Saturday, January 27, 2007

Blowing bubbles

In a shining example of how it takes me forever to do certain things, herewith, photos from my I Heart NY walk. It's just that uploading pictures is so time-consuming, and my time is so VALUABLE. See, after I do this, I'm going to watch one of the greatest natural-disaster reenactments of all time, "Krakatoa: Volcano of Destruction," and then, er, I'm gonna save the world and, um, build a playground and, uh, take a nap. Very important.

Or not.


My I Heart NY day was, for lack of a better word, silvery. It wasn't hazy or really grey or not-bright. It was just silver outside.

Outside the front of the Museum of Natural History

I'm not sure when the whole ornamental cabbage thing caught on, but if you're going to go that route (I hear they're low-maintenance), the only reasonable option is purple.

Central Park

This couple of, to my ears, indeterminate European accent had been taking pictures of a bridge you've all seen in hundreds of photos. They stopped underneath this overlook, put down their cameras and just took in the scene. They were more picturesque than the bridge.

Two men walking underneath this structure said the dead vines wrapped around the posts were wisteria.

If you click on this photo, you can see a man in the gazebo with a book — absolutely the greatest reading spot in the city. I think this whole scene was the most beautiful thing I saw all day.

Wollman Rink

I thought this design was really interesting. Probably because it looks like a stone vagina.

As I mentioned, the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows are my absolute favorites. No twirling puppies, no musical presents, no cherubic babies giggling with yuletide glee. Not that those things aren't nice, and I certainly go to Saks and Lord & Taylor to see those things in their windows, but these are just really, really funky. The artistry is incredible. And the clothes are outstanding.

You go to this window for the wig, but it's really all about the gorilla.

The only way I could put myself into one of these things ...

The New York Public Library

The Union Square holiday market

Last Saturday, after five months (well, after two months, then putting it down for ten, then picking it back up again for three), I finished this:

So I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. In the past week, I've read three magazines and two more books. The second book, which I finished this morning, was a selection of short stories called THE GUY NOT TAKEN by Jennifer Weiner, who is one of my very favorite authors. But the first book I read after finishing WAR & PEACE was this:

I believe with every fiber of my being that, immediately after finishing Tolstoy, the first book one reads should have a picture of a girl blowing bubbles on the cover.

Oh, and it was 223 pages. I read it in four and a half hours. Bliss.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

LLWOW! (Lisa's Latest Words of Wisdom)

"One of the things I've learned lately," said Lisa, "is that just because you have a psychic connection with somebody doesn't mean you don't have a psycho connection with somebody."


Monday, January 22, 2007

Heh. Fudge Tunnel.

The ads on subway cars are propped onto the walls by these metal grid-rail-holder-thingies. Every very often, someone sticks business-card-size pieces of paper into them with their own ads touting the greatest weight-loss plans ever. Lose 50 pounds in 3 days! It's healthy!

On the (exceedingly packed) train this morning, while I was avoiding eye contact with my fellow commuters, I noticed that someone had lined up three of the papers onto a gril-rail-holder-thingy, turned them around, and wrote on the backs: WE ARE NOT ALL STRANGERS. What I loved about it was that there was no way to know if the person who wrote that had religious intentions, to preach that we are all related under God, or that the message was not religious but social, that in such an enormous city we're really not as unlinked as we seem.

Related or linked or not, I still prefer my commutes free of old men rubbing their crotches against my ass.

Speaking of asses, this morning I got an e-mail from Stephanie, saying she'd done some research on a new doctor she was seeing. Apparently, she found that a person by the same name is in a band called Fudge Tunnel. "Then I realized that it's a British band and the doc's last name is spelled with a y instead of with an i. Like Ali with an i. I don't think it's him," she wrote. "Phew! Fudge Tunnel — that's more of a proctologist kinda thing, anyway."

Also, I finished reading WAR & PEACE this weekend. I screamed AND did a jig when I finished. My question to anyone out there who's read it is this: Did anyone bother to tell Vera that her father and brother died? Cuz REALLY.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

NOW can I work on the socks?

For the second time ever, I went shopping with Josh yesterday. It was a full family affair: his parents, his brother, us, all at the Woodbury Commons outlet shops in Orange County, New York.

To be honest, I was nervous. Here are the three main reasons why I was nervous:

1. Woodbury Commons is one of those places, like Ikea, where you never leave speaking to the people you came with. It’s a long, tedious day of shopping and remembering how much you weigh. Fierce opinions fly about like gnats in a Midwestern field. Somebody always gets pissy, everybody gets tired and cranky, and there are very, very few exceptions. Registering for wedding gifts is also exactly like this.

