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.


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