Thursday, September 28, 2006

chocolate + pb = me

A short while ago I received a knock on my office door. I glanced up to see the recruiting coordinator with a suit-clad law student. Is this an ambush surprise interview or did I forget and not add this one to my calendar? I walked to the door for the introduction and was handed a box with a note. The student is from Vanderbilt and she explained the box was a gift from another student who spent this last summer in our office.

It was a box of "pure milk chocolate covered Nutter Butter peanut butter sandwich" cookies. Who can turn down such a gift? It took me a minute to comprehend why I was getting such a wonderful gift. According to the card (the girl is from Tennessee, I think they are required to give cards with everything there), she remembered a story I had told about finding these heavenly gems at a 7-11 in Maryland but was unable to locate them again. She saw them in the store, thought of me, bought them and made this poor student lug them to her job interview to deliver them.

You have to love it when people see a chocolate peanut butter combo and think of you. . .

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You won't believe this . . .

Walking to work this morning I noticed unusual activity outside the Ziegfeld theater - police barricades were stacked up along the sidewalk, temporary no parking signs were posted and workers were starting to set up bleachers. All sure signs of a movie premiere. I glanced up at the marquee - The Departed, the new Scorsese film with a star-packed cast. I knew I had to plan my evening around this.

I left work around 7:00 and walked the block and a half to the theater. I unfortunately did not have my camera with me but I had my phone out with the camera primed. I was not missing any more star sightings! When I arrived the sidewalks were packed and cops were directing people to stay on the sidewalks and out of the street. I found a good spot and didn't have to wait long before the first star emerged - Jack Nicholson. He turned and waved briefly but there were too many people to get a very good look at him. Soon after another limo rolled up and out of the passenger side stepped Martin Scorsese himself. Another turn to the little people stuffed on the sidewalk across the narrow street and then he strutted onto the red carpet where flashbulbs lit up the night and blinded onlookers.

I was now part of a collective - people were chatting about who had already arrived and who might be left. I managed to maneuver to a better viewing spot and was waiting for the next limo when a Toyota Prius pulled up to the curb. This was unexpected after all of the limos and black SUVs. Out of the back passenger-side door climbed none other than Leonardo DiCaprio! He turned toward me and the screaming teenage girls that were all yelling "Leo!" and instead of the obligatory wave he crossed the street and started signing posters and touching outstretched hands. He even put his arm around one of the girls and posed for a picture. How cool is that?

I have never been a Leo fan - or hater, just neutral. I have liked some of his movies, not liked others and been ambivalent about others. I am generally not a victim of groupy-ism. Famous people are just not real to me so I have never allowed them to slip into my fantasies enough to develop crushes (not since John Stamos when I was 12). But now I must say - I wanted to swoon with those girls. I mean, look how close I was!!! And he was surprisingly more attractive than I ever found him in any of his movies.
(Sorry my cell phone camera was not performing at its best - I blame the jostling crowd.) Contrary to my prior assumptions, my new friend Leo is taller than me. My guess is around 6 feet. He has also filled out and doesn't look as scrawny as I expected. Not only was he clean-shaven and a decent height - he was SO nice! The people who considered themselves to be in charge kept urging him to cross the street to the red carpet but he lingered. I was very impressed.

Here are a few more bad photos.
After DiCaprio another limo arrived and initially I couldn't tell who was climbing out of the limo because the person didn't even cast a glance in our direction - the hair made me think the person was a woman - with that shortish, wavy woman's basketball coach, not quite a mullet hair style. But as he stepped onto the red carpet he turned his head slightly and his lips, prominent even in profile, revealed his identity - Mick Jagger!

I missed Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg who arrived earlier and I think the beanie-wearing, leather clad man I caught only a glimpse of may have been Bono, but I can't be sure. All in all a very cool night. One that has taught me that sometimes a camera phone is just not enough - from now on I am carrying my digital camera with me everywhere!

Well, I'm off to dream about the time my boyfriend Leo spotted me in the crowd and invited me to watch the premiere of his new movie with him. . .

It's Easter Again!

At my house anyway.

Sunday night I needed to get something from the very top shelf above my stove. I pulled out the step stool, climbed up and there, crammed in the back recesses of the shelf, behind the bag of sugar I found them - not one but TWO unopened bags of Cadbury mini eggs!! As you may recall from a prior post, I love, love, LOVE Cadbury mini eggs. As soon as I saw the beautiful purple bags I remembered buying four bags when they were on Easter clearance. I ate one bag, gave one bag away and stored these two away for later and miraculously forget about them completely.

