Wednesday, January 31, 2007

daylight in the swamps

I am certain there have been studies on this sort of thing but without scientific proof of analysis, I'm just going to come right out and say this - you are either born a morning person or you are not. Unfortunately, I am not. As a child I never wanted to go to bed. I wanted to stay up late with the adults, I was always concerned with missing out on something if I went to bed prematurely. Even when I was truly tired, I refused to go to bed and would explain to my mother that I was just going to "rest my eyes" for a minute, but not sleep. Thus, getting me out of bed in the morning proved to be more than difficult - especially in those moody teen years. Parents being parents, mine used the same tactics and sayings that their parents used to force them out of bed. On those Saturdays in high school where I clung to my bed until noon or later, my dad would come into my room and announce that it was "daylight in the swamps" whatever that meant. My mother would fight me daily with varying tactics, including a rousing yet annoying little ditty she stole form her father of "It's time to get up, it's time to get up, it's time to get up in the mooooor-ning" to that famous and as far as I know nameless bugle call that signals morning in cartoons. At the Thanksgiving/Anniversary tribute to my grandparents my mom mentioned this in her video for them and every grandchild in the room accused their parent of the same terrible morning wake-up call.

I was the last to fall asleep (if at all) at a slumber party and was never ready to call it a night until others had dispensed. I rarely wrote a paper in high school, college or law school that came to fruition in daylight hours and was very familiar with pulling all nighters and managed them with relative ease. I still remember the night I stayed up all night talking to a boy I liked on the very uncomfortable communal dorm couch my freshman year of college.

Even now, the night lures me in. I rarely have a hard time staying out past midnight or even to 2 am, although I don't believe the 4 am expeditions of my youth are do-able anymore. And forcing myself into bed before midnight is a nightly struggle. I can be exhausted at 9 or 10 o'clock but then at 11:30 I find this rush of energy that has me doing dishes, straightening up clutter, sorting my mail or the biggest temptations - exploring itunes or blogging.

As a result, mornings take me by surprise and I'm rarely ready to get going when my alarm clock urges me out of bed. So you can imagine how I felt reading this article from the NY Times
outlining the daily routines of hyper-morning people with their pre-dawn works outs, laundry loads and dinner preparations. This is my biggest fear about being a working mom - I hate mornings and it seems there is a demanding balance act working women in particular must perform to pull everything together. My boss is generally in the office between 7 and 8 am, has an hour and a half train commute, braids her 4 daughters' hair and I suspect performs other motherly tasks all before she arrives in the office. In contrast, below is my ideal morning routine that happens only twice on a good week:

6:30 a.m. cd player comes on with whatever cd I have determined will gradually bring me into consciousness for that week
7:00 a.m. alarms go off and I start thinking about how much longer before I have to get out of bed
7:15 a.m. get up, throw on my workout clothes (no way I'm sleeping in a sports bra like one of the women in the article), brush my teeth, put in my contacts, check blackberry for important emails then trudge up one flight of stairs to the gym
7:30 a.m. Pilates or 30 minutes of cardio, depending on the day and whether I'm meeting my trainer or going it alone
8:30 a.m. back to my apartment, turn on Today show, shower, make-up, dry hair, get dressed to fly out the door
9:10 a.m. rush to catch the shuttle (because it is cold right now) half-way to work, check blackberry again
9:25 a.m. stop at the cafe to pick up my oatmeal breakfast
9:30 a.m. arrive at my desk to read the paper or work-related articles over my breakfast
9:45 or 10:00 a.m. I start billing for the day

If I don't make it to the gym, I rarely get out of bed before 8 and use that time to battle my two alarm clocks into snoozing. Of course, this varies daily but I generally leave the house based on the shuttle time of 850 (ideally), 910 (if I've been to the gym or need to iron). Sometimes I get up earlier and catch the 8:30 shuttle to get a head start at work but my office is still pretty sparsely populated at 915 so I appear to be an early start person as it is.

I really want to be a morning person and I have to admit that I love the mornings where I manage to go to the gym before work or those days I manage to run an errand before arriving at the office. But it is really difficult to talk myself out of my precious evening hours. When I studied French in Switzerland in college I somehow managed to trick my body into being a morning person there. I would get up near dawn and shower before anyone else on my floor to have the dorm bathroom to myself. Then rather than taking two buses to the university with the rest of my classmates, I would walk down through the vineyards and past the quaint Swiss homes with their picture perfect flower boxes and neatly trimmed hedges, past the train station, down the switchback path, past the pink (yes pink) church and onto the university campus shortly before the bus unloaded my classmates. That walk felt magical and invigerroating. I vowed to give up my hedenistic late nights, turn over a new leaf and become a morning person who took morning constitutionals and watched the sunrise. It has never worked, but sometimes I still hope I can trick my body clock into shifting toward a morning tilt. Until then, I will just have to enjoy my quiet time as I observe one day meld into the next while others get their head start on the next day by sleeping.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

