Saturday, December 29, 2012

Self-Consciousness.

I'll repeat the title of this post:

Self-Consciousness.

    At midnight, I will officially turn 26 (I mean, really? I feel old. When did I reach this "old" checkpoint? I feel older than the way "twenty-six" sounds...What the hell happened?!)  So, yes, I'm entitled, as the birthday girl (obviously), to a tiny, itty bitty smidgen of self-reflection before I go about my way for the night with friends in order to celebrate yet-another year I have been alive, and yet another year, another chance, another "turning of the leaf," per se, for me to continue on my life's journey. To continue my life's work. My purpose. To continue to explore myself and deepen my relationship with the combination of mind, body, and spirit. To enrich relationships with those already in my life...and to prepare for others to enter into it. To get better. To be better. To be more thoughtful. To be more productive. To give more back to people in all ways.

I'm diving in and forging ahead, although I am often nervous and/or terrified of what the future may hold. But...yes, but...

I know me.



And, you know what? It may have taken a lot of heartache and sparring with myself (and others--BOTH literally and figuratively), but I've exited the darkness.

I know me, and I like me.

 
 
    On that note, Pozie's Poems creates these incredibly adorable hanging mobiles. Most consist of five-to-six words, all flowing vertically down on hand-painted wooden slats. Pozie's Poems is run by just a handful of people who set up shop at the Union Square Holiday Market here in New York, on the Highline with other independent designers, or a handful of other young artist and vendor flea markets. I believe that you can research them online and discover where they are currently selling, considering it changes quite often.

Give them as gifts, personalize them, or purchase one for yourself (like I did). I use mine as a visual of my own self-affirmation. But, I plan on purchasing a different version, with words I will choose, for my nephew's baby room.

 I enjoy opening my sleepy eyes to a few encouraging words in the wee hours of the morning or just glancing at it while I slip in and out of my room throughout the day.

I thought I'd share. That's all.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Trees.

    NOTE: This entry is going to run a bit longer, truth be told. You've been warned, but I assure you, well, hope (really) that you will feel something after scanning my words. The words I've written--OK, typed--are extracted directly out of my heart. Enjoy, and happy holidays. 

 

    Tonight, back in my neighborhood in Williamsburg, around 1 a.m., one of my very favorite parts of Christmas or the entire holiday season will be packing up and heading north to Canada, back home.

   My two dear friends (Yes, they are referred to as dear friends)- Max and Alain- will be selling off their last stragglers-of-Christmas trees for five dollars or something obscene, or else they will be discarded on to Metropolitan Street.

I hate that. 
I hate the empty corner where their tree stand should, and normally sits from November 15 to December 24. 
I hate returning back to Brooklyn to that vacancy after I drop my suitcase off at my apartment.
I hate that there is no longer a range of Christmas trees from small to large, a segregation of Douglas trees and Frasier firs, Christmas lights strung high above, Max and Alain's van parked right behind their makeshift hut. 
But, most of all, I hate that it has all vanished--not just the cliche symbols of the holiday season, but the warmth, the people, the conversations surrounded by the sight of hot breath hitting the brisk air, and the trees.
I will deeply, deeply, deeply miss my two dear friends and what they've come to represent. 

   These two young guys hail from Quebec, Canada. Not "Quiiii-Beck." Like, "Key-Beck." Moving on, they both work in music event production year-round. They take about six weeks off a year to drive down to New York in some beat-up van to sell Christmas trees. There's a lot of money in Christmas trees, mind you. No scoffing. But, they also continue to undergo almost pure torture to the human body and mind-numbing cabin fever in order to return to the neighborhood family they've established. We love them in Williamsburg. Food, booze, a hot shower, whatever. What is ours, is theirs.



    I've known them for three years, and for these six weeks From November to December, twenty-four hours a day, one or both of them is awake. I'm baffled at how they do it. They battle the cold weather, and the night shift, believe me, can be a hauntingly lonely one. One or both stands on the corner, chatting with neighborhood friends who stop to talk or aiding customers, wrapping up trees, etcetera...At times, a moment arises to take a seat in their hut to sit by the electric heater and stay for a bit longer, during the slower hours. 

   Max and Alain each work individual 8-hour shifts, and then they work one 8-hour shift together during peak hours. It's truly incredible. They live on a corner, doing not much else, for these six weeks. But, they are my constant. Comforting. Something very reassuring about their presence.

   I need them. I need to see them. Like, I want and need to be near that corner. It's actually difficult for me to find the appropriate words. They, their presence, their spirits, have become part of the entire season for me

    I have spent hundreds of hours on that corner with them over the years. Hundreds. Max's English has improved immensely in the past three years, but my French still needs a great deal of work. We drink wine and discuss politics late at night. Alain plays the guitar and sings Tom Petty and "Bub Dylan" as we all sing along. A few of our other neighborhood friends stop by, as we all huddle in front of the heater on those nights that the freezing December wind whips around. But, we are warm. It's warm on that corner, and it isn't due to the damn heater.

    Those are my pure and happy moments. I have to say that, in utter honesty, those are some of my most beautiful and content hours I've ever spent. 

    Us "regulars" have created this inner circle. Kathy, a 77-year-old who has lived in Williamsburg across the street from their stand for the past fifty years, arrives at eleven a.m.  and remains until 10 or 11 p.m. every single day that the boys live and work in Brooklyn. She refers to them as her grandsons. Victor, her husband, makes us all hot chocolate. Correction, Peruvian hot chocolate, which Kathy ensures that we all remember. During the days when she and I both stop by together, we help Max speak to customers, negotiate prices, and sell, if need be. Days and nights, I have helped Max and Alain sell those trees, swaying prospective buyers toward the more expensive Frasier firs over the Douglases, because "the needles don't fall off, and they look more regal--a better quality tree, my friend." 

