Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Not as bad as I thought

This was probably one of the worst Christmas/Birthday I've had so far. It wasn't one thing that made it bad, it was a mixture of things like stupid family arguments I witnessed. My grandmother gone. A depressed and lonely grandfather who can't imagine life continuing without his wife of 57 years. My extended family of cousins who all live in Florida sequestering themselves and doing their own things. The emotional ups and downs involved with having a birthday on Christmas day.

This, along with struggling still with health issues and not really talking with anyone about how I've felt about it, made me feel profoundly alone and miserable, which all came to the surface yesterday. I felt truly hopeless and the only thing I wanted was for 2008 to end because I thought it sucked so badly, yet I wasn't looking forward to 2009 because I assumed it would be more of the same.

So I talked to friends about it yesterday and I talked to friends about it today and started to feel a little better. Then on the way home today, freezing my ass off, I slipped and fell on my ass. I looked up and saw an unexpected clear night sky with Venus and the moon looking all pretty.

And then, still sitting on my ass, I realized while there were some bad moments this year, it was not all bad and I do not have it bad. There was much love, growth, and wonderful experiences and while I sometimes feel lonely I am not nor have I ever truly been alone in this world.

So looking back on 2008, here are some of the many great experiences I had for which I am thankful for:

* When my grandmother got diagnosed with terminal cancer in February, I was able to fly down every month to see her before she died. This meant so much to the both of us.

*I reconnected with four former coworkers/friends and not only have we been able to reconnect despite the physical distance, but forge a deeper friendship that's special to all of us.

*Flying out to California to see these friends for the PRN West Coast Reunion, playing Rock Band, eating great food and celebrating! What a fantastic moment of 2008!

*When I started at my job Oct 07, things weren't looking so good. But changes in 2008 made this job the best job I've ever had.

*Not only is this the best job I've ever had, but I have fantastic coworkers who are smart, work hard, make me laugh and that I can call friends.

*Rock Band and all that came with it!

*I said I would do so, and I really have made strides to be more social and expand my circle of friends this year.

*I went to a pizza party where a friend and I pumped out fresh creative pizza after pizza that everyone loved and made me feel like a total rock star in the kitchen!

*Getting a whole lot closer to my cousin Bianca, laughing like hyenas, GI Joe, Rockband, supermanning the bed, and the sheer amount of love that I have for her. Friendship, sisterhood and memories for a lifetime made with still more to come!

*My father and I continued slowly to reconnect after not talking for 15 years. And, I gave him my car, something he needed far more than I did, surprising everyone including myself, on what love and forgiveness really means.

*After shunning it for years, I finally understood the emotion behind dancing and found myself connecting and letting go. Plus, watching a bunch of senior citizens dance to "Low" was beyond hysterical!

*I've worked hard this year to embrace the parts of myself that I rather not see and face my own darkness. I've really grown and learned so much about myself. It's a work in progress that will continue in 2009.

*I do crazy things like make plans to go to a concert at 2am on New Year's Day. By myself. And I plan on having a great time!

I look back and see that yeah, my life is messy, sometimes sucky, but really really full and good. I'm glad that I figured this out before 2008 ends as now, I am hopeful and looking forward.

Best in 2009 to all of you, my dear, dear friends. Thank you for being you and bringing much joy to my life!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I did what?

I've been a vegetarian my entire adult life. On Thanksgiving day, 1990, I made the decision to become a vegetarian, right after I finished eating enough turkey, ham and prosciutto to call it a night. A few weeks later, I did eat some steak milanese, which was one of my favorite things, but I've never intentionally eaten any poultry, meat or fish since.

Until this Thanksgiving.

I already had two very strong cosmos and always loved the smell of turkey roasting. Like the year before, I sat at the island in the kitchen watching my uncle carve the turkey, directing him on where he should cut, watching him and thinking how I'd do a better job.

And just like ever year, I wanted to eat a piece. In the past I resisted, but this time, I felt myself sitting there and thinking, "Do it. Eat it. You want it." And I found myself working up the nerve to reach into the roasting pan and grabbing that delicious looking piece of meat that just just fell into the juices at the bottom. So I grabbed it and ate it. I had expected not to remember the taste but it tasted exactly the same.

Everyone stopped and watched. My uncle, aunt and two cousins were momentarily silenced and then they started shouting like their football team just won the superbowl.

So, why did I do it? For a while I didn't have an answer. I didn't really make a decision so much as leap off a cliff. The way it came on felt like a dare. I've been analyzing and analyzing ever since and now I think I know the reasons why:

1. I made the decision to become a vegetarian when I was seventeen. A huge, major core of how I live my life, a huge part of my belief system has pretty much remained static and unchallenged.

2. Lots of stuff happened this year, like my grandmother dying and getting some uncertain medical news that led me to want to not hold back and to be conscious of the things that I do, the choices that I make.

3. It was a moment where I just said to myself, "Fuck it."

So what now? I'm not sure. I don't see myself reverting back to eating meat. My core belief - that we are needlessly cruel to animals and we don't need to treat them this way and it's a reflection on the type of people we are individually and as a whole - still holds true. Yet, I cannot say that I won't try and taste more things. It makes me feel conflicted and hypocritical because my belief in the value of animal life is strong.

I think I need to hit the reset button and choose again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Out of focus

Today, in a bit of randomness, one of my contact lenses popped out and I lost it. It was really hard to see with one in and one not so I took the other out. And, I don't have a spare nor did I have my glasses with me so I had to go without for the rest of the day.

So what did I see?

When the subway train whizzed by, I had to determine whether it was a B or a D by looking for mostly orange with a white line cutting through it.

A work, when I looked around the office I could not tell who was standing at the far end. Those that were closer I could discern because I was able to recognize their shapes.

To see anything on my computer I had to unplug my monitor and move my laptop close to me and lean in.

At the gym, I was effortlessly able to tune out everyone around me and focus on my activity. I couldn't see anyone's expression and at a distance everyone and everything was out of focus.

Later at night, on my way home, traffic lights, street lights, car lights, were large and multiplied and looked like Christmas lights blinking in the city. When a plane went by overhead, it looked like a blinking giant light. It was all quite beautiful.

I don't spend a lot of time without my contact lenses or glasses and it made me wonder what it would be like if I didn't have them at all. While it was nice to focus at the gym, it was isolating to not see facial expressions. I also thought about how if New York were really a jungle, I'd be in trouble as I wouldn't be able to see a predator hiding waiting to pounce.

Luckily, I don't have to worry about any of this. And I immediately put my glasses on when I got home!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

a nice, rainy run

It's been an overcast, rainy day that to me, is perfect for running in. After doing a few errands and cleaning up the apartment, I changed into my running clothes and went outside for a run in the park.

Running in the rain is a time I spend focused in the present moment. I don't analyze, I don't ruminate, I don't zone out. I leave my ipod at home and pay attention to what's happening around and inside me. I listen to my breathing, feel my heart beating and my body moving. I take in the earthy fresh smells and the sound of the wind shaking the trees. I feel the rain falling on me and wipe my eyes so I can see. I look up and around at the trees and look down and step on leaves on the road. Usually the park is empty when it rains and when it rains heavily (which it didn't today), I'll scream and laugh and run through the rain like I did as a kid.

It's an experience that connects me to myself and to nature. It makes me feel mortal yet exhilarated by feeling really alive and in the moment. I'll feel an incredible rush of life... and then I get to go home and hop into a hot shower!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back in Docs

Right after high school and all through college I wore Doc Martens:

Black mary jane shoes that I paired with everything, especially long flowy vintage and vintage-inspired dresses. I loved them but after college I gave them up, as I felt too youthful wearing them and my style was changing.

I thought I'd never wear Docs again but then I found and bought this pair yesterday:
Can you believe these are Docs? Aren't they gorgeous? It's so feminine! I'm so happy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action 2008 - Poverty

It's blog action day and about 11,000 blogs are writing today about ending poverty. When I think about poverty, it's overwhelming the amount of people that are in need, but there are small things that we can do to help out.

For example, I'm a really big fan of the site Kiva, which facilitates people like you and me to make a difference in another's life by loaning money they need to start a business or buy equipment and help improve their own and their family's standard of living.

You choose who to donate to. My specific interest is in helping women. You can browse profiles and align your interests and passions with someone that needs help.

You also don't have to give a lot of money to make a difference. The beauty is that your loan can be as much as you can afford as it gets pooled with the loans of others interested in helping that individual.