I had a few eggs Sunday night and last night I couldn't help sneaking some more. The only thing preventing me from devouring both bags as a substitute for dinner in one sitting is the desire to prolong their stay in my house by rationing them. Why does this sugar shelled treat tempt me so?

Monday, September 25, 2006

quote of the day

"[S]ecurity experts ha[ve] concluded that small quantities of eye drops, lip gloss or perfume do not constitute a danger to aircraft." The New York Times
Not to make light or anything but how funny is that sentence? It took experts to figure out that lip gloss isn't dangerous . . . I guess they haven't tried lip venom!

skinny jeans

In general I am guessing most of you, like me, have an absolute fear of the now rampant skinny jean trend. If you have not yet started seeing skinny jeans on girls in real life in your neck of the woods, just wait a few months because it is coming. I first read an article about their return in the New York Times last fall or maybe in the winter sometime. I was horrified and convinced that this was a trend (like ponchos) I would stand firmly against. Skinny jeans are a mistake one should only make once in a lifetime. I made that mistake in junior high when I had the stick-like pre-pubescent body required to pull off the look. In 1987 I was in 7th grade (was that really 20 years ago??). I vividly remember my favorite pair of jeans that had zippers at the ankle that had to be unzipped to allow my foot to enter or exit the jeans. The only flaw to these jeans is that they weren't Guess, a tragedy for which I could not forgive my mother. I would pair these almost perfect jeans with a giant yellow sweatshirt with "Coke" spelled out in big green letters starting on my back so that from the front all you could read was "ke" (for some reason I was also in a Coke clothing phase but I don't believe this was a wide-spread trend or a trend at all except for with me). The key was the shirt was huge and the pants were extremely skinny.

Since I no longer have the same proportions I had at 12 (thankfully!), skinny jeans do not belong in my wardrobe. However, like many fashion trends thrust upon us, the more you see it the more you start considering it for yourself and if you aren't careful you might find yourself being lured in by Audrey Hepburn dancing in a Gap commercial to Back In Black which leads to such irrational thoughts as "maybe I should just try a pair on . . . maybe they won't look as bad as I think." One can become especially vulnerable to this line of thinking upon realizing that the longer and slightly roomier tops out there on the market can look bag lady-ish when paired with boot leg jeans (or maybe that is just on me).

Saturday I had two options for the day - go to a ward social "upstate" (meaning a 2 hour drive away for an undefined period of time with no escape route if it went bad) or go to the Bronx Zoo with a friend in the City. I opted for choice number 2. However, my friend got scared off by the morning showers and called the adventure off. It was too late to go back to option number one (the vans left at 9 am, another factor that counted against it) and I now had a free Saturday looming ahead of me. I ended up squandering it away doing who knows what in my apartment until around 3 pm when I realized it wasn't going to rain anymore (it stopped right after we called off the zoo trip) and I needed to get out. With no other alternative, I ended up shopping.

I was not entirely up for it but I decided that heading into fall I needed to try and find new jeans. I wandered fairly aimlessly with little success at my favorites - Benetton and Esprit (yes, I shop at Esprit and LOVE it!). Then I spotted A/X Armani Exchange - a store I have rarely dared enter and from which I usually make a fast exit - and I decided to go in. My first instinct upon entering in my cargo pants, one of my oldest t-shirts and a red Ute hat was to turn around and quickly exit the store. This thought was further confirmed when I read the description on the tag of the first pair of jeans I spotted "ultra low rise skinny". I am 31 years old and have NO business wearing anything with that description. But something made me continue to wander. I stumbled onto another pair of jeans and became brave enough to enter the dressing room. I think I mostly decided to go in because the sales clerk asked me if I wanted to try them on after she asked to help me find my size and then loudly repeated it for the entire store. My pride made me go try the jeans on and surprisingly they fit incredibly well but had poor pocket placement. I told the sales woman they didn't work but before I could escape she said she had another suggestion. She returned with my new favorite jeans. The description reads "low rise slim" which I have discovered is the palatable alternative to ultra low rise skinny for women who actually have hips. As it turns out, low rise means still covers everything when seated and slim means close enough to skinny to be fashionable but roomy enough to be able to walk, sit, eat and breathe in without revealing every rumpled fat cluster of the upper thigh region.

I wore them to a party someone else planned on my roof* and they made me feel great. The moral of the story - go for slim not skinny jeans.

*Basically this random girl I have met a few times through mutual friends wanted to give her boyfriend a roof party and asked me if she could use mine. Despite the fact that I am quite certain I never would have been invited to said party if it wasn't on my roof I consented. She then offered to repay me by setting me up on blind dates which I kind of took offense to because blind dates are more punishment than a favor for me. Espeically since all night at the party she kept dragging unattractive and socially awkward boys up to me and making introductions as if presenting candidates for the blind date. Who repays someone with a set-up? I didn't think I appeared that desperate, not yet anyway.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

new addiction

Tonight I discovered a new song. It wasn't that I hadn't heard it before, I just hadn't listened.