    Kathy and I simply sit and watch the neighborhood folks walk by on other days. Kathy tells me stories of when she first came to New York with twenty dollars (which was a lot of money then, she says), sleeping on the roof of an apartment building, because it was free and the summer evenings were warm. She speaks of dating wealthy doctors and dancing at the Copacabana. "The original one, not those other copies that followed," she continues.   

   Anyway, Max aids me with my French and lectures me about the dangers of the Americans' "current situation." I explain the great mystery of the southern United States to him as he listens intently, squinting, pondering everything I'm telling him. The South fascinates him. It's quite entertaining. 

    I have so much I wish I could divulge, but, you're reading the gist. Bottom line: this is Christmas for me. They are Christmas to me. And, I don't mean Christmas in simple terms--as in the religious aspect or the surface, elementary-level viewpoint of the whole ordeal. What I'm referring to is the feeling. A feeling.

   And, back to the basics, I love the trees, don't get me wrong. I've adored the royal quality they possess since I was a child, gazing at our family's in its glory, glowing gold and burgundy almost from somewhere within. Now, though, they represent even more. So much more. When I think of these pine needles, I think of my happy place--on that corner, in that hut. I feel warmth. And, I miss. I miss, just miss... 

   I wait, each year, until they return again. They always do. I enjoy knowing that--that they return. They always do, I think to myself. They will be back, and I will be doing it all over again too.


Bedford and Metropolitan, my very own magical hideout for when the world grows a little too daunting, a little too dark, a little too something I don't feel like facing. 

I will never grow tired of walking to that corner. I have friends there among the trees.




  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stoned, man.

Picture this:

December 13, 2012...

Something incredible occurred in Newark, New Jersey. Believe me, nothing incredible occurs in Newark, New Jersey. Incredibly scary, yes. Incredibly close yet incredibly far from New york City, you bet. OK, I'll finish ripping on the poor city.

    But, the miraculous, the fabulous, the infamous Rolling Stones descended upon 'ole Newark and forever changed it. Well, in my mind, anyway.

Please allow me to introduce myself,
I'm a man of wealth and taste.
I've been around for a long, long year,l
Stole many a man's soul and faith.
 -"Sympathy for the Devil"

    They had no warm-up band, as if they needed one. No one was shelling out $750+ for tickets to see a warm-up band. Yes, SEVEN. HUNDRED. AND. FIFTY. DOLLARS.  FOR NOSEBLEED SEATS. Do you know what you can do with that kind of money?!

     Only a band, such a legendary, influential, timeless, rock'nroll band, like The Stones could have convinced even a nosebleed section to joyously hand over almost one thousand dollars for about two hours  (give or take).  This expensive ticket, though, entitled the audience to an experience unlike any other in which the pulsating pulsating pulsating sounds and the glowing glowing glowing sights of their favorite band flooded their ears and eyes.


     The feeling there, in New Jersey, was simply...just alive. The connection was palpable, easily seen and felt. The people in this crowd were tied, bound even, to this music. The lyrics. This band. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. We all existed in this bubble, a coliseum, together, unaware of time or space or anything that could have separated or differentiated any of us.

[Confession: My only grievance--The fact that "Beast of Burden" seemed to have been deliberately left off of their setlist. Like, really? Really? But, my other favorites, "Miss You," "Under my Thumb," "Sympathy for the Devil," and "Honky Tonk Women" were of course performed and performed just as I'd imagined. I guess a girl can't always get what she waaaaaants. I'm corny. I get it. ]

    It all acted as an extension of them. Granted, this music expressed so many emotions that had previously been dismissed, frowned upon, and as a result, suppressed by so many, predominantly the youth.  Especially during the social, political, and personal unrest of so many during the 60s and 70s. Art, particularly music, became the ultimate form of expression and even rebellion. A mouthpiece.

   The Rolling Stones made no excuses. They never have. They are just who they are and let their work, words, guitar riffs represent their people. So, yes, I, being one of the youngest members in the crowd--The absurdly high ticket prices served as one reason why many people in my age bracket were unable to go, unfortunately--danced and sang along with many of those who had been following The Stones since they were teenagers. These people were in love with this fantastic display of sensory overload.


 

 Their music transcends time. Their message transcends age gaps, racial barriers, and cultural differences. Here's to your 50th, Stones. I look forward to the next 50 years, in fact.



    The music-as ridiculously sentimental as this might sound-brought a crowd of thirty thousand people together that night. I literally fist-bumped, high-fived, wiggled, screamed and shimmied with concertgoers all around me, exchanging only but a few words except for the lyrics, which we were all belting. Me, not well. Not well at all.

    I will never forget this.  I will never forget those moments and how I FELT. I FELT. 

That is what we NEVER forget...
NEVER forget these moments in time when we feel so alive we could burst into a million glorious pieces. 




"They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" 

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road  



Thursday, December 13, 2012

What I Wore: Crayola.

"Well, COLOR me Happy...
There's a sofa in here for two!"
-Vivien from Pretty Woman, a legendary kind of girl.


     Speaking of...great segue, huh? Color is an amazing thing. My innate attraction to anything black in addition to living here in New York (the dark city--they call it Gotham for a reason, dear), has pretty much dictated the contents of my closet for the last few years. Blacks, whites, and greys reigned.  It's been a difficult thing- bringing in some POPS of color. No one believed in me. I never thought it would be possible to defeat the black beast. But, alas, by George, I've done it! In fact, I'm LOVING pairing unlike, non-matching colors with one another.

Last night, I saw "A Christmas Story: the Musical"  (which was such a hilarious delight!) on Broadway, and I threw together the following color combination for a night of theater and dining:

1. Teal-blue silk sheath by Diane Von Furstenberg
2. Lemon-yellow Rebecca Minkoff "MAC Daddy" shoulder bag
3.  Lime-green suede wedges by Dolce Vita
Interesting, eh? I thought so. Give it a whirl and a good twirl.
And, I leave you with my favorite scene of Vivien.
Cha-ching.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Get some clothes on!


