Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tonight's the Night the World Begins Again

In a few hours, Terrence and I will attempt to join millions of people in Times Square for the annual countdown to the New Year.

As I often find others who can express things better than I can, I’d like to end 2006 in this blog with song lyrics from the Goo Goo Dolls.

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
Cuz I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
And desire and love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

This is Katie signing off in 2006.

Things I Learned in 2006

Today is the last day of 2006. At midnight I will have met my goal: I will not be starting 2007 in North Carolina; I will be starting 2007 in what I believe is the best city in the world.

The coming of the New Year brings with it the anticipation of the future and recollection of the past. Here are some things I have learned this past year as I move forward into the new one in New York City:

+ Blind faith isn’t always foolish.
+ My parents know a lot, but they don’t know everything.
+ Your real friends are the ones who are always truly happy for you.
+ I don’t necessarily believe in fate, but I believe that things often have a way of working themselves out.
+ You can change the things you don’t like about yourself.
+ There are more things I need to change; there are some things I need to accept; there are a few things I’ll keep forever.
+ It’s ok to be wrong and you should recognize when laughing at yourself is in order.
+ It may be too late to be forgiven, but it’s never too late to say you’re sorry.
+ You can’t always worry about what others think, but sometimes you will anyway.
+ I know a lot about words, but I have even more to learn about life.
+ I can make it in New York City.

My next goal will be to keep on keeping on.

After Awhile

A poem by Veronica Shoffstall

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And company isn’t security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts,
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats with
Your head high and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s grounds are too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling in mid-flight.
And after awhile you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone else to bring you flowers.
And you realize
That you really can endure …
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and you learn
With every good-bye, you learn.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Patriotic Dilemma x2

When I woke up this morning, I learned that Saddam Hussein had been executed. I have been wondering how I feel about the execution of Saddam, and as usual, Joe.My.God put my questions into words before I was really even sure what they were:

"I'm confused. Are we supposed to cheer the imminent execution of Saddam Hussein? Or protest the barbaric method? Are we suppose to be gladdened that a dark chapter of human history is about to close? Or should we be angered that we've meddled in yet another country's internal affairs?"

From Joe.My.God's Patriotic Dilemma

Friday, December 29, 2006

Phone Photo Ops - Night on the Town

Walking toward Times Square on 44th Street after attending Les Miserables with Terrence (in town for the weekend), I turned around and took a camera phone photo.
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Dinner at Casa La Femme North on the East Side was an Egyptian experience with tables under private tents and exotic decor.
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Even the bathroom was ornately decorated from floor to ceiling.
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But the next time I order fish, I will first ask the server if the fish comes out looking like a fish.
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After cutting my meal in half (above), I had to cover its eyeball with a tomato so that it wouldn't stare at me while I ate it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

One in a Million

Terrence left his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, and landed in New York City just before 9 p.m. Forty-five minutes later, he couldn't seem to find his way out of the airport.

"You told me to catch the M-60 bus to Broadway and 116th and catch the uptown 1 train, right?" Terrence asked when he called me. I replied that I had and asked him where he was.

"I'm at a different terminal than usual," he said, "I can't find the M-60 and some guy just told me he'd never heard of it."

"He doesn't know what he's talking about," I replied. "Find someone who works there and ask them to help you."

Terrence called me back 3-4 times. Each time we were both baffled.

"Just go where we were last time," I had irritatedly directed him. On his fifth or sixth call, I answered and - without so much as a greeting - he asked, "What airport did I fly into last time I was here?"

"Oh no ..." I replied.

"What airport did I fly into last time?" he asked again.

"La Guardia," I said. I heard him sigh. And then: "I'm at JFK."

What are the chances that you would give someone directions to your apartment from La Guardia airport - while assuming they're flying into La Guardia again - when they're actually flying into JFK for the first time? Well, if you're idiots like us, the chances of a blunder to this degree of dumbness are pretty good.

But after circling several terminals at the airport a couple of times, finally realizing that you have to catch the Airtrain to the blue subway line, and while sitting on the A train to Manhattan, what are the odds that an old high school friend that you haven't seen in over five years will step onto the exact subway car in which you are currently sitting?

I'd bet those odds are slim to none. But tonight, in a city of 8 million people with 26 subway lines, 490 stations, 660 miles of track and about 6,400 subway cars, Terrence caught a flight from Atlanta, wandered lost in JFK until he realized that I had erroneously assumed he was at La Guardia, and ended up in the same subway car as an old classmate he hadn't seen since he graduated from high school in Atlanta over half a decade ago.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Starting 2007 in NYC

I left work early and was walking through Times Square this afternoon on my way to the train. I know they say that real New Yorkers avoid 42nd Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenues and all other tourist-strewn stretches, such as Bleeker Street between Sixth Avenue and La Guardia Place or St. Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues, but I still love walking through Times Square before and after work. I wonder how long it'll take for that to wear off.

As I was about to cross Broadway on 43rd Street today, I looked up at the "2007" that is waiting to be lit at midnight on Sunday. I first noticed it last week while standing on that same curb, and I had looked up at it for so long that I missed the signal to cross the street. New Yorkers and tourists had flowed around me as if I were a rock in midstream as I stood there looking up at the numbers. I think my mouth might have even been half open.

Approximately a year and a half ago, when I first decided to stop talking about moving to New York City and actually make the moves toward doing it - stop talking and start walking as they say - I had told myself that I would not start 2007 in North Carolina.

I am five months into becoming a New Yorker, and I am four days away from my goal. It hit me last week as I stood there staring agape at the "2007" over Times Square.

Phone Photo Op - Here Comes 2007

There it is.
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Phone Photo Op - In the Subway

While my mom was visiting in the city a few weeks ago, she had asked me if it was ok to bring her suitcase in the subway when she went to the airport.

"Do you ever see anyone in the subway with a large suitcase?" she had asked. I had replied, "Of course."

If there should ever come a time when she asks me if I have ever seen anyone in the subway with a mattress, I will reply, "Of course."
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Monday, December 25, 2006

A New York City Christmas Moment

It was months ago while I was still living in North Carolina when I first read Joe.My.God's blog entry "Dance of the Sugar Plum Lesbians," in which he recounted a moment that only the Christmas spirit in New York City could create.

The first time I read it, I imagined the pulse of midtown as Joe.My.God had described it. And I couldn't wait to feel it.

As a fellow blogger commented about Joe.My.God's third annual repost of his New York City Christmas moment, this is the sort of thing that you witness and then try to express in words.

Joe.My.God expressed it beautifully. And tonight, I went to Grand Central's Main Concourse to see the holiday light show I had read about from North Carolina and could not wait to experience as a New Yorker.

Phone Photo Op - Grand Central Kaleidoscope Light Show

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ghosts of Lovers Past

When it's that time of year - when the holidays roll around and annual traditions resurface - so do memories. Memories of family, friends, college, high school, childhood and ex-boyfriends.

I often think of a story I once read in Reader's Digest years ago. Ten years ago, in fact, when I had my first romantic relationship that lasted longer than a few months. I was a junior and had just transferred to a high school in Asheville, North Carolina in the fall of 1996 after my father retired from the military.

The Reader's Digest story was originally published by Glamour in March 1996, and I discovered it later that fall. I saved the story in a small book, in which I have pasted articles, short stories, poems, postcards and photos from magazines or newspapers that I have liked. And on days like today, I reread Lisa Bain's story "The Loves We Leave Behind" and I remember.

Last night, I was talking on the phone to an old college friend, who now lives just south of Atlanta, Georgia. Our dorm suites were on the same hall our freshmen year, and we've been close on and off ever since. Only recently has he become comfortable in his own skin and in openly admitting that he is gay. And only recently has he been truly happy.

We often laugh together about dumb things we did in college, things we wish we had done differently and the way things are now. As I laid on my back with my head hanging off the foot of the bed, I said to my cell phone: "You know how ... when you're a kid ... you have this vision of how your life will be in your 20s?"

"Yea," he replied, "I thought that by now I'd be married, I'd have a house, and I'd be having my first kid ..."

"White picket fence," I added, "Two dogs and a cat ... Instead life doesn't always turn out the way you thought it would ..."

"Yea, "he sighed, "And you realize you're gay."

We both drowned in a fit of laughter.

"You're not where you thought you'd be professionally," I said.

"You rent a room from your boss," he added.

