Friday, November 30, 2007
TGIF, everyone. Tonight, it feels much more like the dead of winter than fall.
I am here, still shivering, on Mark's couch. It's 38 degrees outside but feels much colder. All I can think about is poor Louie. I didn't check on him tonight because I didn't want to lure him out of his box.
With limited brain cells, I'm whipping out this meme sent by dear Carrie of Rantings of a Woman.
Using the first letter of your name, you must answer these questions. They have to be real answers though, nothing made up and you can't use your own name as an answer. I'll have to struggle on with the letter 'K' (whimper):
1. Famous Singer: Kris Kristoferson
2. Four Letter Word: Kiss
3. Street: K Street, in DC
4. Color: uh....Kangaroo?
5. Gifts/Presents: uh...Kangaroo? haha.
6. Vehicles: K Car (sounded good, Googled it, it exists!)
7. Things In A Souvenir Shop: Kites
8. Boy Name: Kip
9. Girl Name: Kathy
10. Movie Title: Knocked Up
11. Drink: Kahlua
12. Occupation: Kangaroo keeper
13. Celebrity: Kevin Bacon
14. Magazine: Kansas City Magazine (ok, I cheated once again, here)
15. U.S. City: Kalamazoo
16. Pro Sports: uh...sKiing? basKetball?
17. Fruit: Kiwi
18. Reason For Being Late For Work: I forgot my Keys at home
19. Something You Throw Away: uh...Kangaroo?
20. Something You Shout: Kowabunga!!
Jinny, Mama, Jenn and Frances, since I haven't preyed on you yet, you are my victims. Take on the challenge, if you can!
Photo by myself in Soho. Read more...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So, back to the four dates in five days...
Just after I submitted my ad, I went to LA for a week to see my parents. It's restful, visiting them. The main event might be going to one of the several malls, or going all out and visiting the fancy outlet mall. Woohoooo.
I always drive, my mom riding shotgun. She grabs onto the handle of the door whenever the car is remotely close to any other car. Between the grabbing and driving with those crazy Californians, I am cool under pressure. I could drive a tank in warfare. Through a minefield. In the dark.
The trip was perfect timing. It was great to relax with the parents, and when I returned to New York, the dates were planned. Then it was just a matter of getting them over with.
First date was with a copy writer. I don't remember his name, but he was tall-ish and had dark curly hair. His emails were very nice and polite (which counts) and having a drink with him seemed like a good way to start what I assumed would be a summer of dating.
My thinking was - hm...copy writer. Somewhat smart, a little on the creative side, probably quiet, detail-oriented (which can be good or bad). Probably not obnoxious.
At my suggestion, we met at Paladar, a fun Cuban place on Ludlow, on the Lower East Side. They serve great mohitos and caipirinhas, perfect summertime drinks.
I must have been slightly nervous beforehand, but I had zero invested in the evening. I was expecting to be proven right again, that the world was a big, lonely place, that in a city of so many single people, I was destined to stay single, that guys weren't to be trusted. So after work that night, I scampered across town. I didn't tell a soul about where I was off to, and I didn't expect a thing.
When I walked in, Nameless Guy was sitting at the bar, looking like a nervous version of his ad. There was an awkward handshake and the immediate ordering of drinks. Since it was early, we were the only ones there, so it wasn't too obviously weird (like 'Hi, nice meeting you for the first time ever after exchanging a couple brief emails. How interesting to see you in real life. Thank goodness you're not 10 years older than your photo').
Nameless Guy had gone to an arts school for his degree, and I had photographer friends who'd gone to the same school. We talked about that. We talked about the freelancing life, living in New York, writing, etc., etc.,...and then realized there was absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. None.
After a while, we were groping for conversation. Talking to a complete stranger can go either way. I'm usually pretty good at chit chat, but that night it was like trying to suffer through Chem class, or worse, Physics.
I felt bad because Nameless Guy was obviously a nice person. But in the end, what can you do. It wasn't about either of us being nice or interesting. It wasn't personal. And this was exactly the kind of mindset I needed for my dating adventure.
Nameless nice guy and I shook hands at the end of the evening, and it was understood that nothing more was expected. I walked off feeling slightly blue, but generally okay. I hadn't gained anything, but I hadn't lost anything either.
I just kept my chin up and kept walking.
Photo by myself, in Hell's Kitchen. Read more...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I've been wrapping up a project for a kajillionaire in Canada. This thing will never end.
The billionaire, whom I'll call M, made his money manufacturing widgets. Someone's gotta do it. He's in his 50's, divorced, with two grown children. He is scary, crotchety and very opinionated. He wants a lot done and doesn't want to pay for it.
It's too bad I'm an ethical (and paranoid) person. I'd love to post photos of the house that's been going up in the country, as well as the city house our office built ten years ago, in Montreal. I get the feeling that I'd be invoking some extremely nasty karma, so the best I can do is describe with words.
