranging my baked goods on small plates and delivering them to friends. Even though I needed and wanted to take, it felt good to give instead. Despite my aching need for support, I don't believe I shared with anyone what was really happening, why I was breaking inside.

The strained relationship I had with my roommates snapped. I became bitter over their seeming insensitivity toward my situation and they resented my moping and sulking. I don't think they understood what was happening with my dad and I resented that although I doubt I tried to explain. At one point they misjudged the cause of my depression and made an attempt to cheer me up with a card - they thought it was about the absentee boyfriend. At the last minute they convinced me to go to the school Christmas dance with the guy next door who also didn't have a date. I agreed because I needed so desparately to find a fit somewhere. The dance wasn't the right fit. My date barely spoke to me or even sat near me. The roommates were caught up with their own dates and I felt even more isolated. At another point during finals the roommates and the boys next door decided to go to Las Vegas for the night and coaxed me into going. I consented because I again wanted to fill the void by fitting in but I was miserable.

Meanwhile, on December 7, 1994, my dad had emergency open-heart surgery (I believe on the day of my bake-a-thon but I can't be sure). He had an aortic valve replacement. The doctors were not optimistic for his survival or necessarily his recovery. I was desperate to go home but stayed in school to finish finals because my mother kept down-playing it all.

My last night in Cedar City was a Friday night. A few days earlier my supposed-boyfriend had called, given some excuses about finals and invited me to a post-finals party at his house on Friday. I decided to go. I had found a new apartment and was packing my belongings for the move. I must have had a late final because my roommates had already left for the break and I was alone in an apartment that normally housed 6 girls. I was in such a depressed and defeated state that I decided not only to go to this party but to go and actually party. I had previously resisted all offers to drink and had passed along joints at parties I probably should not have attended but I was never really tempted by alcohol or drugs. That night I wanted to try anything or everything to cover up my pain. My dad had made it through the surgery but it wasn't over and I felt rejected and abandoned by everyone. I went with a plan to smother the pain.

My plan did not work. I was too timid to grab myself a drink - I had no idea what to select. Instead I danced. I flirted and danced with every guy there and at 19 that got me the attention I was craving. I wanted the boy to be jealous but I think he was too stoned and drunk to notice (great boyfriend, right?). Near the end of the evening one particular boy was paying me a lot of attention. We started talking and he asked for my number. He had to settle for giving me his because I no longer had one since I would be in a different apartment in January when I returned to school. He did. He was the only other sober person (or so he claimed) at the party. I gave him and his brother a ride home. His brother passed out in the back seat and tried to give me money - he thought I was a cab driver I guess. My one major temptation to drink and I ended up meeting the boy I later married instead. I sometimes wonder if the better choice would have been to drink . . .

When I finally made it home I spent hours at the hospital with my dad. He was changed. The high-energy unwavering strength of my dad had been with me for 19 years and there he was emaciated in a hospital bed with an ugly scar down the center of his chest and various tubes connecting him to monitors and IVs near the bed. I worked over the break as well. During the day I sat next to his bed talking to him and reading and just not daring to leave his side for fear he would not get better and I wouldn't see him again. During my hospital visits I noticed that he ticked. At first no one believed me but eventually everyone realized and a doctor confirmed that his artificial heart valve ticks. It reminds me of the crocodile in Peter Pan that swallowed a clock. It seemed so loud and abnormal then - now it is a familiar comforting sound that reminds me to cherish my dad.

It didn't feel much like Christmas. At my mom's request, my brothers tried to throw the lights in the trees out front but that is exactly how it looked - they were clumped up at the top somewhere in a wad with strands hanging awkwardly this way and that. I don't believe we even bought a tree until a few days before Christmas. I have no real recollection of anything but my dad finally coming home medical supplies in tow and the incredible fatigue my mother carried with her. My mom and I had handled things similiarly - crawling into ourselves and not allowing others to lend support. A nurse came regularly and eventually taught my needle-fearing mother how to give him medication through his Hickman line. My dad moved excrutiatingly slow but he was alive and he healed.

With the anniversary of his surgery on Pearl Harbor (now called Remembrance Day), it is easy to remember. I originally wrote the above post on December 7th but got busy and thought I would finish it later and never got the chance. What I wanted to comment on I guess is how grateful I am that my dad lived, that no matter our differences (and there are many) or our conflicting tempers, I am grateful to have him here. I don't know what kind of turn my life would have taken if 12 years ago his surgery had not been successful. In some ways I wonder if I would have ended up where I am today if I didn't have his support and encouragement. I'm grateful that I will never have to know that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sneak Peak

Over the weekend between sleeping, procrastinating work and doing work, I managed to start preparations for my dessert party next weekend. Thank goodness for Fresh Direct, an online grocery store where I managed to order my loads of baking supplies and beverages before I was overwhelmed by work. The groceries were delivered Saturday morning and on Friday I received the package I shipped from Utah with my Target purchases which included paper supplies and decorations. So I spent a portion of the Saturday and Sunday decorating with Christmas music or movies in the background. Below is the result:

I will be moving the black love seat and the cubes into my bedroom during the party to open the room up some more and allow easier access to the table (which will be piled with desserts!) but any thoughts/comments on the decor (to the extent you can see it) is appreciated. My main concern is with the hanging snowflake lights which don't look bad in the photo but I worry that they are overkill with the small lights around the window that aren't really visible here. I'm planning on picking up some pine boughs to arrange in the window since I won't have a tree and I really need the fresh smell of pine in my apartment for it to feel like Christmas. Any other fun tips or suggestions? Any reactions to the ribbons with decorations? I really like them but if you are opposed for any reason fill me in . . .