2. My own personal taste is hugely different from that of Josh’s and his family’s. His parents dress more traditionally and that rubbed off on their sons. Josh was goth in high school — eyeliner, tights, you name it — but he also likes Perry Ellis. (This I cannot explain. Let’s just go with it.) Being plus-size, my own options are limited, and I certainly don’t dress the way I wish I could, but I know what I like. I was a little nervous that they would find clothes they’d like for me and I’d have to politely decline a lot, and I didn’t want to have to do that. I think clothes are personal, and people take it personally when you don’t like what they like.

3. I don’t believe that you can have any kind of influence on someone’s style until they are really, truly ready to branch out. The world's most aggressive Laura Ashley fan (I just wanted to get "aggressive" and "Laura Ashley" in the same sentence) will not easily throw caution to the wind and be all, "Woo-hoo, Dolce & Gabbana! Bring me a fuzzy bustier toute de suite!" Josh is stubborn and resistant to change to the extent that he still rhapsodizes about (and wears) his Robert Smith–approved clothes from college. I know better than to buy him anything without his direct approval, because he just won’t wear anything he hasn’t picked out himself. His list of banned clothing items includes, but is not limited to: jeans; corduroy pants; any top with a zipper or V-neck; anything that’s not black, grey, green, blue, or certain shades of purple.

I’ve never tried to get him to change the way he dresses, though I’ll be firm and encouraging when he asks me my opinion. Even so, there are two things he has continually insisted on wearing that drive me absolutely BATS:

1. White socks, no matter what color shoes and pants he’s wearing. (Him: “Hey, David Letterman wears white socks with black pants and shoes!” Me: “Honey, I love you, but you’re not David Letterman.” My mom: “And David Letterman wears them with $4,000 suits.”)

2. Pants with pleats.

So when Josh’s parents brought up a much-needed shopping trip designed to overhaul my husband’s wardrobe, I knew I had to take decisive action by expressing it as loving guidance. I also knew I had to pick my battles. I chose the pleats, which are the more egregious offense of the two. So I started like this:

ME: Honey, you know I love you, right?
JOSH: Yes.
ME: And you know I haven’t pushed my own desires on your wardrobe.
JOSH: That’s completely not true.
ME: Anyway, that’s besides the point. The thing is, when we go to Woodbury with your parents, you can get whatever you like. But I’m insisting that there are no pleats. No more pants with pleats.
JOSH: [laughing] OK, but I’m still getting white socks.
ME: That’s fine. Really, whatever you want, honey.
JOSH: [skeptically] Okayyyyyyy …
ME: Well, except for pleats. No pleats.

I’m proud to say, dear readers, Josh came home with seven pairs of pants, and not a pleat in the bunch. My whole life has changed. I feel like it’s Christmas, even though I have no idea what Christmas feels like.

(Side note explaining my virulent opposition to pleats: I don’t think they’re flattering on anybody, no matter what size you are. If you’re thin, they make your pelvis look poofy and out of proportion from the rest of your body. If you’re average-size, they look dated and baggy. [In fact, they always look dated because they’re poofy and ugly and ugly and super-ugly.] And if you’re big, they make your pants look stretched and detailed in the one spot where you don’t want to draw attention. My in-laws, who are fans of pleats, feel they hide a tummy. I say they’re the sartorial equivalent of heavy people who wear ponchos: If you’re big in certain parts of your body, it makes you look bigger when you shroud yourself in more fabric. Why not find a pair of well-tailored pants that suit and graze your body beautifully instead of resorting to gaps of fabric in your midsection? If you like pleats, I apologize if I have offended you. But wouldn’t you look nice and streamlined in a pair of flat-fronts?)

Anyway, it was a dazzlingly successful trip. The more Josh saw how good things looked on him, the more receptive he was to trying on clothes he never thought about wearing. Look in the shopping bag! A white shirt has been bought! He was slightly distraught that he compromised his goth cred by buying khakis at Polo, though: At one point, he said, “These are all the people I made fun of for years! I’m not immune to my own hypocrisy!” I told him that I bought a sweater that I have to make more boobtastic or it would slip into grandmotherly, so he can certainly goth-up a pair of dark-khaki pants.

What was really heartening about the whole experience was that, not only did we all leave speaking to each other, but I saw change in motion in a person who resists change. I resist change, too, which makes Josh and I both very suited to each other and also very, well, er, let’s just say it takes us a long time to do things. His whole life is change right now — he’s finishing grad school, he’s going back into the workforce after a long sabbatical, how he lives at home and spends his time are going to change, this new phase of his career is going to be worlds apart from his old professional life, the death of his cat has altered the vibe in our home, everything is shifting — and he’s really embracing it. We’re both so slow and stubborn to step outside of our comfort zones, but I saw him have fun and kick around the discomfort. It was reassuring not only in that his wardrobe is vastly improved, but that the change we’re embarking on in our own lives right now doesn’t have to be so intangible.

