Thursday, August 31, 2006

GONE AND MISSED

About twenty minutes ago, I was randomly in a conversation at work with someone who I found out is a regular Hospice volunteer. We had a long talk about the program. I used to be a regular Hospice volunteer and even completed an official training program at Cabrini Medical Center. I hadn’t thought about it in years.

Part of the reason it was pushed to the back of my brain was because it was a tough and intense experience. When you are a Hospice Volunteer you are dealing with people that know they are going to die. None of us can possibly comprehend what it feels like to have this kind of information much less how we ourselves would process it. Then…there are the grieving family members. The people that are visiting a loved one at all hours of the night. Processing their own grief all the while having a total stranger in the room there to console them. You.

It seems foolish to me now. A wide eyed twenty-something given the task to befriend and comfort a dying individual and their extended family members. But I did it. Who knows if it helped anyone.

I remember a few patients from my experience – a man dying of AIDS. His cheeks sunken into his face that I would visit once a week. I’d hold his hand and we would read the newspaper and he’d tell me about New York ‘back in the day’. I recall one woman dying of Cancer that always complained there was no natural light in her hospital room but got mad every time I opened her hospital blinds.

And then there is my favorite. A sweet Irish woman dying of Cancer. She heard I played the flute and wanted me to play her some Irish tunes. I did my best to explain I hadn’t played the flute since High School and that maybe I could find someone else to come in and play for her. But no. She wanted me. And she wanted a particular song. I went to three music stores until I found the sheet music for the flute for this particular song. I dusted off my flute and when I got to the hospital I put my flute together in the nurse’s coat closet. My cheeks were flushed with embarrassment and I tooted my way through the piece as best as I could until I burst out crying in the end. The Irish woman, dying of Cancer had to console me. I felt guilty that I had somehow failed her. This was a bad sign. The emotions too much. I never went back.

After my conversation with my work mate I headed back to my desk. I went about my business and then I got an email from my mother. It wasn’t good. One of my sister’s good friends from High School – his younger sister that was only 24 lost her battle to Cancer today. She was in Hospice.

When you are old and accomplished if you are lucky you get an obituary in the paper. When you are young and you die you instead get floods of comments on your My Space. I know because I looked at hers. I remember her face well from walking around our small town and being in various school plays. I remember her always in the shadow of her older brother (my sister's friend) whom she adored and looked up to.

I couldn’t stop reading the entries on her page and found myself tearing up at my desk. A lot of them I found endearing and they read like yearbook entries, “I’ll always remember when we…” or “BFF”, etc. But what it boils down to despite the generation gap is that no matter how young a life is - when you are gone you are gone. And if you are lucky you will be missed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

FROM THE VAULT

Funny Kid Days aka "Don't Take My Picture!":
(me on the right)



Scary College Days aka "Worlds Most Uptight Hippie":
(me on the right again)



Sigh. Some things never change.

REFRESHING

One of my favorite bloggers is 81-year-old Floridora. If you haven't read his blog before you should. It's refreshing to read about someone's interesting past and take on life. A nice change from the usual blog themes of broken ipods, long work days and what we all had for lunch. Be sure to leave him a comment.

WINNING

Remember winning stuff? As a kid? It was such a thrill. I don’t recall every being super competitive when I was little but then again that’s what people that are super competitive say. I hated those people in high school that would say, “Oh! I TOTALLY failed that test!” and then they would get 100%. Sadly - that was never me.

My sister on the other hand was a pretty competitive kid. One time our family went to her Science Fair. When the results were in, she stood there with a furrowed brow in her tiny little red dress and white shoes. She didn’t win.

When we got home she headed upstairs and refused to join us for dinner. Around dessert time she emerged walking down the steps still dressed in her little red dress but this time wearing every medal and ribbon she had ever won – everything from horseback riding to potato sack races.

Yesterday was my birthday. My sister is now a hair stylist and works at a salon near my office. She offered me a free wash and blow out as a birthday gift which as most women would agree is a total treat. It was nice because it was the first time I let her ‘work’ on my hair since the early days of her career which ended in minor hair disasters and stupid fights.

