Saturday, November 26, 2005

JUST A SMALL TOWN GIRL... LIVING IN A LONELY WORLD



You know...it's blogs like this I never know how to begin when a picture such as the one above speaks a thousand words. While home for the holidays my sister and I took part in our favorite holiday tradition - weeding through old family photos and finding the most horrible one of each other. It works like this:

1.) Take trip up to the attic (glasses of wine optional)
2.) Toss off shoes
3.) Kneel and silently rummage through stacks of old photos in boxes
4.) Burst out in hysterical laughing when come across horrible one of sibling
5.) Hand over said photo to sibling who then also bursts out laughing
6.) Make each other laugh to brink of urinating in ones own pants
7.) Laughter draws other family members demanding to know what is so funny
8.) Share photo with family members resulting in them sitting down to dig in box hoping to unearth own horrific gem from the past

No matter what it is always hard to pick our favorite- Dad a la David Cassidy in a skin tight printed shirt and skin tight kelly green polyester pants, Mom in 80's octagon sunglasses and permed hair, Sis a big brace face wearing a Full House sweatshirt...this one - hands down - won this round.

All I have to say is many people are counting down the days to the Christmas holiday. I am too. Can you say payback?

Friday, November 18, 2005

WE MET ON THE INTERNET

photo by overshadowed

This is a photo of me and my pal S, fellow blogger otherwise known as Two-Minute Happiness. We met three years ago - three? - on the internet. Yes. On the internet. She is from Australia. Moved to Tokyo and now lives in London. Talk about a world traveler. I kept hoping to visit her in these various places but she moves so fast it's hard to catch up.

She was breezing through New York recently - her second visit here. Her first visit we walked over the Brooklyn bridge and had pizza. This second visit I told her I'd meet her and a group of pals at Congee village for a round table meal of yummy Cantonese cuisine complete with tasty pina coladas. Typical us - on my way down to meet her I had a feeling that we might run into one another. Sure enough as I boarded the subway down to Congee village I did. Out of all the cars and times and trains to get on New York City there was my little internet pal S from Australia who just lived in Tokyo and now lives in London wearing her cool scarf that she made featuring a happy snake head on it. There are so many reasons to like such a person as S. And this is just one of them.

*On a side note apparently I have the longest arm in the world based on this photo

Thursday, November 17, 2005

FAT SUIT



You know what is annoying? The media. Specifically morning talk shows that I tune in to only for the purpose of distracting me from my boring morning excercises. I hate how they always get stuck on one subject and all of the sudden it's all the rage on every network.

The subject this week seems to 'fat suits'. Yes. That's right people. Out of all the important things going on in the world currently the news media feels they need to focus on 'behind the scenes' experiences of various pretty girls and models wearing 'fat suits' and how people treated them. Badly. Gasp.

Have you ever watched something so annoying that you just physcially want to scream in frustration? That is how it felt this morning as I watched Katie Couric wearing a blazer apparently made out some NBC CEO's former office drapes, scrunch up her well plucked brow in deep concern as a model shared her story about wearing a fat suit and asking Katie to please repeat the question.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

NOW

Last night I left work early and headed to the middle of Brooklyn to volunteer tutoring high school teens on writing their college essays. Finally a chance to tell kids the real reason to go to college: get wasted and hook up.

After I emerged from the subway, I asked some local cops to point me in the direction of where I was headed. One cop that sounded like The Terminator suggested cutting through the Brooklyn college campus. I signed in to get a visitor's pass from a surly cop resembling Janine Garofalo, and grabbed my visitor's badge and headed for the main quad. College is so funny. No matter what campus you are on some things stay the same. Kids smoking outside the 'mess hall'. Guys playing guitar for a group of girls on the grass. Little nerd kids with stacks of books so high they can hardly see their way to the lab. The accents I heard on campus were quite a mix - Russian, Polish, Israeli, Jamaican, Pakistani, etc.