And for the record, here is an update on the numbers:

6 days until the Party

71 people plan on attending

11 more people might attend

11 dessert recipes selected

3-4 items left to purchase

3 cookie doughs made and chilling in the fridge or freezer

Decorations: nearly complete, I just need mistle toe and pine boughs

Birthday Surprise

Last Tuesday was my friend Brooke's birthday. on Monday I asked her to pick a restaurant so I could take her to dinner. She chose Vynl, one of my favorite Hell's Kitchen spots. After we confirmed the place and time I decided to invite a few others for a surprise group dinner. With such late planning I was happy to gather 9 friends for the dinner. Unfortunately the chosen place did not take reservations but were extremely cooperative in helping us get the necessary tables and seating everyone away from where the birthday girl could discover them. We were also fortunate to have a slight misunderstanding which made Brooke a bit late for our 8:30 dinner.
Brooke was so surprised that she was crying - I can't tell you how great it felt to do something that took so little effort that meant so much to a good friend. It makes me question why I don't make the small efforts more often. I had planned on having everyone share a favorite story/thought/memory/talent of Brooke's over dinner but with all of the excitement of the surprise and the loudness of the restaurant I was distracted and forgot. But I want Brooke to know how much I appreciate her as a friend. Brooke is one of the rare people who I can call an individual - she follows her heart and gives far more than she receives from people. She is incredibly well-versed in all things "indy" and has introduced me to some great music and keeps me updated on what is new and hip in the art world. We have fantastic conversations about everything from politics to art to music to the Church to boys. . . I am so happy I can call her my friend.

To the left is a group shot in front of the restaurant with most of the group - a few people left early and another girl had to take the photo.

The top photo was taken when the restaurant was bringing out the dessert and shaking tamborines and singing to "You Say It's Your Birthday" a much more lively and exciting presentation than your typical restaurant.

In case you were wondering . . .


This is what the street I work on looks like at 5:00 a.m. Why do I know this? Because that is what time I left work last Thursday morning after working 19 hours straight. I had to walk a block before I found a cab. I am not sure why I took this photo but thought I would share it since I have it. I was back at work by 10 a.m. and worked close to 12 hours and close to that on Friday.

Oh and my all-nighter took place the same night as the nationally televised tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center a short two blocks south of my window, all of which I could hear only slightly muffled from my office chair. There is nothing like working and listening to people cheering for the largest Christmas celebration of the season. I felt like I was on Santa's naughty list and was being punished.

Madame Butterfly

I have been ridiculously buried at work lately and my home computer is broken at the moment so I never got the chance to add these fun photos from the weekend before Thanksgiving when my brother and sister-in-law came to visit me. This was much-anticipated "Butterfly" trip. Ever since they chose to move to Boston over a year ago, I had been promising them tickets to the Metropolitan Opera. Last year we all debated over which opera or which weekend would work best and before we knew it, the season was over. This year the Met opened with a new production of Madame Butterfly by Puccini. I love Puccini operas probably more than any others (not that I am thoroughly versed in opera) so when I heard that Madame Butterfly was opening the season, I immediately coordinated with Jason and Nadia for a weekend that would work. It was a fantastic weekend.
They arrived early enough Friday afternoon to wander around the City before we met up for Thai food in Hell's Kitchen (yum!). On Saturday morning we slept in a bit (because we always stay up late talking) and made cinnamon spice pancakes with a mix I had from Lehi Roller Mills. Seriously, they were amazing! You just add water and they are the perfect level of fluffy and the flavor was great. After stuffing ourselves with pancakes and lazing around a bit more we forfeited our Bronx Zoo plan in favor of the Museum of Natural History. We walked up through Central Park (where we made memory videos for our grandparents) and enjoyed the leaves and the slightly crisp fall air and came out of the Park almost directly in front of the museum. My firm has a corporate membership to the museum which means free entry. We wandered through the various mammal displays, dinosaur bones and skipped out on plants. Afterwards we walked back to my apartment with a brief stop in an Italian bakery where both Jason and Nadia excitedly spotted a certain bag of cookies they both loved from their missions in Italy.
Then it was off to the opera. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Bello - it was good but not as good as the one I was originally planning on - Puttanesca - but for which I failed to make reservations.
I have to say that I find the Met to be one of the most magical places in the City. I love the plaza with the fountain in front of it, I love the architecture of the building itself, I love the large Chagall murals and brilliant chandeliers that can be viewed through the giant windows from the Lincoln Plaza when the building is lit up. I love the plush red carpeting and the well dressed patrons. Even if you don't know anything about opera I recommend a visit.
Before the opera began we each bought opera glasses - Nadia and I opting for the fancier ut less practical versions and Jason getting the un-glitzy field glasses. Mine are blue and gold with a handle - very elegant. Madame Butterfly is (like most operas) a heart-wrenching story and the new production is beautifully staged in a minimalist style with very little change to the set in each act save differing colors on a light box at the rear of the stage and Japanese sliding paper doors. At the end of the first act during the main aria after the wedding (Nadia, you need to help me out with the name, it isn't Un Bel Di is it?) a curtain of pink flowers was lowered and more flowers floated down onto the stage throughout the piece. So moving! Nadia noticed some mistakes by the soprano but being untrained and caught up in the beauty of it all, I never noticed. The soprano turned out to be sick and unfortunately left after two acts. My only complaint was their use of a puppet for the son which was fascinating (technically) but distracting. The other part of the production I really enjoyed was the use of large wide red ribbons that were pulled from Butterfly's kimono to symbolize blood. The ribbons flowed the length of the stage and paralled the opening act which started in absolute silence - no orchestra or singing - with Butterfly acting out a geisha dance with large swaths of fabric flowing behind her as she walked down the length of the stage. I cannot describe how beautiful and poignant it all was. The costumes were stunning and added to the beautiful performance. But Marcello Giordani, the tenor who played Pinkerton (the American sailor who ultimately abandons Buttefly and breaks her heart), had the most incredible and pure voice I have ever heard. I wanted to fall in love with him too, even if he was an unfaithful scoundral.