We pitched antidotes back and forth and laughed until our sides hurt. We talked about mistakes we'd made and why we're glad we've made them. I know we're both glad that we haven't ended up married to our high school or college sweethearts, with kids, a mortgage and a minivan. We jokingly claim to pity those poor souls whose lives are already trapped by responsibility.

One could charge that our cynical beliefs are based on jealousy and resentment. I would go down arguing in our defense. I know we're both happy as we come into our own in our distinct, individual ways. We're both becoming comfortable with who we are as individuals instead of dragging a spouse and children through our emotional bouts with the realities we have half-chosen and half-fallen into ... only to end up middle-aged, on the brink of divorce, and regretting that we didn't experience more of the independent life before we started cranking out kids so we're having an affair with the hottie down the block.

I know that we're relieved that our 20s haven't turned out the way we both thought and planned that they would when we were kids - yet we don't disregard our friends who have chosen marriage and children at an early age. Some people are ready for that level of commitment before others. Everyone is different.

I think we both just wish that love, marriage, kids, mortgage and minivan were just that easy. But would life be as fulfilling if it were?

The Loves We Leave Behind

Choosing one life means giving up others

My father met my mother in a poker game. He said she was the best bluffer he'd ever seen. She sat with five men at a table under an elm tree that shaded them from the hot Kansas City, Mo., sun. Her talent for subterfuge lay hidden behind her sweet, serene smile. She beat them all. My father couldn't take his eyes off her.

It was her company's annual picnic, and he walked her home. The next week, from his home in Chicago, he sent her a post card: "Remember me? Please do, 'cause I'll be calling you one of these days. David."

She still has the post card. I'm not sure what made her save it. Though he already had his heart set on her, she hadn't chosen him yet, at least not consciously.

As my father often told us while we were growing up, it was blind luck that he was at the picnic that day. A salesman for a big electronics company, he was in town to meet with clients and happened to stop by the branch office that Saturday morning to make some calls. The telephone rang; it was the manager of a local radio station with whom my father had done some business. "Dave! Glad you're in town!" he said, and invited him to come right over to their annual picnic.

My mother was a writer at that radio station. If my father hadn't stopped by the office that morning, he told us, or if he'd gotten there two minutes later ... We shivered with a delicious horror at the opportunity, the life - our lives - that would have been missed.

My mother saw him when he was in town, but she dated other men, including a car salesman who entered our family lore. Soon after she met my father, the car salesman gave her a watch for her birthday. In those days the gift of a watch meant the relationship was moving toward engagement. But she returned the watch, and one night a few months later, she woke her mother and told her she was going to marry Dave.

A few months after the wedding, my father was transferred East. They settled in New York, in the house where I grew up.

I was eight years old when I met my future husband. He was in high school, a friend of my brother's. I remember him only peripherally, as I was much more interested in my brother's other friend - Francois, a Swiss exchanged student, dark, mysterious and polished.

Fifteen years later the man I would eventually marry came back to town for Christmas and stopped by my parents' house to pick up my brother for an evening out. When he saw me in the next room, he hissed, "Who's that?"

My brother looked at him strangely and said, "It's just Lisa."

He walked into the room, reintroduced himself and pretended he didn't know how to wrap his Christmas gifts. I pretended to believe him and helped. He came around a lot over the next few days. "I don't know who he's interested in," my mother told me, "you or your sister." I knew. But later that week I flew across the country to spend New Year's Eve with another man. Though I'd been chosen, I wasn't ready to admit it yet.

If the timing had been different, the distance less daunting and my heart not already - albeit unknowingly - engaged, I could have ended up with that man whom I went off to visit. Or if not him, then with someone else. Sometimes I think about that, how time sweeps us along and puts us in a certain place where we're faced with one option or another. By chance and by the choices we make, we leave behind whole other lives we could have lived, full of different passions and joys, different problems and disappointments.

My father could have missed that picnic. Or my mother could have picked the car salesman. She would have had other children and an entirely different future.

Other times - particularly when I come home late to a sleeping house, my husband and daughter curled around each other after drifting off during the third reading of Jane Yolen's Owl Moon - I think about the lives we would not have had if chance or choice had brought us to a different place. And I shiver, much the way I did as a child at the story of my father's near miss, at the thought that I might have missed this life, this man, this child, this love.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas in the City

I love this city at Christmas. The streets are lit with strings of lights, your strolls are scored by holiday carols, there are Christmas trees on many corners or in the windows of highrise condos, store displays feature extravagent Christmas decor, and people preface or postscript everything with a smile and a "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!"

Of course, the city is saturated in the commercialism of Christmas, but you can feel the spirit of the season in ways that you can't feel it anywhere else. It's Christmas as only the Big Apple can do it.

I was buying shampoo and conditioner in a Duane Reade yesterday. As I strolled down one of the aisles there was a song playing. I don't know the name of it nor had I heard it before, but the chorus went something like, I'm coming home for Christmas in New York.

I hummed along silently in my head and then exited onto Broadway. A crisp breeze hit my face, car horns honked, and people raced in opposite, zagging patterns on the sidewalk. From the subway grate, I heard a train roar beneath the street.

I'm home for Christmas in New York.

Phone Photo Op - Rockefeller Tree

The Christmas tree of a thousand lights (literally 30,000 of them) in Rockefeller Center.
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Phone Photo Op - Hudson River Sunset

Crescent moon over the Hudson River from my studio apartment about 45 minutes ago.
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Friday, December 22, 2006

Minding My Own Business

"You Know You're a New Yorker When ...
Your boyfriend has broken up with you, you're on the subway during rush hour crying your eyes out, the car is packed and you are comforted that New Yorkers realize that your problems are none of their business."
- From

Thinking further with regard to yesterday's post, I passed by a nice-looking girl in the train station near my apartment, who was about my age and wearing a sharp wool jacket and a contrasting scarf - an ensemble similar to what I have been looking for in stores. She was huddled in the corner, with the ends of her scarf tossed back over her shoulders, vomiting on the floor.

All those who had just exited the train, walked by her with not much more than a glance. The side of me that's been raised with Southern hospitality wanted to stop and ask her if she was ok. Instead I ascended the staircase and only looked back down as I stood at the crosswalk at the top of the stairs. She was bracing herself in the corner and then leaned forward to vomit again as a line of people continued to proceed up the stairs.

I averted my gaze and looked down the street. The traffic light changed, and I headed home. I couldn't help but wonder ... do New Yorkers seem rude simply because they mind their own business?

"You Know You're a New Yorker When ...
You see a car accident and you keep walking because you think an episode of 'Law and Order' is being filmed."
- From

Phone Photo Op - Inappropriate Gingerbread

This afternoon my coworkers exchanged a few more Christmas gifts. Julie, an avid yoga enthusiast, handed out gingerbread men in a variety of yoga positions. Our sales manager looked at my cookie and then paused when she saw the cookie of one of the sales associates.

"You know," she said, "Your cookie and his cookie should be together."

So we tested her theory.
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Our founder and former CEO would certainly not approve of these highly inappropriate photos of sugar, flour and water.

Disclaimer: This photo is not necessarily indicative of the type of people with whom I work in advertising sales. Though as I snapped this phone photo op, I said to our sales manager, "So when people ask me what I did at work today ..."

"Yes," she said. "These are the people you work with."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Are New Yorkers Rude?

That was the open-ended survey question in one of the many daily newspapers in the city today. All but one of the published answers were some version of the testament that "No, New Yorkers are not rude."

And I will continue to fully support my rationale that with 8 million people compressed in a city that is relatively small based on on the square mile, your likelihood of running into rude people is dramatically increased. However, this does not certify that the majority of New Yorkers are rude.

If fact, this evening as I waited at a vertical turnstile in the Times Square station (where there is no live attendent and a turnstile over which one cannot hop), I witnessed a man swipe his card as a parade of 3-4 people rushed out. Since he had an unlimited card (as indicated by the "GO" display that flashed as he swiped his card), his "swipe" was considered used and subsequent swipes were now void. [Note to non-New Yorkers: A turnstile will not allow an unlimited card to be swiped multiple times in the same station within a 20-minute period.]

Damn, I thought to myself, That sucks.

The man backed up in frustration and motioned for those waiting behind him to go ahead. However, the second man behind him swiped his own card and motioned for the first man to pass through. He had a Metrocard with a cash balance, which can be used multiple times at the same turnstile at a debit of $2 a pop. The frustrated man smiled and thanked him as he went through, and then the second man swiped his card again and passed through the turnstile just behind the first.