When I arrived at my destination, the small group of tutors and I waited a while before a handful of kids showed up. We were told not to worry about spelling mistakes which made me happy because I can't spell. We were only to focus on the content of what the kids were trying to write. I was lucky enough to work with a young woman for close to 45 minutes who was feeling stumped on her essay. She had attempted several times to start but couldn't begin. I shared with her my experience in writing for television and how I often worked backwards starting with my punchline and then working my way back up to the start. She seemed relieved that this was an option for her and quickly we started to toss around ideas.

Her college application asked to define who she was due to her heritage and her interests. She loved photography and her family's history was an interesting mix of Dominican, Black and Cherokee Indian. Her past was a rich mix of hardship and loss as well as stuggles to achieve. She was the child we all read about that is constantly swimming upstream doing her best to tune out the bad influences. Towards the end of our session we had grown comfortable with one another and yet still struggled to write her first line.

There was a pause and then she turned to me and said, "You know...I don't know how to say this but...if there was one moment in time that I could capture in a photograph...it would be now." Now as not in our tutoring session. Now as in being on the brink of opportunity. Going to college and changing her life. I smiled and congratulated her. She finally had her first sentence.

Monday, November 14, 2005

DONORSCHOOSE.ORG



Important in today's New York Times:

"Americans are a generous people, but the sad truth is that charitable giving is just not keeping pace with income... Why? For many potential donors, the biggest obstacle is lack of faith... They just aren't confident that the money they give will actually end up helping people... DonorsChoose.org, is not just helping — directly helping — New York City kids, it may eventually change the face of philanthropy."—Newsweek

Please sign up. It is amazing, easy and so worth it.

Examples of how you can help schools in your area (not just New York)
with small donations:

A Brooklyn school that wants to start a
Digital Photography Program

A Brooklyn art classroom looking to buy
Paper Cutter

Sunday, November 13, 2005

CLAMTASTIC

This weekend our good friends invited us out to Long Island. Another friend joined and it made for a fun group of people to hang out and relax with.



One of the main activities planned for the weekend was a clamming trip. I was excited when I heard the news. As kids we grew up clamming in the bay near our house but only in the summer, in fairly deep water and with our toes. The clamming scheduled for this trip was with rakes (similar to a three-pronged garden tool) and in ankle deep, low tide water.



Overall I found the whole process quiet and relaxing. Much like the bay at home the mud was thick, smelly and rich with oysters, mussels, clams of all kinds, snails, hermit crabs and beautiful red brain-like sea coral. I was able to rake in 1 oyster, 4 regular bleach white clams and 2 razors. While it wasn't a huge bounty by any means it was sitll fun and challenging. The most challenging part was how often my boots got stuck in the mud. Most of the time I had to claw each boot out individually. If I didn't work fast enough before I knew it the first boot I'd clawed out moments before would already be sinking back into the mud. When you are stuck in the mud you are literally...stuck in the mud. Don't panic. Breath and determine your next move rationally without moving two quickly. Twice I lost my balance while trying to rush and set myself free. Both times I nearly fell face forward only catching myself moments before I got a taste of nature's very own mud mask.



And as a side note, guys may like fishing and clamming because of the gear. So do girls but I must confess I was also in it for the boots. Who needs Uggs when you can have $10 white shrimper boots?



I found the rake I used quite helpful although I still liked using my hand despite the water being cold. I used my rake to clear away the layer of floating seaweed, I listened for a 'clink' and if I hit something I would then reach my hand in the smelly, murky mud and hope for the best.



By the time we waded our way back to the car, the sun was setting, a chill was in the air and we could hardly believe we had been out there for a few hours.



When we got home, we made a fire, opened some wine and everyone helped prepare the fresh seafood feast which combined lot made a huge meal.