The country house, at the foot of a lake, is nestled with two other houses on a sprawling, woodsy property. Each house is spacious and unpretentiously elegant. There's also an outdoor pool, a man-made pond, and a private, landscaped 9-hole golf course.
The city house, on the other hand, is at the other extreme. Absolutely formal, the house is filled with gilt decorations, twelve-foot ceilings, antique everything, and a Matisse. Personally I prefer the country residences, but hey, I could settle.
So the other day, I was emailing one of the decorators on the project. My email went like this:
Do you remember whatever happened to M's weathervane? He bought it at auction last year.
The contractor has been asking for it, and I want to find it before there's too much snow on the roof.
Eventually, we tracked the bugger down overseas, in a London storage place. There were emails and phone calls back and forth - how much does it weigh? how long will it take for air or sea freight? what are the costs? can we get the weathervane onto M's private jet, which is with his brother in Spain?
Yes, this is the kind of stuff I deal with.
But good news, the weathervane is on a boat. It will arrive in three weeks. The house isn't done, but there's one less thing on the list. Thank god.
Photo by myself, on Fifth Avenue.
Spandrel Studios was kind enough to email me about a beautiful blog, The Sartorialist. It's filled with stunning photography by Scott Schuman, whose photos are from all over the place. I'm not sure whether to envy him or the well-dressed people he shoots.
I'm also curious to know whether he's picturing random people he meets. Reading the posts, I am tempted to say yes. The second thing I'd like to know is 'what's his line?' How does Scott get people to pause from their busy schedules, and pose, smiling and looking gorgeous?
Speaking of fashion, Mark and I sped through the West Village this weekend, passing Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, and Lulu Guinness. I wanted to stroll around the streets and ogle at everything, but there were no parking spots to be had, even tiny ones.
Somehow that neighborhood has become an unbelievably pricey outdoor shopping mall. When on earth did this happen, and why didn't anyone tell me?
We wound up across town, where we stomped around a few blocks before deciding it was much too cold to be out. I wound up nesting that afternoon, watching 'What Not to Wear' and other make-over shows.
A girl can dream.
Wednesday Portraits is an ongoing, semi-regular installment featuring other New York blogs.
Photo by myself, in the East Village, where there are many more parking spaces and shops for the common man. Read more...
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
After reading Just Jinny's comment, I felt compelled to give a Louie update.
Tonight I stayed late at work, late enough to cab it to Mark's place in Greenpoint. As usual, I had the cabbie stop a few houses away so I could check on Louie, the orange cat. Louie recognized my voice and crawled out of his cardboard box, meowing loudly.
I've mistaken the excited meowing for just saying 'hi'. I've dumped cans of food on the sidewalk, only to have Louie walk around in circles, continuing to meow. Hm. Tonight, he was truly hungry. He crouched in the cold and lapped up the juices first, before digging in.
Several of us on the street have been caring for Louie. He's the last cat remaining outside, after two cats and two kittens were rescued this fall. Before it grew cold, Louie lived in a dreadful wood pile. It was hideous - a huge pile of rough wood chucked on the sidewalk, with a dead pigeon and empty cat food cans at the bottom.
This weekend, Mark and I renovated the cardboard box house we'd made for Louie a month ago. We found a slightly bigger cardboard box, taped up the edges, and wrapped it with layers of Saran Wrap.
While Louie chowed down (Friskies, Whitefish Dinner), we tossed the old house, which was soggy and lopsided. I shook out the blankets, one a fashionable Burberry plaid, while Mark set the new box up on thin strips of wood. We wanted to lift the box off the ground, so it wouldn't get soaked in the rain.
Later that afternoon, I came back to check on the house. Someone had draped an additional plastic tarp on top, and left a container of kibble. As I got closer, I could see Louie through the opening. Two, orange, furry hind legs were stretched out, relaxing in the bit of sunshine streaming through the door.
I didn't wake him, of course.
For earlier posts on Louie and the cat posse, click here and here
Photo of one of the rescued kittens, who has already been adopted, taken by his foster mom. Grey cat and Louie are most likely his parents.
Monday, November 26, 2007
For unknown reasons, it popped in my head tonight that I should post about my dating experiences in New York and how I met Mark.
Mark and I met....(drum roll) on the internet!
Yes, we met on a dating site. Internet dating is common now, and I know many serious couples (some married) who met this very way. It's a handy method for busy professionals to meet available people when they've exhausted all else.
I'd done the internet thing a couple times without any terrible experiences. Some entertaining stories (that will have to come another time), but nothing utterly horrifying. I'd given up hope a couple years ago, and two women I hung out would go on internet dates intermittently, to get out of their comfort zones.
Lucy lived in the East Village, Brit lived in Williamsburg and I lived on the Upper West Side. Of the three, I was the most petite and the most shy. We'd meet up in bars and I was essentially the unglamorous, ugly step-sister of the bunch. Guys would sidle up to us and pretty much push me out of the way (well, practically).