Working on people’s hair is annoying. It requires long hours and standing on your feet – in her case often in high heels. People are cranky and picky and talk your ear off. Your hands and wrists hurt. The shampoos and gels and creams and all that water can dry out your skin. On a rainy day you hardly get any walk ins and forget tips. In her case she is working in a new salon which is only just now starting to pick up business.

But it was fun to see her in action. When I arrived my sister was finishing up with a client and the lady was very pleased. Soon it was my turn and she showed me to the sink. Asked if the water was too hot. Gave my hair a good scrubbing and my head a nice scalp massage. She showed me to her chair and asked if I wanted the latest magazines. Got me something to drink. And when she was done my hair looked better than ever. I got compliments all night.

When I was in her chair I was reminded of her attention to detail even as a little kid. How she used to love to brush my hair and put clips in it. Back in the day there was nothing she loved more than putting my hair in a side ponytail. When I saw her yesterday I told her to please resist the urge.

I am so proud of her. For so long it seemed my sister had a dark cloud hanging over her head. Life was such a struggle. Now her struggles seem to be sacrifices well worth the positive outcomes. Business might be slow but she knows it will pick up. Regardless it was great to see her on such stable ground – still wearing high heels mind you – but finally winning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

33

Today I am 33. I woke up a little sad but it soon disappeared with all the nice things that have come my way this morning:

flowers
gift certificate
heartfelt card with envelope reading "#1 wife"
beautiful necklace from parents
my office desk decorated with photos/balloons/rose petals/streamers
donuts in our staff meeting
tons of emails and calls from friends all over the world
soon to be yummy dinner at Babbo

Overall I feel so lucky. 33 has been an amazing year. I got married. Changed jobs. Put my writing out there on-air and on print. Traveled a ton. Boosted my confidence again. I think I felt a little sad this morning because it's in my nature to be a refelective dork when things change in my life. I need it. I need to feel the low before the high. It's the way I've always been.

Things I want to do in 34:

Learn how to sail
Write more
Be a better friend to some people
Keep laughing and try to be a little less serious
Mentor again
More mini-creative projects - things I can accomplish w/a full time job
Volunteer more
Read my new digital camera manual
Write more letters and/or postcards
Go to Portugal

There is more on the list that I'll keep private.
For now - why blog everything.

Monday, August 28, 2006

STUNNING

In college one of my favorite art exhibitions - a guest artist that came to campus - someone I can't recall by name - did a painting a day on index card sized planks of wood for one entire year. She hung them in the gallery in order and by calendar month per wall. It was fascinating. Her moods changed. Her colors changed. The subjects of her pieces changed. It was an original concept for its time.

Flash forward to Noah Kalina. Noah took a photo a day for 6 years. He made a movie of it HERE

If you haven't seen this you should.
Thanks to Mexican for spotting it first.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

MY OFF DAY

It was an 'off' day. I awoke to Jane the cat clawing lightly at my face but in that 'get up now and feed me or I'll make your life hell' kind of way. My phone alarm rang but with a strange noise. And it felt like E was sleeping on 90% of the bed leaving me only a small portion but he wasn't. I was also sweaty. Everything was just wrong and off.

So I go to the shower. I am barely awake and immediately I have to deal with two of my most hated things - a roach and a spider. Both. In the tub. At the same time. This is a horrible combo on most days much less one that is pre-coffee.

I decide - barely awake - that I should hang a piece of toilet paper for the spider to crawl up on, let it scurry up the toilet paper and then run the dangling piece of toilet paper into the kitchen to let the spider loose. Why this is a good idea I'm not sure. But I did it.

When I returned to the bathroom, the roach had not magically disappeared as I had hoped. Instead it waited to be killed. I smushed up a piece of toilet paper into a ball and did my best to smother the roach with the balled up tissue which I pounded with a toilet plunger. It wasn't until a good 15 minutes went past until I then realized that I am a grown woman standing naked in her bathroom not able to take a shower and running late for work because I am afraid of bugs. I picked up the ball of toilet paper with the roach in it and threw it down the toilet with a loud flush.