[Okay, I have a bunch of photos I am trying to load that go with this post but blogger is not cooperating, check back later for the photos.]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm jealous

Jealous of what? This list of foreign countries visited. I was hoping to have a comparable list but mine falls short of Michele's 27 countries! Here is mine (also in alphabetical order):

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada (does French Canada count as additional country?)
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
France
Germany
Guatemala
Italy
Japan
The Netherlands
Mexico
Puerto Rico
Switzerland

In January I get to add St. Lucia to the list! I am also hoping to go to either Kenya or Korea next year. But here is my wish list of must-visit countries (sort of in prioritzed order):

Kenya (or anywhere in Africa really)
China
Finland
Cuba
Egypt
Thailand
Czech Republic
England
Iceland
Greece
New Zealand
Russia
India
Brazil

Shoot, there are a lot of places I want to go. Maybe I should just try and get on the Amazing Race so I can see it all! I think I would be good at it, I just need to choose a partner . . . where have you been and where do you want to go?
12 days until my Annual Christmas Dessert Party
61 people plan on attending
8 more people might attend
10 dessert recipes chosen
1 grocery list created but not yet executed
0 desserts actually made
0 decorations in my apartment

Monday, November 27, 2006

I forgot the photos!

Above is the whole extended Cox clan minus 5 (including my 2 brothers and their wives) and to the left and immediately below are photos from the sealing of the youngest and newly adopted cousin PJ.

To the left I am with my aunt Risa and baby PJ (isn't he adorable?) and below are my sweet grandparents.This is the cheesy photo of my sister and me with our mom. We were kind of joking around with the hands on the shoulder but I think it actually looks good.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Home for Thanksgiving

I'm sure every home town/state has its own idiosyncrasies that both endear and embarrass its residents and ex-pats. I look forward to witnessing some of these oddities and dread others each visit. Thursday I was wrapped up in the idiosyncrasies of extended family organizing Thanksgiving dinner, family photos and an anniversary party for my grandparents in American Fork. I didn't think about or prepare myself for the bigger picture.

Friday my newest cousin PJ was sealed to his parents at the Jordan River Temple. It was the long awaited and much needed faith affirming experience for me to sit in a sealing room with my parents, grandparents and various aunts and uncles. It was more emotional than I anticipated, especially comforting an aunt whose husband is on a long and slow journey back to the church. The importance of eternity hit me as I looked at the reflections of all those familiar faces smiling in the mirrors at this chubby faced 6 month old baby who looked at each of us with a serenity that implied he understood and appreciated having each of us there for his big day. I was touched and inspired. The church is about so much more than the cultural oddities that so often distance me.

After the ceremony, as we waited for the newly sealed family to come outside, my grandfather sat in a wheelchair in a corner of the lobby. Next to him on a bench was an older man close to his age with a walker next to him. My grandpa is the folksiest man you will ever meet. Even with his diminishing health and the fatigue that seems to be always with him he finds a moment to strike up a conversation with a new friend. He leaned over to the man and said in his thick Southern Utah accent as he pointed to the walker "I see you've got yourself a get up and go cart." My aunt and I were standing a bit away from him but my grandpa has this deep resonant voice that is incapable of a whisper or subtlety. We burst into giggles and I repeated the line over and over the rest of the afternoon vowing to remember it. My grandpa isn't normally in a wheelchair but he has his own "get up and go cart" that he refers to as his "four-wheeler." There are so many Grandpa-isms, it is good to add more to the collection.

After we left the temple my parents and I decided it was time to feed my Cafe Rio fix. We battled some holiday shopping traffic jams to get to the parking lot but were happy to discover that 3:00 is indeed an ideal time to pick up Cafe Rio - there was only one person ahead of us in line. I am not sure if it was my own self-consciousness or really was the dress and boots but I felt conspicuous like everyone was staring at me so out of place among the jeans and hoodies. We took our orders home to share with my sister and I was relieved that I didn't see anyone I knew.

Later that evening my sister and I went to see a movie at Jordon Commons. And this is where the idiosyncrasies and stereo-types fell right in my lap. We somehow managed to find a front row parking spot directly in front of the theater entrance and as we walked in to pick up the tickets I soaked in the familiar sight of Utah teenagers and families. Don't take this as a derogatory description. Utah has its own styles and oddities that are different from the oddities I find in New York and so many of them converge at Jordon Commons. It is evident in how people dress, the way they wear their hair and the large mugs of Diet Coke they carry with them. I soaked this in as my sister and I dashed through the crowd to hand over our tickets and slip into our seats. I observed a few more people when I went back out to purchase some Junior Mints and water. When I returned to my seat my sister and I chatted and giggled about whatever it is that makes us laugh. When the previews started a camera swept over a picteresque scene and a voice said "Joseph Smith". . . This startled me and I said something to the effect of "I forgot I was in Utah" or "I'm back in Utah" to my sister and the woman next to me glared at me. It really wasn't a criticism or derogatory remark - just startled. I am not accustomed to my religion following me to the movie theater.

After the movie we prepared to dash back to the car but paused in the food court area to watch the last 3 or 4 minutes of a tight Jazz game. During one of the time outs I looked around at the other people who had also paused before entering or exiting their theater to cheer for the Jazz. I felt like I was still part of the community and I was proud to be a part of that. We all cheered as the Jazz edged out the Lakers in the final minutes and won the game. I thought about how I could never have an experience like that in New York - even if the Knicks owner (James Dolan?) also owned a large megaplex complete with big screen televisions playing the game. I just can't picture New Yorkers lingering around and rallying like that for a regular season game (maybe the playoffs). Something I miss about home.