I smiled to no one in particular. Just smiled and thought of the infamous question in this morning's paper.

Gift from One Celeb to Another

At work today, our sales manager went upstairs to pick up some books that she had asked our founder and former CEO to sign as holiday gifts to agency clients. Next to one of the books for her clients was a booked that had been signed to Kanye West.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Phone Photo Op - Dawn Reflection

If I leave for work at exactly the right moment in the morning, the sunrise reflects off of the buildings and the street has a soft golden glow, which wasn't best captured by my camera phone.
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Guess you have to be there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


"I’m always surprised when people leave New York.
I mean, where do they go?"
- Samantha, "Sex & the City"

The episode where Carrie learns Mr. Big is leaving town was on TBS tonight. The show lives on in syndication as I learn how to live the city life every day. Just four short months in the city, and I already feel like Samantha. Where else in the world would I go?

A friend who was visiting from NC last weekend asked me if New York City felt like home yet. The answer is that it does and it doesn't.

It doesn't feel like home when I'm lost somewhere below Canal, where the streets still don't make sense to me. It doesn't feel like home when I stand between a mom from Kansas City and an old man from Palm Beach and snap a photo of Beyonce as she exits the ABC Studios. And it doesn't feel like home when most of my best friends are never nearer than a phone call.

But it felt like home tonight when I exited a store on 66th and Broadway clutching several large bags like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I think images from Vivian's shopping spree on Rodeo Drive are embedded in the subconscious of most women when they carry large shopping bags.

I wasn't carrying bags with expensive designer clothes and hat boxes, of course - rather I had just purchased bedsheets for my new mattress, a chenille throw and some other housekeeping items from Bed, Bath & Beyond. But I wasn't a tourist with bags of souvenir shot glasses, "I [heart] New York" t-shirts, and Statue of Liberty paperweights. I was a resident carrying things I had just purchased for my home in New York City.

It would have been nice to proceed directly up into one of the condos at 66th Street. I looked up at the large windows. Lit Christmas trees blinked down at me as I waited for the traffic light to change.

Must be nice ... but I felt my own personal pride and accomplishment as I descended into the train station and caught a train uptown to my own home on Broadway.

My street just has a three digit number on it.

Phone Photo Op - Morning Star Sighting

On my way to work this morning, I exit the train station at Times Square, turn a corner and who should appear?

Beyonce and her body guard, but no tiny reindeer.
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Monday, December 18, 2006

My Two Bosses

I have the best bosses ever. They have been more than just a boss (or two) to me; they have each been a teacher, an advisor, a mentor and - at Christmastime - they have deep pockets! Today they gave me a gift card to Pottery Barn for quite a large sum.

After work I went to Papyrus and bought two thank you cards that look like interdepartment delivery envelopes. On the inside of each it says:

To: Very Important Person
Subject: Thanks

Thanks for everything!

It's so simple, but it really sums up what they have provided for me during my first four months as a young, naive aspiring professional in New York City.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Phone Photo Op - Drunk Santa

On my way to a Christmas party last night at Chris and David's apartment, I happened upon a most unfortunate circumstance in which a misguided Santa Claus was passed out in the [west side] 14th Street station.
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I'll probably go to hell for taking this picture, but I hope he doesn't plan to drink on the job on Christmas Eve.

Phone Photo Ops - Chinatown

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Night Lights

It's after 2 a.m. and I just returned from a night on the town, which included a 4th year drama production followed by cheese and wine at The Juilliard School. My best friend Tokii is the lead role in Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, a play set in the early 1990s, about a talented African-American designer and seamstress who is challenged by the sexual taboos of her time.

I don't know what it is about curtain calls at The Juilliard School, but every time I've seen Tokii take a bow after a production in New York City, I find myself slightly teary-eyed and moderately embarrassed. Pride, I guess. But it's history, too. I know how far she's come from small university productions in Western North Carolina to the bright lights of a renowned Juilliard stage in NYC.

After the play, we had wine and cheese in a dance studio while the actors schmoozed with some of the school's donors. While Tokii was chatting with several patrons, I joined two of her male classmates at a small table. Though I've met both of them, one attempted to introduce me to the other, to which came the reply of the latter, "Of course, I know her. Everyone knows that's Tokii's heart."

The other said to me, "I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but Tokii thinks and speaks so highly of you. She tells us all the time how you just up and moved to New York and landed right on your feet, got a great job, an apartment and fit right into this city. Not an easy thing to do."

"I've just been incredibly lucky," I said.

A friend who is visiting from North Carolina and attended the play with me tonight cut in: "Sometimes you make your own luck."

It made me think back to a brief conversation I had with my new boss a few months ago when I was still a temp and she invited me to apply for a permanent position. She had said, "I don't know why New York just works really well for some people and others just can't catch a break."

Maybe I've made my own luck, but I honestly don't know how I did it. I'll just continue hoping it doesn't run out.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Love Michael Kors

... Because he works several floors above my office and has exclusive sample sales for employees in our building several times a quarter. And today I bought five sweaters, four shirts, two pairs of pants and a dress for $142.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Phone Photo Ops - Swirling Diamonds

Last week, I blogged about conflict diamonds. Perhaps the swirling diamonds on these large digital billboards in Times Square were an attempt to remind the people that "a diamond is forever." Interesting that this giant advertisement appeared immediately in the wake of Leonardo Dicaprio's movie. Or maybe it's just what's for Christmas.
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Phone Photo Op - 5pm Pic

The MetLife building at 5 p.m. from my boss's office.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Morning After

This morning, clips from last night's corporate holiday party were featured on national television. I wasn't in any of the clips [whew!].

Nor was the dance-off between editorial and digital advertising that was squashed when my esteemed colleague on the advertising side performed an uncanny rendition of Britney's "I'm a Slave For You" complete with [huff], [huff], [huff] convulsions on the dance floor that quickly had her surrounded by all the guys from the mail room and left editorial repeatedly bowing in submission.

Nor were our slightly drunken double-dares outside of the kitchen.

Nor was the relentless laughter as our general manager shook his tail-feather to rapper Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty."

Last night was a fun night.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Corporate Holiday Party

THERE were 500 votive candles, a half-dozen Christmas trees, four scantily-clad elves, two caricature artists, one giant inflatable basketball game and a killer skyline view. But what really impressed guests at the party that Fox Interactive Media, an online group, gave on Wednesday was the vintage arcade-style Ms. Pac-Man machine.

“That,” said Adam Sumner, a 23-year-old media planner, “was awesome.”

The Scotch tasting didn't hurt, either. “Pairing it with chocolate was really nice,” said Rohanie Singh, 29, who works in advertising.

“I give this party an 8.5,” said her friend Michael Jacobson, 29, an Internet consultant. “It reminds me of the dot-com era. What would make it better is if they had a Santa dancing in a thong on the bar. That would be like a 9.5.”

From "At Holiday Parties, St. Nick Starts to Morph Into Bacchus" in The New York Times (read the rest of the article here)

My company's corporate holiday party didn't have scantily-clad elves, but it was listed on

We left the office early and proceeded to a chichi downtown club that had been shutdown for our exclusive holiday gathering. As we walked down 14th Street, I wondered briefly what I'd be doing tonight if I hadn't left North Carolina four months ago.

In the club, just beyond the coat check, there was a table with name tags for all the employees. I found mine and couldn't help smiling to myself as I pinned it to my sweater. Across the top was the name of the company. Just below it read "Holiday Party." Below that was my name. And below my name, in all upper-case letters was written "ADVERTISING NEW YORK."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Phone Photo Op - Todai

My titas, my mom and I brunched at Todai this afternoon. We dined in fine form efficiently utilizing the appetite that is characteristic of the Filipino side of my family. In fact, we closed the restaurant down. The chefs were lining up to eat before we even left.
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Too good to eat, but I did.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Food for Thought

There is a website that features touching, dramatic, funny, and inspirational photos submitted by people around the world proclaiming that "We're Not Afraid." The creator of the Web site was featured on GMA last year and spoke about its purpose. I agreed with everything he said except for one thing.

He said that we need to go on with our lives and not change anything we do because of terrorists. I agree that we should keep going to work, visiting family and friends, taking vacations, going on dates ... Of course, we should continue with the simple pleasures of our every day lives.