This weekend made me nostalgic. Memories of my parents, sister and my many cousins clamming in our local bay together in the summers. How we liked to surprise our city house guests by pulling up clams with our toes mid-swim. How my mother was able to convince even the biggest city dwelling skeptic that they too could catch their very own clam. And how the whole lot of us complete with scraped toes, chipped toenail polish and handfuls of clams stuffed in our bathing suits would swim proudly back to shore.



Most of us spend our lives trying to forget where we come from. As I get older I struggle to find the balance between living my life independently of my past while still holding on to some of the better memories. For me many of those memories are often quite simple and lovely. Candles on the backyard picnic table. Fresh clams on the bbq. Good local wine. The sounds of happy houseguests as they try to recall the last time they caught their very own meal.

Friday, November 11, 2005

CHAMPAGNE WISHES AND BAKERY DREAMS

For the past few years I've had a dream of wanting to work in a bakery in Brooklyn. It's one of those silly dreams that pops in my head now and again when my day to day office routine gets the best of me. My vision is a hard working one. Long hours but with a purpose. After all, nothing screams success like a fresh tray of hot cross buns.

Like most dreams however I'm aware the vision is not the reality. I know from experience. In junior high at the age of fourteen, I had plans to spend my summer eating popsicles, listening to Milli Vanilli, watching MTV and working on my tan. Instead my parents 'ruined my life' by telling me I had to get a summer job.

I grew up in a small Long Island town. My choices for employment were limited. The gas station. 7-11. The video store. The Shirt Shack. The bakery. I opted for the bakery owned by a French man who was known to take in ex-carnies that passed through town for employment. The summer was spent sweeping and mopping up floors full of flour and dealing with annoying weekenders that said things to me like, "Miss...can you speed it up? We need to drive back to the New York city. That's far from here."

I ended up writing my college essay about my experience working there. The material is so rich and the characters I couldn't have made up if I tried.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

REALITY CHECK PLEASE

Why are people so annoying when they go to restaurants? I don't care if you are cool or nice or considerate in the real, non-restaurant world chances are even you, YOU are annoying when you go to a restaurant.

I went out to lunch recently and was reminded of the horror that is people that go to restaurants. I was a waitress. I know what it's like. People come in, you show them to their seat. You say something polite like, "It will just be a moment. Let me wipe down your table. I'll be right back." And then without fail, EVERY time...the customer says the same thing,

"Excuse me miss? Can you bring back some utensils? Thanks."

Utensils. Huh. U...t..e..nsils...OH UTENSILS! Thank you for reminding me. Utensils. Totally slipped my mind. Totally.

WHAT IT'S LIKE TO DATE ME

You'll come home after a long day of work with two bags in your hand containing beer and wheat bread. I'll jump up from the couch and say, "I'll make you dinner!" and grab the crunchy peanut butter, blackberry jam (PBJ), some pickles from the fridge, heat up some lentil soup take out from the other night and crack open one of your beers and say, "Dinner is ready!" pretending to be a good wife.

Monday, November 07, 2005

GOT MILK?

Over the weekend I wasn't feeling 100%. I felt on the verge of a cold and just overall pretty run down. I went to bed Saturday night and literally slept 12 hours. When I awoke on Sunday I was still half asleep and stumbled my way into the kitchen followed by a meowing Jane the orange tabby cat at my heels.

BTW-What is the deal with cats? They act like they are DYING of starvation the minute you wake up. Jane followed me meowing MEOWING crying and jumping up on the fridge door as in 'why do you never feeeeeeeeed me' and then rolled on her back - left to right and left to right until I stepped over her to make myself a bowl of cereal.

I poured the cereal in a bowl and then went to reach for the milk from the fridge when all of the sudden the carton slipped out of my hand. Instead of letting it fall to the ground I made a desperate spaz move to grab it making the carton instead fly up in the air -literally fly into the air as if I had tossed it - and five giant GLUG GLUG GLUGs later milk was EVERYWHERE. What the...