Saturday and Sunday pass far too quickly and I'm struggling (clearly) to get back into the swing of things at work. The good news is I don't have to wait too long for my next visit, only 25 days away.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanks

I'm going to go ahead and steal this Thanksgiving post idea because as usual, it is a good one.
____________________________________________________
Dear Saint Sammy,
Thank you for being the best cab driver ever by pulling off a miracle and getting me to the airport 35 minutes before my flight left. I know I should have left earlier instead of getting that pedicure but I wanted my feet to look nice for my family. I now know a 20 minute ride to the airport can take an hour and a half the day before Thanksgiving.
Your friend,
Late Rider
____________________________________________________
Dear Ma Soeur,
Thanks for being the best sister and digging ditches in Guatemala with me, this was another memorable year. Thanks for helping me surprise Mom and Dad with a visit this last summer and thanks for always being willing to giggle and laugh with me. You're the best!
much love,
ta soeur
____________________________________________________

Dear Malcolm,
Thanks for being the best dog ever. I love that no matter how long I have been gone I can always count on you to jump up and down, run around in circles and cling to me when I return home. You and I have been through many tough times and you have always been there for me. All of your gray makes me sad.
your bff,
ae
____________________________________________________

Dear Digby's,
Thanks for making the best steel-cut oatmeal in Manhattan. I look forward to breakfast with you every morning.
yours,
a regular
____________________________________________________

Dear ipod & itunes,
Thanks for being invented. Walking to work wouldn't be the same without you.
Thinking of you,
a listener
____________________________________________________

Dear Firm,
Thanks for being my employer and paying me more money than I deserve to make. You have your faults and I have mine but overall you aren't too bad and I'm grateful to have a place to work.
Best regards,
Cog Associate
____________________________________________________

Dear Netflix,
You have changed my life. Thanks for making it even easier to be lazy on a Friday night, it is always nice to come home to that red envelope in the mail.
Faithfully,
Addicted
____________________________________________________

Dear Extended Family,
Thanks for a lovely (though chaotic) Thanksgiving dinner. The pototoes may have been bland and the turkey dry but Grandma's stuffing was the greatest and the slide show for Grandma and Grandpa was well done. Sorry my family cut the evening a bit short, we are just not used to that many yelling and screaming kids.
love,
the eldest granddaughter
____________________________________________________

Dear Readers (all 5 of you),
Thanks for listening to me rant and cry and complain and laugh and giggle with you. Your comments and encouragement mean a lot to me. Please keep writing and reading.
love,
Soul-fusion
____________________________________________________

Dear Popcorn & M&Ms,
Thanks for being the best snack ever. I know I rely on you a bit too much but seriously, who could resist that salt and chocolate combo? Yum!
Looking forward to another great year!
Snacker
____________________________________________________

Dear Pilates Instructor,
Thanks for being the one person to ever offer me enough incentive to work out in the morning. Thank you for continuing to encourage me to work out even when I never seem to make any progress. I appreciate it.
fondly yours,
weak abs
____________________________________________________

Dear doormen at the Helena,
Thanks for always have a warm smile and a hello every morning when I leave for work and every evening as I arrive home. I so appreciate feeling welcome.
Regards,
6E
____________________________________________________

Dear Wholefoods,
Thanks for having such a wonderful salad bar full of fresh food, I know I can always count on you for a good dinner or a Saturday lunch.
Best,
a happy customer
____________________________________________________

Dear Roofdeck,
We had a great run this summer - all those evening parties and Saturday afternoons with a book. You were always there for me with warm breezes, stunning sunsets and phenomenal evening views. Thanks for making me the popular kid in the ward. I know I have neglected you lately but I promise to return in the spring as soon as the sun warms your solar panels once again.
Faithfully,
6E
____________________________________________________

Dear Fellow Squid,
I am so lucky to have stood next to you in 8th grade gym class. I am grateful that this year we managed to once again move our treasured friendship to greater depths after a very honest discussion in your driveway. You always make me laugh and I am happy to call you my oldest friend. I love you.
Love,
But I am a Kite
____________________________________________________

Dear Girls (you know who you are),
Thank you for also being lonely social rejects in high school ("you don't understand!") and welcoming me into your circle. We have been through a lot of ups and downs and I can't believe we have all stayed together. Thanks for dressing up with me, thanks for dancing with me, thanks for laughing with me, thanks for crying with me and thanks for always accepting me. I couldn't have asked for better friends.
all my love,
ae
____________________________________________________

Dear Banana,
Thanks for making Martin pants. I always know I can count on you to fit consistently and make me feel professional (even when I would rather go to work in pajamas).
Sincerely,
Customer 5203671
____________________________________________________

Dear Chagall,
Thanks for those two beautiful murals hanging in the Metropolitan Opera. I love when they open the curtains and light up the murals, I always make a point of pausing in Lincoln Center to bask in their beauty.
Very truly yours,
An Admirer
____________________________________________________

Dear J & Nadia,
Thanks for moving to Boston and being so close to me. Thanks for last weekend - I loved Central Park and the Museum of Natural History and seeing Madama Butterfly with both of you at the Met was a remarkable experience. Please visit often. I love you!
Love,
A
____________________________________________________

Dear Nick,
Thanks for being one of the funny kids. You truly are the funniest person I know. I miss you and I wish we talked more, I miss your stories.
love,
your sister
____________________________________________________

Dear Newark Airport,
Thanks for moving your security lines along so well Wednesday night. I was truly worried when I saw the line extending through the entire terminal out past all of the food stands. Thanks for moving quickly enough to get me to the terminal with enough time to use the bathroom and buy a gross pizza for the flight so I didn't starve.
Sincerely,
A late flyer
____________________________________________________

Dear NY Taxis,
Thanks for your bright yellow cars. I know I don't tell you enough how much I appreciate that little light being lit up on the top of your car that tells me you will stop and give me a ride home (especially as we head into the bitter cold of winter). It is a comfort to know that even when I go all the way up to the Upper East Side, home is just a whistle and a raised hand away.
Yours always,
a faithful rider
____________________________________________________

Dear Brooke,
Thanks for being a regular FHE supporter and a great Hell's Kitchen neighbor. I appreciate all of the times you listen to me vent and complain about dumb boys. I'm sad you live in Queens now but I promise to make an effort to visit.
yours,
ae
____________________________________________________

Dear Utes,
I can't say that I'm not disappointed in you this football season but thanks for trying, I know you will do your best to win tomorrow against that school down south. I promise I do not have split loyalties. Please try extra hard tomorrow since I kind of made a bet with my uncle that I would buy them (which may have included his entire family) sushi if you lose tomorrow. Please play well.
Got Utes!
an alum
____________________________________________________

Dear Jazz,
Welcome back!!!! The mourning phase is over - we all miss John and yes maybe even Karl, and I am happy to see that you are playing better than ever this year. Keep up the good work and I will try and visit at Christmas. Thanks for the endless memories.
Yours,
a one time fanatic
____________________________________________________