The song is I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie. It has earned a spot on my In a Funk playlist along with Beck's Lost Cause and True Love Will Find You In the End, Radiohead's Exit Music (for a film) and Bitter by Me'Shell Ndegeocello to name a few.

This is the playlist I dial in when I have undefined emotions I need to bask in, wallow in or drown in. It is the best way to help me chill out and block out whatever is happening around me. These are songs I replay over and over and never tire of them. They lift me up despite the somewhat melancholy tone of most of them.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm on a roll. . .

What is the deal with Wednesdays? Last night I left work and discovered why the street has been lined with police barricade fences for the last couple of days. I assumed it had something to do with the UN which always turns the City upside down in terms of traffic flow. But I didn't think about any direct impact to myself other than having these barricades prevent me from jaywalking.

When I walked out of my office building last night the street was a zoo. Only select vehicles were allowed by the police barricades. As I got closer to MoMA's entrance (I was on the opposite side of the street) I thought I should pull my phone out in case there is someone cool to photograph climbing out of the limos. But I was interupted in my search for my phone by a few people clapping. I looked up just in time to catch a quick glimpse of Bill Clinton grinning at the crowd, then he turned and walked into the museum.

Apparently the event was an opening reception for Clinton's world issues conference. I read about it here.

What I have learned from this is when walking home from work on Wednesday evenings, always keep a camera ready.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What I have in common with Cat Power (the indie band)

“My favorite things in the world are cookin’, kids and animals and falling in love,” Ms. [Chan] Marshall said, “but you don’t get to do that all the time.”

From this article in the NY Times.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Just in case you ever envied the single life . . .

Last Saturday night was the much anticipated annual Fall Social for LDS singles in Manhattan. Each year the event is held outdoors on Roosevelt Island (a small residential island on the East River between Manhattan and Queens) with a barbeque and games and a dance. There is a beautiful view of the city skyline and lots of wide open spaces. Last year it was a huge success with hundreds of people - it really was the event of the year. This year under threat of rain the people in charge panicked and moved it to the stake center. To an extent this was understandable - it rained all last week and the weather report had a cautionary rain advisory for Saturday. There were emails sent out indicating that if it rained the event would be moved and gave a number to call for further information on Saturday. But at the last minute, late Friday emails were distributed moving the event to the stake center with no possibility of it being outdoors.

But Saturday was a beautiful day with the temperature around 80 degrees with no rain, no threatened rain and not even many clouds. The perfect Saturday to trek to Roosevelt Island for a barbeque. But this was no longer an option. It reminded me of my high school graduation. Every year graduation was (and probably still is) held outdoors in the football stadium. Every year except 1993 when the threat of rain made the powers that be pull the thing into the gym. It did not rain on June 3, 1993. We were all upset and bitter about the whole thing and many students wore sunglasses in the gym to protest the change (my friends and I weren't cool enough to know about this protest in advance). The families who came to support their graduates were limited in who could attend as the space was significantly smaller and they were forced to squish into bleachers rather than sprawling out in the football stands and on the lawn. They couldn't wander in and out as necessary. They had to sit shoulder to shoulder and watch us march down the basketball court. I still wish I had been able to graduate outdoors. But I digress. . .

The more I wandered around the City Saturday, the more I lost my enthusiasm for the event. I knew the turnout would be disappointing but I went anyway, what else did I have planned?

As soon as I walked into the gym, I knew I wouldn't be able to last long. The dinner portion of the event was still in progress. Rather than bbqs and picnic tables and plenty of space to roam and converse, the gym was set up like every other dinner you have ever attended at a church be it relief society luncheon, ward dinner, wedding reception or funeral - round tables circled with chairs with long buffet tables set up along one wall. I didn't recognize anyone. My low expectations sunk further. I wandered around the periphery with a friend I encountered engaging others I knew in the same disappointed conversation:
"Should we find somewhere to sit?" which really meant "do we dare commit ourselves to a table?"
"I don't know, do you see anyone you know" meaning "is there anyone you would want to be stuck sitting next to?"
"I just want something to drink" meaning "maybe if we just move over to a different side of the room the change in perspective will show this really isn't as hopeless as it appears."