Lucy was a fun, pretty, sweet administrative assistant at a large bank. She's one of the only bloggers I've ever met. She single-handedly ushered me back into internet dating. Lucy insisted that I date anyone who responded to my ad.
'Old ones, young ones, fat ones, skinny ones, bald ones, hairy ones...' she said. The point was to get out there, to make the world seem bigger, and by doing that, change my self image. Once that happened, she reasoned, I was bound to meet someone.
To humor dear Lucy, I went through the motions. I spent a couple nights dreaming up my ad. I kept is short and sweet and slightly playful, which Lucy recomended.
I took a picture of myself, and I followed her protocol. Almost. I didn't lie about my age (she did. She was 32 and advertised herself as 26). And I couldn't help but weed out a couple guys (here is where I get struck by a lightning bolt for being slightly picky). But I was still relatively open-minded about emails I received, much more open-minded than I had been in the past.
Since internet dating wasn't entirely new to me, I wasn't too nervous. I was slightly curious about who was out there, but I was beyond jaded. I knew the city. I knew the guys out there. Who could I possibly meet? Anyone who really wanted an honest relationship, rather than just a fling? The most I expected was some entertainment. A few funny stories, some drinks, maybe a dinner. That's about it.
Within a couple weeks of putting up my ad, I went on four dates within the span of five days. The last date was with Mark. More on that later. I was tremendously lucky. Beyond lucky.
The time eventually came, however, to tell my parents how Mark and I met. We'd been seeing each other seriously for several months, and one night while talking to my mom on the phone, I thought it was time.
'So Mom, I wanted to tell you how Mark and I met.'
'Oh yeah?' She sounded expectant. I could tell she was holding her breath.
'Well, we met on the internet.'
'What? The internet?'
'Yeah, Mom. There are these dating sites where people place ads. I placed an ad.'
'I didn't see your ad.'
Apparently Mom thought I blitzed the internet with emails titled 'Please Date Me!!' with my mug, stats and contact info.
Photo by myself in Brooklyn.
More on dating in New York, later.
As it is every year, Union Square is packed with cute little stalls, which look a lot more promising than they are. Every holiday season, this open area is packed with little booths. Every stall seemed to be filled with handpuppets, buddha heads, organic soaps, non-organic soaps, sake cups, spiderman kites, incense, and pom pom hats. There is more useless crap every year. All very nice to look at, of course, but I never get anything there.
I was in the area for DSW, on my shoe quest. I went in, was thoroughly overwhelmed, and had to leave.
Photos by myself, in Union Square.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Yesterday, Mark and I lunched at one of our favorite places, Meskerem, an Ethiopean restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. There, I struggled with my diet. It's the dreaded 'portion control' part that stumps me, the part which I suppose makes a diet a diet.
How on earth do you not eat a lot of something sitting before you that's delicious? The tangy, spicy sauces, the savory pancakes to sop it all up, it is a meal worth driving into the city for, braving traffic, potholes and the wintry cold.
Mark is six inches taller than me, but often I eat more than he does. I am struggling to stop. So far, in the last 2 1/2 weeks, I've gone to the gym 7 times, for yoga, weights and the treadmill. There's been a lot of soreness, but the scale has not budged.
'Muscle weighs more than fat,' Mark offered, trying to help.
'It's only been a couple weeks. It takes time.'
But I do expect miracles.
Several years ago, my friend Liz and I started doing Body for Life, the workout routine that advertises itself with unbelievable before and after photos. A photo of a shlubby, half-naked guy is coupled with a photo of a guy with a rippling body and the shlubby guy's head. Liz and I would review photo after photo, trying to determine whether they were real or fake. Our findings were inconclusive. We did the workout anyway.
We were lucky. Liz and I were not grossly overweight, just out of shape. She is a tiny, fiesty Korean woman, with the same tendency to eat a ton of food. If you're ever in Koreatown, they are everywhere - tiny women sharing several entrees and all the little appetizer dishes littering the table.
Liz and I started lifting weights, running and eating small meals throughout the day. I mixed protein shakes at work. After a few months, we were going to the gym 4 or 5 days a week. We looked svelte and were happy our bodies.
I kept up the routine, more or less, until I met Mark. That was 2 1/2 years ago. Now, I can barely run the 20-minute intervals without stopping. I'm determined to get back to that svelte feeling. I did it once, I can do it again.
At my lowest moments, I am known to siddle up to one of my work buddies.
'It's my last hurrah,' I'd say wistfully, in reference to my advanced age and desperate situation.
'Your last hurrah,' he would echo.
'It's my swan song.'
And then he would look at me and laugh.
