Friday, December 30, 2011

New York, I Love You


"Thank you for the seat," the lovely blonde woman smiled politely at the tall, white-haired man who now settled onto the bench next to her.  "It's such a long trip from 59th to 125th Street, you see what I was saying?"

He nodded politely, friendly: "Where are you getting off?"

"207th," she offered.  "Oh, me too!" he agreed.  Then, he flashed the cover of his book for her to see.  "Do you know who she is?"

It was a biography of a female Tibetan explorer.  He explained he was making a movie on the subject, and she was deeply interested in their conversation about Tibet, Eastern exploration, and the lineage of the Dalai Lama.

"Perhaps you've seen my other movie, Refuge*."

"No, I'm sorry, but I'll hurry right home to look it up on New York Public Library and see if I can put it on hold!"

"Oh, you won't find it there," he shook his head knowingly. "My producer hasn't released it to the library yet.  But you can give him a call and tell him I want him to mail you a copy."  He handed her a business card with a photo on it.

"Isn't that funny!  He looks so much like my friend, Elliot Goldberg*.  Do you know Elliot?" she asked, as if two strangers could possibly have a friend in common on the A train.  But then...

"Oh, Elliot!  You're Elliot's friend, aren't you?" he rushed headlong.  "Are you Laura*?"

"Yes," she stammered.

"You don't remember me?" he asked, no less daunted.  "I'm John Humdrum*."

"Oh, John!" her entire demeanor brightened.  "So lovely to see you again!  I lost the flower.  How careless of me."

"No worries, I expect you would have lost it by now.  I've often thought about you, thought about trying to find you.  And now we're neighbors.  Isn't life funny?"

* names have been changed to protect the innocent, and because I don't think I remembered them all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saving the Soup

This is totally a metaphor.

You know how sometimes, at the grocery store, when they don't have your normal soup, you'll see a different soup, and think, hey, maybe I should try that soup!

Your excitement mounts, you see this soup being every soup you dreamed of and more.  This could be my new favourite soup!  You get it home, you can't wait to try it...

...and it's AWFUL.

But you, o intrepid one, o dreamer, o romantic, are not ready to give up on this soup.  Not when you had such high hopes and dreams for it!  A dash of salt, a grind of pepper, a quizzical sprinkle of cumin?  Maybe a few more minutes in the microwave's still awful.  What do you do now?  Do you eat the soup?

Kiddies, it is OKAY to pour bad soup down the drain.  Mistakes happen.  I guess what I'm saying is, if you find yourself in one of these situations,

Stop Saving the Soup!


Friday, December 23, 2011

City Lights

The tree tour may be over, but fear not!  There are still tons of cool places to see in the city that light up and look awesome and I have dedicated my life (well, a couple days, anyway) to photographing them for you:

The center median of Park Avenue is know for its gardens most of the year, but during the winter it plays host to - of course - Christmas trees!  Too many trees to tour, so just check out a couple while you shop for a Maserati or a Lamborghini for that special someone on your list.

If the lights at Chelsea Market don't get you, the smells will, so there's something for everyone!  If you need a small something for anyone who likes to cook, eat, wear men's clothing, listen to music, adorn themselves with jewels, drink wine, or surround themselves with bacon, you're really doing yourself a disservice if you're not shopping here.  Plus, there's plenty of places to eat and sit down, so maybe make this your final shop-stop (15th and 9th Avenue) to unwind and enjoy the crazy indoor displays.

After checking out the tree at Rockefeller Center (were you here yesterday?), you'll probably want to pick yourself up a famous Magnolia cupcake (right on!) or better yet, some banana pudding (right ON!), and when you do, you'll be face-to-face with some of the coolest decorations in the city.  Sixth Avenue, lined with fountains in the summertime, puts on a festive face for the Holidays and has some of the coolest, enormous displays.  You'll want to photograph them all, but it's hard to when you're stuffing your face full of Magnolia goodness.  Oops, you've got a little chocolate - never mind.