Each person I talked to was horrified at what the event had come to and wanted to grab a few people and get out. One girl in my ward walked right up to me and said "can we just go to your roof?" I told her I was thinking about it but there were a couple of people I was supposed to meet before I could leave. I spent the next hour or more searching for people and informing them to head to my roof when they were done here. That turned out to be the saving grace for the weekend - I ended up with 30+ people at an impromptu party on my roof that was actually fun.

The impetus for leaving was when people started clearing the tables and chairs away and it was clear the dance portion was about to begin. I love to dance, I really like going dancing with friends but church dances really should be in my past. I have been attending them since I was 14 and trust me - they NEVER CHANGE! About this time I ran into two married friends with whom I went to law school who stopped by to see his brother. They were single during law school and married each other shortly after we graduated - they now have 3 kids. How sad is it that I am stuck in this stage of life they exited five years ago? Most of you probably haven't had to endure a church dance since high school or maybe college. They are awkward and somewhat ridiculous once you pass 25 (probably younger than that but I'm being generous). You immediately feel as if you have been thrust back in time and at any moment "Forever Young" or "Lady in Red" will come on and you will have to run out of the gym to escape the goobers who never have any fear when it comes to asking a girl to dance. We encountered an endless stream of them in high school and college - gummy, dancing man, velvet man - just to name a few. Luckily they no longer play slow songs at these things but it still feels like a form of regression.

Before my escape to my rooftop with my posse of fleeing singles, my bishop cornered me and mentioned that he had been looking the other way but it was probably time for me to transition out of the ward. I agreed. He then asked if we could have a conversation "off the record." I wasn't sure what record he was referencing but I suspected it had to do with our mutual friend PJ. I was worried he would try and encourage me to date PJ or question me why I haven't dated PJ. Close, but not quite. He started "You know my friend PJ, right?" We had already established that. "I have known PJ for years and I just don't understand why he isn't married. He wants to get married and he is a really good guy and he works at dating a lot. I just can't figure out why it hasn't ever worked for him." This from my bishop. A bishop of a single's ward who should understand that wanting to get married and getting married don't always work together. I tried to joke it off and explained that if I knew the answer to that I would be an extremely popular dating counselor. I also told him I would like to know the answer for myself as well. But he persisted. He seemed convinced that PJ must have some hidden defect or fatal flaw that was preventing him at 34 from getting married. It made me wonder if that is a common assumption out there - that 30+ singles are sabotaging themselves and preventing their own exit from singledom. If so, what is my hidden defect?

Monday, September 18, 2006

creepy

As I was walking down 9th Avenue last night to meet a friend I realized people were trying not to stare in my direction. You know the furtive glances of people trying not to look at something. The looks weren't directed at me, just near me. I didn't realize what they were looking at until I was nearly on top of it - a small man dressed entirely in leather with silver spikes on his arms and hands, the shoulders and pants had more spikes. The ensemble had crossed the line from biker into slightly midieval with a little bit of S&M thrown in. Surprisingly, not so terribly unusual for NYC. He was moving quite slowly so I had no problem striding past him. As I walked past something even more strange caught my attention - he was wearing a mask. This was the reason for the stares. There are freaks everywhere in this city. There is a guy who dresses like a ninja and sits in the shadows on the steps of a church on 5th Avenue. He talks to himself and sometimes appears to be pantomiming a very low-budget ninja fight scene in slow motion. I steer clear of him but I think he is harmless, even with the mask. Maybe because I see him regularly. But this masked freak startled me and I walked even faster.

Then forgot about him.

I met my friend a couple of blocks away as she was finishing her pizza at a small pizza joint. I sat down with her at her table - the table was inside but with the windows folded open like doors for the warm weather, we were essentially outside. It was pleasant and I watched the traffic and pedestrians amble by as she finished her dinner.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the scary man in black leather had his hands on our table and he was leaning in excusing himself for intruding on "two beautiful ladies." I half-listened to him as I looked over his shoulder at the people on the street and glanced back at the man behind the pizza counter wondering who would come to our aid if this guy did anything. He had fingerless leather gloves on revealing hands so filthy they did not identify his race - the nails were thick with dirt and grime. His face was similarly filthy. He could have been white, black, hispanic, asian . . . there was no way to tell with the leather and the dirt and the mask. I feel like I should have been able to smell him, especially the way he leaned in with his hands planted on our table like that but I don't remember an odor so it must not have been offensive.

The mask is what rattled me. His words revealed he was an aggressive panhandler and not a mugger/rapist/murderer . . . When he finished asking for money we both apologetically yet firmly explained we didn't have any cash (a lie on my part). I was grateful I had the luck or sense to have kept my cotton Hawaiian bag (yes em, I still use that bag you gave me from Old Navy!) which was serving as a purse on my right shoulder rather than dangling on the left side of the chair open to the street and his filthy hands.