A clip showing those hard to believe before and after pictures:
Top photo by myself, at Meskerem in Hell's Kitchen.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Early this week, two coworkers had a screaming match. Fur flew. There was posturing. I was surprised it didn't come to hair-pulling, or a Zoolander Blue Steel walk-off.
The Incident took place between two equally excitable personalities, one proudly gay, from his pink, monogrammed oxford to his sockless, pea-green Ralph Lauren moccasins. In the other corner was his antithesis, a slightly macho, robust, football-loving, albeit equally preppy hetero guy.
It was inevitable - a Monday morning deadline, preparation all weekend, information handed off badly and much too late, two strong personalities with outside voices. The client was coming in, the work wasn't done, and gay dude started pointing (manicured) fingers at straight dude. The rest of us cowered in silence, listening intently.
GD: 'There is NO EXCUSE for not getting the work done. How on earth - '
SD: 'I was here all weekend, you guys didn't have your shit together - '
GD: 'This is about DOING YOUR JOB. Getting the job DONE. What kind of professional - '
SD: 'I'm not gonna stand around and listen to this. Your shit wasn't together - '
Straight dude didn't stand a chance, so he was the first to put the gun down. Gay dude continued to rant to the general population. Quietly, the emails started flying among the rest of us.
Fortunately, there's never an issue between the gays ('them') and the straights ('us'). They joke with Us all the time. Men and women are called 'bitches' or 'girrrrl', regardless of gender, in a playful sarcastic way. There's always comment about someone's wardrobe, or viagra, or who might be sleeping with whom.
Every day is like an episode of 'Will and Grace', only without the laugh track and with heaps of work. There is the sarcasm, the pettiness, the fabulous clothes. And there is always the feeling that a law suit was right around the corner.
I once joked that the office hierarchy went like this:
(from most powerful to least)
1. Gay men (understood here that they are outgoing and fashionable)
2. Straight women with fashion sense, outgoing personalities
3. Straight men with strong personalities, with or without fashion sense
4. Straight men with Type B personalities, generally zero fashion sense
5. Office dog
6. Straight women with less fashion sense, less outgoing personalities (sadly, I fall into this subset)
It's not so bad. For some reason, despite my low status on the totem pole, the gay crowd has given me immunity. I might not be invited to the Chelsea afterparties, but I have a sense of humor and am occasionally outspoken.
I haven't been voted off the island. Whew.
The famous Zoolander scene, below.
Top photo by myself, in Soho.
Friday, November 23, 2007
We had Thanksgiving in Long GUYland. For fun, we took a long, scenic drive down twisty turny roads. Mark's poor mom was crammed in the backseat of Clive, despite my pleading with her to trade places.
We are both Virgos, the sign of whiny self-sacrifice.
'No, really, I'd rather sit back there', I said.
'That's okay, you're taking pictures. It's my turn.' This conversation took place no less than four times.
To those who haven't had the joy of sitting in the back seat of a Mini Cooper, it is not terrible. It is a snug, reassuring fit that says 'you're not going anywhere'. The only trouble is getting out. The front seat slides forward a smidge, just enough space to dangle one leg out. How to then extract the rest of the body is sheer acrobatics.
The three of us had a simple dinner - stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes and a purchased Napoleon cake that looked tastier than it was. It was only the three of us and without a turkey, it didn't feel like Thanksgiving. But there was more nostalgia than usual.
It was the 44th anniversary of Kennedy's assasination. Mark's mom had been outside the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, when she'd heard the news. We drank red wine. I saw wedding photos from 1965. There were real bouffant hairdos and gossip about those pictured - how their lives turned out, which ones might have been gay.
Mark and I drove home stuffed, without any traffic. In all, it was a nice night.
This morning, NY1 reported there were less than 500 murders in New York this year, the lowest in 40 years (woohoo). Pat Kiernan said that only 35 of those killed didn't know their killers. Hm. Somehow that does not make me feel safer.
While we're at the statistics, The New York Sun reported the average Manhattan weekly salary is the highest in the country, at $2,800, which is $1,000 more than second place, Fairfield County, Connecticuit. That's per week, folks, and it's the billionaires and Wall Street-ers that skew the average. $2,800 per week works out to just under $150,000 per year.
Hullo, this is an average!! Too bad that it wasn't clear if the population included non-working Manahattanites, like students, elderly folks squirreled in rent-controlled apartments, babies, and stay-at-homers.
But still. $2,800 per week means $560 per day, which is a lot. Not enough for one night in a 300 sf room at The Mercer ($630 a night), but enough for a lesser grade, $300 per night hotel and some fancy meals. Maybe just enough for a spacious apartment, a gym membership, nice meals out, a closet full of Jimmy Choos, cab rides home, a kid in a private school, a nanny. I'd have to do the math.
I guess I fall somewhere in-between - I stand an equal, distant chance between being murdered, as I do living the high life. Despite what people think, the architect's life is not a cushy one.