"Just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy,
And they'll be nice to you."- Ms. Reba McEntire
     So, I've been absent for a good reason. Like, this would have been legit, I tell you, with my Chemistry teacher for a week in high school. My middle sister gave birth to my dashing (come on, we're related) nephew last week. To say that it's been hectic all around New York with family flying in and out, mini-reunions, and visits from every friend and acquaintance we know to meet the little newborn, all while juggling my own day-to-day schedule...well, hectic would be an understatement. Whiplash, honestly. I can hardly believe it's Monday again.

But, I'm itching to actually clothe myself in style again, after emerging from Babyland.
Let's get on with it, 
let's get.our.clothes.on. 
 "...Here's your chance, Fancy, don't let me down.Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."
Here, I began with two ultra winter staples that were--yes, you guessed it, Sherlocks--Fancy and from JoeFresh**an emerging retailer here in New York.



**The skinny (Vanilla latte) on JoeFresh: Created by Joe Mimran, it currently holds locations in Canada and the U.S. It's super affordable--Price-wise, it's a step above Forever 21 or H&M, but in terms of the apparel and accessories, the quality is an absolutely steal. MORE than worth it.  -See how fresh Joe is here-



To our right, we have:

1. Two-tone burgundy/red fedora ($24)

2. Camel and gold faux fur extra-large circle-stole ($39)

This is one of my FAVORITE items I've purchased in a very long time! The thing is enormous, but I adore that about it.



I like these classic feminine pieces with a bit of punch. Let's not limit ourselves to boring, straightforward, and irritatingly expected when finishing the ensemble. Staying true to my own style, I added some--OK, OK, a good amount of--leather.






1. Vintage British punk rock leather jacket from London

2. Studded Morgan black leather bag with alligator-print embossed by Alexander Wang (Genius! But then again, you already know how I feel about the designer.)

1) Learn more here-Alexander Wang's Official Site

2) Peruse here-Alexander Wang on ShopBop

3) Search hard and actually purchase some deals here-Alexander Wang on Ebay




"...Fancy, now, don't let me down. You better start movin' uptown."

--This kind of girl here. 












Monday, December 3, 2012

Step lightly, now.


On-the-go.
Planes, trains, and automobiles...and feet. Literally.

     Traveling from one place to another alllllll damn day is my reality. I'm always zipping around, carrying a million and one bags, climbing up subway stairs, hopping over rails, running after cabs, and walking walking walking until my legs give out. It's New York, so I'm usually doing all of the activities without the athletic gear, and unfortunately for my feet, without tennis shoes.

     We simply neeeed shoes that can survive rain and sleet and, of course, a trek from the Upper West side to the Lower East side, back over the Williamsburg Bridge--Function and sustainability may be necessities, but we neeeed to look fabulous, darling, while participating in these obstacle courses. Not a sweaty mess.

     House of Harlow 1960 (Click!), Nicole Richie's accessories line, produces some beautiful pieces. And in terms of flats, they get it. The mix of texture, fabric, and color is unique and the quality of the shoe is impeccable. Rejoice! My workout attire continues to try to tempt me in to wearing it all of the time, everywhere, so it's a rarity for me to happily jump out of that convenient pair of walking shoes and into something a bit more stylish. My House of Harlow 1960s do, though.
 
One of my favorites, in gold and cream alligator, which I donned all weekend around Manhattan and Brooklyn:




Ch-ch-check it out, friend.


Gawk and/or buy here:


1) House of Harlow on Shopbop

Shopbop carries a vast number of House of Harlow 1960, and many of them are on sale. Sales! I like a good sale, and so should you.


2) House of Harlow on Beso.com

Also, Beso.Com compiles products from multiple shopping sites and features them all together in one place. They mark items down quickly as well.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Allow Me.

I was born in a Crossfire Hurricane.
 
 
 
 
Last night, I visited the Museum of Modern Art , which I don't do nearly enough. Where do I find this elusive thing we refer to as time in New York City to gallivant around museums and peruse artwork in silent contemplation?
 
I found exactly one hour and 31 minutes, though, and appeared at MoMA in honor of my first live performance of my very favorite band of all time, ahem, the greatest rock 'n roll band of all time, The Rolling Stones. December 13th, they play here in New York, and this girl holds tickets. I saw the screening of "Gimme Shelter," the documentary of The Rolling Stones' infamous free concert held at the Altamont Speedway in the middle of the boonies in northern California on December 6, 1969.
300, 000 fans attended. 300,000. Let that number sink in. Hell's Angels acting as security. No police. Free. 1969. 300,000. Unimaginably fantastic...and also terrifying. Insane mobs, drunk and totally high crowds. The power of numbers. Four women gave birth. One homicide occurred. Three accidental deaths were reported. Utter chaos.  The Rolling Stones, as individuals and a musicians, were the hurricane they sang about and not just at Altamont. OK, I could go on and on about them, but I'll shut up and stay on the topic at hand.
 
Check out more from MoMA's "The Rolling Stones: 50 Years on Film" tribute, which just runs through December 2.
 
 
 
Sorry for the noise, but I'm that kind of girl, and I'll be playing my Stones' records just a few volumes higher than usual.
 
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Expressions of gratitude were programmed methodically and were expected and returned without question. These gestures were engrained from birth. The South is revered for its tradition and hospitality. Not necessarily for its sincerity in implementing those, though. I’d never fully understood and believed in the power of the two simple words, “thank you.” I’d never really meant them, I suppose.
Well, you mean them, but then it’s on to the next moment without any lingering sense of appreciation. But, I was telling the truth this time. I don’t really know who to. Maybe to myself. Maybe to God. Maybe I was just sending out gratitude to everyone and everything in the universe right then. Those words held weight--all one hundred and whatever pounds of me at that second. In fact, they remained, drifting around my face and my mouth. They kept repeating on the screen inside my forehead and projecting in front of me.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
 
 
And that was it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thank you, Thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks in a few words and photos.
I have to.