Surprisingly he accepted our answer and left. I didn't watch him go so he disappeared as abruptly as he appeared. We were slightly rattled but left shortly after the incident.

We were on our way to watch a movie at someone's apartment and I wanted to pick up a Diet Coke and m&ms (for the popcorn of course) so we stopped in a bodega at the end of the block. As I pulled out my wallet to pay I was hit with an overwhelming paranoia that the medieval masked leather freak would appear again and confront me with my lie of not having cash. I looked around the small store and out the open door to the sidewalk before I pulled out the necessary bills to pay.

He didn't appear again but I am going to be watching for and avoiding any future encounters.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

introducing

My new look . . .It was time for a change and I let my friend who is a colorist do whatever she wanted and this is what happened! I also gave free reign to the woman who cut my hair who kept telling me in a Scottish accent that it would be "very rock and roll." I'm not sure how rock and roll it is (there was a brief period yesterday when I was afraid it was just some black lipstick away from being goth) but I like the result, even if it is taking some getting used to.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another anniversary

11 years ago I woke up from a restless sleep in a panic. I overslept! My grandma's large, windowless sewing room/guest room was still full of sleeping family members. I couldn't see a clock, I couldn't see anything. Why isn't anyone up yet? I crawled out of the bed I was sharing with my sister and climbed over cousins and an aunt but paused next to my bridesmaid's bed when she stirred. I woke her with a frantic whisper that we were all late. Somehow she knew it was only 330 am and no one had overslept and encouraged me to go back to bed. Not quite believing her I decided to stop in the bathroom while I was up and crept out into the kitchen to confirm that it was still dark and the middle of the night. I wound down the hall and over more sleeping family members in the front room and shut myself in the main bathroom which my grandmother had decked out with fuzzy pink bath mats and matching toilet cover. I sat there contact-less and bleary eyed wondering how I could get back to sleep when I noticed them - hundreds of teeny-tiny red bugs no bigger than a pin point crawling out from under the pink bath mat under my feet.

A few hours later when the house was full of people lining up for the one shower, my mom was shuttling me into the bathroom. Just outside, I paused - afraid to go back in. I was surprised no one had mentioned the infestation. I asked if grandma knew about the bugs that were taking over the bathroom. Confused and worried, my mom asked what I was talking about. As soon as I began describing them I knew something wasn't right - they were red and tiny but without my glasses I could somehow see their pincer-like mouths . . . we brushed it off as some sort of sleep-walking episode and I got ready to get married.

Some things from that day are so vivid - like those tiny little bugs - other details are a blur.

I remember waiting just inside the temple with my family when one of the temple workers joked that maybe the groom had changed his mind.

I remember the way he looked at me as we were getting married. He couldn't take his eyes off me - at that moment he loved and adored me, our eyes were locked and I didn't want that moment to end.

I remember the terrible awkwardness and silence that filled the giant church gym throughout our luncheon. I was waiting for people to say great things about him, about me, about us, our future. It didn't happen. Everyone else in the room seemed to know what we couldn't see.

I remember our first moments alone together in our new apartment that were soon interrupted by his mother . . . delivering our wedding gift.

I remember a strain (real or imagined) between me and my friends who traveled to be there for me.

I remember my disappointment at the small turnout of people at the open house in his home town my mother-in-law insisted on having. Feeling awkward standing in the line I fought against in front of the lattice background I hadn't wanted wondering why no one was showing up.

I remember enjoying dancing with my friends at the open house.

I remember driving up Cedar Mountain to a cabin for our overnight honeymoon. I think I was crying.

Friday, September 15, 2006

dreary, rainy friday

There is nothing worse than a dark and dreary, rainy Friday. Except perhaps being stuck in a dark and dreary, rainy Friday wearing a bad outfit. I have a lunch appointment with a client today. It isn't formal enough to require a suit but I needed to dress up a bit. The vision of sophistication I had last night faded as I realized the navy pin stripe pants I was planning on wearing would either drag in the puddles or would be irreperably wrinkled if I stuffed them in my rain boots. So I changed - multiple times. As soon as I was sitting on the shuttle bus leaving my building I had the urge to jump off and run back into my apartment and change. The cuffed capris always make me feel wide and the black jacket I chose is really too long and what was I thinking with my accessories? When I changed into my black stilettos in the office hoping the height of the heel would balance the whole thing out I realized this wasn't the piece to pull it all together. Especially when my right foot seems to have shrunk and keeps slipping out of the shoe! Oh, and having the front of my pants soaking wet from the rain didn't help things much.