I am thankful that I don't have to worry about paying the rent, or my electric bill. I can feed a homeless cat as well as the one at home. I might not have a tremendous wardrobe, but I can live in the city of my dreams. At least for now.
Photos by myself, around Long Island. Read more...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I've decided to write about a New York blog every week. It will be nice to break from my little life, and provide some other views of the city.
I'll start off with a wonderful blog by another Brooklyn resident, Mihow.com. Mihow [a fictitious name] writes with fine detail and gobs of humor. Beware, her posts are highly addictive. I've been sucked into the vortex of her dilemmas - whether to leave New York and when, raising her baby, and life in general.
Responding to one of her posts on leaving New York, I suggested Boston, where I grew up. There are tons of safe suburbs near the city, a creative community, and depending on where you live, a good public school system. It's just the winters and the bad drivers and the Red Sox you have to tolerate, but then no place is ideal.
Sadly, Mihow's dilemma (young couple, young child, creative occupation), is very common. Many friends have come and gone. Others threaten to leave all the time. Recently, a coworker moved West after doing some simple calculations. Looking at her salary-to-living expense ratio, she realized that her New York lifestyle was the equivalent of working at McDonald's anywhere else in the country (which is fine, except she had a stressful, time-consuming job). It was just made sense to high-tail it, before things got any worse.
I'm sure it'll all work out for Mihow. And I'll read all about it.
Wednesday Portraits is an ongoing, semi-regular installment featuring other New York blogs.
Photo by myself of some of the hipster douchebags on the L train platform. Read more...
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I guess my life, like most people's, could be broken up into little bits. One big bit would be labelled 'Before Mark', and the other, smaller, more evolved, remaining bit would be labelled 'Since Mark'.
Before Mark, except for my youth, I never watched tv. I didn't have cable. The extent of my visual technology included a 13-inch color tv and bunny ears. My remote control didn't work, so I changed the channel with my index finger. I was in the Dark Ages.
First, the cost of cable put me off. Then there was the very real fear that I'd lose myself to something huge and inescapable. My tv boycott was also a matter or principle - why pay money to take points off my IQ? And why squirrel myself away from the city where I was so lucky to live?
A few years ago, I met Mark, who works in tv. He knows almost all the commercials ever made and quotes them regularly (tonight's reference was the Hershey's 'messy Marvin' campaign from the 80's). And so this woman of principle acquired HDTV, a flat-screen LCD, and DVR. It helps, when you have someone tell you what to get and hooks it up for you. Our heroine is now hooked on Kitchen Nightmares, Family Guy, Top Chef, Project Runway and (gulp) America's Next Top Model.
My tv is now a little over a year old. I bought it over Labor Day weekend, when it was on sale at PC Richards. For whatever reason, I couldn't bring it home right away. Mark brought it to my place in a taxi (this was post-Mark and pre-Clive). He set it up for me (bless him) and I came home to a brand-spanking, humungous IQ-depleting television.
Sitting on the couch, engulfed by yet another Law and Order episode, the tv issue seems the biggest 'Since Mark' change. I'm sure there are a few others. They'll come to me.
For an earlier post about Law and Order, click here.
A Messy Marvin clip below:
Top photo by myself in Soho. Read more...
Monday, November 19, 2007
Two work friends and I stepped outside for lunch today. A real treat, considering how busy I am. The day began with an overseas conference call (who on earth decided on Mondays at 9, and why did I agree to it?). I have a deadline tomorrow, questions from two contractors and a truckload of emails.
By the time lunch rolled around, I was ready for a break. It was grey and pissing rain outside. My buddies and I scurried around the corner to a diner.
I had the veggie panini, my homage to The Diet. It was a bundle of avocado, broccoli and pepper jack cheese. At $9.95, it came with fries.
Buddy A had a bad cold and opted for the Soup of the Day, split pea. He asked for bread alongside. It was $3.50 for the soup and $1.50 for two slices of rye bread. Unbelievable.
Buddy B ordered the 'California burger platter', which was a burger with a heaping side of witled, inedible greens. The waiter assured him that french fries were coming as well. The whopping total: $13.95 for the burger-salad and an additional $3.95 for the fries. Buddy B hit himself because he turned down his two-dollar ramen noodles to lunch with us. D'oh.
The thing about New York is that you do not have to spend a huge amount of money to eat well. Like most places, it just depends whether you know where to go.
Obviously, we didn't.
Photo by myself, in the East Village.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The last couple days have been chilly and gray, typical New York wintry days. White skies have been sputtering rain. Perfect days to nest inside.
It was also the perfect day to have pub food for lunch. We drove to Willimsburg, to Spike Hill, for butternut squash soup and sandwiches. It's a cozy place on Bedford Avenue, with a huge selection of liquor, and a bartender who could pass for Drew Barrymore.. Bare brick walls, a black wood bar and the chalkboard menu create a down-to-earth, authentic interior.