It's practically obligatory, right?


The beginning:
 
Yes, I cooked. I boiled rice for the first time in my life. I do actually cook, I swear. But, truth be known, I do take shortcuts. I buy those pre-cooked packets of rice from Trader Joe's and other little time-saving, effort-saving tricks. I forced myself to do it all right, from scratch, and all in the name of the BIG DAY. It was something I needed to accomplish as a woman...as an adult...and because my mother wasn't doing it.
 

 
 
 
The middle:

 
 
 
Thanksgiving One in Brooklyn:
 
I contributed my amateur culinary skills to----
 
1) Roasted brussel sprouts with baked granny smith apples, toasted pecans and almonds, and gorgonzola with rosemary and thyme
 
2) Wild rice and butternut squash with caramelized red and yellow onions, topped off with toasted sunflower seeds
 
Virtual round of applause for this girl and ALLLLLLL of the others who not only attempted to whip up something in the name of togetherness with friends and/or family, but those who also succeeded.

 
 
 
 
Thanksgiving Two in Washington Heights:
 
Let's just throw the truth out there and admit that I consumed more food than any one human should. It was gross, really. I felt so stuffed that I thought I was going to pop out of my pantyhose, but I just couldn't refrain from continuing on. Pain and pleasure, friends. It was a classic case of so wrong it was right, and yes, it hurt so good.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bottom Line, slapped on a wall:

 
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A is for

Apartments, apartments, apartments.

We can't stop talking about them-- the constant search for that holy grail--proximity to the subway, best schools, hippest neighborhood, lowest price, large communal space,  new (yes, please!) or old (siiiigh) appliances, and the list goes on and on.


The 1960 Billy Wilder film, The Apartment, offers quite a bang, especially for a 1960, black and white film. It basically follows one man, CC Baxter, played by the infamous Jack Lemmon, who works as a corporate minion at some large insurance firm here in New York. He, in order to climb up the professional ladder at his job where he is just one more body on a floor full of cubicles, rents out his apartment on a nightly basis to his bosses in exchange for favoritism. His seniors rotate nights at his abode on the Upper West Side, taking their mistresses there for a bit of fun. As you can imagine, all of these in-and-outs and their following cover-ups cause quite a bit of trouble in Baxter's personal and professional life. While at the office, though, Baxter encounters the charming elevator-operator, Fran (Shirley Maclaine). The plot thickens---dun dun dun---and things eventually spiral out of control as the pre-drawn lines between extramarital affairs, human relationships, and corporate America all begin to intersect.

It's a pretty modern-day concept to have been depicted in 1960. And we thought the whole house in the suburbs with wife and children and a bachelor pad studio in the city was a fairly-recent and all-together more of a modern tragedy of the downfall of true love, eh? Clearly wrong.

       Shirley Maclaine, twenty-six at the time The Apartment was released, was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. I'll be twenty-six in December, mind you. Not an ordinary feat for most of us. But, her character, Fran, resembles so many women that we converse with, meet out, and have befriended. The younger, other woman. So many other women exist, dear.

       Fran, although intrigued by Baxter and his endearing quirkiness, is continuing an affair with one of the top executives in the insurance office. She keeps hoping that he will leave his family in order to pursue a more "normal" relationship with her, but he sees no need. He even slips her a hundred dollars at Christmas for her to purchase something from Bloomingdale's for herself. Slips her the money. Talk about romance. He dismisses her like a father does an unruly, weeping child.

     Anyway, Maclaine's portrayal of Fran is admittedly realistic. She's a woman searching for love in the big city, but who is left feeling much like a lost and unworthy little girl who'd been swallowed up by the machine all around her. This gets real, right? Unfortunately, whether we relate or just know too many people who can, The Apartment speaks volumes about our society. It speaks volumes about our varying searches to find something or someone we connect with. Fran's emotional realization of her circumstances and her choice to find something more authentic--respect for herself--develops her into a pretty swell and much wiser woman.
 
My recommendation--Find this and see it.


Brooklyn Public Library, I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to view such a film.
 
And Maclaine, here's to you, girl. You're still at it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Four Words.

Four Words
 
 
for your viewing pleasure...
 
 
 
 
Rebecca
Minkoff
Sample
Sale.
 
 
 
 

 
BAGS GALORE!
 
 
    Don't fret! They're not all for me...actually, none of them are. I swung by the sample sale here in New York and decided to pick up a few items. Er, I mean, too many items. It's the holidays, and there's nothing more that women truly desire than a delicious bag. OK, we desire lots in the name of "the holidays." And, let me backpeddle, I won't generalize us all as superficial stereotypes who don't possess a care or serious thought in the world. We desire all sorts of things ranging from an aspirin to cure that thumping, bumping headache to an increase in the employment rate--But, I, like many, can appreciate a well-crafted, beautiful handbag, in the name of art, of course. With these above from Rebecca Minkoff, I plan on passing along my savings, and making a few surplus bucks in addition, by selling on Ebay.
 
    Sample sales are terrific events for so many of us to access our favorite designers at much more reasonable prices than buying straight from retailers. Our icons become attainable. Around the holidays, and especially here in New York, there are multiple sales a week...it can be a bit overwhelming. Women, women, women everywhere! Waiting in lines for hours that snake around five city blocks in the freezing cold. Tired feet and pneumonia in the name of high-fashion bargains! Fashion is serious business. LITERALLY. And a darn extensive and powerful one, at that, and it's obvious when hoards gather outside of stores for nights on end just to have the chance to drop thousands of dollars.
 