Now I'm stuck all day in a soggy outfit I hate, which wouldn't be so bad if I could hide in my office all day but I have to go back out in the sideways rain in a couple of hours and try and be poised and confident. Bleh. Sad when what I'm most looking forward to on a Friday night is doing laundry and perhaps weeding my closet of unflattering pieces that might tempt me to give them a second chance down the road.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

celeb sighting

I'm not really into the whole celebrity sighting thing. I probably walk past them all the time and either don't recognize or just don't notice them. For example, several years ago I was walking up a very busy Lexington Avenue at lunch time with a co-worker. We were looking for a lunch spot at which neither of us had ever dined. As we scanned the shops and sandwich spots my lunch companion jabbed me in the ribs with an elbow and muttered something as he stared straight ahead, in an attempt to be "cool", I think. I thought he had found Hale & Hearty Soup and couldn't understand the low tones. Finally, exasperated with me he said "Tom Sellak just walked right past you!" I turned around in time for Mr. Sellak to glance back over his shoulder (sans moustache) upon hearing his name. Coincidentally, I saw him in a so-so Broadway play later that week. I decided it was the lack of a moustache that caused me to nearly miss a brush with Magnum PI.

And just last Saturday I was walking down 9th Avenue on my way to see a movie with a friend when she commented we had just passed "that John boy guy with the mole on his face." Again, I looked back over my shoulder and I think I saw him. It isn't that I'm unobservant. I just think I am bad at noticing faces and something else has to capture my attention for me to get to the face or I can't be in a hurry to be anywhere (which is rare).

But last night as I walked home from work I didn't need anyone else to help me spot the celebrities. There was a red carpet, limos, lots of cameras and people milling around and waiting. The Ziegfeld theater hosts movie premiers on a regular basis and is only a couple of blocks from my office. Most of the time I don't recognize the people posing on the carpet or I'm too impatient and uninterested to wait around to gawk at the unknown. My first chance encounter with a red carpet premier was shortly after I moved back to NYC last summer. I was walking down 54th Street talking on the phone with Michele when I was suddenly surrounded by people yelling "Tom! Tom!! Over here Tom!" I was suddenly at the premier of the War of the Worlds and looked across the street in time to see Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in their debut performance as a couple.

So I paused last night and waited with the others to see who would climb out of the limo. The movie was Beer League, I hadn't heard of it but decided to wait for a minute anyway. Then Howard Stern and his girlfriend Beth Ostrosky climbed out of the limo. People I actually recognized. Okay, so I didn't know what Howard Stern's girlfriend's name was but I knew she was a model and I instantly recognized him in all his hairy greasieness. She was extraordinarily skinny and tall and slightly orange with bleached, bleached, bleached hair. They waved in my direction and I moved on. Only thinking later I should have taken a photo to share with you. Oh, well. Perhaps the most disappointing is that I missed seeing Ralph Macchio! He is in the movie too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Reflections

I looked out my window this morning and was greeted by the same brilliantly blue sky devoid of clouds I marveled over 5 years ago. The sky which seemed not to mourn with the rest of my city and my country that day. The sky seemed unaware of the tragedy and added to the surreality of the day.

Five years ago I thought the only variance to my routine was my house guests - my mother and my aunt. I was lingering with them that Tuesday morning, making French toast for breakfast as they planned out their day's activities, reluctant to go to work. The night before they met me downtown in the pouring rain - across the street from the World Trade Center. I had advised them not to visit Monday night but to wait for a clearer sky before going to the top. Maybe tomorrow. It was decided, if the rain cleared up they would go on Tuesday, September 11th.

But they didn't go. I don't come from a family of early risers. We are late night talkers. So we were in my new home, making breakfast and watching the weather on the Today show when the story broke. We had no sense of the tragedy that was already in progress as television reporters speculated over the whys and hows of what was believed to be a private aircraft gone astray that was smoldering in the side of one of the towers. My dad called and as he talked to my mother my aunt and I started to eat the breakfast we never finished. The second plane hit.

We went to my roof where I could normally see the top of both towers at the end of the City skyline. I could only see one tower and a little smoke. A neighbor informed us one tower had fallen. In disbelief we returned to my apartment and the tv that remained on for days. It was true. I returned to the roof and strained to see with my own eyes what was happening such a short distance away.

Soon there was nothing. The wind pushed all smoke and dust toward Brooklyn leaving midtown Manhattan sunny with an eerily clear sky - no clouds, no smoke, just a vast expanse of endless blue.