It's not a handout. It's a real loan. Over time, the person you gave money to repays it which you can then reinvest.

It's small, but it can bring changes in another's life. Imagine if all of us helped out in any small way we could? What would become of poverty then?



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Some girls grow up idolizing their fathers. I idolized my uncle, who I considered to be the coolest, smartest, funniest, and the most honest guy in the world. And I still believe this. He's never let me down.

As per his earlier advice, I now at least have bottle of wine on hand (I do follow his advice sometimes). Here's his latest hilarious yet not completely nuts advice on making the most of my life and meeting new people, sent via email:
Go hang out at the Pizza place if you have no plans. Proceed to drink a bottle of that fine wine, and be friendly with one and all. The good looking, the bad looking and even the ugly looking. Ugly people have good looking friends also. Make a habit of it, and tell yourself, "what would Paulo do in these circumstances?" Be brave, make a fool of yourself, laugh about it. Start singing if you know the song. Talk to perfect strangers, Is that wine your drinking any good? Can I find a jacket like that at the thrift store, for my uncle? Insult them, they love it. Do they make that watch for men? Just kidding, it's a very manly chronograph, are you a racing driver?
And Smile, and laugh and laugh.
Have fun.

Love,
Paulo

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Really?

So on Saturday, I got home late and popped in a DVD, turning on my surround sound. It was late, around midnight and someone rang my doorbell. My downstairs neighbor, who I guess is new, was telling me that he could "feel" the sound and that it was too loud. While I never had a noise complaint in my life, I figured that the sub-woofer was disturbing him, so I did turn it down.

But, it's 10:02pm on a Wednesday and I don't have the surround sound on. I have the TV on and the sound is at the half way point. And my doorbell just rang.

Seriously? Really? Are you kidding me? You're ringing my doorbell? You have got to be out of your mind. Are you from NYC?

I looked through the peep hole and didn't open the door. I bet you rang my bell at 10:02 because of the noise ordinance law. Call the cops you asshole. And, yeah, I've been deliberately stepping on the squeaky floorboards. You're lucky I don't wake up at 4am.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Surfwise

Just finished watching the documentary Surfwise, which Skim liked and suggested. It's a film about a man who has a strong philosophy of life and who, along with his wife, raises a family of nine children in a camper as they travel and surf.



I have a strong desire to disconnect and live simply and by my own rules so this film was very intriguing to me. I get where this guy was coming from. Also, my notions of freedom are tied up in feeling like I can escape at any moment, move and start over somewhere else. But then I worry about health insurance and having enough savings for retirement and all of my fantasies crash down. (Sort of. I'm trying to figure out where the compromise is to achieve the kind of life that I want.)

Watch Surfwise. It's a thought-provoking documentary if you're inclined to just drop everything and it's also an eye opener as to the consequences of that type of lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shove it up your investment fund!

Ah, translation disasters. So rarely do I see Portuguese to English ones and so when I found one in posted in a blog I follow, Photoshop Disasters, I just had to re-post this disaster here because well, I laughed my investment funds off:
The model of dignity Sabrina Boing Boing took off a bare picture for the section “Happy Hour” of the Playboy magazine of this month, that has in the layer the former-BBB Natália Casassola. It looks at, I do not understand nothing of photoshop not, but it does not need to be specialist pra to know that the people have cu, né!

It is impression mine or the Playboy erased the investment funds of the young woman! It passed mass race in everything, maluco… you to a thing alone, jettison in the soil. Who will have one tempinho aee, informs, please, the staff of the Photshop Disasters, because now I go to start to write a substance on pensioners of the INSzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Original Portuguese here (it's actually funny in Portuguese, too).

I'm not up on new Brazilian slang but I did look it up. The term "Investment funds" is indeed a euphemism for the asshole. The more you know...

[photo & translation via Photoshop Disasters]

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here's what I should do

A list of what's missing in my life and what I should be doing according to my uncle:

I don't live in South Beach
There's no Procecco in the fridge
I do not have several bottles of merlot on hand
I am not meeting enough people
I have a French press and not a coffee machine (but at least I make good coffee)
I don't have a $50 cord to hook up my iPhone to my TV
I don't have Apple TV
I don't have Directv
I don't have a flat-screen TV
I should watch The Unit
I should watch Daybreak
I should go to the movies every week
I should take a class
I need to stop being so shy
I must take risks, be aggressive
I should be dating
I should take up some activity
I should smoke cigars
I should find a restaurant that I like and become a regular
I don't have enough iPhone apps
My cable tv doesn't get the "LINK" channel
I should upgrade my iBook G4

I love my uncle. He's a lot of fun, a charismatic person who wants the best for me, wants me to be happy and live large. Some of his advice is good, but, I gotta laugh at what he tells me to do sometimes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crappy comments are wonderful!

I don't have crappy comments because only cool and nice people read my blog. But we get some on the message boards at work sometimes from our users whenever we do a major release. It sucks but I try and remember that this happens, we can't please everyone and to not let it get to me.

Which is why I laughed my ass off when I found this via the awesome blog, The Bloggess:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

neurotic and cooperative

I love personality tests so when Bearclau posted her results on her blog, I decided to be a complete copycat, take it and post my results as well. (I have to say, Bearclau has many posts worth copying. :-)

I have an astrology one I took years ago that I thought was dead on in that contradictory ways they always are (I should dig that up), but this one's ok. The neurotic, cooperative and in between intro/extrovert seems about right but I didn't have a "that's me!" feeling of excitement. My thoughts are that anyone can read this and see aspects of themselves. Bearclau and I have the same interpretation for the casual/disciplined, alternative and cooperative bubbles. Does that explain why we're friends, or showcases that we both fall in the same scoring averages?

Your personality tendencies in a nutshell...

You enjoy making plans and commitments but you sometimes don't follow through. You are curious about many different things and highly value artistic expressions and ingenious thoughts. You show some tendency toward anxiety and worry. You are typically respectful toward others and dislike confrontation. You may be outgoing or reserved depending on the situation.

YouJustGetMe.com's guest psychologist Dr. Peggy has a little more, uh, informal interpretation of your traits...

About those "Casual" and "Disciplined" bubbles...Conscientiousness is not one of your defining traits, meaning that you are neither anal retentive nor anal expulsive. What does that mean? In a nutshell, you keep it together fairly well, but you do not suffer too much if you let things fall through the cracks every once in a while. If you make plans with a friend, chances are good that you will show up at the designated time. Then again, something better may come up or you just might forget. Either way, you're good. Another possibility is that you are very conscientious about some things, but more relaxed about other things. For example, you might demand the utmost rigor and discipline in your scholarly/work life, but keep your home looking like a garage sale gone terribly awry, with various articles of clothing and personal belonging strewn about. Where's Fido? Hopefully he hasn't been eaten by the alien life that has developed since the last cleaning.

About that "Alternative" bubble... You are intellectually curious, imaginative, and literary. I do believe the technical term is "artsy fartsy." When reading poetry, the images may move you until you quiver with delight, or perhaps quivering from all of the espresso that you've been drinking. Speaking of caffeine, it would not be a big surprise if you indulged in other substances to heighten your senses. After all, whoever heard of creative geniuses who were sober? Freud was a coke-head, Hemingway was a fall-down drunk, and Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, probably while high on wacky tabacky. You have quite the active fantasy life and are often in la la land, earning you the well-deserved nickname "space cadet" from your loved ones. Mostly, you're a lot of fun to hang out with because you're always game for whatever idea your non-medicated (but should be) friend has in mind. The next time someone suggests that you streak naked in the dead of winter, do think twice, or at least wear some mittens.

About that "Neurotic" bubble... If you were 100% neurotic, it would mean that you always felt stressed, anxious, and as a consequence of the first two emotions, depressed. Lucky for you your scores indicate that you are only about 50-75% neurotic. This means that you have some time off for good behavior and that there are many times when you feel balanced and calm. You may feel emotions very intensely and maybe even experience physiological cues to stress (sweating, quickening blood pressure, and faster heart beats are a few things that come to mind). However, you are able to control your rising anxiety with relative speed. Some people interpret neuroticism as a bad trait to have, but look at it this way - neurotic people are never bored with their own thoughts and their emotionally labile temperaments allow them to experience a whole range of feelings in very short periods of time. It's like the weather. If you don't like the mood, wait 5 minutes.