Anyway, with the plethora of discount designer sites, online flash sales, and sample sales, there's almost no excuse to pay full price any longer for whatever it is that you might be coveting. Seriously. Don't be daft. Groupon, Gilt Group, Lifebooker, etc., deliver an array of goods and services right to where you sit on that laptop screen, and within two days, usually to your front door. Knock Knock.
 
 
 
Check here for updates on fashion flash sales online:
 
 
 
Shopping and Style Reviews, Updates, and Sample Sales:
 
 
New York-Centric Sales and Markets:
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This Week in Four.

Well,

This week, I am loving so many things. What's not to love about the November crisp air, the anticipation of the holidays, Frasier firs, Christmas movies, and getting super duper cozy with friends, furry companions, family, delicious food, warm mugs, and fabulously chic coats and scarves and gloves and...

you get the idea.

       Anyway, the following are several things that I have been and am currently incredibly amped up on. Amped! And, yes, since every person and their mother on Facebook is listing daily what they're thankful for...I will hitch my horse to that bandwagon. I am thankful for these things with addition of so many others. Just a few for your consideration.

One:

Alexander Wang and his innovative style.

His influence and undeniable talents are clearly displayed in his well-crafted ready-to-wear line, and his succulent leather handbags...The Alexander Wang sample sale went down here in New York last week, and I could have died happily there. Well, minus all of the insane women who were literally giving each other so much shade when one spotted and grabbed an item that another just almost had. Woman versus woman. It went down. I went, I saw, I conquered...Bank of America might object to this self-proclaimed victory.  My poor debit card continues to quiver in agony and fear.
 





 

 

Two:

Fur.

Whoa, calm down there.

A) REAL FUR on REAL ANIMALS

When it's cold, there is absolutely nothing else I'd rather be doing than sitting with my pup, drinking hot tea, and watching an old film. Mine, my partner, my lady of the house, my fox, Miss Blanche D. Let's take a minute to smooch our pets and thank them for their love even when we are un-showered, grumpy, and self-loathing.

 
 
B) Faux fur on humans.
 
Faux fur collars, vests, cuffs, coats, and hats. It might be a little gaudy. It might be a little "Real Housewives of New Jersey," but I just can't help myself. I'd throw faux fur on just about anything. Pillows, blankets, drapes (anyone? maybe?).  No, but really, faux fur hats are delectable. See below, if you're questioning my taste. Don't question. Go with it. I wouldn't steer you wrong. If I could, I'd wear them all throughout the year. Swimsuits with faux trim are next; you've been forewarned.
 
 
Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, one of my all-time favorite film characters from one of my all-time favorite films, Almost Famous. That hat? MAJOR.
 
 

Three:
 
Library Cards.
 
They're free, and....Wait, they're free. Free! How amazing is it that we can check out books, dvds, magazines, etc. allllll for nothing? I loved the library as a child. Now, as an adult, I have re-discovered the divine institution that is the public library. Every week, I check out about ten dvds, predominantly films that I had always wanted to see, have heard or read about, or even never knew existed. Recent films as well as older ones. My very favorite task as of late has been reviewing the American Film Institutes's top 100 films of all time list and researching those I have never seen. It seems that even some of these classics have eluded me through the years. I need to see so many things, it seems. I go about locating and checking out said films from any one of my local libraries. These movies are referenced in so many aspects of our daily lives, in conversations, in art, in the modern media, on television, in our newest biggest weekend blockbusters, etc. These films, these storylines, these characters, the dialogue...they have all been so culturally significant. I thank the library in opening my eyes to so many unique and equally beautiful worlds depicted in these genius films and books. Yes, I like you, public library. Scratch that, I love you.
 


Four:

The Plaza.

This week, it's been lunch at the historic and beautiful Plaza Hotel. Everything is top-of-the-line. I mean, everything. Marble, oak, chandeliers, and crystal. Of course, it's luxurious. It's New York. It's simply fabulouuuuus, and I wish that I could afford to hang out there like I was just sipping a Bold Pick at Starbucks and yapping away on my cell phone. A glass of rose will run you about 18 buckaroos. A necessary indulgence, though, at times. Here, here! I'll take two! (I'll be forced to eat oatmeal for the next three meals, but that's just fine with me.)

 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Needlepoint.

Needles fall in to that category of polarizing objects--people hate hate hate them while others find them almost undeniably attractive.

They're tiny, yes. Incredibly tiny. They embroider table cloths, entertain old ladies' at cross-stitch and knitting club meetings, and even sew together human and animal flesh. Needles inject much-needed and even life-saving antidotes. They inject unhappiness and addiction...inflicting pain beyond that of the physical. They tattoo memories from high school and college trips, when after a beer chugging contest and four lemondrop shots, that Minnie Mouse tattoo is just perfect for now and something you've always wanted. Simultaneously, some of them stand as testaments to our life's love, work, and individuality.

Amazing how such a little thing, such as a needle, can perform such an array of tasks.


A new one, I have encountered as of late, is that of acupuncture. Since Halloween just passed, "Pinhead" from Hellraiser, the pale man covered in protruding needles, kept coming to mind. See right. Creepy as hell, eh? I'd heard rave reviews of acupuncture from several of my girlfriends, and I'd been researching the method here and there over the past year or so.

I was referred to Elena Jenkins, a professional and utterly adorable acupuncturist here in New York
[See below for more information on this great lady].

She operates with the mindset that each patient is brought to her for an entirely unique reason. We all come with a purpose. We're all on some personal journey. She caters your entire experience toward your own personally-verbalized goals. The whole interaction felt very similar to a therapy session. She began by taking note of my medical history, general health assessment, as well as questioning and probing me a bit more for insight as to my emotional state. I confessed my anxiety, stress, and frequent worrying in addition to many of my purely physical ailments. Life in major urban environments, eh?! That'll do it! It's all of this concrete and steel.