because some things you never grow out of

As I sat on my couch talking to my parents about how the seemingly impossible feat of purchasing an apartment in New York City might just become attainable in about a year, I wondered what was happening outside my window. The boxes of light peeking out from buildings a block or two away were becoming fuzzy at the edges and the distinct gold pyramid that tops the World Wide Plaza building was slowly disappearing and everything was taking on a blueish gray haze. Upon ending my call, I pulled myself off the couch intending to get ready for bed but was instead drawn to the window to check out what I believed was a thickening fog rolling in from the Hudson. But no, to my surprise it wasn't fog at all. In the 30 minutes since I had walked into my building a soft white blanket had covered the cars on the rooftop parking garage across the street and more flurries were hurriedly darting past the lights to settle on hoods and roofs, on the sidewalk and scattered in patches near the curbs on the street. Snow. I should have guess that snow was finally going to make an appearance this winter. This morning the temperature was allegedly somewhere in the 20s but as I hurried to work, I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck and chin to fight against the biting wind that threatened to steal through my winter layers. This is what we call the wind chill - something I never fully comprehended before living in NYC and was never completely exposed to until I chose to live on the doorstep of the secret portal to the arctic circle which is the corner outside my apartment building. But that wasn't my clue for winter flurries. My clue came at 10 pm this evening as I exited my office building to wait for the dispatcher to call a black car for me. I stood on the sidewalk without gloves or hat and felt comfortable. Too tired to register the warming shift in temperature, I climbed in my car, gave my address and chatted with my dad on the 10 minute drive home without a snowflake in sight or thought. I should have remembered the relative warmth that arrives as a predescessor to snow.
Seeing the first real snow of the season outside my window makes me long for piles and piles of it - enough to shut down schools and businesses, enough to excuse attendance at work, enough to require me to pull out my warm pink ugg impostors to clomp over the piles that would be shoved up against each street corner, enough to turn Central Park into a magical snow world similar to Narnia. I love snow and I've missed it this winter, there was barely any at the ski resorts when I was in Utah for Christmas to test out my new snowboard and I only saw a little skiff a few mornings ago that was gone by the time I walked out the door. The advantage to winter is the soft quiet that descends with the snowflakes, even a City as loud as New York falls into a hush with a fresh carpeting of snow. I'm sure it isn't predicted but that is my wish as I drift to sleep tonight, that I will feel that rush of anticipation when I wake to hear scraping shovels and snowplows hitting cement and asphalt fighting back the snow as I rush to peer out my window to confirm my childlike wish for a snow day.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Care to comment?

For whatever reason, I am a fan of personality tests. Not sure why I enjoy them, I guess I like seeing how the results come out depending on my mood when I answer the questions. I recently took one with the following results. . .

You are a DIRECTOR/explorer

You are courageous; and you seek challenges. You are a tough-minded, independent and daring thinker who likes to explore ideas or problems thoroughly. You focus easily. And you are persistent, systematic and competent in pursuing your interests and goals.

You are also assertive; and you enjoy the opportunities your hard work wins.

You have a lot of energy. You think quickly, make decisions more easily than most, dislike unnecessary rules, and take a rational approach to people, issues and ideas.

You don't often enjoy "small talk." You are generally not interested in pleasing boring people and you gravitate to men and women who are intellectually exciting and get to their point quickly during conversations.

You are not conventional in most of your attitudes and values. You tend to be irreverent and pragmatic and you like spontaneous people. You can be an exciting, yet hard driving and exacting, friend and companion.
While I'm not entirely convinced of my ability to "focus easily", most people who know me have heard me complain about small talk and how I have absolutely no patience for it. I guess the part I find most interesting is that I may be a "hard driving and exacting" friend. Unfortunately, I feel I have a history of troubled friendships. This has long been a concern for me so maybe this quiz holds the answer . . . I may be exciting but I can be exacting.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Discovery

Last weekend was pretty much consumed by iTunes, my restored computer and obsessing over new playlists for my new video iPod (which may be the greatest invention ever!). While playing on the new and improved iTunes I kept getting sucked into the recommendations that magically crop up below my music library. One of the recommendations that sucked me in was Aqualung - I loved the samples and took a risk and bought the entire Strange and Beautiful cd and I LOVE it! I've been addicted to it all week and am listening to it now as I work. Mellow with a kick it has great lyrics, interesting melodies and I really like Matt Hales' voice - emotive but not whiny. If you haven't heard, I strongly urge you to check it out. I may need to get more of his stuff soon.

A Casual Encounter

As a rare Wednesday treat, last night I ventured out to a party thrown by one of my very first roommates in NYC which was termed on the evite as a "Missed Connections/Casual Encounters" party. I have known the hostess for close to 7 years now (!) and she always makes an effort to come to my parties and very often I seem to have conficts and miss hers so I committed myself to the Wednesday night soiree and dragged a couple of co-workers and other friends along with me. It felt amazing to leave work at 8:30 pm in the middle of the week despite the fact that I was leaving piles of work waiting for Thursday morning (that I am taking a brief respite from while posting this).

The party was at a fun bar called Social that, coincidentally is right around the corner from where Jessica and I lived together in the summer of 2000. Back then 8th Avenue was not the hip destination spot it is now and most of the fun restaurants and bars in the area weren't there back then - including Social. This was pre-Disneyification of Times Square - hookers were still a common sight as were crazy Port Authority vagrants, the only grocery store nearby smelled like fridge which made me wary of ever buying fruits and vegetables out of fear they would have fridge taste. One of my favorite stories of living with Jessica was when we decided to take a field trip at 2 a.m. to see the hookers in Times Square on rollerblades. The two of us, with our third roommate Jenny, didn't bother changing out of whatever comfy pajama type clothing we were wearing, donned our rollerblades and headed down 9th Avenue, across 42nd Street and back up 8th Avenue to our tiny apartment on 48th Street to prove to Jessica that the hookers really did still roam the streets a mere 4-6 blocks from our apartment. During our little adventure we received all kinds of comments inquiring whether we knew what time it was and other things I have blocked from my memory. People always have opinions in New York and are very free with sharing those opinions. The best part of the adventure was when Jessica loudly whispered to me "is that one? she's so young!!" a few feet from the girl she was pointing out. But I digress.