Okay, the Shoppes at Columbus Circle may be one of my favourite places in the city.  They've combined Godiva and Sephora with Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods, and put one of the cleanest and nicest public restrooms on the top floor to make the absolute perfect pit-stop for visitors to Central Park - voila!  During the holidays, visitors can "shop under the stars" late into the night:  they hang giant, glass stars that change colours.  Every half-hour, the colours synchronize to music.  It's magical and awesome and FREE!  Gotta love this town.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #8

Often thought of as the most important Christmas tree in America, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is immortalized on postcards, Christmas cards, ornaments, get the idea.  Millions (I should know, I ran into them all today) of tourists flock to this most hallowed and humongous horticultural hub every year to photograph themselves in front of it.  Who am I to argue with tradition?  Without further ado...the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!

I know, I know.  You thought it would be bigger.  Sure.  But I got it all in frame!  Just ignore that other tree over his left shoulder...

I'm kidding!  That's just an APPETIZER tree, to get you ready for the REAL THING!  Here's the REAL Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!:

And because you kind of have to, I took my picture with it:

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this tour of the most fabulous Christmas trees in New York City!  I'm headed home to see the most fabulous tree of all - the one my family celebrates under.  Check back in for that one later, and have a safe and Happy Holidays!

Mystery Solved

If you follow this blog, chances are you know me in person, and if you know me in person, you probably know about my building's water "situation."  As in, sometimes there's water, sometimes it's brown, sometimes it's ice cold and sometimes it's clear and runs both hot and cold.  But not too often on that last one, buddy.

Now, several weeks ago, our water was shut off for over 24 hours (off completely - no toilets flushing, no dishes washed, and NO SHOWERS) and we received no notice other than a sign tacked on our front door, totally in Spanish, hinting at some emergency and apologetically communicating "no agua," upon which some elitist jerk had scrawled "What does this mean in English?" (to which I put to you, Elitist Jerk, what educated, cosmopolitan New Yorker doesn't know Spanish?  Or at least can glean some Romance language translation using their Latin education?  Hmmm?).

This must have caused someone to re-evaluate the whole means of communication, because the other day, I found this sign on our door:

This.  Changes.  Everything.  Now we know what's going on with our water, and it's even better than I could have hoped.  Take a look at the last few lines there.  "They," whom I can only assume are some sort of aliens, robots, or reptilian sewer people, have been taking our water.  Early, as the sign would indicate.  And on the human side, we have a hero, The Super One, who is motivated to take BACK our water for the good of the complex.  I say BRAVO, Super One.  Keep up the good work (of plumbing).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #7

Bryant Park is essential to the New York Holiday.  They're the first ones to put up their free ice rink.  The carousel is open year-round, and hosts Magic Shows on Sundays.  The Shoppes at Bryant Park have unparalleled selection.  The loudspeakers play old standards from the golden age of big band music.  The Southwest Patio has outdoor heaters.  The bathrooms are free and the nicest in all of New York.  And most importantly, depending on what side of the park you're on, you can buy either fresh crepes or churros.  Talk about Sophie's Choice!  I say, eat both.  You'll work it off skating falling down and getting back up again.

In short, if I was a tree, I'd want to be the tree at Bryant Park.  It's cool.  Classic.  And just steps away from getting accidentally wasted outdoors at Southwest Patio.  Sweet.

What could be cooler than a blue Christmas?

I Remember...

...when you made me a mix tape in high school.  I thought it was a nice gesture, perhaps even a romantic one, until I listened to the Weird Al track.  It was a parody of the Aqua song "Barbie Girl" all about an "Ugly Girl" who, unfortunately, sounded a lot like me.  And from that moment on, I knew that we would be great friends.  Just friends.

*          *          *

...getting drunk at your apartment on New Year's Eve from liqueur filled chocolates.  You gave me Gatorade and made me drink an entire glass of water before I passed out.  You took care of me sweetly, but firmly, like a friend should.  I want to be that good a friend.

*          *          *

...your homemade mudslides.  I stand by my assessment.

*          *          *

...the Popsicle Incident.  Thanks for getting me out of trouble when I was pulled over for Driving With Popsicle.  Thanks for watching out for me.