But there are also some things we need to change. Our government needs to change a lot of its domestic and foreign policy because there are many cases where America is just plain wrong. Examples include:
US-Sponsored Plan Colombia
Farm Subsidies
Failing Foreign Aid Programs
Environmental Double Standards
U.S. Support of Repressive Dictatorships
(But I thought Bush wanted to stop all the "Saddams" of the world?!?!?!?! I guess he only wants to stop the ones who control oil-producing nations.)

If any or all of these topics are unfamiliar, then one should start with David's Wallechinksy's article "Why Do They Hate Us?" He sums it up pretty well and it doesn't even take 10 minutes to learn about what you didn't know.

What can individuals change about themselves in the wake of these terrorist attacks, whether they are here, London, the Middle East or elsewhere? We need to change our wasteful consumption of every resource. Buy a fuel efficient car. Combine trips to save gasoline. Don't leave the water running while you brush your teeth. Turn off the lights in rooms you are not using. Read more about issues that DON'T affect you directly, like conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone.

And that is why "they" hate us. Many of the big and little things we do for ourselves (whether they are government operations or personal choices) have direct and indirect negative impacts on the people of many other nations. We don't think enough about others to even wonder if what we are doing will hurt anyone else. And we don't even realize what we AREN'T doing. Ignorance is truly bliss.

Following September 11th, President Bush told us to keep driving, shopping and spending money. What he didn't tell you is that the longer we continue to waste gasoline, the longer it will take our troops to come home. And that's just the real deal. Don't believe me? Read a little and keep up with the facts. And I don't mean to get your news from People Magazine, USA Today, or rely solely on 30-second news segments on FOX or CNN.

Pick up the Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, or Newsweek. Try sitting through some programs led by some of our top opinion leaders, such as Wolf Blitzer, Bob Schieffer, Bill Maher, and even Bill O'Reilly. As much as I dislike O'Reilly, listening to all sides can help create your own opinion. Try reading some books that vary in topics, such as Al Franklin's "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" OR Tammy Bruce's "The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture & Values." Then, THINK for yourself. There are two sides to every story and the truth is often somewhere in the middle.

And if you just want some damn funny reading. Check out "The Daily Show With John Stewart Presents America the Book: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." The problem is that most Americans would rather watch "The Fabulous Life of Paris Hilton" or catch up on reruns of "Fear Factor." Sure, those shows are fun and I enjoy them, but I try not to let myself become a celebrity or reality TV junkie (Give me a "Friends" marathon though and you might not see me all day!). Spread out your interests and you'll become a more interesting person.

Some say that if we change our lives, the terrorists win. No. Paraphrasing Bill Maher in his book "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden," when you don't change your habits of wasteful consumption and choose to remain ignorant of the issues that face others, the terrorists win. I am inclined to agree.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Conflict Conscious

Today Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie "Blood Diamond" premiered in Los Angeles. Some film critics claim that this movie will make people think twice before buying another diamond. Maybe. But maybe the DiCaprio-generated momentum will be lost with all of the other mainstream media causes that get Americans riled up for 15 minutes and then are lost in the hype surrounding new episodes of America's Next Top Model.

Rapper Kanye West released a song last year that related the issue of conflict diamonds that has been plaguing Africa. He talked a good talk, but it would be more impressive if he'd stop buying diamonds. And maybe he has. I've never had a chance to ask him personally.

Of course, not all diamonds are conflict diamonds, but major jewelry distributors do not track their diamonds as carefully as the claim that they do. And if everyone joined in a diamond boycott regardless of the diamond's conflict or non-conflict origin, maybe some of our world leaders and major jewelers would truly address the horrific crimes against humanity taking place in African diamond mining communities.

When we continue to buy diamonds it sends a message to the rest of the world that our own bling is more important than the limbs of African men, women and children. I don't know if I'll ever watch Leonardo's movie because I have a hard time stomaching Hollywood carnage. But I know I will never be one of those people who feels like just watching the movie and being aware is enough.

Increasing awareness without taking action is as inane as using an American flag bumper sticker as a personal stand against terrorism or wearing a pink ribbon to fight breast cancer. Those symbols often allow someone to feel like they've done something to make a difference when they really haven't done anything at all.

After reading Bill Maher's book "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden" in 2005, I decided that I would never purchase another diamond as long as another human being is losing limbs for my privilege to wear sparkly rocks.

It's a personal choice. I don't pass judgement on those who live by the mottos that "Diamonds are Forever" or "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." I know people who feel like the size of a diamond is indicative of the strength of a relationship. Some of those people are friends of mine, and I love them regardless of conflicting beliefs and opinions. A good friend even told me once that she deserves a diamond so that when things are hard she can look down at her finger and remember what her relationship means to her. In some ways, her declaration is truer than she realized because life is certainly hard for the person who lost their hand so that she could wear it ... but the wedding industry has ingrained the sentiment of diamonds into the romantic ideals of women worldwide. How many ways can you beat a dead horse? It has to be a personal choice.

In any case, I am just one person and neither my decision nor this blog entry will cause the collapse of the diamond industry. It just means that if my engagement ring is a cubic zirconia so that I can look at it and not think of an armless child ... so be it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Phone Photo Op - American Beauty

"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And [this trash] was, like, [sitting there]. Like [no one had anywhere else to put it]. [All day]. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. [Phone photo ops are] a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."
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There is a blog, however, the catches the beauty of the city in photos. It is called Boroughed: Metropolitan NYC Photo-Blog (Five Boroughs & Beyond).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hump Day

It's the day that reminds you that you're half way through the week. Having a demanding career is often a Catch-22. Most days I feel so lucky to have such challenging daily duties and tasks. Some mornings I wish I had a mindless job, where I could just perform some inane routine without having to think too hard. Nine times out of ten, those some mornings are Wednesdays.

My perspective of the workweek is a little different from most. I don't dread Mondays and my favorite workdays are Thursdays.

I stopped dreading Mondays during my last year in North Carolina, which ended on July 31, 2006. I had been working two jobs that year to get out of some moderate debt and save money to move to New York City.

Monday meant that I only had to go to one job for the next four days. After awhile, the Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. grind became very easy. At 5 p.m., I could go home and lounge for the remainder of the evening, watch TV or meet friends for dinner or drinks.

Thursday was my Friday. It was my last evening to myself before I had to add a 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at a casino to my 8-hour day in higher education administration. I didn't often go out on Thursdays. I had to be in bed early in order to prepare myself for the subsequent 16-hour workday.

Saturdays were spent in a hang-over like blur. My throat was scratchy and sore from the cigarette and cigar smoke in the casino. I served drinks for another eight hours on Saturday nights and then spent Sundays in a coma.

In the summer, I decided I didn't work enough and I added a third job waitressing at a crab shack. I generally began to hate my life and sometimes lost sight of my goal. I couldn't wait for the day when I could finally say that it had all been worth it. It began to feel like that day would never come.

On July 31, in my final post as a resident of North Carolina, I wrote about the worth of that grueling year. Monetarily, it numbered in the tens of thousands (minus, of course, my annual living expenses and debt resolution). Emotionally, it numbered in all the ways I would be living my life in New York City.

Wednesdays can still be tough, but not as tough as they used to be amidst a 7-day workweek. For those who continue to work seven days a week, my heart goes out to them. For those who work seven days a week and support children, my heart breaks.

This post was more for myself than anyone else today. Today I needed my perspective to remind me how hard it was to get here and how much easier I have it now. Of course, living in New York City is not easy. In fact, it is very hard. Its streets are harsh, its weather is harsher. However, my perspective keeps me sane - though my view of the days of the week have changed a little.

Mondays are generally the end to a good weekend. And Thursdays mean that another good one might be on the way.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When is it Official?

I once heard that you are officially on your way to becoming a New Yorker when you can give someone directions without referring to a subway map.

I left work early today to await a furniture delivery at my apartment this afternoon. My bed arrived without mishap. Now I just need a mattress. But I was almost more excited by a transcending experience I had prior to boarding an uptown 2 train after leaving work.

As the 2 pulled into the station, an older woman tapped me. I paused my iPod and she asked, "Does this train stop at 57th?"

"No," I replied as the subway doors opened. "This is an express. But the Q stops at 57th. Where are you trying to go?"

"57th and Broadway," she answered.

"You can wait for the 1 train on this platform and get off at 59th Street."