Shortly after arriving at the party I managed to track Jessica down in the growing crowd of people and after we exchanged hugs and I introduced her to my friends, a very attractive guy approached to introduce himself to Jessica and the three of us started talking and I think we shared the rollerblading story right off the bat. Jessica was soon pulled away and before long I was one-on-one with this guy. At one point he excused himself to go hang his coat up and I didn't expect to see him again but he came straight back to continue our conversation. I was wearing a pair of gray flannel pin stripe slacks I hadn't worn in nearly two years because I couldn't fit into them so I had confidence which was augmented by the red fitted sweater for which I had received compliments all day. I felt a good vibe as we discussed traveling and snowboarding and had good eye contact and excellent body language (including a couple of flirtatious arm touches) but I didn't trust it until he asked me for my information and even then I was not completely buying it. I handed him my business card because the request seemed more about his business which is party and travel planning. . . but then he asked if it included my cell so I handed that number over as well.

Two of my friends returned to me after he left and were all excited about what they were carefully watching from a reasonable distance across the room. It felt fantastic. I didn't see him the rest of the night and I am highly doubtful that I will ever hear from him but I have to say it felt SO good to feel like an attractive guy was interested in me and I didn't have to make any effort. Going to Mormon singles parties and activities just doesn't do a lot for the ego so even if I never hear from this guy again, the mere fact that he paid some attention and got my number feels like it was enough for now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Jason

Today is my youngest brother's birthday - he is turning 26 which makes me feel old! How can my youngest brother be gliding through mid-20s and nearing late-20s so soon? But enough about me. This post is a tribute to Jason. I don't think I will ruin the surprise if I reveal that his wife is making him a book for which she solicited the family for entries - memories and stories about Jason. I wrote mine at the very last possible moment late last night using my favorite Would Be Writers Guild technique of writing anything and everything that comes to mind without editing (I call it purging) and here are a few somewhat edited excerpts of what my contribution includes:

Jason was often eager to help me out so one summer afternoon shortly after buying my first car, a Volkswagen Dasher fondly named the “nerdmobile”, I decided to give it a thorough cleaning. Despite the beautiful artist rendition pictured to the right (which is from the 1974 sales brochure!) and newly discovered information that the Dasher was the predecessor to the Passat, this was not the car of my 16-year old dreams (I wanted the yellow bug) but I decided to make the best of it and 10-year old Jason pitched in to help. We were in the garage with the vacuum cleaner roaring and using Armor All for the first time with what I can only guess was Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull playing in the background (it was 1991 yet those were some shared favorites). We were so ambitious that we not only pulled out the floor mats but we moved the seats around as well (it was a wagon so the seats laid out flat and folded up) to give it a thorough cleaning. Now, I cannot remember which of us made this discovery but I can still see it – a petrified peanut butter sandwich under the back seat. I had only owned the car a few days (it only lived 3 days or 3 weeks at a time) so there was no way it came from us. The prior owners had long forgotten a sandwich under the back seat, or perhaps, since it was bagless, a stubborn child had stashed it there to avoid eating it. At any rate, we were thoroughly disgusted but will always have fond memories of our first detail job.


Another favorite Jason story occurred the only time he ever visited me when I lived in Cedar City. It was the Thanksgiving after I was married, so I had only been married a couple of months. My parents were in St. George but all my siblings stayed with me in my small student apartment. Jason woke up before I emerged from the bedroom through which you had to walk to access the only bathroom. Since I was a newly wed, Jason didn’t dare go near the bedroom before anyone came out. So rather than knock or wait, Jason simply peed outside.

Another favorite memory with Jason was when I was 16 or 17 and he was only 10 or 11, maybe we were older but I’m pretty sure I was still in high school because it was a rare moment of independence for me. That is the difference between the oldest and the youngest child – at 17 it was still rare for me to go anywhere but a friend’s house without my parents but Jason had gone on several trips with siblings and friends crossing various county and state lines. At any rate, on this particular trip we hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. It was a big deal for us and I believe we tried to coax others into going with us. It was the first time I drove to Zion by myself and I remember it seemed like a long drive from my grandparent's house in St. George. When we reached the top and were taking in the unparalleled views, a man asked us to take a photo of him and his son. After doing so I asked him to take our photo, only when I reached into my backpack I realized I had left the camera in the car. Our biggest feat of independence was not caught on film (the above photo is a random but great one courtesy of the internet) but I have a vivid memory of it and despite several other ascents and numerous other visits, Angel’s Landing will always remind me of that hike. Afterwards I felt like such a great older sister when we stopped at some diner in Hurricane to get shakes. I was always jealous of friends who had older siblings to take them cool places so I really wanted to fill that role well for my younger siblings. Maybe it was just an effort to compensate for the supposed terror I inflicted on them as the oldest - according to them.