*          *          * you would come to all my plays, even the weird ones (were there any others, in those days?), even though I know it's not really your idea of a good time.  Thanks for supporting me, even though we were always so different.

*          *          *

...driving all over town with you in search of Twinkies.  Finally finding them, and eating them in your car in a parking lot while listening to dance music.  Always up for an adventure, that's probably how you ended up the King of Epic Stories.

*          *          *

...a certain facebook status:  "Sick.  Send soup."  And you actually did.  You hand-delivered soup to my door, charmed my family, and stayed to chat.  Who even does that?  Only you.

*          *          *

...visiting you after your big surgery last year.  You were so out of it, you kept showing me the graphic photos of your pacemaker procedure, so proud.  And then, you'd forget you already had, and show them to me again.  Thanks for letting me get to know you, inside and out.  Er, yeah, thanks.

*          *          *

...and then, at your big Labor Day Recovery Party, how you flitted from one group of friends to the next, filling glasses with your special collection of flavoured wines and charming everyone, the belle of the ball.  Surrounded by the people who loved you, running around your backyard, children and dogs underfoot, dancing on tables and regaling us with your famous stories.  That was so you.  That's my favourite memory of all.  I always want to remember you, face flushed, stammering with excitement, arm around my shoulders, looking forward to the future.

RIP my sweet friend.  7-21-83 -- 12-21-10

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the First Night of Hanukkah...

...we lit the candles and watched them burn all the way down, like last year.

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #6

It wouldn't be a New York holiday without Macy's!  Macy's is the department store that confirmed to us that, Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!  I am referring of course to the Miracle on 34th Street, of old.  The new miracle on 34th Street is not getting pick-pocketed.

Macy's most famous Christmas tree is made out of strings of lights on the front of the building, you know, where they have the famous windows that are designed by someone new every year and are kept super hush-hush until they are unveiled after the Thanksgiving Day Parade?!?  That one.

 Oh, really, can you get any more New York than THAT?

And just for good measure, there are Christmas trees on the outside of the building, along with a subtle reminder from that oh-so-famous jolly one himself, who famously resides inside:

Mani Mondays -- Holiday Nails

This year, it is a rare occurrence: Hanukkah overlaps Christmas. What, then, do we paint our nails?

My solution is to combine Hanukkah colors with the theme "Blue Christmas" and a wintry spin that will last even longer than the candles or the tree:

Monday, December 19, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #5

I'm going to let you in on a little New York secret. When you come to New York in the spring or summer, and see Times Square and Bryant Park, and then shop your way up Fifth Avenue... will be very, very tired.

Luckily, at Fifth Avenue and 59th street, smack dab between the Apple Store AND the Plaza Hotel, is Grand Army Plaza. Ah, Grand Army Plaza, with it's stone benches and refreshing fountain. It beckons you, it welcomes you, it recharges you before you venture into Central Park and continue to make yourself very, very tired.

But the BEST thing about Grand Army Plaza is that, during the wintertime, they FILL it with trees, yes, literally, FILL IT!  And then they cover them all with lights!  Don't believe me?  Scroll on down!

How to Trim Your Bangs Like a Unicorn

I know there are lots of instructional videos out there on how to trim your bangs (or "fringe" if we want to be fancy) but mine references unicorns.  And bomb diffusing.  It's worth checking out if you just want to laugh at me, and how tiny my bathroom is.

Wow, thanks, YouTube, for picking on me at my most vulnerable.  Also, sorry for the times I go out of frame, console yourself that you're not missing much.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #4

The Plaza Hotel is famous for many things. Hosting foreign and domestic dignitaries and heads of state. High tea service and the best cup of hot chocolate in the city. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. And Eloise.

Eloise, if you are unfamiliar, is a children's book character who lives at the Plaza with her pug, her tortoise, and I guess she loves dressing up?

That would explain the inspiration behind the ELOISE TREE at the Plaza, designed by Betsey Johnson (who is, like, Eloise for grown-ups.

And that's Eloise on the top, in her pink tutu. Of course!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #3

Walking down 1st Avenue, I saw this amazing tree filled with baby shoes, socks, and pacifiers. Consider this tree your gag gift.