Elena immediately made the clear connections between my blockages and pain- body, mind, and soul. The intertwinement of the three is irrefutable. The Chinese have been practicing acupuncture for at least 2,500 years. They're clearly on to something. Eastern medicine is intriguing--they've maintained their practices across generations and even despite the whirlwind of technological and medical advances. With so much being thrown at us in daily life, we are often encouraged to medicate and solve these "problems" with pills, chemicals, destructive habits, and many other ultimately, futile processes and objects and people. To me, Simplicity and natural remedies are refreshing in the midst of all of these "solutions" that are being created and pitched to us via every mode of media every moment of the day. Keeping it simple. More natural. Back to basics. It's all incredibly and annoyingly cheesy, but that line of thinking resonates more and more with me.

Back to acupuncture, though. My curiosity overtook me after I had continuously searched for new methods to achieve overall wellness. Acupuncture, essentially, strives to "unblock you" and restore the energy and flow of the body.

"Chinese Medicine is comprised of myriad modalities that may be used together or separately to restore balance to the body. Chinese Medicine seeks to understand the patient’s signs and symptoms in the context of his/her life, rather than viewing disease as an external reality separate from and imposed upon the body. This point of view is what gives Chinese Medicine the moniker “holistic medicine.” Acupuncture is one of the modalities of Chinese Medicine. It involves the use of fine needles at specific points on the body to stimulate the movement of Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids along the Meridians."


With my physical and emotional goals in mind, Elena distributed the needles in their appropriate pressure points- along my wrists, knees, stomach, face, and scalp. Pain wasn't even a factor. There was no pain. A delicate process, in fact. I'm sure, I must have looked completely crazed. Anyway, particular points on the body are stimulated to produce particular effects. It's all making sense now.

Overall, I might say that the entire process was quite revealing. It was therapeutic. Maybe, I do feel a bit less "blocked." Maybe my body's flow is...flowing...with greater ease? I learned more, though, about what I wish to work on and make a priority in my life- feeling at home in my own body, achieving a kind of fullness in my soul, and reducing the negativity and baggage I drag around with me.

Cue this Florence and the Machine song--
 
And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

We're carrying too much crap on us, in us. Let's get well. Let's drop it. Let's. Wellness should be a priority. In particular, acupuncture brought to light many of the habits, thoughts, and physical signs of my humanity that I am choosing to focus on.

I plan to continue on this path with acupuncture idea. Is it right for you? Do a little research. See what you're comfortable with, because I can sympathize with feeling distrusting and even a bit fearful. Give it a one-time shot, if nothing else. Explore. Ask questions. Google. Discovering and then choosing to push forward that which makes your body and mind sharper, better, and more joyful leads us to a much more fulfilling life. That's what we're all around here for, right?


Extra! Extra! Read alllllll or nothing!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy...Destin. But, not in that order.

So, after over a week of radio silence from this kind of girl over here, I will turn up a tune for you.

          Last Thursday, on the 25th, before Sandy the sorceress materialized in our lives, I flew down to Destin, Florida for a childhood girlfriend's wedding. It began like this:





        Nothing at all to complain about, right? It was like Spring Break 2000 all over again--good friends all staying together in an immaculate house on the beach. Bloody Mary mornings followed by sunshine and topped off with wine-heavy evenings and brisk night-swims, just for good measure.

      The wedding itself-much like the bride, herself-was gorgeous, but also not obnoxiously- overdone, too frilly, or pompous. It was refreshing, really. Burlap, white, and purple. The wedding was a representation of this couple- much like weddings, in general, should be, right?

Picture this-Sicily, 1923--

No, no. I've been watching too many of my Golden Girls dvds.  Let's try that whole thing again.

Saturday, the 27th in the panhandle of Florida--

 
            Meanwhile, the storm was brewing here at home in New York. I had caught wind (yes, this is a weather-related joke) of the predictions that were being made. My flight, the following day, would be cancelled. Delta airlines couldn't really re-book me, considering no one truly knew exactly what the storm would bring and the extent of its damage. I was simply told "to keep calling back," but considering their phone lines' wait times were averaging between 5 and 6 hours, even this proved difficult. I had no idea when or how I would be arriving back to New York...much less, what I would be arriving home to.

            The panhandle must have been receiving an offshoot of Sandy's reach, and the temperatures plummeted to around fifty degrees. So, I wasn't exactly lounging on the beach with a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic and a strawberry daiquiri beside me. On Monday, though, as Sandy slowly made her way into the northeastern territory, I was doing this:

 
Yes, I was representing the BK with my trusty "Song of Brooklyn" book. It's a fascinating read, by the way, if you're interested at all in the history of, culture of, and spirit of Brooklyn, which they hail as "America's Favorite Borough." I'm inclined to agree with the writers and contributors.
I indulged in my good read, local Floridian oysters and some hot tea, while sitting on the dock of the bay. Otis would have approved.
 
...While I battled some mild winds, frustration, and unanswered questions regarding ever actually arriving back in New York, Sandy swooped in at home, like a bat out of hell.
 
 

 



The waterfront of Williamsburg, along the East River...
 

 
VERSUS
 
 
 
Where I stood in Florida.
 


       Although people continued to tell me that I was lucky for not being present in New York during Sandy and her rage, I wasn't quite so sure. I wasn't exactly sharing that sentiment. I wanted to be home. Home with my dogs, my belongings, and witnessing all of that which was occurring all around us.

       My aunt and uncle, who just built a new house down in Florida on an incredible golf course, opened their home to me, since it became apparent that I would be running up an entirely ridiculous hotel room bill, making myself at home in solidarity at the La Quinta Inn for a few days. I camped out there with Aunt and Uncle B, graciously reveling in my aunt's hospitality, and I waited...and waited. I hungrily soaked up too many devastating news reports that showed and re-showed horrific photos and heart-breaking video clips of Sandy victims.

