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
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
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What'>">What American accent do you have?
Quiz'>">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.]
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