'What's the Irish Fry-Up?' Mark asked, reading the wall.
'Oh, five different fried sausages,' she said, with a wink. 'It's great for hangovers'. For eleven bucks, you get blood sausages, rashers (bacon), Irish sausages, two fried eggs and black beans heaped on a plate. Uh...gross. Definitely not on the diet list. I guess if you're woozy, anything is possible.
We ate at the bar, alongside hipsters already drinking at 2 in the afternoon. One fellow came in from a pub crawl for a couple shots of Jagermeister. Dozens of hipsters skittered past on the sidewalk in the rain, doing their Sunday chores or whatever hipsters do, (like
It was so crummy out, Mark and I decided against visiting our favorite Willyburg haunts. We nested the rest of the day, me nursing my tiny, sore muscles. For some reason, after running and arm exercises yesterday, my abs hurt. I'm just relieved to know that I have muscles. Thank goodness.
Upper photos by myself, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Bottom photo from the Spike Hill website.
For some great reviews of Spike Hill, click here.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
For Thanksgiving, Mark and I are planning to have his mom over at my place for dinner. The menu centers on stuffed cabbage, with a tangy tomato sauce. Mark loves to cook, mixing the stuffing (ground veal, beef, pork, egg, onion and bread crumbs) with his fingers. His grandmother made stuffed cabbages in his childhood, and he's done it so many times, he doesn't use a recipe.
Today, Mark drove to New Jersey for Clive's anniversary check-up. Clive is now a year old and has only logged 6500 miles. Meanwhile, I stayed home to clean, relax and visit the gym (woohoo!). I hit the treadmill for half an hour, doing intervals (running at different speeds, from a jog to a near sprint) and lifting weights. During bicep curls, I visualized the pounds melting off. If only it could be so easy.
A few years ago, I was quite toned and wore a size 4 jean. I went to the gym at least four times a week. I drank protein shakes. I felt great but I took my in-shapeness for granted.
At my peak, I met Mark. Since then, it's been downhill. Eating out, sitting at my desk, sitting on the couch and work stress have taken their toll downwards.
Now I weigh only five pounds more than I used to, but I look at least twenty pounds heavier. I have zero muscle. Basically, I look like schmoo. Remember those marshmellowy cartoon characters from a million years ago? That's me. Round, round, round, (though unlike the picture above, I do have arms).
So today, I signed on the dotted line for a gym membership. We'll see. My goal is to be svelte again. I don't think it's biologically possible at this point, but I can at least try. My work schedule is the biggest challenge.
It's now or never. Time to leave Shmooville.
Top photo by myself, in Brooklyn.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As you might know, a few of us on Mark's street have been involved with saving some stray cats.
It started in the summertime, with a very skinny grey cat. I would encounter Grey, and I'd give her a can of food, responding to her loud and unwavering meow. Soon, I noticed many cans of food, which was good until it got very hot out.
Over the last several months, I've met four or five women on the block who've helped feed Grey. All of us were bent on rescuing her, before she had kittens and before the cold weather set in. Eventually, grey cat hung out with orange cat, and grey cat looked suspiciously bigger. Then Grey had a couple kittens under an open stairway. On a cold night last month, she led rescuers to them. She and her kittens are now happily being fostered by one of the rescuers.
Meanwhile, a very sweet black and white cat showed up, and was quickly rescued. The other women and I set up a website to communicate and report on progress and vet trips. Black and white cat must have had a home before, because he is very affectionate. He may get a job as a local store cat, and is due to get fixed this weekend or next.
This brings me to Louie, the orange cat, who is still living outside. I've been worrying about Louie, since the temperature's been dropping. He's a very sweet orange cat, who is still a bit afraid of people. Early on, he had a deep gash on one of his ears, but it's since healed nicely.
At first, Louie hung out in an abandoned wood pile. After a while, he moved to an abandoned futon outside a building, without any shelter. A couple weeks ago, Mark and I created a cat house for him with a cardboard box, writing 'Cat House, Please Do Not Throw Away' on top in magic marker. We stuffed the box with shredded newspaper, and set it near the abandoned futon.
Louie seemed to use the box (there were telltale cat hairs along the opening). Then it rained last week. I emailed the other women, since I was at my place in Park Slope. They reported that it was holding up all right.
Last weekend, I visited Louie and he looked wonderful. Someone had placed a bathmat at the bottom of the box, and a couple blankets. Someone else had wrapped the box with bubble wrap and placed a plastic mat on top, to protect it from rain. I reached into the box today and found it toasty warm.
Louie has a bunch of people looking over him, and looks very happy for the moment. We're planning on getting him off the street soon, after the black and white cat is adopted. Sadly, I can't foster him because of my insane schedule. But I'll be checking in on him when I can.
For an earlier post on strays, click here.