About that "Cooperative" bubble...Your scores would suggest that you tend to be more agreeable than you are competitive. What does that mean? For starters, it means that you have a fairly strong tendency to believe in social harmony and cooperation. You are a nice person. You want people to get along and do the right thing - for each other, for the greater humanity. That's not to say that you are a total pushover, but that you believe in the niceties of life. This is probably why you are very popular with people and have many friends. The difference between you and someone who is very high in agreeableness is that you have a bit of an edge. Maybe you laugh when people fall down and hurt themselves, maybe you secretly occasionally think people suck. Whatever it is that's holding you back from winning Ms. or Mr. Congeniality, that's also what makes you more interesting.

About those "Introverted" and "Extraverted" bubbles...There are two possible reasons why you might have scored right smack dab in the middle on the trait of extraversion/introversion. First, you may be the type of person that answers "that sort of sounds like me" to questions about how you interact with the world. Do you like to party like it's 1999? Do you enjoy making small talk with the walls at a friendly get together? The answer to these incisive questions and other similar inquiries that tap into your social prowess would typically be "sometimes." The second possible reason why you are both extraverted and introverted (or neither of these traits, depending on how you look at it) is because you are statistically bipolar - answering an emphatic, "yessiree Bob" to some questions, while inaudibly whispering "that's not me" to other questions - causing your answers to cancel each other out. Never fear, balance is here. Frankly, being capable of enjoying time out with friends and sharing a laugh or two is that much sweeter if you can also savor time alone and take pleasure in quiet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A trial run of JetBlue's Terminal Five

JetBlue invited 1,000 of their True Blue members to participate in a trial run of their new JFK terminal, Terminal Five, a terminal built behind the original TWA Terminal Five. I was really excited to participate, take pictures, give feedback and tour the area without the pressure of actually having to get on a flight.

After getting a free coffee and croissant at a massive buffet, I took a seat underneath a tent set up on the closed-off departure ramp in front of the terminal. A representative came around and handed us our "scripts" which told us our name, where we were headed, how we were going to check in our bags (which were provided to us), and flight and gate number. Apparently, some of them even had instructions on whether to be angry - or not - or maybe the guy was kidding! I was to play Mrs. RB Birdstest going to Seattle, Washington on flight 175.

The terminal is really nice. It's curved and full of natural light. The space is wide and open and with a clean modern feel. The signs are clear and it feels like I'm in a space for traveling.

Time to check-in. I considered the check-in process to be inefficient: I had to go to the self-service kiosk to check in. Since I also had a bag to check, I had to take my boarding pass to a bag drop counter where I was asked for my pass and my ID. They took my pass, gave me another one and then I had to take my bag and put it on the conveyor belt. (I never check in bags, but my understanding is that this process of self-handling the baggage drop off is new). Really, if the intention is to be self-service, going to a bag counter was woefully inefficient and time consuming.

After checking my bag, I entered the security line. This terminal had many, many lines and three zones: family zone for those with kids that take longer, the casual traveler for people who are your regular travelers and the expert zone for your jetsetters.

Once pass security, the new terminal was pretty, but still under construction. They plan to have many restaurants and representatives gave brief talks on the menu, the process and showed pictures of what it would look like. These were all restaurants not fast food joints, and JetBlue seemed to be aiming for an overall richer travel experience at the airport instead of a bus terminal feel.

The actual gates were beautiful with JetBlue's color-scheme carpets, comfortable chairs and nice flat screen TVs. No signs of wireless access or areas you could plug in your laptop, though. The gates were sunny and at the end of gate 15 (my gate), a wall of windows allowed for watching planes land.

I "boarded" my flight to Seattle which amounted to me handing over my pass and then sitting down at the gate (we did not get on a plane). Fifteen minutes later, we "landed" and were to go to baggage claim to retrieve our bags.

Baggage claim looked like every other baggage claim I've ever seen but not as opressive. A nice touch was a nod to the old TWA building by including a bright orange carpet around each of the carousels.

Afterwards, JetBlue had a BBQ outside of the tent, and they thankfully had veggie burgers for vegetarians, free ticket giveaways (I didn't win), and thank you gifts consisting of a hat, buttons and cute luggage tags. Oh, and the bag we checked in was ours to keep.

So what about the original TWA terminal that was in eyeshot of were we all were? A few of us in attendance had hoped to also take a tour of the TWA terminal but it's six months away from completion and a construction site inside.

The original Terminal Five, built in 1962 by Eero Saarinen, which operated until TWA closed its doors in 2001. The Saarinen terminal was known for it's beauty and modernity that evoked feelings of adventure, the exhilaration and romance of flying that, even in it's current state of construction, it still manages to evoke. (Photo of original TWA terminal five by photoscream. If you want to see more photos, check out the TWA flickr pool.)

JetBlue is renovating the building and it will house an aviation museum and restaurants. My understanding is that a lot of the original elements of terminal have been removed. That's too bad.

The one thing that I felt was missing from the new Terminal Five was some modern kitsch. Here they are, building a new terminal, renovating a landmark old one and they aren't taking any kitschy liberties with the interior design? JetBlue is a fun airline marketing themselves as Jetting - not flying - and trying to distinguish themselves from the other airlines and the negative feelings flying evokes these days. I'd like to see more utilization of one of the most beautiful buildings that symbolizes Jetting and the wonders of aviation. Perhaps that feeling will be there once the original building is opened.

That said, I had a truly enjoyable experience today going through a trial run. I had a lot of feedback and it was great to see executives actively pursuing critiques from everyone. Even Port Authority representatives were there to listen to us. It was clear that JetBlue wants to make this terminal an exceptional place and wants to create a pleasant travel experience. Thanks JetBlue!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympic headache

Ok, no kidding I love the Olympics but how long has it been since I've seen something other than the same freaking sports on night after night? Over a week ago? Isn't there anything else happening besides running, diving, volleyball and gymnastics?

Sure they are! Are they not being televised on prime time or am I missing it after fast forwarding through yet another quarter-final?

Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Olympic fever

Watching the Olympics makes me so excited to see the passion, the artistry, the level of achievement, the beauty, strength and capabilities of the human body, the pure emotion of competing and winning. It makes me want to pursue something fully with the passion and discipline that these athletes have. It also brings out a strong desire to win at something. At the very least, it inspires me to want to do my best at whatever it is that I do, big or small.

The Olympics also remind me that you're never too old to pursue your dreams. A 33 year old gymnast won silver on the vault. A 38 year old won the gold in the women's marathon. A 34 year old father was still out there diving. Dana Torres (LOVE this woman) 41, kicking ass and winning silver.

There are a lot of things I'd like to accomplish in this life of mine and I tend to put those to the side and get caught up in the day to day activities. Witnessing the dedication, discipline and strength of these athletes inspires me to put a lot more effort into the things I do and the goals I want to achieve.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic fever

I haven't been posting because I totally have Olympic fever! I have been blowing up my twitter with my excitement so to spare everyone:
  • Women's pole-vaulting is totally awesome. I kind of want to try it.
  • I'm really looking forward to watching synchronized swimming. Not lame!
  • I love hurdles so much! I was a really good hurdler. Love watching it.
  • Men's gymnastics is totally hot. Especially rings. And pommel horse.
  • I haven't seen men's diving yet. That's usually hot too.
  • Michael Phelps looks exactly like my cousin Alex.
  • Every time I see Bela Karolyi I sing "Bela Karolyi's dead." Sorry.
  • Women's discus is totally nuts. They all grunt and scream.
  • I hope they televise Judo and Taekwondo.
  • Did they get rid of that ribbon gymnastic dance? Because that crap was lame.
Ok, I'm done. I can't promise not to tweet Olympic stuff again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I know what you did last summer. And yesterday.

I decided yesterday night that I was going to give online dating another shot. I updated my profile (I hate writing those!), uploaded some recent pictures and looked to see if there's anyone I'm interested in and found this one guy in my neighborhood that seemed interesting. Unfortunately, because I'm a standard member I can only see thumbnails instead of the larger pics and I can't tell how cute he is. Regardless I email him because he's nearby, a vegetarian, into technology, likes Macs, and seemed interesting enough.

Because I can't see the larger pictures I do a search on his username, just in case. By the way, I do not use my alter-ego on dating sites because of what happened next: The guy's dating username? It's his web alter-ego name as well. In one search I find:
  1. his personal blog
  2. his professional blog
  3. his twitter account
  4. his full name
  5. the Meetup he belongs to
Just to list five because there's more.

I'm not interested in reading his stuff - I don't know this guy - all I want is to see a larger photograph. So I do one more search and add the term "flickr" and find his photos. Bingo.