Friday, December 16, 2011

NYC Tree Tour, Stop #2

Please forgive the quality. These photos were taken very late at night under very stressful circumstances but also awkward circumstances.  Neither of us had much to eat.  And our friend was kneeling on the ground crouching up to take this first shot:

Nevertheless, this is the tree in Grand Central Station.  It's not super decorated in there, but if you go in the back (from the north side) you run right into this red-and-gold beauty.

One of the awesome things about New York is that when they try, they really can be beautiful.

Subway Santa

In the middle of the night, 2 friends and I get on the S train across 42nd Street from Grand Central Station to Times Square.  It's usually a pretty boring train, since it only has to stops:  Here, and There.

On lumbers a man dressed like Hagrid.  Long black hair, long black beard, blankets and shawls and dirt, oh my!  He sits down, stretches his arms across the back of the seat to prevent anyone else from sitting, and starts interjecting his random outbursts into the still and quiet train.

"Ho ho ho..."  Some patrons giggle uncomfortably.

"Only 16 days left - 15 days until 2011 is over (his math may have been off).  New Year's Revolution:  Let's ALL be the 1%!"  (Which bothered me mostly because it lacks basic understanding of math and percents, much like people who demand you to give 110%.  Maybe he needs to take a math lesson from this guy.)

He went on:  "Gonna buy me a nice meal.  Steak, and potatoes, and rolls, with real butter.  And lobster."

Now, this man was obviously homeless, so we knew at this point that he was totally crazy, but that didn't stop a slick executive in a smart tie and suit from messing with him:  "Stop it, man, you're making me hungry!"

Turning to the rich jerk who tried to call him out on his financial boasting, he asks, "Can you spare a hundred dollars?"

To which the executive lies, "No, man."

So much for "Ho, ho, ho."  Merry Christmas, indeed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Connoisseur of Pants

Many people have a fashion accessory they can't live without, or a collection of a singular defining garment, say, cardigans.

After some depressing soul searching, it has occurred to me that my fashion must-have is... Lounge pants.  I know, it's tragic, but really, don't we all love some comfort?  So I decided to use my self-timer feature (I'm still figuring it out, BTW) to show you my collection...of pants.

These are my summertime staples.  A friend gifted them to me second-hand (kind of like a clothing swap?) from Victoria's Secret Pink.  They're kind of my "dress pants" thanks to the silky faux-satin drawstring, quelle fancy!  Also, Stars!  I'm a star!  I feel like a star in these pants.

 Oh, these are by far my dorkiest pants.  I bought them at the Salvation Army (BEFORE "thrifting" was cool!) for like, a dollar.  They're long, Aeropostale, and have monkeys and ducks playing rock instruments on them.  The target audience was clearly awkward girls, so who am I to deny that?

J'adore these pants!  I bought them specifically for my European romp, and spent every morning in Paris leaning against the railing of my Parisian balcony, bidding City of Lights "Bonjour!"

Kohl's is a great resource for lounge pants.  I bought these there - they're kind of mid-weight, in-between season pants.  Soft knit, but not too heavy, very flowy.

These are also Kohl's - my first fuzzy pants.  They have sheep on them, and are known in my household as "sheepy pants".  Eli has tried them on, once, jealous of how cozy they looked on me.  It was kind of hilar.

Ahh, the cupcake pants, a la WAL*MART.  These were on sale, and how can you resist XXL satin-ribbon-drawstring neon green pants with pink cupcakes on them?  So hideous, they're perfect.

And last but not least, my favourite pants of all - from Kmart, the XXXL super-comfy fleece Apathetic Penguin Pants!  It's a little embarassing, but when the weather is cold, I will literally live in these pants, until I am forced to leave the house.  I adore these pants.  But how do they feel about me?  Let's consult the penguins:

Oh, ouch.  Does that penguin look like he gives one flying fig about anything?  No.  No he doesn't.  And that's why these are the appropriately titled "Apathetic Penguin Pants."

I hope you've enjoyed my Tour de Pants!
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