Finally, here is a list of a few more memories I just don’t have time to adequately capture on paper but deserve mention:
  • Ben & Jerrie’s fight . . . I will never understand this one. Sharon and Waterbury, Vermont are only 50 miles apart and according to Mapquest Waterbury is less than a mile off the Interstate . . . besides, who doesn’t want ice-cream?
  • Newport, Rhode Island, no need to repeat that famous fight when I honestly thought Jason was going to hit me (he was still in high school but I have no excuse)
  • During law school I would go home on the weekends and on Sunday nights Jason always tried (and often succeeded) to talk me into staying later and later. . . maybe that’s why I my grades were never as good as his are.
  • Late-night talks in the living room – sibling bonding time, my favorite
  • Little Compton over Memorial Weekend last year when we (okay maybe I) tracked in all the ticks
  • 4th of July 2006, nearly melting in your kitchen from the sweltering heat while I tried to make frosting for the red velvet cake!
  • Sorry J, but Indian food is not like Thai food
  • When Jason said he was jealous when Nick and Erin and I lived together because we were living some sort of sitcom fantasy of his – all the siblings living together without the parents, never a fantasy of mine but lots of fun nonetheless
  • Night-time serenade of Erin by stomach slapping (or whatever you want to call it)
  • that bird noise Jason used to make
  • Suicidal parakeets
  • Jason's spiked hair days
  • Hire’s
  • Going to the symphony together
  • Listening to music, discussing music together
  • Helping me to deepen my love and appreciation for opera (okay, this is mostly Nadia)
  • So much more . . . Happy Birthday J!!!!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Best of 2006

***MOVIES/TV***
Best of Film: Water
Worst of Film: The Breakup
Most Overrated Film: The DaVinci Code
Most Underrated Films: End of the Spear, Water
Guilty Pleasure: Devil Wears Prada
Most Entertaining Films: Little Miss Sunshine
Most Bizarre Movie But Actually Quite Good: The Science of Sleep
Biggest Disappointments: Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand

2006 Top 10 Movies (of only about 15 that I saw, hard to put them in ranked order but here's my try):
Water
Little Miss Sunshine

End of the Spear
The Departed
Stranger Than Fiction
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Devil Wears Prada
The Illusionist
Thank You For Smoking
The Science of Sleep

Honorable Mention
Akeelah & The Bee

Ten 2006 Movies I Really Want To See But Haven't Yet (so I will Netflix or try and catch in the theater before the remaining ones disappear)
Children of Men
Blood Diamond
Dreamgirls
Volver
Sherrybaby
Last King of Scotland

The Queen
The Prestige
Babel
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Best of Netflix (in order of 2006 viewing, too different to rank in order of preference):
The Magdalene Sisters
Dear Frankie
The Pianist
Hustle & Flow
A Very Long Engagement
Bride & Prejudice
Il Postino
The Life Acquatic With Steve Zissou
Born Into Brothels
Mansfield Park
The Basketball Diaries
Gangs of New York

Best of TV:
The Office
Grey's Anatomy
Entourage (on Netflix)

Worst of TV: most of it - very difficult to narrow this one down. . .
Best Reality TV: Project Runway, The Amazing Race (when I managed to see it)

***MUSIC***
Best New 2006 Music
Best CD Release From a Favorite: Beck "The Information"
Best New Discovery CD Release: The Raconteurs "Broken Boy Soldiers"

Best New Songs of 2006:
(no specific order)
Think I'm In Love, Beck
Nausea, Beck
Snow (Hey Oh), The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Hips Don't Lie, Shakira (fun for dancing)
Breathe Me, Sia
Lullaby, The Dixie Chicks
Broken Boy Soldier, The Raconteurs

Top 10 Songs I Loved In 2006 (but weren't released in 2006, not in order):
Someday You Will Be Loved, Death Cab for Cutie
I Will Follow You Into The Dark, Death Cab for Cutie
Lost Cause, Beck
True Love Will Find You In The End, Beck
Mad World, Michael Andrews
Buttons & Zips, Elbow
Save Me, Aimee Mann
Cachaca, Soulive
Hey Joe, Medeski, Martin & Wood
Laugh as the Sun, Rusted Root

Best Live Music of 2006
: Bonnaroo, hard to narrow it down further than that other than to say that seeing Beck and Radiohead back to back in one night was pretty amazing

***BOOKS***
(this is just what I read in 2006, doesn't necessarily mean it was published in 2006 because I don't think I read anything that was)
Best Airport Reading: The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
Most Compelling Novel: Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Best Book Recommendation: She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb
Most Challenging Read: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Other Novels I Read and Enjoyed in 2006:
Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards

A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

Disappointing Books of 2006:
The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd - just doesn't rise to the same level as The Secret Life of Bees
Angels & Demons, Dan Brown - wanted another quick, fun read but got nearly the same novel as The Da Vinci Code.

***MISCELLANEOUS***
Favorite Celebrity in 2006: not really a celebrity lover but I did love seeing Leonardo DiCaprio close up in real life!
Least Favorite Celebrity in 2006: Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, all the obsession with celebrity babies and breakups and weddings -not really a fan of the celeb obsession
Best of Theater: The History Boys - was able to take a client which meant fantastic seats courtesy of my firm!
Best of Opera: Puccini's Madame Butterfly at the Met

Best of Travel: Guatemala
Worst of Travel: the 5 hour chicken bus ride in Guatemala
Best of Food: Tabla, I took my favorite summer associates there - phenomenal!
Best of Sports: Utah Jazz vs. LA Clippers game with my parents and my sister the day after Christmas
Worst of Sports: the week before when I watched the Jazz lose to the dumb Knicks in the Garden after begging for the firm tickets then losing my voice after begging the Jazz not to lose
Best Purchase: a Salomon Maiden snowboard
Worst Purchase: a few random clothes that I essentially never wore but failed to return. . .
Best Decision of 2006: break up with psycho boy
Worst Decisions of 2006: not sure I have enough perspective to come up with this one, although I'm sure there were many
Happiest Day of 2006: hard to pinpoint one day but I'm guessing it took place either at Bonnaroo or in Guatemala because both of those trips were full of happy days, but I think I had a pretty fun-filled summer that was full of happy days
Saddest Day of 2006: the day my computer died and I lost all my photos. . .