Dear Delta Center,
I am really sorry they have renamed you after a nuclear waste facility. Thanks for the memories - I remember seeing you at your open house when you were shiny and new. It just won't be the same with this awkward new name that I will never remember. It will always be the Delta Center to me.
In loving memory,
a fan
____________________________________________________

Dear Jenny the Stylist,
Thanks for the fun new hair. I love it. Everyone at work loved it and my family loved it. I think it suits me and I thank you for recognizing that.
very truly yours,
Client
____________________________________________________

Dear Shoes.com,
Thanks for your endless supply of shoes - I love them all. And thank you for being so willing to take the ugly and the ill-fitting ones back at no charge to me. You are truly self-less that way.
Fondly,
Customer
____________________________________________________

Dear Grandma E.,
Thanks for turning sweet and slightly crazy in your old age. I think your willingness to show some affection my way has helped me get over some of my youthful bitterness. I am grateful we have had the chance to see each other so often this year. I know you are looking forward to seeing Grandpa again someday but these last few years have made me recognize how much I am like you.
Thank you,
your granddaughter
____________________________________________________

Dear All the Boys I Have Ever Dated,
Thanks for teaching me about relationships - the good and the bad. You have each contributed to who I am today and taught me to have high standards and expectations of my future husband. Thanks for the good times.
Sincerely,
Ex-Girlfriend
____________________________________________________

Dear Blogger,
What a great idea! Thanks for giving me a forum to express my oh so important thoughts, trivial complaints and embarasing moments.
Regards,
Soul-Fusion
____________________________________________________

Dear Mom & Dad,
You are the best parents I ever could have asked for. Thank you. Even when we don't see eye to eye and even when I am impatient and obnoxious I know you are there for me and supportive of me and I could not ask for anything else. I love you.
Love,
your eldest daughter
____________________________________________________

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

would you like some bacon with your pumpkin pie? no thank you.

Over the past few years I have been experimenting with different pie crust recipes to try and achieve that crisp and flaky texture. Because of my quest, I was drawn in by this article in the NY Times "Heaven in a Pie Pan: The Perfect Crust." I eagerly opened the article hoping to pick up some secret tidbits I can incorporate into my pies this year.

Then I discovered the secret: lard, specifically pig, duck and processed lard. Tips include "cut[ting] out the pinkish bits." Eeeewwww! I think one of the reasons I love baking so much is I get to avoid handling raw meat products. I am not a vegetarian but I can relate to their choice to avoid meat - I rarely cook it at home and used latex gloves while I was handling my turkey last year. So as you might suspect, I am not going to start adding lard to my pie crusts - especially when it might require me to "pick out any bloody bits and sinews, chop the fat into pieces, and render it slowly in a double boiler for eight hours." Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

One good thing I picked up from the article is that shortening is the key (aside from lard) to having a crust that holds its form. I use butter (for the taste) which is why my pie shells tend to shrink or the decorative edges fall off. My sister and I did a beautiful braided edge on one pie last year that tragically fell off in pieces but tasted amazing. I prefer the tastier, not as pretty version sans shortening (and lard). No worries vegetarians, my desserts will always be meat free.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nog

I cannot take credit for the below, nor would I want to, yet I feel compelled to share it since it has become a very odd tradition for my brother to send everyone he knows an email about egg nog. Since Tiffany was asking about holiday traditions, I thought I would share one of ours, the below is this year's list with last year's introduction (since I liked it better). Enjoy!

Ching-chingching-chingchingchingching
Dashing through the snow.......

Now that Halloween has passed, it's time to break out the pipe cleaner antlers, ugly sweaters with glowing red noses on reindeer and of course..................NOG!
Let's here it for the Nog.
Nog is so wonderful, thick and delicious. And finally the laws will allow us to purchase it again. My freedoms have been restored and off I rush to the Safeway in search of nog donned in festive X-mas boxers with long underwear underneath, some kind of mesh hat with antlers and a lime green sweater with Rudolph, a glowing nose, and syntho here comes Santy Clause playing from somewhere inside the sweater.
I think we should celebrate everything nog, all the time. Nog may be relegated to second fiddle status next to jokers like Frosty the Snowman; but I say nog is the greatest of Holiday Traditions. Give me nog or give me.... uhh....something that isn't nog. Because the season cannot begin without celebrating everything nog, please take a moment to remember egg nog's lesser beloved and obscure cousins. Really, if all you taste in your life is Plain Jane egg nog you will die a little less complete. This is a memorable time of year because it means the first shipment is on the shelves. The government has finally allowed us to buy it again. As always, I would like to celebrate some of the lesser known, least popular versions. Eggs extended family is so frequently overlooked. Join with me, in the spirit of the season. That's right! It' s time to experience life. It's time to experience NOG! Viva la Nog!