      Fortunately, here in Williamsburg, the damage was minimal. We have little to moan about. My roommate took incredible care of our dogs, and we never even lost power. Neighbors have claimed that Sandy, from our point of view here in the 'Burg, was simply "a bad thunderstorm with heavy winds." To imagine that, after viewing some of those broadcasts and hearing friends' grim updates, I soon realized that others had a much different experience with Sandy. Many of my friends and family, in fact, who reside from Manhattan to Long Island experienced an entirely different storm. Sandy's effects have had a ripple effect, though.

      I flew in on Thursday night, on one of the first flights into Laguardia, which was a bit frightening, considering that just the previous day, I was viewing water-laden runways and waterfalls pouring out of baggage claim carousels. It's miraculous what the New York spirit and a little manpower can achieve.

      As ConEdison is restoring power and subways are beginning to run again, people seem to be settling back into their normal daily routines. On the surface, the necessities are returning, and we're all emerging from our hideouts, observing everything around us curiously. All is not normal, though. Not for so many of us. Too many of us. Even today, as Blanche and I took our morning neighborhood walk, I viewed lines of cars that stretched over two miles, bumper-to-bumper, awaiting the elusive holy grail of gasoline.

    There's a lot to be done- There's a lot that can be done. We have yet one more chance to help another out again. The resilience of this city is unlike anything I have ever seen. Strangers become friends during these times. We're all neighbors. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or where you're really from--you're a New Yorker, when crisis arises. We'll figure it out. We'll push through. We'll help each other out until we can stand alone again and curse those slow-moving tourists on our sidewalks.

 
If I can make it there,
I'll make it anywhere
New York
It's up to you, New York


My ears perk up, and I feel this overwhelming sense of comfort and pride. There must be something in the water. Now that I think of it, it was amazingly odd the first time I tried to pour myself a glass of water in my first apartment there on North 7th street. It all bubbles from the bottom up in the glass, and you have to wait for the fizzing to cease before you can slurp it down. That carbonation-like effect is the sense of belonging that New York feeds you. If you take a moment to take it all in, life tastes pretty damn good here. Kerouac got in when he wrote, “New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets." This comradeship has always lived and continues to live in New York--in every neighborhood, in every borough, in every street, in every apartment building, and in almost every person living and breathing there. It’s all in the eyes. Something behind them that pierces through the pupils and shines, like a starry backdrop, through them. I saw this, and when you do, you never really want to go home.

You already are.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dreary Thursdays.

Holly Golightly: Thursday! It can't be! It's too gruesome!
Paul Varjak: What's so gruesome about Thursday?
Holly Golightly: Nothing, except I can never remember when it's coming up

           Chilly, half rain-anticipation, downright dreary days, like today, in New York are created for looooooong lunches--champagne, perhaps?--mugs full of warm beverages, black and white films, and delightful tunes. I think I've hit all of those before 5 p.m. Productivity, I tell you, at its finest.

          There's a new record store in my Brooklyn 'hood, and I spent some time perusing their in-progress collection while sipping  some coffee concoction with a little vanilla spice something or other, because it's still chilly weather, and you're legally bound to order something seasonal, right?
All her clothes are on the floor,
and all your records are scratched.
She's like a one way ticket,
'cause you can't come back.

A few gems I picked up:

 


 


 


 

And my very, very favorite...THE MECCA...The Stones "Some Girls" collectors' edition.
 



My record player lives for a day of grey.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juiced up.


Let’s face it- wine is pretty fantastic. Thousands of years' worth of people around the world join me in this belief. It’s not only delicious, but it’s become somewhat of an art form. It’s a socially acceptable method of focusing on the range of beauty and variety of tastse that one alcoholic beverage can possess. “Wine: how classy people get drunk.” A friend of mine owns that refrigerator magnet. It’s pretty on point. Booze that's also tasty, creative and a conversation-starter/activity? No wonder it inspires so many match.com dates. You can do and learn so much with it....including drink 'til your blues become reds. Ok, bad joke. Wine induces shivers in the already-cold hearts of vodka bottles everywhere. Alcohol isn't just a tool anymore for high school kids to entertain themselves while rebelling against their parents. It isn't just the bonding course for college kids at fraternity parties. It's growing up with us. Well, most of us.

But, really, from growing the vines and dirtying your hands, to corking or uncorking a first bottle, to tasting wine, socializing and learning about the balance of science, natural elements, and passion- there are so many aspects, people, and places involved. It involves people. It's all about people.

In New York, our “wine country,” if you will, predominantly refers to Long Island, and particularly, the North Fork. Hundreds of local vineyards and family-owned wineries span throughout. It’s unbelievable. It felt like an East Coast miniature version of California’s Napa Valley the last time I stopped at a few of them on my way to Newport, Rhode Island this summer.  
 
 

         With that said, New York City and wineries aren’t exactly synonymous. Actually, the first grapes ever planted in New York State were done so right in Manhattan by Dutch settlers in the 1600s. Shocking. Although not commonplace, a handful of wineries actually do exist in New York City and the boroughs- eight of them, total, to be exact. One of them, the Brooklyn Winery, is just a few blocks away from me, located here in Williamsburg. I’ve stopped in a few times before with a few friends and had a glass or two of their in-house wines. They hold movie nights, wine tastings, and seasonal events here, which are, for the most part, free. The space itself is open, simple but beautiful with sunlight peeking in on summer afternoons. They typically are completely booked every weekend for weddings, receptions, and any number of work or social parties. I didn’t know that much about this winery, though, until Saturday. I went on a free tour, which they offer on Saturdays and Sundays (2, 3, and 4 p.m.). Key word- free.