"Thank you," she called after me as I boarded the 2. I looked over my shoulder and waved back at her, pressed play on my iPod and took a seat. It was only then that I realized what I had just done.

I had just given someone directions without pulling out my subway map! Granted they were simple directions toward the easy-to-navigate Upper West Side. It wasn't like I'd just explained the downtown mazes below Houston Street, but nevertheless, I recalled what I had once heard about subway directions.

While waiting for my bed to be delivered, I researched the makings of a New Yorker. Here are my findings:

You Know You're a New Yorker When ...
and You Know You're a New Yorker When ...
and my favorite You Know You're a New Yorker When ...

From Lizzie Breyer's review of "Trading Up" in Knot Magazine:
There's something about New York that makes you a snob, if you live there long enough.

New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. It's diverse, convenient, eclectic and constantly engaging. But for that very reason, it makes you totally spoiled. Describe yourself as a New Yorker once, and it means the city's in your blood -- along with everything that comes with it.

You'll notice little changes in your attitude at first. You'll still appreciate nice cars -- they become pieces of art to be appreciated, daydreams enjoyed as you ride the 4 or Q subway lines under the traffic. You start eating brunch every Sunday, and mimosas creep into your regular diet.

But most importantly, you'll start to get annoyed by people who aren't quite as chic and, well, urban. Leave New York for a minute, and it becomes crushingly clear. Even Chicago doesn't seem so great after a summer in the Big Apple. The Midwestern accents? Ugh. And who wears khaki shorts and flip-flops to a bar? Where was the bouncer when THAT happened?

New York gets under your skin like that.

But no matter how guilty you may feel for becoming A New Yorker, remember this: you're not as bad as Janey Wilcox, the protagonist of Candice Bushnell's new novel, Trading Up. And I should know -- I'm a twentysomething blonde fresh from a stay in New York -- just the kind that Candace Bushnell likes to write about.

I'm a twentysomething brunette fresh off the boat in Manhattan, who plans to spend the next 10 years writing about her life in the city - the good, the bad, the ugly and even the boring. When I first started this blog in North Carolina back in July, I had 10 years and 30 days to go - as 10 years is widely considered the official benchmark of official New Yorker-ship.

As it stands now, according to both the 10-year minimum and the New York subway anecdote, I am four months in and well on my way.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Deflation Countdown

My new platform bed will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. I'm leaving work early in order to accept the delivery - and apparently furniture delivery can be the next best excuse to calling in sick in New York City.

Tonight would be my last night on my trusty air mattress, except I still have to buy a mattress to put on my new bed. Maybe I'll just put my air mattress on top of the platform.

Phone Photo Op - High-end Furnishings

The airbed on which I've been sleeping the past four months, and the file boxes I craftly transformed to a desk and/or dinner table.
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bloomingdale Blues

If you ever want to feel depressed about your financial standing in New York City - or in the world in general - I highly recommend paying a visit to Bloomingdale's on a Sunday afternoon. You can literally smell the wealth of the nouveau riche and/or the old money. In fact, much of mid- and downtown reek of wealth. While waiting at crosswalks, countless limousines, VIP cars and luxury vehicles often pass by, but it's none more in your face than in the large, expensive department stores.

If you want to feel especially bummed out, try to overhear a conversation between two women who are debating whether or not to buy a $3000 coat or another coat that looks exactly like it on the sale rack for $1800. Then listen as they opt for the $3000 coat because the one on sale just looks cheap.

I looked at my own black down-feather jacket, which I had purchased for $50 at Century 21 and let out a little sigh to myself. Later I tried to lament over my envious monetary woes with Tokii, but in blunt best friend form, she sharply interrupted me: "I am not going to entertain you right now."

Leave it to her to remind me in less than 10 words not to stop counting the blessings I do have.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Phone Photo Op - Subway Symphony

Young musicians performing in the Times Square station this afternoon.
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Spa Schmoozing

Following a frustrating morning in which I was made to look like a dumbass thanks to the incompetency of Lotus Notes, I assisted one of our sales managers with a client event this evening at a spa in Tribeca. Manicures and pedicures catered with sandwiches, salad, cookies, fresh fruit, white wine and champagne was a great way to end a bad day - and a less than good workweek overall.

I also helped "work the room" as our sales manager put it. Business schmoozing - it turns out - is not as forced and phony as I thought it would be. In fact, it was quite fun and relaxing. Though I'm sure the alcohol helped.

Afterward, I hopped in a cab and headed back up to Harlem. I slumped down into the back seat, leaned against the headrest and watched the buildings and lights whiz by outside the car window. Somewhere between Soho and the Upper West Side, I remembered that I'd rather have a rough workweek in New York City than anywhere else.

Phone Photo Op - Company Perk

Treating advertising agency clients to manicures and pedicures in a spa in Tribeca meant a mani and pedi for me, too.
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Christmas Time is Here

... Happiness and cheer ... that's what all the children call their favorite time of year ... snowflakes in the air ... ummmm ...

Charlie Brown: I think there must be something wrong with New York, Linus. Christmas is coming, but it doesn't feel the way it's supposed to feel. It was in the mid-sixties outside today.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Trivia (from Wikipedia)
- The special has not been seen in its original, uncut form since the first three telecasts in 1965, 1966 and 1967. Much of this is due to the opening and closing credits containing references to Coca-Cola, the show's original sponsor.
- The actors, all of them children, learned their lines phonetically, often not knowing what they meant. This led to the now-familiar Peanuts delivery style.
- All of the versions of the show broadcast on CBS between 1968 and 1996, and the earliest home video release were edited to completely delete the scene where the gang throws snowballs at a [Coca-Cola] can on a fence.
- Just before her remarks about Christmas being a big commercial racket, Lucy refers to Charlie Brown simply as "Charlie". This is the only time she does this in any of the TV specials; every other time it's "Charlie Brown".

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Happened to November?

So today was the last day of November and the average temperature was in the high 60s, which is a little creepy. It is reassuring, however, to know that freezing weather is gripping other parts of the country. But it has been such a warm fall and winter so far, and you have to wonder what happened to November.

A former colleague from North Carolina emailed me yesterday. He ended his email:
p.s. did you notice how warm it is here for late November? Who says global warming is an issue? I think it is the countdown to the apocalypse myself, read that in the Weekly World News tabloid couple weeks ago, so it has to be true).

In totally unrelated news: I think I have a crush on Chris Cuomo.

Phone Photo Op - Jack Black

Yesterday a colleague mentioned that walking to work each morning can be such an adventure. She had just arrived in the office after emerging from the Bryant Park station as a pack of Nascar race cars were parading down 42nd Street.

This morning, it was Jack Black standing with a bunch for random Santa Clauses (an Elvis Santa, a Wisconsin Cheesehead Santa, a Cowboy Santa) in the middle of Times Square.
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And then (just moments ago) the GMA crew themselves graced the nation with their presence, and I'm signing off now to grace my boss with mine.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Television Disconnect

I feel such a disconnect with live television sometimes when I'm watching Good Morning America while getting ready for work. This morning, for example, I listened to Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts make reference to the thousands of Nascar fans in Times Square and caught brief footage of the race cars revving their engines outside of the ABC Studios during the first 45 minutes or so of the morning "info-tainment" program.

Yet as I emerged from the Times Square station around 8:15 a.m. from the 1 train just 30 minutes after turning off my television uptown, my first thought was, "What are all these people standing around for?"

Moments later, "Oh yea, I just saw this on TV. Duh."

Sometimes it's like I forget that I live here, or I feel like I'm realizing that I live in New York City for the first time ... again.

I took a short detour along 44th Street to catch a quick camera phone photo op for my blog (being the dedicated blogger that I am). As I took the below photo, I overheard a Nascar New Yorker dad say to the small Nascar New Yorker son in his arms, "Do you see him, buddy? There he is. Do you see Jeff Gordon?"

The little boy was clearly star-struck. He had that innocent glazed look in his eyes that was a mixture of superstar admiration and youthful bewilderment as his father continued to whisper, "Do you see him, buddy? There he is. That's Jeff Gordon."

Phone Photo Op - Nascar in Times Square

Outside of the ABC Studios while walking to work this morning.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bad Day Average

I think I'm averaging one bad workday a week.

Today I messed up a very important conference call among some high-level executives because I forgot to send the dial-in to an external party, who was essential to the productivity of the call.