root nog
celery nog
beef nog
chicken nog
don't forget soy nog for the vegans (no animals were killed, maimed, ridiculed, mocked, taste-tested, joy ridden, developed, forgotten, or enslaved in this nog)
Bruce nog
almond nog
a-mond nog (Nothern Calif exclusively)
online nog
inline nog
cut-in line nog
soda nog
lime rickey nog
grape soda nog
grape-a-licious nog
juice-a-rific nog
bluecross/blueshield nog
fogettaboutit nog
does this look like your parking spot nog
I can't feel my feet anymore nog
pepper-jack nog
ranch nog (has bits of corn, gravy, and mashed potatoes mixed in it--aka Nog For My Father)
fusion nog (some kind of a blend of Chinese/Carribean/French nog)
jujji fruit nog
Buffalo Nog
Bison Nog
French Poodle Nog
surrey with a nog on top
Old Nog
Sticky Nog
black-eye nog
dance of the sugar nog fairy
St. Elsewhere's Nog
Coppa Ca-Nog-a (the hottest nog north of Havana)
Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabbadoo Nog (that's the worst nog I've ever heard Homer)
Nogger
neener-neener-nog
Jimmy likes Nog, Jimmy could really go for a Nog, cause Jimmy loves Nog Nog
Nogfeasor
Nogalicous
Nogtastic
Winder Dairy Nog
ol' nog
Jell-O surprise nog
sine qua nog
And you don't quit nog
Bruised, battered and nogged nog
Wal-Nog
Nogfare for the Common Man
Log Nog (what rolls down stairs rollover in pair, rolls over your neighbors dog/what's great for a snack and fits on your back....it=s nog, nog, nog)
nogbo
Hip Nog
Nog hop
Bohemian Nog
WASP Nog
athlete's nog
girly nog
manly nog
freaky nog
stuffy nog
prissy nog
stinky nog
stank--eee nog
naz-tee nog
Corn Baller Nog
St. John's nog
get of your nog and jam
tired nog
sick nog
sick and tired nog
Wan' somma your Brown Su-gar Nog
Billy's bathtub nog
Soldier of Nog
Madnog
Maddog Nog
Dog Nog
Dog Mad Nog
res ipsa noguitor (the thing speaks for the nog)
Uncle Stinky's Nogcar
Frankly I don't give a Nog
Vermont Teddy Nog
Pennsylvania Dutch Nog
Converted Nog
ALL CAPS NOG
Turnip Truck Nog
Move-on.nog
Capitol Nog
Nog on a Plane
Milquetoast Nog
Lost City of Nog
Extra Elbow Room Nog
Contract with America Nog
go fug your nog
freeze dried nog
Clutch Nog
After the nog is gone
Low Birth-weight Nog
Walker Texas Nogger
Burning Hunk of Nog
split pea nog
still legal in 8 states nog
sold separately nog
What the dealy-o nog?
Brendon Frazier Nog
Hydrogen Powered Nog
Alternative Nog Power
The longest nog
High as a Georgia Nog waltzing Ma-nog-a
onion Nog
garlic nog
onion and garlic nog
Sweet Nog Alabama
Breakfast at Nog-iffy's
Nogwork Orange
Nog-22
Black Nog (cause he's got a plan to stick it to the man)
Dill sauce nog
US District Nog
Nog-Shake
Nog-twist
Who told you to put the nog on? I didn't tell you to put the nog on. You never know what a nogs gonna do! Nog
The Nogtation
The Last Nog You Will Ever See
Non-threatening Nog
Afternog Delight
The Final Nog-Down
Nogner's "The Nog Cycle"
Nogburg
Noggin jiggy wid it
Forever in Nog
Slightly Sloppy Nog
Home Depot Nog
Elbow Nog
Nogzilla
The Truly Joyous Nog
Rocket Fuel Malt Nog
Amplified Nog
Coming to you live from station W-E-N-O-G, better known as WeNog, or deeper still the Mother Nog connection, coming directly from the Mothership. 500 Hundred Kilowatts of P-Nog power.
Since you been Nog
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Happy Holidays!
St. Nick

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Attention Early Christmas Revelers: Give Thanksgiving A Chance!

It is only November 14th and I have already been completely bombarded with all things "holiday season" or Christmas. Only a day or two after Halloween I went in a number of drug stores (admitedly searching for leftover bags of Take Five candybars) and the shelves were already cleared of all traces of black and orange, ghosts and witches and were replaced with red and white, santas and snowmen. Halloween was dumped in a discount bin near the checkout. No turkeys, no pumpkins, no cornucopias - straight for candy canes. Fifth Avenue has given itself over to Christmas as well - and not just the necessary prepatory measures - the giant red bow wrapped around the Cartier store is not only in place but fully lit up as well. The lights are up and on the trees on the last block of my walk home and the tree in Rockefeller Center is covered in scaffolding and being trimmed as I type - if I could just lean a little to the right out my window I could probably see it through the crack between the two buildings I stare at. At least Roc Center has the courtesy to wait until after Thanksgiving to light it even if the Rockettes are already in full swing with their Christmas Spectacular. I am just grateful I have not yet heard my first Christmas song of the season.

Before you start thinking I am some sort of Christmas hater, I must explain. I love Christmas - the lights, the parties, the snow, the gift giving, the crisp air, the Christmas cards, the baking (trust me, I LOVE the baking), the mistletoe, the Messiah concert, my dessert party, the trees being sold on every other street corner, the Christmas music (I created not one but two separate Christmas playlists for my ipod) . . . I could go on and on. But I feel compelled to speak out for the holiday that gets steam-rolled - Thanksgiving!

If I could figure out a way to extend Thanksgiving, I would. What could be better than a holiday dedicated to food, family and perhaps some family games or maybe a walk? The only frantic, chaotic portion is traveling (which is dreadful) and grocery shopping. Compared with the pressures and obligations that Christmas presses upon us, this is nothing. Seriously, I wait all year for turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, yams!, Dixie salad (a fruit salad specialty of my mother, I just learned that is the proper name today), all the various veggie side dishes, roll, even the jello salad and of course PIE with freshly whipped cream on top! Anytime I can, I volunteer to make pies and I always make way too many. Yet they always get eaten. Oddly enough Thanksgiving is the only time I ever make or even eat pie. I think I just like saving it for one special time of year. By making freshly homemade pie and rolling out the dough for the crust, I feel like I am extending a tradition.

Last year I had Thanksgiving at my NYC apartment (some of the food is pictured at the left) with my sister (from SLC), my brother and his wife and their two friends from Boston - 6 people in my 1 bedroom table-less apartment. We had the greatest time. It was my first time cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast and I kind of feel bad that I am not doing it again this year. I took Wednesday off and my sister and I wandered the City picking up last minute items that weren't being delivered by my online grocery store (the only way to grocery shop). The turkey was by far the biggest challenge but lots of fun and it was so exciting when it turned out after all the brining and basting! I also discovered twice-baked sweet potatoes - amazing! Oh and we had about 5 pies. Yes, 5 pies for 6 people. I love baking pies (below is last year's apple pie).
This year I am going home. I may have mentioned how much I hate traveling on Thanksgiving on a prior post because I am just dreading it. The last time I flew home (actually to Vegas) for Thanksgiving was 5 years ago and it was miserable! The flight was overrun with stereotypical Jersey-ites headed for a cheery Thanksgiving at the slots. An old woman who did not speak English stole my seat. I tried to tell her she was in my precious aisle seat but she wouldn't budge and her daughter next to her insisted I leave her alone and not separate them because she was family. They directed me to her crammed, sufficating middle seat across the aisle. I pushed back some but the entire plane was glaring at me like I was the bad guy and the flight attendant basically told me to sit in the middle seat! It was terrible. I get really claustorphobic in the middle seat on a plane when I don't even get an armrest to myself - the nasty little plane bathroom becomes a haven for privacy.