Saturday, January 20, 2007

my computer is back!

I finally broke down and called the Geek Squad guys a couple of weeks ago to schedule an appointment to fix my sick computer - the one that hasn't worked since the Sunday before Thanksgiving! To be honest, other than New Year's weekend, this was my first free weekend where I am in town, not working and not running in 15 directions at once. I had all kinds of good intentions as to how I would spend my Saturday but so far I have not done any laundry, I have not unpacked from my St. Lucia trip, I have not turned the dishwasher on (it is loaded but too loud to run while I'm home), I have not gone to yoga or even walked upstairs to workout, I have not showered, I have not even changed out of pjs (I did put a bra on for the geek guy's visit) or tackled any of the organizational projects that have been lining up and seeking my attention for months.

Instead, I have spent my Saturday making myself french toast on this fantastic griddler I got for Christmas, watching the Geek Squad guy resuscitate my computer (by the way, he completely fit the image of "Geek Squad" guy with completely wrinkled short sleeve white button-up shirt, Geek Squad tie, rumpled pants with white sweat socks and black dress shoes, slightly balding and a bit paunchy) and receiving the bad news that my hard drive was wiped out. Which means the rest of my morning and early afternoon has been occupied by me reinstalling itunes, my camera's software, my phone's software and various other programs onto my computer. On the more productive side, I finally opened a cd and savings account with ING Direct, something I've been meaning to do for quite a while. I feel a little healthier financially.

So I lost a lot of photos, which I'm pretty sad about but now I am motivated to start backing up my computer. Now I'm just obsessed with my new ipod that my parents gave me for Christmas that I wasn't able to touch without a computer. So exciting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I must say, it feels good to have a tan in January

Despite the terrible ordeal I endured getting to St. Lucia (I didn't arrive at the resort until 12:30, a full 18 hours after I left my apartment!), I had a fabulous trip. I am a strong believer in warm and sunny vacations in the depths of winter. Yesterday I couldn't get over how strange it was to be wearing so many layers of clothing when less than 24 hours previously I was bobbing in the ocean in just a swimming suit, especially now that NYC has decided it really is winter and has dipped into the 20s with a wind chill factor of must-flag-down-a-cab with no-possible-way-to-stay-warm. I mean, who would expect that I watched the sunset a mere days ago from a catamaran in the Caribbean? The first photo below was taken from the shower in my room, that is right, that was the view from my shower!! This was sometimes problematic for my roommate Ruby. For example, while I was still traveling on Thursday I received an email from Ruby that had this to say about our room: "A bird was in the room eating our sugar packets - it was not fun." This completely cracked me up because then all I could envision was a parakeet or toucan or possibly some exotic bird on stilt-like legs pecking at sugar packets in our room! We later had another one swoop in but it was a rather generic little black creature I was quickly able to shoo out the door. I also happened upon a small frog in our shower - while I was showering. I warned Ruby about it when I got out and she asked me if there was any way I could get it out because she just couldn't shower with a frog. I disposed of him as well. The above photo is the resort, taken as I walked from my room to the main resort area and the below photo was the sunset Friday night.
I don't even know where to begin to describe this trip. Friday morning I woke up to sunny skies and donned this fabulous new swimming suit from Victoria's Secret that truly worked miracles and gave me boobs that surprised all my friends who know me and my usual lack of cleavage! I assured them the new-found friends would disappear once I put on my standard suit and they did. I felt slightly obscene with those things but it was a fun new look to enjoy.
Friday night the bride and groom hosted a wedding's eve sunset cruise aboard a catamaran. It was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with the other wedding guests and get reacquainted with other friends who made the trip. The top picture is me with Ruby and Joo (the bride with the pearls) and the next photo is me with my travel companions Ajoy & Katharine and Cecilio, one of Joo's college friends.

The below photo is one of my favorites because it has the groom's dad whom I adored! He is the one in the plaid shirt, shorts and that's right, an argyle sweater vest. He is from a tiny little town in Ireland and is everything you would expect - jolly disposition, sweet accent that is often incomprehensible and an endearing nature. He called me "Miss Utah." Apparently not only was I entertained by his dancing with his grandchildren on the boat but he was then entertained by my dancing at the wedding. . . another story!
After the boat ride, a group of us ate dinner at the resort and then a smaller group of us ventured off to "Jump Up" - a local street fair/street dance/seedy-lawlessness-tradition in town. Ruby and I agreed to go as long as the guys promised to a) protect us from unwanted groping; and b) assisted in warding off unwanted advances from undesirables. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) the only groping came from someone in our group who carried the joke too far and into the wedding reception. Ew! As you can see from the below photos, it was pretty wild. I made Ruby leave with me at midnight since after three dance requests from a toothless local and an offer from an 8-year old boy to purchase some unidentified drug, it was time to go.