Everybody says change is good, and for the most part it is. But it’s never easy, especially when you’re a creature of habit. I crave stability, which makes me particularly stubborn in the face of even the most mild disturbances in my routine. Clothes shopping might not sound earth-shattering, but everybody has their own sticking points. Yesterday I saw somebody gracefully move into unknown territory and come out looking extremely hot on the other side.

In other news, Paris Hilton is filming a movie called “The Hottie and the Nottie.” I may barf.

Also? I love the word "pants."

Also? I like the idea of a reverse-word-association game with designers and adjectives, like "aggressive Laura Ashley." Come up with some of your own! How about "rock & roll Crabtree & Evelyn" or "prudish Roberto Cavalli" or "pretty Missoni"?

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Friday, January 05, 2007

My resolution for you is to read this.

So here’s an idea:

New Year’s resolutions for other people. Or, as Justin says, “Christmas presents for yourself, New Year’s resolutions for other people.”

This is how it came about:

ME: I can’t believe she said that.
LISA: I know! Why would somebody say that?
ME: Ugh, just shut the fuck up, you know?
LISA: Really. It’s like, “It sucks that you’re stupid.”
ME: That’s it. For 2007, people should just shut the fuck up.

It makes perfect sense: Nobody ever keeps their own resolutions, but they spend an inordinate amount of time working extra-hard to inflict their wishes on everyone else. So why not make them a formal request? And turn it into a rousing holiday tradition? And on TV for years to come, you’ll watch overcaffeinated reporters interview celebrities, asking what resolutions they’re making for their nearest and dearest — and total strangers. Like this:

Ryan Seacrest (who, at age 86, will still be doing red-carpet interviews for E!): You look great! Who are you wearing?

Maddox Jolie-Pitt-Thornton-Osment: The jacket is Hugo Boss and the skirt is Dustin Hoffman.

Ryan Seacrest: Fabulous! Hahahahahahaha! So, Maddox Jolie-Pitt-Thornton-Osment, what are your resolutions for 2060? Anything for your new adoptive stepfather, Haley?

Maddox Jolie-Pitt-Thornton-Osment: Well, Ryan, I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I really want Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette to stop calling me.

Ryan Seacrest: I can see how that would be a problem! Hahahahahaha! Anything else?

Maddox Jolie-Pitt-Thornton-Osment: I would like for that guy over there [points to a spectator in the crowd] to invest in marshmallow Peeps. Now that President Flav has declared them necessary sustenance to survive the effects of the depleted ozone layer, stock is gonna go through the roof. And, you know, it’s a really great product. I just think a wise investment will be good for that particular guy this year.

So my question to you is this: What are your resolutions for other people? You'd like Aunt Marge to assert herself more? It's time for the kid across the street to retire his light-up shoes? Be specific, be general, but don’t be shy. And please don’t let them be about me.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Spotted on the back of a truck marked with the logo of a septic services company:

"My Wife Keeps Her Nose Out of My Business"

Um ...

Er ...

Honestly, was that really necessary?


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Recent overheards

A boy, roughly 3 years old, trudging up a flight of stairs leading up to Sixth Avenue from the B/D/F/V subway concourse:

"This ... is ... so ... much ... work ..."


Group of early-twentysomethings walking south on University Place:

TWENTYSOMETHING GUY: So my cousin was like, "Dude, do this shot with me." And it was green and it made your poo green!


TWENTYSOMETHING GUY: It was grass. It was, like, this grass that they squeeze. And you poo green. Terrible. I'm like, What is this shit?


KEVIN: [leaning over my desk] Ugh, that person is driving me crazy.
ME: You're having issues with staff today.
KEVIN: Yes. It's true. I have a staff infection.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Two-thousand Sexy!

Last year, on January 2, I wrote this to a friend:

“I’ve never believed in New Year’s resolutions or in the idea that a new year brings forth new beginnings and opportunities to start over, but 2005 was so uniquely horrendous from start to finish that I’m looking at 2006 with gobs of hope. I resolve to take better control of the things I can, embrace positivity so I don't drive everyone away with my incessant complaining, stop swearing so much (although I will make exceptions for words like “assclown”), and actively pursue a side career in English tutoring. I’m doing well on the quest for productivity so far: I was inspired to make pancakes yesterday, and because I’m trying to be optimistic, I have convinced myself that the next time I make pancakes, I won’t burn them. I also paid my maintenance check on time, washed the dishes, shaved my legs before they got to the stage of forestation, I even flossed. It’s all good.”