A week from tomorrow I will join the masses shuttling home for turkey and I cannot wait! I am looking forward to cooking, to eating, to chilling out and to counting my blessings. Hopefully one of them will be an uneventful flight.

Monday, November 13, 2006

not exactly a shining moment

Yesterday was stake conference. I was tempted not to go since, as my sister reminded me, I just went to stake conference with my brother in Boston two weeks ago. Plus, my grandma advised us that she thought stake conference was optional. I went anyway but arrived late.
I slipped into the back of the very full gym just after the opening prayer and told the usher I just need one seat and he pointed to one just a few rows from the back. As I climbed over the couple on the end I noticed who was seated on the other side of the empty seat - TW. The guy who has decided to avoid me at all costs ever since I returned from an extended business trip to California. Of all the empty seats, why was I directed to the one next to him? I couldn't help but worry that he thought I sought that seat out on purpose. I didn't and I wanted to find another seat but that seemed worse.

So I remained collected, sat down, took off my coat and as I crossed my legs I discovered that the lining of my dress was nowhere to be seen. Instead, what could be seen was my leg covered by a very filmy layer of fabric and my nylons! My dress was suddenly see through. I then proceeded to shift and fidget and twist in a not-so-subtle attempt to find the lining and restore it to its proper place. It wasn't working. I tried crossing my legs the other way since it seemed only one side of the lining was tucked up near my waist somewhere but this would not do. I kept fidgeting. Finally, TW turned and asked if everything was okay. Apparently I was not being as subtle as I had hoped. I explained I was having a small malfunction with my slip. He told me "do what you need to do" but what I needed to do was stand up and pull everything back to proper order and that was not an option. I somehow finally managed to yank the twisted lining down to cover everything that needed covering and tried to refocus. But TW returned to his old ways of whispering comments and behaving in a manner I would normally interpret to be flirting with me.

But don't worry, I am not falling back into that trap.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

why I love NYC in the fall

Words cannot describe what a beautiful day it was on Saturday: 62 degrees, bright blue sky with plenty of sun. I decided to walk home from a brunch at 23rd and 2nd Avenue and couldn't allow myself to just go home so I ended up at Central Park. Here are some pics of my day: the Veteran's Day parade near Madison Square Park, a small flea market in chelsea and Central Park where I enjoyed lunch on a park bench and neglected my book as I watched people playing every conceivable sport at Sheeps Meadow. Beautiful, perfect afternoon.










Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Feminist Soapbox

I spent the afternoon mulling over how I want to recount this morning's incident and now that I am home with the blank screen in front of me I am at a bit of a loss as to how to start, how much background to give, how far I delve into the issue. Instead of figuring out the most eloquent and logical format, I am going to just dive in and see what happens - wish me luck.

This morning I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and rushed out the door just past 10 so I could take two buses to attend a brunch for the BYU alumni women's law forum. I have not previously chosen to be involved with this particular group for a variety of reasons I have never been able to fully articulate. As time stretches out between me and my BYU experience I am softening, I question my biases and wonder if I have exaggerated the negative. I forget what bothered me. In an age when law schools enroll around 50% females across the country, my class was only 30% women. At times I have read that they are doing their best to recruit more but I never really saw it. When I applied I was accepted and didn't heard a word from them until I showed up at orientation. No one made any effort to convince me to attend. That tells me that at least at that time they were not actively seeking to recruit qualified women. During the course of my three years there while I was convinced that feminist was a bad word, I listened to men in my class tell me and the other women that we were taking spots that should have gone to men who have families to support. I know my qualifications were questioned, maybe the bar was lowered because as a former employer told me "BYU needs women, you should be able to get in there." I witnessed a classmate of mine tell a female professor she should be home with her children, not teaching. I listened to my female classmates explain that all they really want to do is get married and have children. Five years after graduation most of them are at home with their kids, many of them never even practiced after graduation. That is a choice each of them made and I do not question it. However, as I interviewed for jobs I had several potential employers question me on my "5 year goal", in an effort to gauge whether or not I was comitted to practicing. What I do wonder is whether those women who are not practicing, whether all of the overly educated mothers out there are at home by choice or because they didn't have an option - they could either work full time or stay home full time. Or maybe they are at home because they can't handle the judgment of their neighbors should they choose to work.

The alum currently acting as the NY president (or representative or whatever the title) has been practicing law for 3 years in NYC, she was two years behind me in law school and when she was a summer associate at my former firm, I was her mentor. I have never had negative feelings for her but I've always felt we were different enough that a friendship never fully developed as one might have expected from our common background. She, like me, is unmarried and does not have children, I'll refer to her as "S".

When I arrived at her home only two other women were present - one a student, the other a fourth year associate at a large firm who recently had a baby and just returned to work full time. I'll refer to her as "M". No one else came.

Initially the conversation was light and pleasant but somewhere it took a turn and voices began to rise, the pace of conversation quickened and an urgency to get one's point across caused each of us to interupt one another and request others to allow a point to be made. The topic of conversation had fallen on women in law firms - their progression towards partner, the value they add, whether women with children should be there. . . . My bias in this discussion was that S was talking about the state of things at her current, and my former, firm. I admit, I have some bitterness towards my prior firm. My prior firm gave me enough of a negative experience that I learned to speak out for myself and women and to insist on a more welcoming environment because it was not willing to give this. I watched one woman (also mormon) get all of her cases taken away as soon as she announced her pregnancy. She was squeezed out - I watched it up close and personal. I am sure there are some things she could have done differently but there was no reason for her to be treated the way she was - certainly not because she was pregnant. S claims she deserved not to be there because she wasn't a good associate. S was not there, she has listened to the firm's side and bought it completely.