It's great to hit the motherload but I didn't have to work at it at all. It was too easy. How disappointing. I like my cyberstalking to have some hurdles so I can flex my search muscles, really get creative and feel awesome when I finally hit paydirt. There's no fun in this! There's no mystery to be solved. People are getting really comfortable with sharing their identity online that they're removing all the fun and challenge of finding their info.

Oh well. He looks cute in his photos.

American follows up

Today I got the following, very surprising email from American Airlines in regards to Sunday's flight:

Dear {vivzan}:

Our manager in Miami was concerned and asked us to follow up with you regarding your flight with us on July 27. We can understand how frustrating that trip must have been. We are very sorry for all the difficulties you encountered when flight {xxxx} unexpectedly returned to the airport.

As our personnel indicated at the time, a mechanical problem developed en route to JFK. As a result, the decision was made to return to Miami so our specialists could take a look at the situation. While our personnel worked hard to minimize the inconvenience, we know that many of our customers' important plans were disrupted. I am truly sorry.

In appreciation for your patience, we've added 4,000 Customer Service bonus miles to your AAdvantage® account. You should see this mileage adjustment in your account very soon, and you can view this activity via AA.com at http://www.aa.com/AAdvantage. I hope this gesture of goodwill helps restore your confidence in us.

Your loyalty is important to us and I would like to assure you that we are committed to getting you to your destination as planned. Sometimes, as on July 27, flights won't operate as planned but our goal is to keep those times to a minimum. I know your next trip with us will go much more smoothly than this one did. We will look forward to welcoming you on board soon.

Sincerely,
xxxx
Customer Relations
American Airlines

This is impressive. I didn't send them an email, complain at the desk, talk to personnel, make a phone call, nothing. So, they did this on their own (unless they follow my blog! LOL).

At the time when flying is getting increasingly expensive, delays are rampant and the whole experience has turned from joy to dreaded security theatre, I'm impressed that a company not particularly known for customer service took the initiative to send me an email and give me more miles. Unasked.

I was just saying to my mom that I have two more trips scheduled with American. While American is better priced, flies into MIA and has better flight times, I like Jet Blue's experience a lot better and that after my scheduled trips with them, I was going to book with JetBlue going forward.

Well, since they reached out like this, American officially gets a second chance. Good job.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where oh where shall I go?

Earlier this year, I made a decision that I was going to really try to build some kind of social network here in NYC or else move away. That's still true but nothing is going to be decided upon this year or rashly. I think about packing my glassware and the cost of hiring movers and it freaks me out enough to not think about it and just stay put. But, I don't feel like I should be in New York out of habit or convenience - and it's been feeling that way. It feels like the only things holding me here are my job, the food co-op and Prospect Park.

Truthfully, I have deep doubts that I'll be able to build a community of friends that will keep me here (hopefully I'm not sabotaging myself) and, if I don't, who knows if I'll have the balls to pull the trigger and actually move? But, let's put that aside and have some fun with this: Where would I want to go? Right off the bat there are a few places I'd consider:

Portland, OR
I keep hearing such good things about this city. How friendly, beautiful and green it is and that it's a pedestrian- and bike-friendly city. I've never been there, but I want to check it out. I hear the economy isn't so great there, though. Plus, I don't know much about this city.

Seattle, WA
Another city I've never been to but hear good things about. The stereotype is that it gets a lot of rain but a friend of mine who lives there says that it's the 26th rainiest city in the US and that the small amount of rain they do receive is just spread out over more days. I hear I'd get good coffee.

San Francisco/Bay Area, CA
(Settle down now, Chelc! :-) I've been to SF once, back in 1995. For years, everybody said I would love it and truthfully, I didn't. I recall a lot of homeless people. We went to a restaurant, sat outside and a homeless guy, who was on a cell phone, stopped and asked us for money. Another memory of SF: driving up a hill in a convertible and thinking that it felt a lot like being on a rollercoaster and feeling really, really nervous.

I really liked Marin County (and I recall that being very expensive, so I doubt I could live there). So why is the bay area on the list? Because I really liked California as a whole (we went everywhere while there) and am willing to give SF and the surrounding area another look. Plus, I'd probably be able to get a job there. High, high, high cost of living though.

Raleigh/Durham, NC
I went here because of my job and found the area to be very charming, especially Durham. Jobs might be a little more old-school than I'd like (not exactly known for their internet start-ups) but it has access to beaches and mountains and the weather is pretty nice and the pace is slower. The area is surrounded by colleges and therefore has a lot of progressive, liberal people. However, while there, I noticed subtle racism in relation to how Raleigh inhabitants spoke of Durham. Durham clearly was where the black people lived and they spoke of it as crime-ridden, containing a lot of "foot traffic" and as undesirable. Meanwhile, people from Durham stated that crime wasn't a problem at all. Durham definitely seemed diverse and that's a positive. Housing-wise, both areas are still relatively affordable and I'm actually considering purchasing a place just to rent out.

Florida
This one's obvious. My family is in South Florida, but that doesn't mean I'd automatically move to Miami but it would seem stupid to move there and be 4 hours away by car. Job-wise, I wouldn't have a lot to choose from, it's not known for its tech community (yet, surprisingly, Mashable is holding an event in Miami). The allure is spending more time with my family and having more access to the beach and pools. Downsides are the multitudes of strip malls and chain restaurants, although I tend to find really good Indian food in FL. Another issue is that FL is so car-oriented. I like driving, voluntarily. It's another thing to have to commute on a regular basis and live in my car.

Ok, so clearly I have a few places to visit. If I did move out to the West coast, I think my mom would be sad. I visit her quite often since it's cheap and quick to fly down from NY. No more weekend trips if I did that, though.

I decided to take the test at findyourspot.com and see what they have to say. (It made me a little uncomfortable taking the quiz, with them asking all sorts of religious and political questions. If you decide to take it, use a fake name and your spam email address.)

What did Find Your Spot suggest?
1. Portland, Or
2. Baltimore, Md
3. Corvallis, Or
4. Hartford, Ct
5. Fredrick, Ma

And what am I looking for in a city?

- Pedestrian friendly
- Good public transportation system
- A vibrant downtown or neighborhood main street
- Local shops, not full of strip malls
- Music scene
- Colleges nearby
- Relatively nice weather
- Nearby beach, parks, forests, mountains, lakes, something.
- Vegetarian friendly (meaning a co-op, local veg restaurants, farmer's markets, etc)
- Available tech jobs
- Some crunchy granola-ness
- Not terribly congested
- Not republican

Clearly some of the places I've mentioned don't satisfy some of the options on my list, but I'm willing to give on some of these things if I really like the place.

So what are your thoughts? Have you been or lived in some of these cities? Are there cities I should consider that I haven't mentioned?

Are we there yet?

When I go to visit my family in Florida, If I can, usually book the earliest flight leaving on Friday morning (which usually ends up being at the ungodly hour of 5:45am) and return Sunday on the last flight of the night. I always expect delays on the return flight, since it's the last flight out, but nothing like what happened on Sunday.

My flight was scheduled for 945pm. I knew it would be delayed somewhat because everything was a mess on Sunday; Airports in New York and NJ were closed and there were delays up and down the East coast because of it. JFK was grounded for five hours, yet American's website was saying that my flight was still "on time." Whatever, I was hanging out at home with my mom.

By the time it came for me to head over to the airport, the flight was delayed for an hour. Ended up being an hour and a half which isn't too bad considering that flights earlier in the day were either canceled or delayed for 5 hours. We all board and the crew tells us the one of the A/Cs is malfunctioning (aircrafts of that size have two A/C packs but can operate on one). It is crazy hot on the plane. Pretty much it's like there's a fan on inside of a closed, windowless room, but they tell us that it should get cooler once we take off. We're late, sitting there and come to find out there's no ground crew to take the plane away from the gate. So we sit in the hot plane. At some point, we find out they're giving out water in the back and I get up along with several passengers. People are tired, hungry. I talk to a few passengers who traveled from Haiti and have been traveling and delayed since 9am. We don't take off until sometime after 11pm.

It doesn't get cooler after take off. With over 260 people on board plus crew, it's getting hotter and people are fainting and getting sick. Call bells are going off like crazy, attendants going back and forth. An announcement is made for physicians and nurses to go to the back of the plane. After 40 minutes in the air, the plane is diverted back to Miami because of the heat and sick passengers.

As we're landing I look out the window and see all these firetrucks and police cars on the tarmac. For a moment, I thought something else was going on but after we land, they follow us.