Saturday was the wedding. We spent the morning in the sun and then got all dressed up for Joo's shining moment. As you can see, the bride looked stunning and the groom looked nervous. The entire time he was waiting for Joo to arrive he kept dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. He later admitted to being extremely nervous having everyone watch him wait. Below is also a photo of Ruby, Katharine and me just prior to the ceremony while our heels kept sinking into the grass.
The wedding ceremony took place at Piegon Island on a cliff with the ocean crashing on rocks below. The flowers and tents were beautiful and it seemd very magical.
The reception was great fun and I believe the bride really enjoyed herself. I snapped the below photo while her long-time friend Alice gave a particularly embarrassing toast that made mention of "rubbing thighs", an inside joke that was never adequately explained. Alice's stories gave me the courage to give a toast and tell the story I have been threatening Joo to tell for years - how she and Barry met, since I was the only sober person present and Barry actually gave me her number because as he put it "she seems like a sweet girl but I don't think she'll remember me in the morning." Who would have thought such a meeting would result in this: Above are Ruby, Joo, me and Alice at the reception before the dancing started. I can tell because I still looked relatively dry and put together. Once the music started we were dancing non-stop in an oppresive humidity that left me soaking wet - gross, but loads of fun!

The above photo was taken on Sunday while we were hiding out from a thunderstorm that took away the sun for the rest of the afternoon (despite the fact that the sun is shining in the background). Unlike Mormons, this newly-wed couple continued to hang out with their guests post-wedding and also very unlike Mormons, they continued to share their 4 bedroom villa with his parents, her parents and his brother's family. On my last day Joo and I got some one-on-one time when we took a two man sea kayak far out to sea - much further than we had planned but we never panicked, just got a good work out rowing back to shore after a fabulous time catching up.

A couple of other brief highlights before I call it a wrap. The beach at our resort had a floating trampoline that was a brief swim away from shore. Sunday morning I was out there with some former co-workers Frank and Michele. While Frank and I were sitting on the tramp, a small boy probably about 8 or 9 years old started climbing up and as he did so he stated in a very authoritative British accent "Let me offer a friendly tip, never open your eyes under the water." It was so adorable and we joked about it the rest of the trip in our poorly executed imitation British accents. We then played crack the egg with the boy and two other kids hanging around the tramp. Once again the boy's accent was fantastic when he yelled "He's Cracked!!!" and we all jumped into the water. I am certainly not going to have that kind of fun here in NYC anytime soon.

My only disappointment is that with wedding stuff and the rain and leaving half-way through the day on Monday, I never had a full day of sun. Despite that, I still managed to get a bit of color which reminds me that I got away for a few days.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

greetings from Puerto Rico (airport)

My day has been hell and I'm not even to my final destination, here is a summary:

330 am alarm (went to bed around 130 after packing, didn't get home from work until after 10)
345 am dragged my butt out of bed
430 am car to Newark airport
500 am checked into my flight and met up with 2 of my travel companions
600 am boarded flight to San Juan (to connect to St Lucia)
630 am flight delayed for "leakage"
730 am deplaned, waited in line and was rerouted to another flight to San Juan on another airline -- no hope of seeing my luggage again
1030 am boarded flight #2 to San Juan - this one actually took off
330 pm (Puerto Rico time) landed in San Juan
345 pm headed out to the 80 degree weather in long sleeves, pants and a puffy vest (okay, I took that off) to grab dinner somewhere outside the airport
500 pm returned to the airport to wait for 630 connection to St Lucia
640 pm waiting for delayed flight to St Lucia, the one positive about this delay is that our original flight (carrying our luggage) is supposed to arrive here at 700 and there is a possibility that it will make the flight to St Lucia if we are delayed. Otherwise no toothbrush, shampoo, clean underwear and more importantly - bathing suit! - until around 230 pm at the earliest tomomorrow.

I barely slept on the plane and I look and feel disgusting. My trip was already cut short by one day on the end, now I am losing time at the front end as well. But at least my employer gave me this very cool wireless air card for my laptop that allows me to log on anywhere there is cell service. Hopefully I only have to use it to blog!!

Tomorrow I should have better details to relate. Oh, the rice and beans and fried plantains I ate were great, I've managed to avoid airport food despite spending nearly 14 hours in airports today. UGH!!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

doesn't ramen take you back?

When I get in my eating-three-meals-a-day-at-my-desk mode, I tend to take the opportunity to catch up on my blog reading or read the most e-mailed articles from the New York Times. Today I stumbled across this little gem and had to pay my own tribute to Mr. Noodle.

When playing the word association game the first thing I think of when I hear ramen noodles is freshman year of college living in Manzanita D1 at Southern Utah University. I think top ramen (alternated with mac & cheese) may have been the only thing I ate. No wonder I didn't have the "freshman 40" or whatever it is problem. I'm fairly certain that college may have been the last time I actually made an effort to eat ramen on purpose. Although I did have some cup of noodles in Guatemala last summer and I have on occasion, now that I think about it, used the noodles (sans sodium packet) with stir fry when I'm too lazy to make rice. But even that hasn't happened in a long time.

One last ramen memory. When I went to Japan several years ago I met up with a friend of mine who was living there (okay so "hooked up with an exboyfriend" is the better description but that is a story for another day) and one of the places he took me to eat was a ramen noodle restaurant. Let me tell you, those ramen noodles were amazing! No hard little peas and carrots but actual hydrated vegetables with this incredible spicey kick that nearly made my eyes water. I have a very vivid memory of sitting at a long bar slurping my noodles wishing the Japanese believed in napkins so I could wipe my nose. . .