I watched senior female associates be passed up for partner year after year. I looked at the partners in my department and they were all white males - all 30+ of them. At one point our department decided to give the women some training to show they cared about retaining us. A female partner came from LA to tell us it is possible to be a female partner at firm X. The part that sticks with me 3 to 4 years later is how that woman said after she made partner she realized she had "forgotten" to have kids, but it was too late. That was supposed to be encouraging? Another incident that stands out was when we had training that told us to not talk about our kids (not one woman in the department had a child and very few were even married) and to refrain from activities or conversations that reinforced female stereotypes. The example was "don't bring in baked goods." Apparently this made men realize we are women and should be home baking!! None of that seemed to be a good way to recruit and retain female lawyers to me. I worked with one senior female associate who was made partner a couple of years ago. S claimed she was only made partner because she is female and they use her to push "women issues." I was horrified.

She went on to explain that "women's issues" don't effect her because she is going to be a stay at home mom because her family will come first. Up until this point it was mostly S and me debating back and forth about issues primarily centered around her current firm. But when S continued to explain how a family could not be a top priority if a woman is working, M jumped in full speed. I was impressed by her poise and restraint. Her husband is the primary caretaker for their child. They made a decision together and she is making it work for her family and her family is her first priority. S continued to cast doubt on this.

I do not know what choice I will make when and if I have children: work full time, part time or stay at home or create some other option in between them all. I don't know that now and I can't know that now because I cannot predict my situation. The reason I get involved at my firm and in my community in diversity matters and women's issues specfically, is to expose myself to as many options as possible. It is a cause I believe in - women add value to law firms and the work enviornment needs to adjust to allow them to rise. Women with careers have to be more creative about their path if they have children. There is a time and a season for everything, unfortunately the biological child bearing years directly coincide with prime career building years. When (and if) I am confronted with the choice, I want to know what other women have done - what works, what doesn't, what has potential to work for me. I have watched too many friends walk away from firms because they had no other choice but quit, whether they wanted to or not.

I think it is easy to over-romantacize the idea of quitting a high paying New York law firm life to stay at home with babies. It is easy to daydream about that when you are tired of the drab routine of working 10, 12 or 15+ hours a day. But when I am dreaming of that do I envision children screaming and puking and pooping and throwing things and temper tantrums and yelling "I hate you mommy"? Of course not. Do I envision the endless laundry, the dishes, the meals to prepare, the annoying kids shows playing in the background or the craving of adult conversation? No. I think, wouldn't it be easier if I didn't have to get up and go to work every day and worry about billable hours and meeting unrealistic client deadlines. Staying at home is tough and in some ways scarier to me than going to work. There are pros and cons on each side. No one wants to be a neglectful mother. No mother sets out with the idea that her family is going to come second or third or just plain last. Why do women make these judgments of each other so often? My mother talks about feeling judged when she was a stay at home mom and then judged again when she was forced to go back to work - as an underpaid, underappreciated secretary. My mother didn't have options. She didn't have the luxury of choosing whether she should or shouldn't work and what to do with her career. My mother had to take a low-paying, thankless job because she wasn't prepared. She taught me to be prepared for the unexpected in life.

I believe the purpose of groups like this one is to share and support, to learn from one another and build each other up - not second guess decisions other women have made with their husbands and God as to what will work best for their own family.

This is an excellent article (starting on pages 9) I considered blogging about earlier. I know the author and I love the story she opens with. The question is as a woman, "how can you be a devout Mormon and work?" I find it sad that there is a perception out there among some that Mormon women are not "allowed" to work. I find it even more sad that within our church there are people who do not see the value of women not only getting an education but also pursuing careers.

I am 31 years old and unmarried. There is very real possibility that I will never get married or if I get married that I will not be able to have children. Am I just supposed to wait around for these things to happen performing a job that doesn't amount to a career or a maybe a softer career that is more suitable for a woman like a school teacher? Are school teachers questioned about their dedication to their families for working? What about when my children are old enough to be in school or after they move out of the house and I am left with time on my hands. Am I just supposed to clean the house, plan their social calendars and make crafts? Is that how I put my family first? What if I found myself in the unfortunate position of being a single mother (by divorce or being widowed) or what if my husband couldn't support the family for one reason or another? Shouldn't I keep every option open to myself to ensure my future and my hypothetical family's future? Isn't the time to prepare for such things now?

A few years ago while I was living in Salt Lake I was advised by a bishop to not tell boys that I am a lawyer because that is too intimidating for them. I was upset by this. I was upset by many of the reactions I received about being a career driven woman. One Sunday Elder Oaks stopped by our singles ward. He came to relief society and was given time near the end to address us. He spoke pointedly and encouraged the girls to get an education and pursue careers. He talked about his mother who raised him and his siblings alone. He talked about his first wife who slowly worked at her education over an extended time period while she supported his career and raised their family. He also spoke about his current wife who has advanced degrees (maybe a doctorate?) and didn't marry him until she was 50 (I think), she is well educated and had a career of her own. She didn't just wait around. After class I felt compelled to speak with him. When I told him I was a laywer he grew excited (he is a lawyer as well, a brilliantly accomplished one at that). I was surprised when he told me that law was an excellent career because of the flexibility. He understands that there needs to be a backup plan. He understands that women need to be prepared and education and career can be those tools.

I used to say that my career was Plan B while I waited for Plan A to kick in - Plan A being the traditional marriage and children route. I no longer find these two plans to be mutually exclusive. I want options. I don't believe I should have to sacrifice family to be a successful attorney in a large law firm and I don't believe I should have to sacrifice a career to be a successful wife and mother. They may not happen all at once and they may not happen in the timeline I envisioned but I believe I can be both and I feel sorry for those who don't see that. Not because I think S should want what I want, but because I believe all of us, as women and sisters, should be supportive of each other in pursuing our own unique paths.
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