      The two gentlemen who founded the winery, Brian and John, began making wine on the weekends in New Jersey, of all places, at a “make your own wine” facility. Finally, sick of shuttling between Brooklyn and New Jersey to do this, they began contemplating bringing this wine-making a bit closer to home to the big BK.  The winery's location had served as a parking lot, textile factory, warehouse, funeral parlor, and an art gallery/bar (I remember when it was- if only those walls could talk…actually, I’m glad that they don’t).
 
 
             Obviously, they don’t grow the grapes here in Brooklyn, but all of the grapes are local, mostly from Long Island vineyards. They do sell a few bottles of wine from other parts of the country and world, but those are limited. So, a large number of wines they sell are actually made in the back facility. On the tour, we actually viewed the grapes coming in, saw the de-stemming and cleaning machines, some of the oak barrels for aging, as well as the steel tanks for fermentation. Whites, reds, and rose...all are created here in Williamsburg. It’s really remarkable that in such an urban environment, this entire operation is occurring, thriving and flourishing and by people who simply love creating a unique and quality product: wine.
 
      Sitting at their extensive mahogany bar, you’ll notice that the bartenders pour many of their in-house wines out of a tap just as they would a Bud Light. Ok, not exactly the same. Much, much more complex. The woman guiding us through the tour explained that it simply makes more sense for them to store the batches of wine into kegs and move them the distance of twenty feet, literally, from one room to the next, rather than bottle it all and carry each individual one to the next room, where their bar is located. How much more local can you get? With a reason like that, I'll gladly accept and thoroughly enjoy wine out of a keg. It sure beats drinking Franzia out of a plastic bag shoved in a cardboard box, eh?
 
You too could be sitting at a rustic dining room table in Brooklyn, New York, knowing that in the next room over, they’re making the glass that you or I will be sipping on in the New Year.
To learn more about the Brooklyn Winery, visit their site: http://bkwinery.com/, attend one of their many free events, or just take the darn tour, like I did.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sodas and Sandwiches.


We all have our deli. Bodega, if you like to keep it real New York. We have our deli-man or men,  therefore. We all have our preferred pizzeria, whether it's the one with the 99 cents slice or the best darn eggplant parm. And of course, our pizza man. Our mailman, elusive to many, but a welcome bearer of packages and...bills...to those of us in and out. We return to that particular coffee shop again and again...daily...sometimes, multiple times a day (shhhh, it's New York- we're all running on something!). Our barista, like many of the others above, can almost always forego the whole “what would you like?” process and automatically serve us exactly what we normally order or maybe, rarely, what we should have ordered but wouldn’t have. We accept this. These are some of my very favorite relationships--public relationships that are all born and endure mere blocks from our places of work or our homes.

            My homebase deli-not necessarily the one with the most organic produce or greatest variety of cuisine or unbeatable prices, but my favorite because of the people who work there- is about a block and a half from my apartment.  I typically buy odd items from it. I don’t know why. Things like stamps. Who buys stamps anymore? Batteries. Maybe a bottle of Sriracha. If it’s been a rough and late (notice the combination of rough and late- it’s key), I’ll get an egg white, tomato and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat toast. If it’s been an even rougher and later night, I think that there may or may not have been several bags of jalapeno kettle chips and Milano cookie packs in tow upon departure from my Metro Deli.



There’s nothing incredibly special about this deli or their sub-par food except for my interactions with my main deli-man. He knows a great deal about me- where I’m from, when I am employed, my current mood, my food preferences, etcetera. He asks me “if I’ve written anything lately,” and nods understandingly at whatever response I offer.

Him? Well, I know that he emigrated from Yemen twenty years ago, and he is waiting anxiously for his wife and two sons to also make the move over to the United States. I’ve seen photos of his family and heard about his infinite love for them and for his homeland. He informs me of the unfortunate turmoil and joblessness in Yemen, though. He’s working hard here in New York to eventually move back to Yemen and lead a life of wealth there with what he’s accumulated here. He lives alone in Queens without his family for now. He’s almost as fond of cheap scratch-and-win lottery tickets as I am. We do them together. He enjoyed those three tickets the last time so much, he didn’t charge me anything for the ten dollars’ worth of items that I’d set up on the counter. He drinks beer only two nights a week. He works too much to spend too much time or money on “getting crazy,” as he refers to it. I know all of these things. But, I do not know his name. Isn’t that odd? I don’t think he knows mine either, now that I consider this. I should finally ask. I should know that about this man who has become a fixture in my life, but in all honesty, it would be much less meaningful than all of the things I do know.

I’ve been sitting here contemplating the fact that he arrived here to the United States to work hard, generate income, and live a solitary life in order to return back to his home. It's my perception that we’re all working hard to a) travel or re-locate to somewhere deemed better, b) return home with acquired skills, wealth, knowledge or just our body and souls intact, c) to survive where we are, provide a stable but meager income to afford life’s basic needs and an occasional want, d) to flourish where we are, get ahead, and succeed for here and for now and for who knows how else long? So, he’s staying to go. Some people are going, going, going just to stay. Some people are going to come. And coming to go. Motion sickness is settling in now, but you get it. We’re all coming, stopping, and going. Some are passersby, some are taking a seat.

Where are you headed? Anywhere?

My point is, I suppose, that we are all given an opportunity to share something in our racings about town, in and out of this place and that place, back and forth between home, work, and out with friends. Take that ten seconds and find out someone else's status. Check in, if you will, with these teeny, tiny moments. Surely, we all possess much closer relationships with others in our lives, but at times, I think we can learn the very most from seemingly impersonal, irrelevant or mundane conversations and exchanges, not to get all Oprah on you. But, I often leave contemplating something entirely different than I had prior to whatever "minor" exchange occurred. That's a start.

No matter where you're going, someone else is either returning or heading there as well.

My palms are itching, so I think that it's about time for me to go buy a scratch-off lottery ticket, and that’s about all I can tell you at this moment. Ask me again after.


 
 
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