When we all exit the plane, we're told there's another plane that's arriving and that we'll be taking off at 12:30am. We all groan and wait in another gate. All the shops are closed and there are no vending machines available. No water. We wait. It takes a while for passengers to exit this plane and we find out that this flight's from Santo Domingo - it has to undergo an agricultural inspection before it can get cleaned.

By this time, it's 1am. Then, we get an unexpected announcement: the plane needs to get cleaned, we need to get on it, seated, overhead bins closed, door closed, before 2am or else the flight has to be canceled. FAA regulations state that flight crew cannot be outside of the plane after 2am (but they are allowed be in the plane and in the air ).

Surprisingly, or maybe not considering the time of night/morning it was, people weren't up in arms. No one was charging the desk demanding satisfaction. People were calm or sleeping. I'm sitting behind some people, one of whom is a doctor who helped one of the sick passengers. "We're not going to make it," he says. He goes on to say that if we don't make this flight, the next time we can fly out is 7pm on Monday. He's talking with his family, who ask if the airlines won't just put everyone on the next flight. "No," he says. "Those flights already have passengers. For whatever reason, the next empty plane is only available in the evening."

At around 1:30am, the ground crew announces that the plane is being cleaned right now and that we need to get ready to board. They're going to board by group number, and we need to be as organized as possible in order to make it on board before the cut-off time. People start to murmur, and the doctor's family behind me start saying that everyone should line up by seat number. People start to get up and get ready.

Finally an announcement is made for pre-boarding. Ground crew tells us that the flight crew is "unhappy and tired, and not really interested in flying. It's up to you to get on this plane and make it happen." It's kinda shocking that she's telling us this. She calls out group numbers and people hustle like I've never seen. People are orderly, not blocking the entrance, moving swiftly.

The plane boards from back to front. I'm in the middle, group 4. When I get on the plane, people are clapping and cheering us on. I quickly stow my bag and sit down. People already seated cheer on the people coming aboard, cheer on the doctor who's running up and down the aisle shutting overhead bins. Every time someone comes on, they're cheered. Other people are getting out of their seats to close open bins and are cheered.

By the time the last person gets on, it's around 1:52 am. Ground crew gets on the speakers and tells us "You guys did it! Congratulations from everyone on the ground crew! We've never seen a faster boarding ever!" All the passengers cheer and clap. It was probably the most awesome thing I've seen airline passengers do in the face of a cancellation. It certainly was an accomplishment! An "unhappy" flight crew member gets on the speaker and in a voice mixed with sarcasm says "Well, you all are certainly proud of yourselves."

And we were.

We landed at JFK at 5:00am. As if to make up for the flying mess, the train gods decided to take pity (they usually do not) and made sure AirTrain, LIRR and the MTA trains were all scheduled so that I waited for each train for less than 2 minutes and I got home in less than an hour. It was daylight by the time I got home.

I have to say, I've had some pretty bad flying experiences but while this one was the longest, it wasn't the worst. Maybe it's because it was so late that people were tired, but we all seemed to roll with it. It certainly was an adventure and I've never seen people hustle and support each other like that on an airplane!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Word

We all have our quirks. I talk to myself. Out loud. Mostly at home but if anyone paid attention they'd notice I do this at work and out on the street (although I'll classify that as "utterances.")

Here's one quirk of mine that comes into awareness every once in a while and I just did it 10 minutes ago. In my apartment, where I do most of my talking, I have the habit of stopping and saying out loud, "Ok, here's the situation."

Most of the time, I'll continue from there and think or speak aloud the issue I'm chewing on, but some of the times I end up totally derailing and doing something different, something I can't really stop until I finish and it's this:

Ok, here's the situation
My parents went away on a week's vacation and
They left the keys to the brand new Porsche
Would they mind?
Umm, well, of course not

Pay attention, here's the thick of the plot
I pulled up to the corner at the end of my block
That's when I saw this beautiful girlie girl walking
I picked up my car phone to perpetrate like I was talking

You should've seen this girl's bodily dimensions
I honked my horn just to get her attention
She said, "Was that for me?"
I said, "Yeah"
She said, "Why?"
I said, "Come on and take a ride with a helluva guy"

[whoop whoop sound]

She said, "How do I know you're not sick?
You could be some deranged lunatic"

I said, "C'mon toots - my name is the Prince
Beside, would a lunatic drive a Porsche like this?"

She agreed and we were on our way
She was looking very good and so was I, I say - word

We hit McDonald's, pulled into the drive
We ordered two Big Macs and two large fries and Cokes

She kicked her shoes off onto the floor
She said, "Drive fast, speed turns me on"

She put her hand on my knee, I put my foot on the gas
We almost got whiplash, I took off so fast

The roof was open , the music was high
And this girl's hand was steadily moving up my thigh

She had opened up three buttons on her shirt so far
I guess that's why I didn't notice that police car

We're doing ninety in my Mom's new Porsche
And to make this long story short - short
When the cop pulled me over I was scared as hell
I said, "I don't have a license but I drive very well, officer"

I almost had a heart attack that day
Come to find out the girl was a twelve-year-old runaway

I was arrested, the car was impounded
There was no way for me to avoid being grounded

My parents had to come off of vacation to get me
I'd rather be in jail than to have my father hit me

That's from "Parents Just Don't Understand." I just checked and there are some omissions and errors, but this is how I recite it in my head, "whoop whoop" sound included.

Yeah.

History of Tabs

A short read about the History of tabs.

Merlin Mann gets major points for using the term, "office supply fetishist" of which I certainly am (who knew there was a term?) and a zillion points for mentioning James Burke, creator of the documentary series Connections and The Day the Universe Changed, both of which played a huge role in forming the person that I am.

If you haven't watched either of James Burke's series, definitely try to see them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do you think you can dance?

Here's the thing: I hated dancing. I was made to take tap, jazz and ballet during my childhood. On my father's side, everyone loves to dance and they're all good at it. Me? I didn't feel comfortable dancing, I hated every moment of those dance classes and I wanted nothing to do with the blah, blah, blah "express yourself" blah, blah "it's fun!" bullshit that I grew up hearing about.

When I got old enough, my friends would drag me to clubs and I'd hang by the wall, enjoying the music, watching them and everyone dance. I'd dance if I had a few drinks, under pressure from my friends, feeling uncomfortable doing something that made me feel incredibly self-conscious and doing my best to hide my discomfort. I did not consider it my form of expression at all and I absolutely did not like it.

So what the hell happened to me last month because now I have this desire that will not go away to go out dancing in addition to really wanting to take dancing lessons so I can properly learn how to cha-cha, rumba and samba?

When my grandmother died, I immediately flew down to Florida. The day or two after her memorial service, a bunch of us went out and had a few a lot of drinks and decided to go to a club afterwards. If you follow my tweets, you might recall a bunch of posts where I talked about this club. Ok, me and two family friends were the only ones younger than 40. Average age? No question over 55. I'm standing there, jaw dropping. There's a guy with a walker dancing!

So in this place, with this unlikely crowd, feeling emotional, intoxicated, and laughing hysterically, I got pulled onto the dance floor (by the two in the photo) to much protestation. And we just danced and laughed. I danced with my family and friends all night long and felt something I had never felt or connected with before: that it's about so much more than dancing.

Now I get it, the emotion behind the movement of others, the emotion behind mine and I understood why for so long I couldn't express myself this way and why it's at this point in my life that I can and want to. And, not for nothing, but it was a lot of fun.

So yeah, I think I can dance. :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dragging out the old diaries

My friend bearclau wrote a great post about journaling and it got me thinking about my own history with it.

I got my first diary when I was eight. It's a red Nancy Drew diary with a lock. At that age, most of my entries were similar to these two gems:
March 8th
Ricki is stupid. He eats dodo and pea for lunch breakfast dinner
March 21st
Ricki is all the bad words in this whole universe!

I love how I couldn't spell. And hey, I remember Ricki to be a very nice kid and one of my best friends!

The second diary I got when I was eleven. I wrote in it sporadically and it goes up until 1989 (I focused mostly on stories, novels and poetry during that timeframe). This diary is mostly full of my seemingly neverending roster of crushes:
5/10/87 - Sun. 11:00pm
I'm supposed 2 be asleep. my dumb dog is barking and it's mom's day (mother's day). I'm writing a book which I plan to sell. ps I don't heart Jason anymore y'know. I'm attracted to Scott S. but I don't like him.
I have giant bubble handwriting throughout this diary. I also pasted in a movie ticket stub from the flick "Summer School", Edwin Jeans tags, and a Wham! sticker. So '80s.