That's all. Back to work. Only one more day until St. Lucia!!!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

ramblings

once again work has buried me beyond belief which means all of these great post ideas have been shoved aside

  • Disney's conspiracy princesses,
  • new year's resolutions - specifically the joint pact I made with a co-worker to stay out of communal candy jars. One week down with a perfect record (other than the box of chocolates I have sitting in my office and those don't count, I ate those for their pms medicinal qualities and they are not from a communal candy jar).
  • the record breaking 72 degree high in NYC on Saturday and the scary global warming implications competing with the joy of wearing flip flops to get a pedicure in January
  • the heart wrenching but incredibly well acted Pursuit of Happyness and why it is okay that there is that annoying y stuck in the middle, Tiff described it pretty well here, although I have to say that even though I felt like screaming "Enough pursuing, where is the happy?" about 10 minutes before the end, I have an odd love of gut wrenching, heart breaking movies (and books). They inspire me. Plus Will Smith and his son (who is adorable) have an amazing onscreen chemistry that really made the film
  • working close to 20 hours on a weekend (okay, I don't really want to post about it, I just feel compelled to justify my absence)
  • my upcoming trip to St. Lucia for my friend's wedding
  • the sad news that I have to return one day early from said trip
  • the email response I got from an ex-boyfriend after I inquired if he was swept away in the Colorado avalanche that repeatedly used the term "we" when stating "we were about 5 miles from that avalanche, sitting in the Empire town hall at the base of the pass taking an avalanche class. we drove through the slide area yesterday. the wall of snow was about 15 feet high. . . . we may end up on TV . . ." who the hell is "we"??? And is that a hint to not pester him with emails about his safety even though I knew he would be near that area on a Saturday ice climbing or skiing or apparently in avalanche training of all things. . . who is WE??

Okay, so maybe they aren't all great, but that is what has been rattling around in my head lately. I keep getting interrupted so this is probably completely jumbled which is a fairly accurate representation of how things are going for me right now. Hopefully I will have great things to write later in the week once I leave the country . . .

p.s. I forgot to add Stinky NYC to the above list! Yes, I was exposed to the nasty gas-like smell that is now being blamed on New Jersey (tee hee) and it was stinky but not nearly as bad as the Lake Stink phenom that is prevalent this time of year in Salt Lake when the inversion sets in. Blech!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Question

Is it just me or do sliced apples somehow taste better than whole apples? The thought struck me as I bit into a nice crisp Fuji apple that I should keep a knife at work so I could make nice slices rather than just biting into it. Somehow that just sounds better to me. I would also like a few cubes of sharp cheddar cheese to go with it. Instead I just get a nice healthy whole apple snack.

Any thoughts on the issue or am I just crazy?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blog Recommendation

Please read this blog. I discovered it about a month ago and it is HILARIOUS! I can't decide whether I Know Victoria's Secret or Adventures in Breastfeeding is my favorite, they are all SO funny. I think you will all be able to appreciate these great stories.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ring in 2007

I am not a fan of New Year's Eve. I would take a second or even third dose a year of Valentine's Day alone over another wretched New Year's Eve where I feel compelled to go out simply because it would be far too pathetic to sit on my couch watching Netflix movies eating frozen cookie dough. As tempting as that sounded to me, I forced myself to get dressed and head down town to what was promised to be a "low-key" party.

I am not sure why I always try to interpret New Year's Eve as if it is some sort of omen or predictor of how the new year will play out. This is generally only a forward looking idea which despite the fact that I don't believe I have ever applied it to the past, I continue to believe in the forecasting power of where I am when the ball drops.

When 2006 hit I was sitting in my brother's apartment in Boston watching Seinfeld reruns with him and his wife after returning from a Thai dinner and Narnia in a local theater. It was cozy, comfortable, void of expectations and I loved it. While I didn't spend a lot of time with my brother and his wife in 2006, I did see them a fair amount of time and I also spent a lot of time curled on my couch avoiding social fiascos so maybe that was a good predictor.

2005 on the other hand found me in Phoenix, Arizona with my other brother, my sister, my brother's friend and a friend of mine from law school I hadn't seen in years. We were there for the Fiesta Bowl but decided to go to the big carnival to do (I forget what they call it) since it was all anyone could tell us about and my local friend suggested it. I think you needed to be drunk. Or maybe 14. After walking up and down the street a few times, too full from a good Mexican meal to eat and most of us too Mormon to drink, I convinced everyone to leave early - to beat traffic. I think I left a lot of things early in 2005. I think that may have been the year I discovered the power in walking away when I lost interest.

As 2004 dawned I was a bregrudging trespasser on Salt Lake's First Night at the Gallivan Center. I was on the outs with my closest friend (for reasons I still don't understand) and was kind of asked out at the last minute and agreed despite prior party plans. At the end of the countdown I was surrounded by kissing couples, kissing friends and cursing myself for not driving myself when my out-of-the-blue date started asking for a kiss. After turning him down several times due to a prior resolution to be more selective, I gave in and ended up making out with this random kid to ring in the new year. However 2004 was not a big random make out year.

2003 was one of my favorite and most disappointing New Year's Eve's. I arranged dinner with close friends at my favorite cheap Indian restaurant in the East Village (New York) followed by a small party at a friend's apartment a couple of blocks from Times Square. My favorite New Year's Eve date was there (that's you Michele!) with her husband and my brothers both arrived in town around 1230 or 1 am. We had a giant slumber party with my two brothers, Michele and her husband and a friend from Connecticut. So what was the disappointing part? The boy I liked didn't kiss me . . . and never kissed me. Although when I recently told him in an email that I know he always thinks of me on NYE, he said "I dont think I always think of you on new years, although I did have an interesting new years with you in nyc..." whatever that means. It was a great crazy fun night (that included leg wrestling in my living room) followed by a fun New Year's day with my brothers and friends. I don't think 2003 included any of those elements other than the continuing disappointments from that boy.