On the subway I did not get a seat. People pushed me. The car has no AC. When I changed trains I boarded the local without noticing which took forever. When I got to work my normal coffee place had no skim milk for my ice coffee. I momentarily considered that it's possible I've gained ten pounds from all the skim milk I drink on a daily basis? I ran for the elevator looking like a fool. Anyone that runs for the elevator and dives in out of breath surrounded by co-workers looks like a fool.

Busy but productive day. Met E and friends after work for a Mets night game. My first summer game of the season. I was dressed in a very un-sporty outfit. I looked like I should be going to a PTA meeting or maybe just shopping at STAPLES. But there was a huge delay. 20 minutes. There was a fire on the track. I was surrounded by freaking out tourists dressed in METS baseball hats, T-shirts, etc. They were all speaking too loudly and saying, "FIRE? WHAT DID SHE SAY? FIRE? REALLY? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? OH MY GOD FIRE!" I did not feel the air on the subway all of the sudden. The conductor yelled to his fellow conductors via the crackling speakers, "Do NOT open the doors - DO YOU HEAR ME!" which made things worse. Finally the train began to move again.

E was slightly annoyed I am late when I arrive. He asks if I left work late even after I say THERE WAS A FIRE ON MY TRAIN TRACK which annoyed me but we move on. Fantastic seats. Great company. A perfect night for a ball game and a win. On the train ride home we packed into a car with all the hundreds of other METS fans. I am smushed between a man's armpit which smells ripe and another man's bad breath - a burp he is kind enough to let out that smells no joke like sausage and hot peppers and a hint of beer.

I'd say it was time to go home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

On August 29th I will turn 33. This is funny. I share a birthday with Michael Jackson. The age doesn’t bother me. My physical body could use some touch ups – more exercise, a little less coffee, etc. I’m not the biggest fan of the massive amounts of gray hair coming in along the rim of my face and I see lines that weren’t there before 30...but overall I am grateful, happy, content and wow...almost 33.

I don’t remember a lot of my birthdays as a kid which will most likely horrify my mother when she reads this. All I do remember is how creative my mother was with most things about our childhood. I do recall though one of my favorite birthdays. My parents hosted a Luau for what I think was my 8th bday party. My mother hollowed out over twenty coconuts to make drink holders. I wore a grass skirt despite being too shy to wear a bikini top. There were lots of bright colors and a long wooden table my mother made with pillows on the sides for us all to sit. There were a few adults there encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts. There was Hawaiian music.

I do remember a few of my sister’s birthday parties more. Perhaps because I never liked that much attention drawn to myself and also I did well with the responsibility of remembering someone else’s life instead of mine. My sister once had a 'seasons' themed party. Everyone was encouraged to attend dressed for a season. Kids came in flippers and masks, others wool hats and winter coats. My mother took out our living room rug and filled the place with sand and beach toys.

A NYC friend was talking about her son’s first birthday recently. She ordered tons of food to be catered. Hired a party entertainer guy. Made her husband create a mixed CD of songs. They got a permit for the park. At the end they realized they had forgotten to take a single photo of the entire event.

To me – a photo geek by nature – this seemed like the worst possibly thing to ever happen to someone. Not ONE single photo of that particular much less VERY important event? The more I thought about it the more I was reminded of a conversation I had not long ago with Jake where he talked about not being present in mind and missing the events in his life because he was too busy photographing them.
It's a good reminder.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ALL THE RAGE

New York fashion trends never fail to surprise and amaze me. Years ago I gave up trying to keep up with what is currently trendy and cool. Now I'm lucky if I can even motivate to take a shower in the morning.

On my lunch break today I walked around taking photos with my camera and spotted a truly...RIDICULOUS bag a woman was carrying. If only I'd captured the horrifed reactions of everyone around her as they too thought it was crazy.