The CTO didn't make a big deal out of it, but I am sure that everyone, who had taken time out of their day for a virtually unproductive 45-minute call, was pretty annoyed. I tried to make amends and haven't heard anything since, but in all honesty, these people are too busy to take time out to pat me on the back and tell me that everything will be ok. Nor do I expect that.

I just have to take what I can from this mistake and try to do better next time. Shake it off, as they say. So shake, shake, shake.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I finally attended new employee orientation, which has generally continued to take place every Monday since I began temping in August. This company is growing quickly during its "comeback."

Even though I officially became permanent a week ago today, it was the Thanksgiving holiday week and our division was short-staffed Monday and Tuesday. As a result, my supervisor received approval for me to skip orientation last week to help out in the office.

Every week, human resources posts the names, photos, general information and an interesting fact about each new employee in all of the company break rooms at the midtown office, the downtown office and the TV studios.

It took me awhile to think of my interesting fact. I mulled over several options, but after awhile I started to realize how interesting I wasn't. I couldn't think of anything extremely interesting at all. I guess I was looking for something extravagant ... like "I speak Swahili" or "I have six toes" or "I've gone skydiving over the Alps" ... I actually have a friend who has done that last one.

Some viable options were:
- I was arrested in Bermuda when I was 11 years old by the U.S. military police.
- I plan to marry Matthew McConaughey, Wentworth Miller or the model in the Sean John billboard down in the Bryant Park station by the end of Q4.
- I have a series of metal plates and screws in my face.
- I can recite the entire alphabet backwards.

In the end, I chose:
- I placed first in the Bermuda IronKids Triathlon for girls in the 12 year old bracket in 1992.

Later after the photos were posted in all of the break rooms, I realized that I sound like one of those people who hold on to a past achievement, like those who are always correcting another's grammar or spelling because they were the 4th grade spelling bee champion.

I should have gone with my special RoboCop-like features.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Furniture for a Match Box

I finally ordered furniture today. The bed won't arrive until the second week of December and the couch won't be delivered until after the New Year, but my tiny studio apartment is one step closer to becoming a home.

My mom and I went to Pottery Barn on 67th Street and Broadway, and with the assistance of an extremely helpful sales representative named Keith, I picked out a full/queen mahogany-stained platform bed with drawers from the Stratton collection (without the headboard) and a small 3-piece sectional in oat everydaysuede from the Westport collection.

Both pieces are featured in the "Furniture for Small Spaces" section on the Pottery Barn website, which is what originally attracted me as I am, indeed, living in a very small space. With the taxes and shipping charges combined, they about wiped out the furniture budget I set for myself, but it's not like I have any other rooms to furnish.

I also bought an elegant glazed pot from Home Depot, Miracle Gro soil and plant food so that I could repot my dear plant Sasha. She has been through botanical hell and back and survived so now that I am getting settled, I wanted to give her the Rolls-Royce of plant life.

Note to Terrence: Your boring fern-weed Brenda isn't going to have a chance once Sasha fully bounces back. We challenge you both to a duel! [remove gardening glove and slap across face]

My mom and I ended the evening with hotdogs from Gray's Papaya and a new episode of Desperate Housewives. Now we're trying to get comfortable laying head-to-feet on my twin size air mattress.

Good night!

Phone Photo Op - Gray's Papaya

The best hotdogs in the city can be found at Gray's Papaya on 72nd Street and Broadway.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Road Trip

My mom and I left Asheville in a rental car around 5:30 am and headed up I-26 into Tennessee. As we crossed a bridge over a high gorge, the fog was so thick that the road seemed to drop off and disappear. We could barely see 50 feet ahead. It would have made for a nice phone photo op except that I was driving. But it kind of reminded me of what my life has been like for the past four months. Can't see more than a day ahead of me. I liked driving through that fog. Maybe that's why I like the way my life has been lately.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Tennesee, a Subway in Virginia, a gas station in West Virginia and maybe another in Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, we got turned around on the Turnpike and ended up going through the Lincoln Tunnel even though it would have been faster, easier and cheaper to cross the George Washington Bridge.

We flirted with fenderbenders in the bottleneck entering Lincoln Tunnel, we were honked at by almost every cab driver on Broadway, it took 30 minutes to find parking, and I found a small, dead roach as I walked into my apartment, but it was good to be home.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Back to My New Life

Tomorrow I'm going back to New York City. My mom is driving with me from North Carolina and plans to stay for a week or two.

I am feeling a little anxious about going back to the city. Everything is so fast up there that it's almost like I am worried I've missed too much in four days to catch up. I know that's not really the case - although I did miss David Blaine suspended above Times Square in a rotating ring.

I watched a little bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. Even though I probably would have just checked it out from my TV in my apartment, I felt a little sad about not being in the city. I guess you could say I am homesick.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

To Be Thankful

I'm thankful for my parents, who always mean well. I'm thankful for my brother, who is broadening his horizons in China. I'm thankful for my boyfriend, who is supportive of my goals even as they take our lives in separate directions. For my best friend, who holds a mirror that reminds me why I'm fabulous but never sugarcoats the truth. For my closest friends (they know who they are), who always inspire me to be better. For my two bosses, who don't know about this blog or what I've written about them, but must surely know how much I admire and respect them. For my coworkers, who made me want to be a permanent part of their team when I was a temp. For my new job that makes me feel good in the morning even when I don't want to get out of bed.

I'm thankful for the way I was raised, the way I have grown and am growing, and the way I have learned to think for myself. I'm thankful for my character and personality. I'm thankful that I have the ambition, ability, will and opportunity to realize my dreams. Just because one knows what they want, it doesn't mean they can have it. I have been blessed with reasonably good fortune when others cannot even get a chance. And I am so thankful.

And when I get back to New York, I'm going to knock on every piece of wood in the city.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Small Big City

Yesterday as the plane took off from La Guardia and looped north of Manhattan and headed south, I spotted my 35-story apartment complex on the Hudson River. I was immediately struck by how close my building looks to Central Park from the air and how small the island looks in general. Then I thought of all the millions of people I was looking upon: doctors, lawyers, teachers, celebrities, sanitation specialists, executives, drug dealers, transportation operators, chefs, waiters, mafia members, postal workers, socialites, homeless people, construction engineers, artists, performers, students, bloggers ... so many different people with diverse agendas all crammed into such a small place.

My building doesn't seem so far from midtown or even downtown from the sky. Yet getting around Manhattan - whether it's a commute to work, meeting friends or running errands - consumes so much time. My Monday-to-Friday commute is actually pretty nice. Just 25 minutes. But it can be the longest 25 minutes of your life when you're squished between eleven people in a subway car all trying to hold onto the same pole.

When I met David (who recently referred to me as a closet blogger) downtown for brunch and pedicures last Sunday, it took me 35 minutes to get there by train. Over half an hour to go about six miles. Later that evening, we took a cab back to the Upper West Side, where his boyfriend Chris was cooking us the best eggplant parmesan ever. We opted for a cab rather than the train because it would take too long to get to 84th Street carrying flowers, wine and a new serving plate from William Sonoma.

Today my dad drove me to an orthodontist appointment in Clyde (roughly 30 miles from Asheville) in about 20 minutes. Dr. Irvine (the best orthodontist in the world) took a quick look at my teeth and retainers, and my dad I were back in Asheville in less than an hour roundtrip. We ate a light lunch at Applebee's, stopped by the hospital to get his schedule and say hi to his coworkers, and had plenty of time to spare prior to my minor outpatient oral surgery at Dr. Scully's clinic (the best maxillofacial surgeon in the world). The surgery took about 45 minutes, and my dad and I made stops at CVS pharmacy and Wendy's and arrived home soon thereafter.

Total time spent on orthodontics, Applebee's, visit at dad's job, outpatient surgery, CVS and Wendy's?

Five hours.

Entire commute combined, we virtually drove from Inwood to the Financial District roughly five times today.

When it comes to going the distance in Manhattan, it's all about perspective. You might know you're a New Yorker when you stop thinking in miles and attribute all distances to blocks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


For me - as a military brat - I knew I had found a home whenever I was sad to leave one particular duty station or another.

For me - as an adult with no real "hometown" but rather numerous memories of home in a variety of towns - I knew I had finally found the home when my plane took off from La Guardia, and I realized I was sad to be leaving even for just a few days.