After high school, I moved my diary to the computer and started calling it a journal. I thought it was great but then I realized that I would self-censor and edit my journals and it got really bad - bad enough that I read those entries and can see myself struggling with my feelings and sharing them. So I decided to go back to writing in a paper journal exclusively about two years ago. I wanted the physical experience of writing and not being able to immediately edit. Physically writing things down highlights the vulnerability I feel in sharing my feelings (even on paper) and I want to feel that strain and be conscious of it.

Bearclau wrote about wanting her journals to be a part of her legacy. Not sure if I want that for mine, at least not the "adult years." Mine are snippets, never daily entries, out of context and damning! It was fun to pull out my early diaries though. You know, I may be willing to read my teen diary and get mortified! Nahh, but I'd sure love to go hear someone read from theirs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Viv: Party of one

I bought a Regina Spektor ticket this morning and was just about to buy a Tegan and Sara ticket when the thought of going to yet another concert by myself filled me with complete boredom.

The vast majority of the shows I took in last year, the ones I've seen this year, or have tickets to for later this year, and every classical music performance I see, I see by myself.

How come? Lots of reasons. I tend to be spontaneous. By the time I figure out someone I like or want to hear is playing, it's time to buy the tickets. I don't want to lose a good seat to track down a friend who likes the band. Other times, people tend not to be available or don't want to go to a particular show. But, the majority of the time it's because I don't want to find someone to go with me to do something I'm interested in.

I'm an only child. I'm skilled in entertaining myself. Played with dolls by myself. Played card games by myself. Wrote and drew pictures by myself. Rode my bike by myself. If none of the neighborhood kids were out, I'd create my own adventures. I didn't sit around sulking about doing things by myself, I just never really thought about it because it was my reality. Other kids would ask me if I felt lonely without siblings and I didn't, because there's a difference between being alone and being lonely and how could I miss and long for something I never experienced?

At the same time, it was drilled into me by my childhood friends that you're supposed to have someone to do things with and that if you want to go do something like swim, go to the mall or the movies, whatever, you're supposed to call up all your friends and find out who wants to go with you and if you can't find someone, well, you just don't go.

I thought that was a load of crap. Why am I not going to do something I want to do because I can't find someone else to do it with me? Oh, rebellious, independent Viv! I will say this: doing everything by yourself gets kinda old. I've been at this for quite some time and while I love my own company and treasure, value and protect my alone time like a big shiny diamond, I do like spending time with friends! Going to dinner or the movies, the museum or concerts by myself can be awfully boring because at some point during it all I just want to turn to someone and talk about what I'm experiencing. I want to share the experience with someone else.

I love that I'm the kind of person who will do her own thing (#2 of 50!) and I'm not going to stop doing things by myself, ever. But I will concede, some things are more fun with a friend.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Takeoff

I'm flying to Raleigh, NC for work and we just took off from JFK. For
the first time in years, I have a window seat.

I grew up flying, thanks to my dad working for Varig airlines. I used
to love going to visit him at the airport and watching the airplanes
take off and land from an employees only rooftop. My dad, being an
aviation nut, knew all the call signs and could tell you the make and
model of a plane flying overhead without being able to make out the
ensignia. Often we'd go to the airport, park the car and watch planes
land, full with the rush and roar and energy of the whole thing. I
couldn't get enough of it.

Whenever we flew, which was often, I'd take a window seat and bounce
excitedly during takeoff, my favorite part of the whole ride. It was
an adventure.

Over the years I started to fly less and became wary of the whole
experience. Window seats were for kids and noobs; the aisle seat is
where the experienced and harried traveler sat. With ageing also came
the unsettling realization that I was mortal, the plane could crash
and turbulence and otherwise normal flight sounds started to freak me
out. After 9/11, it turned even scarier and I barely took flights and
for the most part white-knuckled it during takeoff (the most dangerous
part of the flight) when I did.

This past Christmas I realized that I was missing out on seeing my
family because of it and resolved to not let this fear stop me any
longer. I booked 4 flights, one for each season. And then my
grandmother got sick and I booked some more so that I ended up with a
flight every month. On that first flight I took back home when she was
in the hospital and diagnosed, I sat in my aisle seat and forgoed my
usual routine takeoff distraction (unlawfully listening to my ipod
during takeoff) and thought about what I really was afraid of and
forced myself to be really present and feel my fear.

It worked. I got through it. I started to enjoy the flight and
remember what I loved about planes and flying.

So here I am at a window seat and during takeoff, I turned up the
music (lawfully pumped through Jetblue's xm radio) and excitedly
watched our takeoff and restrained my desire to hoot and holler. As we
banked to the left and Rockaway beach was below us, I thought about
how yeah, this is a bit scary but also exciting and that's life.

Being the type of person willing to face her fears is one of the 50
things I love about myself.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, June 13, 2008

My 4's - for Bearclau

I normally don't do these things but I'll do it for you! :-)

My 4's
A) Four places that I go to over and over: Joyce bakeshop, the gym (LOL), prospect park, food co-op
B) Four people who e-mail me (regularly): *crickets* Not much email anymore.
C) Four of my favorite places to eat: home, Brick Lane, Candle Cafe, Saravanaas, Meskel.
D) Four places I would rather be right now: on a beach, in the water, in a open grassy area, under a tree.
E) Four people I think will respond: four? Sheesh, see B.
F) Four TV shows I watch (regularly): Family Guy, The Office, Mad Men (when it's on), 30 Rock.

As revenge, list 50 things you like about yourself!

catching up

Why is it possible to hold contradictory emotions? Why can I feel happy, sad, miserable, and lonely and still say I love my life with a big smile on my face and mean it?

Things have been non-stop since I got back from Florida and exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. Now I'm sitting on the couch watching a movie (High Fidelity. I watched it when it came out in 2000 but just finished reading the book so I'm re-watching it) and while the movie is good, I'm here blogging and I also have a strong desire to jump into a pool and sink to the bottom and stay there for as long as I can before I'm forced to come up for air.

There's a lot to do this weekend, I don't want to do any of it, but I have to because it's been so long since I've been home and/or awake while home.

I'm going to spend some time now catching up on the blogs I haven't read in two weeks. Meanwhile, the bloggess makes me laugh out loud. Read it! Love it!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Update

Gang, I got a call earlier this afternoon around 1pm that my
grandmother was in the hospital and might not make it through the
night. I haven't mentioned it here, but earlier this year she was
diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer. That's why I've been flying to
Florida once a month.

I went back home, changed my flight which I had scheduled leaving
Friday to this afternoon. I packed, got ready and was about to head
out the door when my father called to let me know that she passed at
2pm.

Now I'm sitting in JFK at jet blue's terminal. I really thought that
I'd have time to get there, that she'd hold on a little bit longer.
But she was surrounded by her sons and her husband and extended family
that loved her. And she most certainly knew just how much I loved her
and how thankful and grateful I am for the love and support she gave
me all of my life.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another suburban family morning

I sang Synchronicity II while playing Rock Band tonight. Haven't heard the song in years and as I was reading off the lyrics and singing, I remembered how much this song and the album impacted my life, listening at 10 years old, and how this song summed up what I thought the average married adult life was about.

Some of the lyrics that resonated for me as a kid:

Daddy only stares into the distance, there's only so much more that he can take

Every single meeting with his so-called superior is a humiliating kick in the crotch

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance. He knows that something somewhere has to break.

He sees the family home now looming in his headlights, the pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache.

Many miles away there's a shadow on the door [the monster from the lake]

This song was all about my father. My father would come home, angry, talking about his own humiliating kicks in the crotch, drink and verbally snap, his way of handling his constant life disappointments and the reminders of his financial responsibilities. My mom's method for handling all of this was to just ignore his tantrums while I, a child, was caught in the middle and often asked to play armchair psychologist (I had already read Freud by that age and was reading Jung because of The Police). For me, the monster was not at the door but in the house making himself at home. I was terrified a lot of the time.

This was my parent's life. Sting was singing about it so it meant others lived this way too. So, this is what marriage was and I had to avoid at all costs being in a marriage and bearing the brunt of this from a husband.

Eventually I realized that my parent's relationship wasn't what everyone had. My aunt and uncle moved down to Florida a few years later and provided a positive model of adulthood and marriage but I have always struggled with the idea that eventually, a marriage would turn someone into the kind of person that grips the wheel and hates me and his life.