When 2002 struck I was with two guy friends at a formal dance in a castle in Maryland. Trust me, that sounds much better than the reality of it. The dance was a disaster but we had a great time mocking everyone and congratulating ourselves on finally being the "cool kids" by default. That's a tough job for three lawyers to pull off. I swear there were girls in their prom dresses, girls with tiaras and odd fixes to make dresses fit the "modesty" guidelines including my personal favorite - a turtleneck under a strapless dress! There was no kissing but I believe we were mooned on our drive back to their place in Virginia - or maybe it was my friends who did the mooning? I can't remember. No real equivalent in real life for 2002 thank goodness - I never felt like a cool kid again that year.

2001 was my best New Year's Eve on record. I was in Mexico with a hodge podge crew consisting of my brother, his girlfriend at the time, Michele and the boy I was trying to prevent her from dating and a few more randoms including "weird guy" who wore water shoes and disappeared for hours at a time. It was the greatest NYE despite the fact that my current boyfriend was in Ohio. At dinner the cute little Mexican servers flirted with Michele and me and at midnight we played on the beach with our smuggled in .5 (aka Martinellis sparkling cider). No real equivalent the rest of the year.

Perhaps my *favorite* NYE event was the splashy 2000 celebration (lots of sarcasm in that statement). Once again I found myself at First Night with Michele and Emily and a gaggle of the boys who loved Michele. When the countdown commenced we were squeezing through the foggy crowd looking for a good spot to welcome the new millenium. Half-way through the count we were spit out the end of the crowd in an oddly vacant area that at first seemed perfect . . . until we realized we were next to the port-a-potties and that the three boys all made a move for Michele and cast Emily and I aside as if we deserved the port-a-potties' company. The winner was elated and the two losing boys (roommates I think, or friends at least) moped all the way home. Lucky for me 2000 was not as "crappy" as that and actually turned out to be one of my favorite years.

Wow, I can't believe I have retraced New Year's Eve back that far. I have no specific recollection of 1999 or 1998 but I have a feeling they were spent with Michele and Emily, unless Michele was still on her mission in '98. In 1997, I was with a boyfriend and my parents, in 1996 I was with my ex-husband and I am reasonably sure that 1993-1995 were spent with the Girls (my high school friends). 1993 was a special favorite since that was the birth of Project Bazoomba. Michele, Emily and I made a crazy how to dance movie and dragged everyone to a region dance. I think we dragged a crew to a big dance in 1994 as well and felt like big spenders for paying the $7 admission price to get in Cottonwood Mall!

Ultimately, I don't believe that New Year's Eve is a predicter for how the new year will play out . . . or at least I hope not. When the ball dropped on Times Square to mark the birth of 2007 I was in Battery Park City with three people I sort of know. They are no more than acquaintances but no one else was around and I was enticed by the "low key" email promise as opposed to the random single party taking place on the upper west side. We toasted at midnight with sparkling cider and considered going up to the roof to view fireworks but ultimately stayed put. Shortly after midnight, the lone guy in our quartet announced his departure. He lives in my neighborhood and I should have followed him home but the two remaining girls invited me to go to a club with them to meet some of their friends. Against my better judgment (I really should listen to that voice more often), I went. It wasn't terrible. I welcomed the new year with a little dancing while the other girls renewed friendships and we all avoided the aftermath of what looked like too much drinking at the end of 2006. Thankfully we didn't stay long and I was rational enough to opt to head home rather than follow them to their next stop as 2007 neared two hours old. We were on 23rd street right near the subway but I had it in my head that I would take a cab home and started walking cross town two blocks to 10th Avenue where I reasoned I could either take the bus (I saw other buses still running) or get a cab. A cab was a fantasy. When I reached 10th Avenue it started to drizzle. No one told me it would rain so I didn't have an umbrella or a hat - just quickly flatening curls in my hair. I spent 15 to 20 minutes trying to hail a cab and hoping for a bus to no avail. Crews of drunks roamed the City around me. When the rain really started coming down and I was feeling utterly pathetic sober and alone on a street corner after 2 am, I walked back to the subway and waited another 10 minutes for a train to show up. Before the train was in sight I was begging and pleading for it to be a C train since the E train would put me one stop short from home. Thankfully it was the C - jam packed with drunken tourists, locals and bridge and tunnel types (non-Manhattanites), which means no one knew subway courtesy and I had shove my way to squeeze into the car. Luckily Beck was singing "Paper Tiger" softly in my ears reminding me to chill out.

Walking the last few blocks home from the subway with Norah Jones' "The Long Day is Over" as my randomly selected soundtrack, I was struck by the fact that my life seems to be stuck on a continual loop of the sad/embarrassing/funny/adventerous first half of the sappy romantic comedy. You know the part before the girl finally meets the super amazing guy and they end in some particularly cheezy scene that promises a not necessarily perfect but "happily ever after" nonetheless. With that in mind, my ipod clicked over to the next song on the playlist - "Someday You Will be Loved" by Death Cab for Cutie. The promise of being loved like I never have known by someone I have yet to meet felt like a better way to start 2007 than my pained stilleto booted wet feet felt with soggy jeans dragging along the sidewalk. My spirits were lifted enough for me to dig the cookie dough out of the freezer for a few spoonfuls before bed to cheer up my soggy self.

So what does that foretell about the coming year for me? I'll make a bad transportation choice that will leave me alone in the rain at 3:00 am but end with my ipod promising me love. . .
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