First I spotted the women walking down the street with what appeared to be a very stiff dog in her arms. Then as she got closer and stepped in front of me did I realize...wait...this wasn't an actual dog but a spooky, strange, stiff, taxidermied looking dog shaped purse... Again - if you could only have seen the reactions of the UPS guy, the diners outside of Pastis, the kids walking by, the tourists, the meat market guys, etc. all taking in this spooky taxidermied purse.

And thanks to RION who found the photos of purses that looked like THIS and THIS

GHOST

Monday or Tuesday night I can’t recall (despite it being only a few short days ago) I was headed home from work on the train when I spotted popular photographer/photoblogger Travis Ruse. For those of you that haven’t heard or read about Travis he is a photographer that has spent the past year plus taking photos of people on his commute to and from work. He posts one a day here on his web site.

Photographing people – especially New Yorkers – can be very difficult. Travis doesn’t hide anything. His camera hangs from his neck and it seems obvious he is taking your photograph. I can’t recall if he asks permission – some photographers do. Regardless it’s a tough thing to pull off. Take a look through some of his photos and you’ll see why.

I’m not sure he saw me but I decided not to disturb the man in action. I just watched him from afar as he listened to his headphones, focused on various people on the track and clicked away from the camera that hung from his neck. I could have sworn he was focusing on a woman in an orange dress but I wasn’t sure. I like to play this game sometimes. What is that person seeing that to them is photo worthy? And do I want a photo of it too?

When the subway came we all shuffled in. Travis was in the middle of the car and I was towards the back. I dug in my bag for my tiny Powershot camera which I use for spy shots. I was going to take a photo of him photographing others. But by the time I looked up again at the next station – like a ghost - he was gone.

DASHING

Here's a tip...if you are straight guy – don’t come to my nail salon called DASHING DIVAS. If you hadn’t noticed...everything is pink inside and it’s full of chicks. Perhaps you missed the following things that might have ‘tipped you off’:

-giant pink satin cushions on every chair
-only chicks working there and only chicks coming there
-curtains made of dangling crystals dividing various areas of the room
-magazine selection - US Weekly, Vogue, Star, In Touch, etc.
-chick talk about guys, celebs, breakups, work, babies, clothes, hair
-chick flicks playing on the big flat screen TV
-names of spa treatments like “Girls Night Out Pedicure” or “Mango Manicure”

If you are a straight guy and choose to come in please don’t do the following:

-act ‘extra manly’ by wearing your sunglasses indoors and baseball cap sideways checking your sidekick all cool while you get a pedicure with your leg propped up on a pink satin pillow

-talk loudly on your cell phone about how hot the chick was you went on a date with last week while your hands are being wrapped in hot towels and lavender lotion

Exceptions:

-All the poor husbands or boyfriends or brothers or sons that have to run in and quickly talk to their wife, girlfriend, sister or mother meanwhile ashamed of even being in there more than five seconds. One time E was one of those dudes. He had to come because I forgot my wallet. He came in like a deer in headlights, threw down the money and ran.

WHAT TO KNOW

When I was living on and off for a few years in Lucea, Jamaica doing a volunteer program through my college we were prepped on several aspects of what living there would be like for us and what specifically would be very, very different. That was many years ago. Since then I’m sure times have changed drastically but recently I came across some notes taken from that time period:

-When you answer the phone at night it is polite to say “Hello Goodnight – Who’s calling”

-Don’t feel bad if you are served dinner first and when you are done the children eat after you. Suggesting they eat first may insult your host

-If you see a cluster of Jamaicans wearing white it is not a wedding but a funeral

-Beware of stray rabid dogs

-You may be nicknamed ‘whitey’ or ‘spring breaker’ wherever you go but don’t be insulted

-No ganja smoking allowed in movie theaters

-Don’t be surprised if your Jamaican host mother sets an extra plate at the table for the angel on your shoulder

-Bob Marley is for your parents generation (aka respected but not cool)

-If you pick ackee from a tree – make sure the yellow pulp is ripe or it could cause vomiting or death. Ackee tastes and looks like scrambled eggs.