Photos by myself of Louie and his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Tonight, I went to a yoga class after work.
I'm lucky enough to live near a gym that has 10 kinds of yoga classes. Okay, perhaps not 10, but enough flavors to keep me busy for a while. Reading the schedule is like reading a take-out menu. There is Vinyasa, and Hatha, and Ashtanga. The only thing missing was the Tikka Masala.
After an initial chorus of 'Oms', there was Downward Dog, and Turtle, and Eagle. There was adult Cobra, baby cobra and a shoulderstand.
'Now, put your hands behind your feet and lean forward. If you can, touch your forehead to the floor.'
Um...you want me to do what????
I worked up a sweat and came close to flopping over many times. Now curled up on the couch with the cat, I am warm, relaxed and great.
Mondays are not easy. Hell, living in New York is not easy. Just the commute is tough. You rarely get a seat on the train. Then you manage to get out of the train, you have to stumble up a flight or two of stairs to get to the open air, to battle the elements (the heat, the humidity, the rain, the wind).
Then you're thrown onto conference calls where you're supposed to know all the answers, or the people who can get you answers. You're bombarded with emails (and faxes, and phone calls, and meetings) all day. You have to decide between a ten-dollar lunch and one that's cheaper, but less healthy. Then in the afternoon, there's more of the same. This city is not by nature a kind or gentle place.
Anyway, this whole gym thing is my way to being kind and gentle to myself. It's tough love - lifting weights, time on the elliptical machine, yoga class. It's also a way to prevent myself from staying too late in the office.
The office has my blood and guts already. They can't have all of me.
Photos from the internets.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It turns out my request at work for two more people for my team had been misunderstood. And a deadline was unexpectedly extended by a couple weeks. Woohoo!! When does that ever happen? I'm relieved. I can't do the late nights and weekends anymore. Nope.
The other night I went to the gym for the first time in many months. I went with a coworker to a gym a block from the office, on a free pass. She took classes (kickboxing and circuit training), while I dashed to the cardio room.
It was great - I used the elliptical machine for 45 minutes, then I lifted weights. I am sadly, pathetically, out of shape. It was tough to do my weight routine and see how tiny my arm muscles have become. I was doing red-faced repetitions with 12-pound weights, while big sweaty guys were heaving 65-pound weights all around me. I ended the evening sitting in the sauna, breathing in the hot air and just sweating. It was wonderful.
Friday found me tired and achy, but I'm keen on getting back into the routine. Later today, I'll be visiting the gym in my neighborhood. I'm hoping the exercise will help me with the work stress and tone me up. We shall see. I'm not counting chickens quite yet.
Saturday, to unwind, Mark and I ventured to an Indian restuarant in Park Slope, part of our Expanding our Brooklyn Restaurant List Quest. En route, we saw beautiful Brooklyn brownstones, like the one above, that make this city so picturesque. There were leaves everywhere, some carved pumpkins on doorsteps and the occasional stoop sale.
We also noticed that there were bajillions of Mini Coopers. Well, maybe not bajillions, but eight or ten, which is twice as many as there were at the Mini Cooper Rally the other week.
There were a couple red ones, a silver one, a black one, a white one. On the side street where we parked, Clive was one of three Mini Coopers, each wedged into a wee, Mini Cooper-sized spot. They are such trusty urban cars.
It was nice to leave Clive on the street, while we had our delicious Indian meal, knowing he'd be happy with his buddies.
Photos by myself in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Read more...
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Work has been getting me down, recently.
Yesterday, I requested additional people on my team because the workload is so demanding. I was basically turned down. So here I am, trying to get this immense amount of work done with half the people required. And I don't feel like working these crazy hours.
I stayed tonight until 10:30 for tomorrow's deadline. I wrote an honest email to three higher-ups, letting them know that we cannot make our deadline and we'd better figure out what to do.
I've done my best in terms of managing my team. I honestly think that not many people could work harder or faster than I do. And yet, I'm the one overworking. The thing is, I've invested so much time and energy into these projects, and they won't be complete for a couple years. Do I walk away now, before they're done?
And I've overworked at almost every office I've been with. So who's to say the insanity will stop? Maybe it's me. It's a difficult decision.
Last night, before going to bed, I watched 'The Big Idea', with Donny Deutsch.
Donny is a bit annoying to watch (he seems to always be screaming), but the show's premise is a good one - interviews with various people who came up with simple, innovative ideas and created a business around them, to become very successful. The guest on this show was telling a story about how he wanted to earn money for college. He approached a mentor, who suggested he open a sandwich shop. The mentor lent the guy $1,000 to start the business.
The first store started off very well. Then business tapered a little. The guy started two additional stores within the first year. They were called 'Pete's Sandwich Store' (or something like that).
The second year, they opened three more stores. There were some ups and downs.