As I've grown older I think that it is I who would feel this way instead.

Wow, this sound awful, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Whoa!!

I was talking with a friend of mine about my weekend and that I made pizza. He asked if I made the dough from scratch (yes) and the sauce (no). I told him that I can't seem to make a good tomato sauce. The only period in my life in which I did was before I went away to college and lived at home. Back then, my sauce was so good that tasting it while cooking put the entire sauce in danger of being eaten before mixing it with the pasta. I said to him, "well then I went away to college and by the time I was able to cook for real again, I forgot what I put in it. Now, it's always too acidic. I can never get it right."

He says, "Maybe it's your pans."

"Well, before I went away to college I cooked in really nice pans and since graduating, I've had these shitty pans. I really want new pans, especially All-Clad, but I've put it off..." and as I tell him this it hits me why I've had shitty ass pans all of these years and I yell, "Holy crap! I haven't bought good pans because it's something I've expected to get as a wedding gift! I haven't bought good pans because it's what you get when you're settled!"

I have unconsciously not bought good pans and have used bad pans for oh, 11 years because somewhere, buried in my subconscious, I have associated good pans with marriage. Marriage equals registry equals high-end kitchenware from Williams-Sonoma. And I never even believed in registries! How on Earth did that happen? Well, I guess since I've deconstructed every wedding/marriage belief and fantasy I've ever had growing up, one was bound to get missed.

My friend then says, "You're settled. Get your All-Clad. Make the sauce."

Absolutely right. I'm so totally getting a new set of awesome pans!

Monday, May 26, 2008

What I did on my information vacation

It's only 7pm, but vacation is over because as soon as this blog post is done I'm doing laundry and possibly cleaning the apartment.

The only stuff I did on the computer (including the iphone) is twitter, play a game of scrabulous, read the NYTimes, and upload some photos to flickr. I didn't touch my email, read any blogs or watch TV. So what did I do? For the most part, I spent my weekend in the park. Saturday, after working at the co-op, I stopped by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to say hello to two coworkers and then napped on a secluded bench. I stopped by the library hoping to score Haruki Murakami's "A Wild Sheep Chase" or any Murakami book I haven't read (nope, I cannot be spontaneous about books in the central library. I always fail). Instead, I went through my pile of books I got for free at the BN.com giveaways and settled on "Elsewhere." Took me a few pages to realize that Elsewhere was a young adult novel, but hey, at that point I was already ensconced in the park and wasn't going to go back home to pick something else out.

Sunday I spent the entire afternoon in the park lounging, reading and writing in my journal. Heading back home, I came across a gingerbread church off the path. This thing must have been in someone's house for the past five months!


In the evening after a run (sans podcast), I made pizza from scratch (made the dough, but not the cheese), enjoyed a glass a wine and watched Brokeback Mountain which was absolutely the most boring movie I've seen in a while plus I needed subtitles to understand Heath Ledger.

Today, I woke up early again and headed back to the park to finish the teen novel. L. was there with her son and we hung out. On the way back home, I made a point to walk past the gingerbread church, which had collapsed, probably due to moisture as the steeple wasn't crushed.


I made another pizza from yesterday's leftover dough, which I promised to post a photo of for L. This one, while tastier, larger and thinner than the one last night, got stuck to the pizza peel while going into the oven and some cheese and sauce slid out of place. Still, it was beyond edible (yes, I love a lot of basil and after this photo was taken, I drizzled evoo all over this baby and topped it off with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano)!


So this was a great weekend! I got to see some peeps, relax, read, cook, think and enjoy life! I did think about what I was missing on the blogosphere, but it will be there tomorrow. I'm in no rush to read it. :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

let me borrow that (black) top

Even though my cousin makes fun of me for wearing black every time I come down to Florida (it's called packing light, B.), I realized this morning while getting dressed that I have completely reduced the number of black shirts to such a degree that I don't even have a nice black top to wear to work anymore.

This all started because I had a "talking to" by friends and family a few years ago about how I needed to branch out from only wearing black. Now the only black items I own are said t-shirts, two sexy black sleeveless tops I cannot wear to work, a black cashmere sweater, and three dresses.

I think I was too successful in excising black from my wardrobe. I need an all purpose black top to dress up or down.

And because I'm talking about tops, here's Kelly! (ZOMG! LOVE Kelly!)

Information vacation

I consume a lot of information. Every day I read my favorite tech blogs, read the New Yorker on the train, read the New York Times online, scan local message boards at home, scan work-related message boards at work, listen to NPR while working, listen to podcasts while running, watch TiVo while emailing. And so on.

All of this information can be inspiring and it all churns around in my head. I find some creative and professional inspiration and go home and play around with it. That's very gratifying even if nothing comes of it.

However, since I'm a loner at heart, an only child used to amusing herself, I'm aware that I can easily get caught up in keeping myself occupied, and it's also a side effect of being alone.

Sometimes I think about what good all of this constant information serves. Yeah, it's nice knowing things, I like being on top of what's going on. When I'm away from my computer for a weekend... wait, that's so unrealistic... Ok, when I'm away from my computer while down in Miami, I come back and see how many unread posts I have in my aggregator. There's this constant supply of information that I can never fully be up on. I could easily be a slave to it, putting aside real-life activities for the (very real) joy of information acquisition. So when I downloaded snackr tonight (and I love it!), it was a signal of my need to slow down and re-establish some balance.

I wasn't too happy about the Memorial day weekend rolling around (it always seems to catch me off guard) since I have zero plans, but now I plan on taking an information vacation. Or as much of one as I can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

you're gonna belt that, right?

I wore a belt with my jeans yesterday. I really hate belting pants and normally I'll refuse to wear them but I needed to, those jeans are pretty low rise.

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy who would run around in either shorts or skirts. I hated wearing pants and my mom, for whatever reason, would always put me in pants or dark washed jeans when I needed to be "presentable." Funny, she never made me wear fancy dresses. It's almost like she knew I hated pants and therefore demanded pants whenever I needed to be paraded in front of adults (maybe it was a feminist thing). The pants? They would always be belted.

(I can't believe she put me in pleats, too.) So belts = stuffy and uncomfortable. The minute I was allowed to choose what to wear I ditched the belts. I know it drives her nuts that I don't wear them, either.

Unfortunately, I guess I couldn't avoid them because when my mom was in town last year, I put on those jeans I wore yesterday and while walking around the city, she saw me hiking them up several times and insisted that we stop somewhere and buy a belt. And wear it. So ok, she had a point and every once in a while (meaning: only when I wear those jeans) I wear a belt.

Heh, my mom still can make me wear a belt.

Monday, May 12, 2008

fonts

I watched the documentary Helvetica last night and loved it. My uncle, quite possibly the person who's had the most varied impact on my life, was interested in typeface when I was a kid and had typeface booklets laying around that I would love to look at and copy. So this movie was beyond interesting to me. It's probably why I immediately loved brandtags.net. The idea is that you go to the site and are shown a brand's logo and you're supposed to respond with a word or a phrase that you associate with the brand. But it's the response page that's enjoyable. Varied font sizes correspond to the number of responses. Take a look at the Playboy page (which I picked because of the variety of course) and just scroll down. Isn't it lovely?

nothing exciting

It's late, not crazy late, but late for a Sunday night to be up and watching really bad TV. As soon as I'm done writing this blog post I'm going to skim through Time Out New York and I guess try and go to bed.

I looked at the forecast for the week and supposedly it's all rain which is a shame as I made the decision to try and rotate through all of the Spring/Summer shoes I have instead of wearing the same ones over and over. I really don't want to wear rain boots all week.

I had a great time Friday night with former PRN coworkers but the weekend was too quiet. Watched movies, cooked, hung out in the park on Saturday. Today woke up late, walked around, cleaned the apartment. Meh, nothing exciting.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Membership has...

Earlier this month I decided to return to the gym. I canceled my NYSC membership if you recall and decided to primarily run outside and do strength training in my apartment. This actually worked really well when I had a running partner but became increasingly harder without one. Plus, I was battling with myself in trying to consistently wake up and be out the door by 7am every morning.

Instead of returning to NYSC, which I honestly liked despite them not fixing equipment as fast as one would like, I decided to explore Equinox. Equinox is this pricey, fancy-schmancy gym that I had never set foot in but heard nice things about. I really figured this would be a little posh for my taste but I went in and took a tour. Well. I used to work at Williams Island Spa back in Aventura (spa located on a ultra exclusive private residential island for the rich and famous) when I was 18 and this was better than that: super nice locker rooms, clean environment, a lot of equipment, all beautifully decorated in minimalist chic. I decided to take the plunge and pay a lot more for a gym and committed myself to going. A lot.