-The best fish to buy is from the children that come to your door in the early morning holding them from a string

-If you take a taxi don't be startled that you may have to sit on a strangers lap (male or female). Taxis are few and far between so are shared by several people.

-That chicken in the yard is not a pet. You may hear it being strangled later for your supper

-Don’t take photos of Rastas without asking first. Some fear it captures the soul

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

OREGON

I will be in Portland on biz in September and the hubs is joining. It will be our one year anniversary. For those of you that might have recommendations for 2-3 day/night trips if we head to the coast - where to go, what to see, where to stay please let me know. We will have a car. And for the five of you readers that still come to this blog I promise to write more soon. Really.

Friday, August 11, 2006

DON'T MESS WITH THE KNIFE LADY

Yesterday I packed my usual bag for work – wallet, cell phone, day planner, company ID and set of seven large knives wrapped in three dish towels. Another day another dollar.

Truth is I don’t usually carry large knives to work. Today was an exception. I was taking our kitchen knives to be professionally sharpened in the food mecca otherwise known as Chelsea Market.

I never thought much about knives until I met my culinary geek husband. Growing up in my household, knives were used for anything but food related tasks - opening impossible CD packaging, sawing through a cardboard box to make a fort or used to carve our Halloween pumpkins. It wasn’t until last Christmas did my childhood home receive it’s first real and sharp knife from E – the first knife in the history of our house that could potentially harm a toddler should they play with it.

When I first met E I was impressed by many things but one of them was his love for cooking. When he finally got over the embarrassment of the state of his bachelor pad and invited me over after MONTHS of dating (I started to be convinced he didn’t have a home) I used to love to watch him in the kitchen. The man didn’t have a shower curtain but boy could he chop like a mad man.

The other night when cooking diner E was complaining about our dull knives. Having passed a woman near work who had a little knife sharpening stand I thought as a surprise I’d bring our knives in and get them sharpened for him. For all you young cool people out there, this is what you have to look forward to when you are in your thirties. Sharpening each other’s knives.

So I brought the knives in and was terrified I’d be stopped on the subway or have my bags checked in the station. I couldn’t help but think as I was reading my New York Times – if I was packin’ seven steak knives and looked fairly ‘normal’ on the outside what were the others around me carrying? I didn’t want to know.

I made it to work and approached the lady at the knife stand who wore a little beret and was eating an avocado and cream cheese sandwich on whole grain bread at 9AM.

ME: Hello
Knife Lady: Hello. Do you have some knives?
Me: Yes

It sounded like a drug deal. She looked over my knives – a combo of E’s professional expensive ones and others I’d had from years before I knew him. She picked up E’s knives and made happy sounds while raising her eyebrows.

Knife Lady: Oh nice…one of my favs
Knife Lady: Also a good one yes…someone in the house likes to cook
Knife Lady: (picking up my two knives chuckling) Oh haha...these remind me of my college days...those meals I cringe about when I think back on...

I started to get slightly annoyed with the gypsy psychic reading knife lady. I was late for work and hoped she might move things along. We discussed a price and she said she would call me some time after lunch.

Later in the day I was trapped at my desk awaiting my call from the knife lady. A co-worker asked me to lunch and I couldn’t leave my desk merely saying, “I can’t. I’m waiting for my knives.”

Finally I decided to stop by her stand on the way out at the end of the day. There was a man not unlike the stereotype of a child molester standing at the knife stand talking to the gypsy knife sharpening lady. I approached the stand.

Me: Hello
Knife Lady: Oh there you are
Me: Why? Did you call me?
Knife Lady: No. But here are your knives
ME: (?) Thanks.

I gave her the cash. The creepy man beside me gave over his cash as well.

Knife Lady: Oh goody. Now everyone has their knives

Creepy Man: We sure do! Now let’s just hope the police don’t stop me on my way out like they did last time!


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