I am at my parents' house tonight in scenic Western North Carolina and happy to be here for the Thanksgiving holiday. But the sky seems strangely open, the streets seem oddly dark and the world seems very quiet. I didn't expect to feel such a drastic change within less than four months of urban dwelling among the highrises of the concrete jungle. It's not an uncomfortable change, just more different than I thought it would be.

Thomas Wolfe once said that "one belongs to [New York City] as much in five minutes as in five years." To quote Mr. Big, a character on Sex & the City, my response would have to be his trademark reply: "Abso-f***ing-lutely."

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Knowing Wink

Tomorrow morning I am flying home to Asheville, North Carolina to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my parents. I just finished packing a small suitcase, and now I'm about to get ready for bed. Before I snuggle into my not so warm air mattress, I'll probably stand at my window like I do every night and take a few minutes to appreciate the day, the moment and what I have.

On August 1, I left North Carolina with all of my possessions packed into a stow-and-go rental minivan. No apartment, no job and no one awaited me. It was just the city and me. My first night, Terrence had asked me what was next.

"So what are you going to do tomorrow?" he had asked. My reply had been: "I don't know."

And I loved that answer.

There is still a lot I don't know, but there is so much that I feel. Having been the consummate planner throughout the majority of my life thus far, it's that kind of "not knowing" that makes me feel so alive.

Each night the lights in Jersey dance on the Hudson River, and from my 9th floor window, the red light on the antennae of the Empire State Building winks at me from midtown. I can't see the building itself over the rooftops, but on clear nights like tonight, the blinking red light gives me that knowing wink and makes me feel like a New Yorker.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Subway Convos

Late last night, I was riding the 1 train uptown to my apartment and overheard the most arbitrary conversation among four college-age individuals. The group was debating a contrast and comparison of homeless people and cockroaches and something about electrons, neurons, a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich and a coat hanger.

Two members of the group were speaking in irritatingly elevated tones presumably to make their input in the conversation audible to the rest of the subway car. I'm assuming they felt that the other passengers would be impressed by the depth and breadth of their conversation. Instead numerous sighs abound and annoyed glances were exchanged throughout the car - all of which were oblivious to these young scholars as they animatedly debated their analogy.

I looked at the woman sitting next to me, who was clearly struggling to lightly snooze amidst the banter and asked, "Is that what is attending Columbia University?"

She looked at me and sighed, "Mm-hmm."

Sure enough, they exited at 116th Street.

If I could remember some of the exact analogies, I'd submit them to

Friday, November 17, 2006

Phone Photo Op - NBC Sleepover

Saturday Night Live fans camping outside of the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center the night before a live taping.
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Corporate Adrenaline

The AVP, Director of Marketing (who often refers to my new employment as an opportunity to grow me - she "likes to grow people" - which is great because I need some growing) brought me with her to a four-hour meeting today so that I could watch, listen and learn.

The meeting involved representatives from a direct email marketing firm who were essentially trying to sell the top directors and heads of various departments within our company on their online marketing tool.

It was such a rush to watch our CTO and other "big wigs" from various departments grill these sales representatives and to watch these reps rise to the challenge. It was a tough crowd on our side and one of the reps actually started sweating ... in fact, I began to sweat a little bit for him. But after three hours of presentations, demonstrations and dialogue, it was exciting to watch the dynamic of the room as it flowed from speculation and doubt of whether or not they could meet our company's objectives to collaboration and corporate camaraderie.

There is still more to discuss before there are handshakes over contracts - in fact, I'm setting up conference calls between various departments on our end and their reps (who are based out of California). But after the meeting was over, everyone actually turned to me and thanked me for setting everything up. I mean, all I did was book a conference room, coordinate schedules, send invites to all the pertinent parties, order a catered lunch and then sat to my boss' left and scribbled notes (not rocket science by any means), but it felt pretty cool to be acknowledged - especially after a meeting as cool as today's.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great Expectations

After some mild salary negotiations over the past two days, I formally accepted the position assisting the VP Digital Advertising Sales and the AVP, Director of Marketing. One is widely acclaimed and respected in the online advertising world and the latter was named one of the top 25 women to watch in Advertising Age.

I didn't get exactly what I wanted in terms of salary, but my employers did make a decent effort to meet me halfway, which ended up being a difference of $5k. Plus, I will receive paid overtime, which will actually put me over my asking price. It's a great salary by North Carolina standards, a good salary by Florida standards and a decent salary by New York City standards. In other words, I'm not moving to Tribeca and buying a Rolex watch tomorrow, but I can afford to live comfortably, save adequately and have a social life (which is very expensive here).

On Monday, I will officially be a permanent employee of the company for which I have been temping for three full months. And starting at 12:01 am, I can finally rest easy that if I am hit by a city bus - and survive - that I will have adequate medical insurance to cover the subsequent bills. I am now also shopping around for a dentist and a family practice doctor, and I'm taking suggestions.

I wish I could say that this job opportunity presented itself because I'm just that good, but I have simply had extraordinary luck. And quite frankly, the bottom line is that my bosses are taking a leap of faith in hiring me because I am somewhat unqualified for the job I am undertaking. In fact, I would be willing to bet that if I had submitted my resume without any prior interaction with the company (through the staffing agency), I would have never been considered. I mean, my background is a bachelor's degree and three years working in higher education administration - not advertising sales and marketing.

And then today, while I was doing competitive advertising analysis (a.k.a dog-earring pages in a competitor's magazine that features advertisers whom our sales team needs to pursue), I paused to read the editor's note. She had listed, in no particular order, a list of gifts she had received that money can't buy - one of which that read:

"The moment my former boss Laurie agreed to let me interview the actress Marisa Tomei for a major national magazine when I had absolutely no experience and then promoted me to a job for which I was largely unqualified, all because she saw things in me that I did not yet see in myself."

I don't know what exactly my bosses may see in me, but I hope it's what they get.

Prior to moving to New York City 3 1/2 months ago, I fully expected to be working in some arbitrary job, sending resumes everywhere and going on interviews several times a week. I think the greatest expectation is to expect nothing. I came here expecting just that and got something a little bit better and very much unexpected. I guess you have to dive into the unknown without expectations sometimes ... then there's less chance for disappointment and the only direction is up.

Got Joe?

My favorite blogger Joe does such great things with his blog beyond just rambling about the day-to-day like I do. Recently his readers began joining a cause to help a man named Mike Jones. And no, not the rapper.

From Joe.My.God's Special Open Thread Thursday:
It was at this time last week that the last bell finally rang on the 2006 election, delivering the House, the Senate, and the majority of state governships into the hands of the Democrats. The map is blue again. And so is the sky. My face is sore from smiling and my feets are aching from all this happy dancing.

And playing a possibly vital, perhaps pivotal role in this triumph was not a politician. Not a party strategist. It was a private citizen. It was a gay man. A man who although he was risking his personal livelihood, risking his arrest, and surely risking his physical safety, he came forward and did the right thing at the right time.

That man is Mike Jones.

Regardless of your personal opinions regarding Jones' chosen field of work, you cannot ignore his unprecedented accomplishment of almost completely appending the Republican Party's last minute campaign to divert the nation's attention from the true issue of the election: the Iraq war.
Read More from this blog

Whether you support the cause or not, it's interesting to gain another prospective and think outside of your own little box.

[Sat, 11/18, 10:30am update]
Here's an interesting counter from Josh of the blog Gay Men Rule:
I'm just confused why we are exalting someone who chose to have interactions - for years - with someone who hated everything we stood for and believed in!

As far as difficulty finding a job? That's wrong and demonstrates the pervasiveness of homophobia and the judgments of people who can't get beyond the thought of prostition and maybe drugs existing in our society.

For that reason, I gave the dude some money.

But I don't believe he swayed the elections. I turned off the T.V. that entire week because Faggarty and Jones were both getting on my nerves. Most people I know did the same.

Someone needs to show me exit polls supporting this theory that folks voted for Democrats because of Mike Jones/Faggarty. At any rate - like I said - I donated, but not because I think he did anything worthy of being put on a pedestal. Thanks for doing this though, Joe.
Read More about this issue in their blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Page Six

The major news of the day:

Kevin Federline, formerly of the Mr. Britney Spears union, is using a steamy sex tape from their "honeymoon days" as a bargaining tool for $30 million of their estate and sole custody of their two children. That's one way to get the judge to think that you're the best role model for your kids.

Also, OJ Simpson is working on a project called "If I Did It..."