As soon as I started to use the facilities I noticed that there weren't a lot of towel hampers or garbage pails. Especially in the locker room. Example: they give out disposable razors but there aren't any containers in the shower area for you to deposit the safety cover or the razor once you're done. In the actual locker area, there's only two towel hampers: on your way in and right by the showers. There are three vanities with lotions, hair spray, gel, deodorant, hair dryers and tissues. There are no small garbage bins underneath the vanities, but only in the sink area and right by the entranceway.

I thought these were major design flaws. On my first day using the locker room, I had to carry my razor (along with other stuff) outside of the shower area and toss it, I had to leave my stuff on the bench and walk back into the shower area to toss my wet towel, I had to take tissues that I used at the vanity, along with my jacket and bag, and toss it in the front bin. I kept thinking how inconvenient all of this was to me, because while they sound like little things, it was inefficient, a handful, and forced me to go out of my way to clean up after myself. I noticed that the other women left their used items behind: they left their used wet towels on the benches, their razor caps in the shower, and their tissues on the vanity. I thought this was very bad form on the ladies part, bad design on Equinox's and it was all leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

At NYSC, they too have vanities and towels. But there are bins everywhere and a grumbling attendant. You're encouraged and asked to clean up after yourself. Not doing so is frowned upon. But yesterday, I noticed something else. Quietly and behind the scenes, a pack of women who work at the club were picking up towels, tissues, razor caps. They wiped down the floor, the benches, the counters. They whizzed in and out of showers, the steam room, the bathroom. They were constantly cleaning and picking up after everyone. Then it hit me: being cleaned up after is an unspoken amenity people were paying for! They want you to leave your wet towel on the bench. They want you to leave the razor cap in the shower. It's encouraged. Because there are women employed to pick it up almost as soon as you put it down. It's like having a maid.

So there I am, standing in the locker area looking around and coming to the realization that not cleaning up after yourself is an amenity for those who can pay $137 a month for a gym. That not cleaning up after yourself is considered a privilege here, not crude behavior.

One word: Wow.

Ok, a few more: Really? Like, really? We're just supposed to toss our wet towels on the bench, leave our used shit around and have other people clean it up? Doesn't' this go against everyone's upbringing? It goes against mine! Whatever happened to common courtesy? I'm supposed to be ok with leaving my wet towel on the freaking bench? Oh, everyone else is doing it. WTF? They make it so hard to do otherwise.... and, and, and.... this is what they WANT me to do! It's designed that way!

Another way to look at it is that I get a break from cleaning up. There, I don't have to worry about it. I get to relax and let someone else take care of the little things. I get to focus on what I'm there to do, not about whether or not I'm leaving the place the way I found it. After all, it's a privilege. It's like being in a hotel room. You know someone will come and clean up after you so you don't worry about using all the towels and leaving them in a heap in the corner because when you come back later on, it's all pretty and clean again.

Fascinating.
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

to tat or not to tat

I've been having a debate with myself for years. Do I get a tattoo or not? There are a few symbols that are really dear to me but the idea of permanently inking my skin, even for a symbol that means a lot, scares the crap out of me. I can't imagine that something that looks good on me when I'm 35 is going to be hawt when I'm 75. But hey, I'm going to suspend that hesitancy for a moment and talk about what I'd like and where I'd like it.

The Ouroboros
why: Symbolizing infinity, eternity, the cycle of birth and death, creation and destruction, the snake or dragon biting its tail has always been an image that I resonate with. I grew up knowing the image of snake, but it was only in college that I learned that a dragon is also used. And I love dragons. My tattoo would be a dragon ouroboros.

style: I'd like it to be red or green and a modernization of this image. Add some wings, change the shape just a bit.

where: Obviously this is a circular tattoo. I've thought about placing it on my back hip or back shoulder. Not too crazy about that. I really don't want a tattoo where I can't see it. Plus, this is a symbol that's close to my heart and if I didn't have boobs, I'd get it right on my chest. Another option is to put it next to my hip bone on the front, but eh.

verdict: This tattoo I've thought about for a very long time. However, I don't know about having a tattoo somewhere I can't see it. I want to be able to see it, look and examine it, and savor the meaning and beauty. I really don't want it to be for the enjoyment of others.


The Dragon
why: Dragons are awesome. I don't have some deep spiritual connection with dragons, but I love the way they look.

style: I've always liked Masuimi Max's red dragon tat, but it's a bit too Eastern for my taste. The styling, however, is nice. I'd like a slightly smaller size. I envision something in blue. I'd let an artist draw up a few ideas using Masuimi's as an example.

where: Again, I like the placement of Masuimi's tat. Upper right arm. Good location, I'd be able to look at it, and through the years it won't look like shit on a 70 year old.

verdict: I'm liking this one more and more.


The Anchor
why: I was always fascinated with the anchor tats I'd see on older Navy men when I was a kid. I would eye the faded green anchor on their forearm or bicep and just really wanted one too.

style: I'd like this to resemble a 1940s anchor tattoo. That simple.

where: This would definitely go on the outside of my upper right arm.

verdict: I have nothing to do with sailing or the Navy. The only reasons I'd want this is because of a childhood memory, and well, it's totally butch.

Final thoughts

While the ouroboros is the symbol I like the best, it's the dragon that would look the best on me. I really like the idea of having something on my upper right arm. My hesitation is I don't want to put something permanently on my body that I don't have a strong connection with. While I love dragons, it's specifically the ouroboros that I want, but I'm certain I don't want a tattoo on my back.

I'll have to think some more. I'd like to see some sketches of what I'd want. Then I'd have to find a really good artist. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Something to say

I got this really nice email from a friend of mine and asked her if I could post it and my response. Sometimes I wonder if I'm freaking you guys out with all of the personal stuff I write in here. It's not something we talk about and I felt that part of my reply to her is something I wanted to say to y'all...
subject: something to say

Was going to talk to you last Sunday, but I never got the chance. Your blog really has shared a lot of things that most people try to hide and I really admire your ability to throw it out there. I don't feel right to comment on your public comments though.??? But, it's weird that I read everything and want to discuss it with you, but I've read it and the time never comes up that is appropriate to talk to you about it.

And is that something that you'd even want? Maybe you write to get it out there, but not really discuss it. I'm not sure. But you've inspired me to write myself. I've been writing for about a month and it's because your posts are very honest and emotional. I strangely feel closer to you (thinking that I know you better), but in some ways I don't think you know that? It's really a strange mechanism to communicate life experiences. But now, I find it to be such a useful tool to put shit down and figure a few things out about how I feel or deal with things. Anyways, I just wanted to say that you inspired me and that someday I'd love to talk about some of the things you write about if the appropriate moment arrives.

My reply:

Wow. This email is unexpected. Thank you!

I do wonder if my blog is too personal at times, too awkward for others to read. I imagine it could be awkward to respond to something personal. I do write with the knowledge that people read it, and I wouldn't put anything out there that I wasn't comfortable saying to someone face to face. I find it easier to articulate my thoughts when writing vs speaking. Plus, I like the self-discovery and the risk I face in sharing vulnerabilities. Ultimately, I get to know myself better and you and others get to come along for the ride!

If you want to talk to me about stuff I've written, you can; I'm open to it. It would be nice. Sometimes it feels like I'm speaking to an empty room. I know I have readers, and you sometimes reply via email and some of my friends do as well, but it's daunting to get in there and not see comments. But, I'm not doing this as a popularity contest or to become some famous blogger nor does the stuff I write necessarily lend itself to public commenting.

I understand the idea that you feel closer to me. I felt that way when I used to read my coworker's blog (from Scholastic) and she talked about all the dates she was going on. We weren't necessarily close and after reading all of her stuff, I felt I knew her really well but not vice versa. It was a weird feeling, like I had snuck into her room and read her diary.

OMG, another coworker from Scholastic also had a blog which he didn't invite me or another coworker to read, but we read it anyway (before he found out and actually changed the URL). Anyway, in there he talked about work and us and one time, about how in the bathrooms at work when someone in the ladies room flushed, the toilet he would be sitting on would actually move because everything was connected. That really freaked us out, because the same thing happened in the ladies room and now we knew that we could feel it whenever the other flushed. Creepy.