Wanting to escape the tv and the tears we left the building and were greeted by streams of dazed people returning home before noon on a Tuesday - unsure of what to do with themselves. I had lived in the City just over a month, I barely knew anyone. But on the steps I saw a familiar face - a guy I had met on Labor Day at a stake beach activity who later became a good friend. He also worked downtown. He told us his story. Watching the towers collapse from his office window, helping people escape, tearing his shirt into pieces to cover his mouth and nose and to give a piece to a woman who didn't have anything. It was the first time I saw the dust. The "dust" that covered downtown Manhattan where I worked for months. The "dust" the EPA reassured as was fine to breathe.

This morning as I crossed 9th Avenue walking to work I remembered the trucks, the giant construction vehicles and empty buses driving downtown toward what would forever after be known as Ground Zero. We wanted to give. We wanted to help. What could we do?

We wandered.

I saw my new city as I had never before seen it and in a way I doubt I will ever see it again. It was a beautiful Tuesday and the streets were full of the displaced. Those walking home, those escaping their television sets, those wanting to do something. We were a bonded group. But with all the people, things were missing - there weren't any cabs, there were very few cars on the street at all. Stores were closed. It was quiet. The usual cacophony that fills the streets and seeps in your windows was silenced. There was respect.

Central Park was full of other wandering souls like us, wanting to find solace, shaking their heads in disbelief, hoping this didn't feel real because if it wasn't they could return to their homes and the television would no longer be full of tragedy. We were all hoping and praying together for miracles large and small.

Their faces belied their actions. Parents pushed children on swings. Dogs were being walked. Frisbees were tossed. Bicycles were being ridden. All the paths were full of runners, walkers and rollerbladers looking to escape. You saw it on their faces, the hushed tone of their voices and the way they kept their heads down. When eye contact was made restrained smiles were exchanged as if to express sympathy for the shared loss.

A friend of mine had joined us that day, she, like me, was new to the city and had nowhere else to go. I had my mom, she had me. I walked her to the subway station at 50th Street and Broadway that evening, a short distance from Times Square. When we reached Broadway the emptiness renewed the sense of tragedy. Drawn in by the novelty of an empty Times Square, we walked down Broadway and shook our heads at being 2 of only about 15 people in all of Times Square. A once in a lifetime experience. A building construction site was towering above us with a giant white sheet with the words "God Bless America" in spraypaint. More tears fell.

Other than catching myself in my own reflections of the day and pondering the personal effect that tragedy had on me, today was not out of the ordinary. Until I arrived home this evening and looked out my window - there, rising above the parking garages I normally look at and throug the sky are two blue pillars of light memoralizing the twin towers. A reminder that were they still standing, I would be able to see them from my window.



"I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing — not just a waiting. "
-Susan Sontag

Sunday, September 10, 2006

welcome home

Thursday afternoon I took a better than average flight across the country and made it home by 1230 and tried to force myself back to eastern standard time (if you note the time, I still haven't succeeded). I was truly happy to be home, to take my usual walk to work on Friday, passing all the familiar scenes. As I unpacked my laptop and settled back into my office people greeted me and welcomed me back. I am home, I am where I belong.

For once my timing was good - my brother flew in from Boston for a job interview and we were able to have both lunch and dinner together and we stayed up far too late talking- really talking about life, religion, politics, fears, aspirations, regrets . . . it was therapeutic. He allowed me to obsess over the awkward run-in with TW earlier in the evening for longer than I should have.

The run-in was my own fault. I think I sought it out in a way. I arranged to have my brother meet a married lawyer friend of mine so he could get a similar perspective to his own to consider with his job interviews - my friends live only a couple of blocks from TW, which is nowhere near Hell's Kitchen. Afterwards, my brother and I stumbled into an amazing Thai place for dinner and decided to walk it off a bit before taking a cab home. I suggested we walk by the new chapel where I knew my ward was still lingering after the ward clean-up project. The lights were on, the lobby was full of familiar faces - we went in, then I saw him. I couldn't look at him, I couldn't talk directly to him. I hadn't seen him in nearly 3 weeks and he never called, never emailed, never even sent a text message! Two weeks ago I sent him an email . . . bait. He didn't bite.

Emily was right - I can't settle for him. I won't settle for being blown off, I deserve better. Before I left California, I had resolved to shut him out. He needed to make a big effort before I would give him another chance.

So I talked to anyone else willing - he lingered but didn't make any effort. I introduced my brother to cast aside any confusion and dispel potential rumors about the mystery guy. I spoke to my bishop's wife about our mutual friend PJ and all the great things we have done together. I chatted until everyone drifted away and my brother went for a walk to inspect the new building, then I turned and he finally greeted me.