Anyhow, this is the story of how Subway started out. Hm. The founder, Fred DeLuca, was ranked 242nd of the 400 richest Americans, by Forbes Magazine in 2006. I bet he never wound up going to college.
And what is the point of this long post?
I'm not sure.
I guess I have a few thoughts - that there's always work to be done, that the idea of 'success' is up to you, that you can find 'success' (in the traditional, capitalist sense) in anything, even something as basic as making sandwiches.
And lastly, that you never know what's going to happen, but that nothing will happen unless you make it happen.
For a tad more on the Donny Deutsch program, click here
You can read the official story of Fred DeLuca here
Photos by myself, on the F train.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Well, I've been tagged by Novel of Novel Happenings to list 7 facts about myself and tag some other bloggers.
The rules are:
1. You link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. You share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. You tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. You let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
I'm generally really bad at these memes. Dear Tammy of Mom Knows Everything has tagged me for a bunch of nice awards that I never got around to passing on. The main reason is that with my schedule, I have little time to read and find new blogs to tag! How embarrassing. (Sorry, Tammy!)
Here's those seven things, a continuation of the Eight Things, Eight Blogs that I posted earlier:
1. I came in second as the female student 'Most Likely to Succeed' in my Junior High School class. The last I heard of the girl who came in first place was that she was a coke addict (but that was a while ago. Maybe she's a CEO now?)
2. In college, I pilfered a huge keg of red wine after a departmental reception, the kind with the screw top. Then, because of laziness or audacity or stupidity, I hitched a ride to my dorm with a proctor in his Ford Taurus, hiding the keg under my raincoat. I got away with it, thank goodness!
3. When I was growing up, I was competely addicted to cherry pie filling. I'd eat it from the can with a spoon. (Yipes!)
4. I am usually underdressed. Meaning I often wear a light coat and scarf in the dead of winter. (This drives Mark crazy).
5. I have a hard time buying shoes, for whatever reason. Making a shoe choice is tough for me. Hence I have few shoes!
6. I love reality-tv shows (who doesn't?). Top Chef, America's Top Model, anything on Bravo...I watch it all!
7. I was first published at age 11; a poem of mine was printed in the local paper, LOL.
The bloggers I am tagging are the trusty bunch:
1. The lovely Tammy of Mom Knows Everything.
2. The busy Fish at Fish Without Bicycle.
3. Fellow New Yorker Nubia at The Disconnection: Encounters with Strangers
4. The adventuresome Terri at Walking Off the Big Apple
5. Mike at his many blogs, one of them being Fun and Useless Trivia
6. The photogenic Bitter at I.M. Bitter
7. And lastly, the talented Theresa at Sleeping Kitten, Dancing Dog
I look forward to reading their 7 Things soon!
Photo by myself, at Grand Central Station.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I have to admit that Clive, Mark's car, makes our New York experience highly abnormal. Unless you do pretty well, you can't own a car easily in Manhattan. Parking garages are expensive, and spaces on the street are hard to find. It's much easier to keep a car in Brooklyn, but moving your car twice a week to avoid street cleaning is a &^#$* pain.
Clive's name refers to his British roots. Mini Coopers are engineered by BMW and assembled in Britain. A Mini Cooper S, Clive has a 1.6 liter, 4-cylinder supercharged, 214 horsepower engine. Whatever that means. He's got a six-speed manual transmission, sunroof and all sorts of other doodads.
Clive travels like a little roadster (meaning, not a cushy luxury ride). He zips merrily along country roads but suffers a bit on the bumpy BQE, where some potholes just about swallow him up.
Instead of staying around during the marathon today, we journeyed to a Mini Rally of sorts in upstate New York. I say 'of sorts' because there were five Mini Coopers total. So...a Mini Mini Cooper Rally.
The idea was to tour around the scenic roads a couple hours north of the city to admire the foliage. I didn't realize til too late that this meant getting up at 7am on a Sunday and coping with a troubled tummy. It was a little rough at first, but in the end, I was glad to have gone.
We met the other drivers, many for the first time. Mini owners are 'enthusiasts' (a complete lie. They are nuts). These people love to congregate online and in real life to talk Minis. They love their cars.
Today began with the initial comparing of cars (2002 models versus 2004, versus 2006), tailpipes, rims (black, silver, the number of spokes), and gearshift knobs. Then there was a photo shoot. Someone brought a nice HD video camera. Finally, we launched onto the hilly roads in single formation, careening through the hairpin turns at top speed and stopping a couple times to admire the view.
The leaves were in full color and while we parked on the side of a mountain, we could see paragliders circling above, alongside the red-tailed hawks. It was a peaceful moment.
By the time we got home, it was only 2 pm. There were still some runners out, barricaded streets and policemen shepherding traffic. We got found a nice spot on the street without too much trouble.
For more on Mini Coopers, check out their very cool site here.
Top photo by Mark of Clive last fall in Long Island.
Other photos by myself today in upstate New York.