Milk was in my hair, on my face, my eyelashes, on my T-shirt, all over the fridge, toaster oven, the kitchen wall, the floor etc. I heard a sad little meow and looked down to see that Jane was covered with white milk from head to toe.

Cats are not kids. You don't throw a cat in a bath and wash them off or do you? I didn't know so I took her in the bathroom, put her in the tub and then wet a towel and wiped her off. She looked far from pleased. I only wish I thought to get out my camera.

Then what? I don't know. I've only had two cats in my life. Let her dry off on her own? What if she gets a cold? Do cats get colds? I took out the hair dryer and put it on low. She actually didn't seem to mind it especially with a handful of treats to keep her busy. I couldn't quite get her 'style' back to normal. Her head still felt crusty with milk and it was a little spiky looking. I decided to see if she could clean it off herself later and take it from there.

Then...as if this blog entry wasn't exciting enough...

Our washing machine is broken. I've been stuffing our dirty laundry into rolling suitcases to take them over to the laundromat because we only have one duffle bag big enough. Plus I just like to pretend E is a sailor coming home from sea when he walks through the door with that bag over his shoulder.

Instead I get a call:

E: Hi
K: Hi honey. Where are ya? (middle of the day)
E: BUBBLES laundromat
K: Oh dear
E: Yeah. Remember that TOWEL you used to wipe up the milk
K: Ah...yeah
E: And then stuffed in the wheeling suitcase with everything else
K: Ah...yeah
E: Well I had to literally REMOVE it from the premises of Bubbles laundromat
K: Oops
E: It smelled like farts
K: Sorry
E: I went home to wash it in the tub and then brought it back to wash it
K: Husband of the year
E: Yeah
K: How can I pay you back?
E: How about some beer

Men and beer. Sometimes it is that simple.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

DORM LIFE

Today one of my best friends from England wrote an email,

"Hey...there is an open house in your neighborhood today from 12-1:30pm. I thought instead of calling you at 8am on a Saturday morning I'd write you an email. Let me know if you can check it out for us and/or take some digital pix. If not no worries. Wasn't meant to be."

My friend, her husband and child hope to relocate back to the states by December. They are trying to find an apartment while in England and finding it a very hard process despite their resonable price range. True friendship is not calling your non-kid having friend any time before 11 on a Saturday. True friendship is also hauling your non-kid having ass over on a Saturday morning to take digital pix of a place you can only one day dream of living in. But truth be told who doesn't enjoy a little open house now and again?

So what does $3,500 a month buy you in Brooklyn these days?

E and I hopped on our bikes and went to find out. When we got there E said, 'I'm not going in just so you know.' partially because he was dressed like an unshaven burglar and partially because he... well I don't know. I was just happy he watched the bikes.

The guy had a point. Perhaps I could have taken a moment to consider what I was wearing seeing as I was representing my friend, her husband and her baby. I was dressed in a moss green sweater, jeans, green clogs and my hair was in braids. I felt like an idiot when I entered the room surrounded by well dressed couples wondering who invited Joni Mitchell to the open house.

The place was HUGE. GIANT. ENORMOUS and yet still not great. Welcome to New York real estate people. It had three main rooms, a pink crappy small bath and one skinny kitchen leading to two more rooms off the back. There was also outdoor space.

Have you ever looked at an apartment for someone else? It seems a lot easier than it is. I mean my friend and I have lived on and off with one another for years but did this still qualify me to house hunt for her and her entire family? I mean it's one thing to live with your girlfriend in a five story walk up roach infested place in the East Village but times have changed. What do I know as far as how much room a baby needs? Just because I don't mind things somewhat rough around the edges doesn't mean they will. I snapped a number of digital photos and prayed for the best.




After the tour I called my friend in England and gave her the low down. She asked, "Would you live there?" I paused and truly considered my answer, "I think I would."