"Nothing?" I said.
He shrugged.
"No apologies? No excuses?"
Another shrug and a weak "sorry?" like his dad was forcing him to apologize to his sister when he didn't know what he had done wrong. Except he did know, he was diffident and awkward.
I shook my head and looked around for a way to escape. The only other person hanging around noticed the awkwardness and walked out of the building. I wondered if he was there with her, maybe that was part of the unnatural vibe.

He changed the subject. I half listened to him talk about visiting his brother over Labor Day. At some point during the exchange my brother returned. More stiff interaction as I made introductions. Then the girl who had escaped earlier came back in and said "we're leaving now." He motioned that he had to follow and I said good-bye. Glad to have it over but questioning what had happened. The girl never addressed me, we are casual friends. No one invited me along, no one welcomed me back. The only word that I can use to accurately describe the scene is awkward. My brother and I left while he and the others were still on the sidewalk and walked in the opposite direction without addressing them. I knew my brother wasn't impressed. I know I don't want a guy like that. I know I want better . . . deserve better. And yet, I must admit I'm disappointed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day weekend

A list of my highs and lows for the weekend.
  • dinner overlooking the ocean at a phenomenal Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach with my mother - I will crave that guacamole for months!
  • watching/commenting on all the plastic women in Laguna Beach with my mother - honestly, I think there is a mold down here!
  • shopping at Fashion Island- this time I bought new luggage to replace the ten ton suitcase I lugged out here, the dumb airlines now insist on charging for anything over 50 pounds, when the suitcase weighs 20 that isn't hard to exceed!
  • Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena - this was especially enjoyable because I finally saw this painting which is significant because at 10 year's old I selected this print with "Norton Simon Museum" in large letters across the bottom. The print hung in my bedroom until I moved out at 18. Although I love Degas, I would never choose this as a favorite painting, even after seeing it in person. But it was the first piece of art I selected as a child so I love it for that reason.
  • going to the Rose Bowl for the first time with an endless number of Ute fans supporting the team in red
  • of course it was over 100 degrees
  • and the Utes lost
  • and I got sick . . . I ran out about half way through the 4th quarter because I was afraid I would throw up, but nothing happened. We left early and I managed to make it out of the stadium and the mile long walk to the car without puking. But I had to pull over immediately after leaving the golf course parking lot due to another wave of nausea - my mom thought the traffic cop would think I was drunk, but still nothing happened. I managed to drive for about an hour before pulling off at a McDonald's where I spent 30 minutes trying to throw up - with no luck. I have no idea how anyone manages to be bulimic. I wanted to throw up and couldn't! I knew it would make me feel better. We got back in the car and my mom spotted a Target where I tried to figure out what medicine would get rid of the giant bubble lodged somewhere between my throat and stomach that kept threatening to erupt. Maximum strength Pepto was the answer - I took a cupful in the parking lot and the esophogus spasms subsided, very briefly. My mom handed me a plastic bag and I finally threw up there in the Target parking lot between cars in a plastic bag, hoping the person parked next to me wouldn't return soon. I was instantly feeling better and we headed back to the road - we were driving to St. George and I was upset we had lost about an hour - the drive felt endless and there was TONS of traffic and I had the hiccups about 20 times during the drive and the horrible spasms kept coming back so I was guzzling pepto. We didn't get to my grandparent's house until 4 am Utah time!
  • But Sunday we went to my mom's family reunion at a cabin in Pine Valley - it was beautiful, full of aunts, uncles, cousins and my sweet grandparents.
  • my dad had a Corvette convertible for the weekend (incredibly, someone he works for loaned it to him for the weekend!) and we went for an amazing drive just before sunset Sunday night - I got up to 95 mph!! It was such an incredible drive with beautiful music and good bonding time with my dad.
  • My cute little 5 year-old cousins gave me hugs and held my hand and sought out my attention the whole time I was there
  • during an often-times confusing game of "I have never" we learned one of my aunts - the very least likely ever!!! - had smoked a cigarette as a kid. It really was funny.
  • realizing I am not cool to teenagers
  • not recognizing more than 1 or 2 bands on my 15 year-old cousin's ipod
  • introducing the family to quiche for breakfast
  • giving rides to my cousins in the Corvette
  • the long parking lot that is I-15 from Las Vegas to LA - there were hours where I did not exceed 20 mph!!!!!
  • Back at work in the OC.........

Can I go home now?

Friday, September 01, 2006

tastes like home

after a threatened repeat of yesterday's pizza, we were given the option of Rubio's - one of my Utah favorites. We took our lunch outside and I enjoyed my fish taco, black beans and rice with chips and salsa in the sun.
My mom is flying in tonight and we are heading to the Ute vs. UCLA opening football game tomorrow at the Rose Bowl.
California has some perks!
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