Well, what I can say from that is that the next time I made pancakes, I didn’t burn them. The rest is a wash.

Ask anybody and they’ll say 2006 was one of the worst years they’d ever had. Lisa had taken to calling it Two-thousand Sucks, which inspired me to rename 2005 Two-thousand Fuck This Shit (hence, contributing to the miserable failure of my resolution not to swear so much, cuz really, truck driver). For me, 2005 and 2006 were fraught with illness and fear and upheaval and stagnation and financial woes and emotional exhaustion and separation and loss and general, all-around shiteousness for myself and the people I care about. When the ball dropped two nights ago, I celebrated both because a new year had begun and because a craptastic one was over. Since then, I’ve been feeling reflective and weary, which had already been my state of mind since Gwendolyn died.

What happened with Gwendolyn was this: She was never the same after she lost her eyesight in November. She tried as best she could to adapt, and she really did well, but she had grown depressed, and adapting was so much work for her. Her blindness, combined with her kidney and liver disease, it was all just too much to take, and she began to let go. In the last week, she had stopped cleaning herself and wasn’t eating much, and by the last two days, she wasn’t eating or drinking at all, she wasn’t peeing, she couldn’t walk, and her breath had gotten so bad that we knew her kidneys had completely shut down.

The last night, the 26th, she could no longer hold her head up. We brought her into bed with us, slept with her, and we all went to the vet first thing Wednesday morning. Sadly, the vet who took such remarkable care of her all these years, Dr. Kinnear, was in Florida for the holidays, so he wasn’t able to say goodbye to her. Honestly, without Dr. Kinnear, we wouldn’t have had so many good years with Gwendolyn. But the vet who was there was so kind. He told us she was in end stages of kidney and liver failure, all of her organs had given out, and there was nothing we could do. We had some time alone with her, they put her to sleep, and Josh and I went home to figure out where we wanted to bury her. We know we did the right thing, and were somewhat comforted in knowing that Gwendolyn was smiling when she died. She was ready.

Let me say this: In my mind, euthanasia is the most humane way to let go of somebody. It allows the sick to make decisions for their own lives, it allows those left behind to say goodbye, and it’s painless and peaceful and complete and, in its own way, cathartic. If we’d brought Gwendolyn home to die, she’d be unable to move or eat or make decisions, and then she’d be gone. On Wednesday, we think she knew we were there and she knew we loved her and we were able to thank her for taking such good care of us. I think of the pain that my grandfather was in for the months before he died and the frustration and sadness that my grandmother felt in the months before she died just this July, and it boggles the mind that the most beloved people in our lives aren’t spared that pain but our pets are.

We buried her on Saturday in Josh’s parents’ backyard, in a spot that gets sunbeams all day long. Ironically, it was a cloudy day, but just as we finished pouring the dirt over the box, one ray of sun splashed across her grave — the only sun we saw that day, anywhere. It was like she was approving the spot. (Another sign of her approval on Saturday: We buried her with several items, one of which was one of her favorite toys that chirped when she batted it around. On the way to the vet to pick her up, the toy didn’t make a sound in the box, even when the car hit some sizable potholes. After we picked her up, we put her in the box and put her in the car, and the toy chirped during the entire drive to my in-laws’. We could have sworn she was playing with it.)

I have decided to look at Gwendolyn choosing to go when she did as her knowing that, despite the horrendous past two years, Josh and I will be fine. So I approach this next year with so much hope. I’ve learned a great deal in the last year, because after 2005, I knew I didn’t want to have taken all those punches without having gleaned something from it. So 2006, no matter how difficult, was a time to strengthen myself. Among so many things, I learned that sometimes the best you can do to take care of others is to take care of yourself first, to ensure that you’re strong enough and centered enough to do things the right way no matter how difficult. I learned, through my blog, how to keep perspective and hold onto a sense of humor when it seems like few things are funny and loose. I’ve learned, through losing my grandmother and Gwendolyn, that you can’t choose when you mourn — that if you need to cry at 3:30 one afternoon just because, that you should do it — and that nobody ever truly leaves us.

And I’ve learned that laundry lists of resolutions are all well and good because they remind you of the path you want to forge, and direction is a good thing, but the best thing you can do is take one day at a time and find the beauty where it is. And I truly feel that moving forward with that in mind is what’s going to make this a grand freakin’ year.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy 2007.

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