Meanwhile in Iraq, Afganistan, Sierra Leone, Iran and North Korea ...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Survived First Night

Last night was my first night alone in my new apartment. After helping me move into my new place on Broadway, Terrence stayed a week and helped me with the cleaning, the shopping and the other new housekeeping tasks. He flew out of La Guardia yesterday and returned to Atlanta, and I went back to a very quiet - and suddenly lonely - new home. I heated up some leftover Chinese food, sat on my air mattress and opened some mail. It felt so great to see my new address in writing, but the ripping sound the envelopes made as I opened them echoed off the walls and had never seemed so loud. No furniture, no cable, and I'm stealing wireless Internet from a neighbor until Time Warner arrives on Saturday.

I ate my food in silence then leaned against the wall. As I looked around my new space, I tried to picture what it would look like once I have furniture and decor. There is still a laundry list of things wrong with it (by anywhere-else-in-the-US standards), but it's really quite nice (by the Big Apple's standards) - in fact, it was the nicest I saw within my modest price range.

I've been exchanging quirky and often hilarious stories with coworkers about first New York City apartments. What you aren't willing to put up with ... someone else is ... and will pay double. The result is a mediocre living condition due to the high demand created by 8 million people seeking a cut of approximately 321 square miles.

When New York City hands you lemons, try to avoid the brokers fee, patch up what the landlord won't, throw some paint on the walls, and be thankful that you're no longer sleeping in your best friend's living room. I'm telling you, turning the key in the lock of a door never sounded so sweet as when I first opened my own door in the most densely populated major city in North America.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reality Soon Sets

As I've been settling into my new apartment, I've been finding more and more "habitational" issues. Adding to my earlier list of things that are incomplete or need to be repaired:

1) Inside one of the floor cabinets, there is a square hole (approximately 12"x8") through which the pipes connect the sink to the main waterline in the wall. Needless to say, until that hole is patched up, I will not be using that cabinet - or even opening it often for fear of seeing a rat or a roach.
2) The refrigerator door opens in a cumbersome direction within the layout of the kitchen. Someone is going to come in and switch the handle and hinges.

1) The bathroom sink has been leaking small pools of water into the new cabinet underneath. There is a plastic cup under there now, which I empty every other day or so.

And here are some things of which I have just made a mental note:
1) The hot water temperature and the rate at which it lasts vary and are directly proportional to how many other people are showering at the same time.
2) The laundry rooms downstairs are locked around 9 or 10pm even if there is a dryer tumbling - though temporarily abandoned, the full load of clothing holds the promise that their owner will soon return (yet my laundry is locked in down there right now).
3) I need to develop a greater appreciation for Hispanic music because if my neighbors are listening to it, then I am, too.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Game of Grab Ass

Earlier this week, Gloria explained to me - in discomforting detail - the rules of a little game that she has quite un-affectionately dubbed "Grab Ass." To paraphrase my tiny Taiwanese coworker, here is the gist of the Game of Grab Ass:

Grab Ass is played exactly like it sounds. It's when you are packed so tightly into the train that when the train lurches in one direction or another, one or both of two things happens: You grab the ass of the person standing in front of you to keep from falling over and/or scowl angrily at the back of their head because there is not enough room to turn around and give an evil look to the person behind you who is grabbing yours.

And today I got to play.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Better Day

We had sales training today from 9am to 4pm in the executive conference room that shares a glass wall with the office of the company's founder and icon. She has a corner office with glass walls and a gorgeous view of the Hudson River. Around 3:45pm nearing the end of a long day of training, two people walked into the office and started pulling up the shades and carefully lining them up at exactly three-quarters of the way up the windows. They turned on the desk lamp and the flatscreen computer, entered a password, arranged two fresh bottles of cold water on the desk, emptied the trash can, took one final look around the office and walked out.

I looked around the table in the executive conference room. All of my colleagues were paying attention to our sales trainer, but were clearly sneaking glances through the glass wall into the meticulously prepared office just as I had been.

Our training ended promptly at 4pm, and we did not see her actual arrival. We left the building and proceeded to our sales training dinner in a private wine cellar of an adorable downtown Italian restaurant. We dined on delicious food paired with fine wines and toasted the growth and success of our sales team. At the end of the night, my coworker Gloria and I split a cab to our respective West Side apartments.

Today was a good day.

[Wed, 11/8 update]
And the week got even better when the states began turning from red to blue and the Devil resigned as Defense Secretary. My sentiments exactly from Joe.My.God.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bad Day

I had one of those mornings at work that made me feel like giving up on the career world and aspiring to be a housewife. Not that being a housewife is any easier or less demanding - maybe it's the being your own boss, on your own schedule, staying at home that makes it attractive on days in the office when you feel like you can't do anything right, there's too much to do and too little time, and you feel like you'll never get ahead (in the short run or the long).

But I'm not one to give up just because of days like today. Plus, there was someone in New York City who had a much worse day than I did. I was late to work this morning because of train delays on the Downtown/Brooklyn bound 1 train because of a passenger injury. I didn't know the exact details as none were provided to those on my train, but one of my coworkers was also late because of the same delay. She lives south of me on 96th Street, where the incident occurred. She didn't know if it was an accident or a "jumper," but she said there were a lot of police officers and a body bag.

Despite the grim situation, she said that random comments among New Yorkers on the platform ranged from, "Damn - I'm going to be late [for those who assumed it was an accident]" to "Why couldn't he decide that he couldn't go on living on Sunday? [for those who assumed it was a jumper]" ...

Even when the announcement was made by the conductor on my train that we were "being held by the train's dispatcher because of a passenger injury downtown," there were heavy sighs and rolling eyes as New Yorkers began calculating how much time would be lost to the delay.

This day is now coming to a close for me. It was a bad one. But I'm glad it isn't over.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New York City Marathon

Terrence and I stood at 96th and Fifth Ave (Mile Marker 23) for an hour and a half. Then Annisha called and told me to go to Mile Marker 24. Then she said that Eileen's family was headed to the Finish Line. Then I got worried that if I did too much walking and not enough watching, I'd miss Eileen and her fire engine red shirt and black shorts fly by so we stood on the corner of East 90th for another 45 minutes. And after all of that, we still didn't see her! So I dragged Terrence around Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel and Best Buy to continue apartment-stuff shopping. Even though we missed Eileen's run entirely, cheering for the other thousands of runners for two hours was amazing! They were champions! Can't wait to see next year's ... and why? Because I live here!!!

Phone Photo Op - Marathon Images

Entering Central Park (23 1/2 miles)
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Mile Marker 23
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Runners & Rollers
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During ...
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... And After
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

First Day on Broadway

At a glance, the apartment looks very nice. However, upon closer inspection, I have a laundry list of items that are incomplete and/or need to be fixed, which I sent to the management company:

1) Missing electrical outlet cover in kitchen (left of sink)
2) Missing granite base of backsplash on countertop (left of stove)
3) Kitchen sink is not well sealed between upper rim of sink and countertop

Entryway Closets
1) Loose wire hanging in closet nearest the front door (if it's electrical, it appears to be dead)
2) Bottom of second closet door is stripped (sanding and/or touch-up paint needed)

1) Lid on back of toilet does not fit securely because of poor positioning of adjacent sink and countertop
2) New sink, but appears that the porcelain on the edge of the counter was nicked during construction (doesn't need to be fixed, just made note)
2) Missing baseboard tile (left of toilet)
3) Peeling paint (left of mirror)

Living Room
1) The cover over the airconditioning unit box (below the window) is not well sealed and cold air is seeping in.

I've all ready had two very small bugs make their presence known, which received a swat response and subsequent squish. I bought a Raid fumigator today (almost purchased the fogger, but decided against it since I have a gas stove). Terrence and I will announce my intolerance for bugs of any size, shape or color by setting it off tomorrow before we leave to go see Eileen run past 96th Street and Fifth Avenue in the New York City Marathon.

Oh yea - Terrence is in town. He arrived last night from Atlanta to help me move from the Bronx to Hamilton Heights. We spent the morning assisted by two very diligent and speedy movers from MoveMaster. The afternoon involved a lot of grumbling as Terrence followed me around Bed, Bath & Beyond and Home Depot (he can't stand shopping with me). This evening we ordered pizza and ate it out of the box since all of my kitchenware are still in boxes. And now he is in the shower, I am blogging on my air mattress surrounded by boxes, and I think we broke the heater when we tried to turn it up earlier.

Home sweet home.