E and I soon hopped on our bikes again and peered in the windows of the brownstones we passed on our way home. We considered biking more but instead decided to head back to our dorm room, throw some Ramen noodles on the hot plate and call it lunch.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

TV THERAPY


Shows I watched last night because I was depressed after a long day:

Dog The Bounty Hunter-quite fascinating. It's a real family affair. Especially when Dog's recently knocked up younger daughter Dog hasn't seen in six years 'Baby Lisa' comes to town. Lisa goes on a bust with dad and it was quite a bonding moment. Dog has plenty of wisdom on life to share and I found it really lifted my spirits. Therapy: Like when Dog said, "If there is one lesson I've learned in life it's that if you want something real bad you gotta work your BLEEP off for it."

Random 1 - the new series on A&E about two annoying dudes that ride around in a truck and try and do good things for people. The concept of the show seemed great and the promos got me hooked to watch it but the guys are so unbearable and annoying to watch I don't know that I'll be going back. Therapy: You don't have to be annoying to help people. And it did remind me that my life is pretty good and I should maybe put a cork on that bottle of wine I brought with me to the couch and shut the hell up.

America's Next Top Model - you know...sometimes you really have to not only want something in life but really REALLY act like you do so that it is visible on the outside too. Therapy: Plus it doesn't matter if you are fat or thin or black or white it's your inner beauty and self-love that will carry you through life. (yeah right)

My Fair Brady - Adrienne from an old America's Next Top Model season (who speaks like her jaw is wired shut) is shacking up with Bobby from the Brady Brunch. Therapy: If you at any point in your relationship thought it was going REALLY badly...it wasn't and you will know this after watching these people.

Hogan Knows Best - I am slightly addicted to this show I will admit it. I am fascinated how Hulk and his wife Linda raise two kids and try and keep them being good kids despite their celeb status. I am also fascinated that they have their very own tanning booth in the upstairs bathroom. Therapy: You thought your dad was tough on you as a teenager, at least he didn't have a one on one with a kid you wanted to go to Busch Gardens with and grill him on his sex life.

To be honest...I must confess...I watched three episodes back to back of Hogan Knows Best. And just so you know, when a bunch of Research and Programming people sit in a conference room in Times Square speaking of ways to 'hook the viewer' with various 'programming blocks' they are speaking of me. Hooking me. Hook line and sinker. Tired, bad mood, wine bottle and chips in hand, wearing husband's sweats and sweatshirt - hood up trying to make the world go away for a while - even if only in short, half hour blocks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

PUNKINS





Last night we carved pumpkins. I told E it would only take 15 minutes because that is the trick line I use ever time to get him to try things he doesn't want to do. 'It will just take 15 minutes...I swear." Then we have fun and he likes it.

Some kids came to the door and we didn't have any candy so E gave them some change from our gigantic change bag. Why does everyone in life have so much change? Everyone. Some put it in a cup. Some in a jar. My old coworker used to buy all of her Christmas gifts with her leftover change that she had collected over an entire year. There is so much change in our change bag despite what we gave away that we could not only buy Christmas gifts for our entire family but also put a downpayment on the brownstone down the block which is for sale.

Jane the orange tabby cat also enjoyed pumpkin carving. Having to be involved in anything family related she parked herself on the back of the seat E was sitting in and kept peeking her tiny head up to sniff and sniff the pumpkin guts.

Our verbal exchange while carving became very Montessori school teacher and student:

E: This is messy.
K: It is supposed to be.
E: This isn't turning out very well
K: There isn't a wrong way!
E: My idea is stupid
K: Let me see. Oh my god that is great!

And it was great. E 'shaved' a bird (I love birds) on his pumpkin complete with two musical notes. It was very Martha Stewart. I was so impressed.

K: Where did we get our pumpkins again?
E: From our honeymoon in Maine!
K: Oh yeah...at that little farmstand

I carved my pumpkin which like myself ended up looking just goofy and in love and happy.


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