Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Christmas in New York

I love the start of the Christmas season in this city.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

This Workplace Break Sponsored by Un-PC PCs

Since I work in digital advertising, I generally understand content-relevant advertising so I find it slightly offensive and totally amusing that my myspace homepage triggers these text link advertisements:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Annual Conference

I'm back in New York after enjoying Thanksgiving with my parents in Asheville. And the first annual conference for our department kicked off on Monday with a formal Moroccan dinner on the set of our company's TV studio with our founder and former CEO, which featured courses prepared by her personal chef. To follow were three days of personal and professional discovery and a night of pizza, beer and trivia at Dempsey's Pub in the Lower East Side.

I found one of the most notable moments over the past three days to be when our brand new SVP said to an attentive audience in the executive conference room (and I paraphrase):

"As with any new job, you go into it with a certain degree of uncertainty. On my third day, [VP*] asked me what she could tell me that no one else had yet. So I said to her, 'How about the truth?'"

"Without hesitation, she replied, 'I have an amazing team and I love them. They will walk through walls, they'll do anything you ask. We'll hustle for you. Let us go.'"

"That night when I got home, I said to my wife, 'I made the right decision. My leader of sales didn't answer the question with a question. She gave me a definitive answer regarding the truth.'"

*Name removed to preserve anonymity; however, he was referring to the woman I assist directly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

When the Past Comes Back

Have you ever been out with friends you haven't seen in years, chatting about the past, the future and everything in between? Then, your jaunt down memory lane recalls a name and face you haven't thought of in years, and you say, "Oh my God! What has Casey Cordell been up to these days?"

The faces become sullen and brief glimmers of pain flash across the eyes of those around you and someone says, "He died a few years ago."

That happened to me last night with friends at Whiskey Tavern in downtown Asheville. It reminded me of times when old friends and acquaintances would ask me about Rickey in the first years after he died, and I sometimes wonder how many people that he knew still may not know about him - just like I still hadn't known about Casey.

Today I return to New York and again go back thinking of how much I am truly thankful for.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Going Home

I love catching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television and remembering that I live there. And I love that I get to return to New York after holidays.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Aging, Not Wrinkles, Is Cruel

I am not afraid of dying, but rather of becoming old. No. Let me rephrase. I am not afraid of looking old, but I am afraid of my mind aging.

There is something endearing to me about getting wrinkly and creaky with someone that you love, about having time wash over you and the years spread across your face and bodies, about sharing moments and memories that create a lifetime. There is an interesting study about why some old lovers look alike, which I found fascinating.

But I fear losing my cognitive abilities and my memories, being psychologically alone and emotionally trapped within the prison of my own mind. Whereas now I revel in my own private, daily ponderings as I cruise through life and often struggle vainly to recall as I rush to put pen to paper in order to preserve them, I simultaneously fear the time when I might be trapped alone with my own thoughts and no way to express them.

Tonight we shared Thanksgiving dinner with my parents' neighbors (and surrogate grandparents) Jack and Sarah. My family has been watching Sarah grow increasingly ill over the years, and it has taken a small toll on each of us, especially since Alzheimer's runs on both sides of the gene pool. While physically Sarah is in fine shape, her mind has been deteriorating slowly for the better part of five years. And it is so hard to watch her struggle in her own self-induced confusion and disorientation, whimpering like a child one moment and snapping back to a seemingly normal adult-like state the next.

It was an odd evening as we shuffled between instances of not remembering who I was or whether Sarah could hold her orange juice to reteaching her how to toast a glass. In an effort to keep Sarah's mind working, Jack probed her with sporadic questions.

"And who am I?" he asked, posing the question as a fond joke rather than an interrogation method to make sure she was still with us.

Sarah looked up from her stuffing and green bean casserole and announced proudly, "You're my man!"

Minutes later she was breathing heavily and appeared paranoid, tugging on the drawstrings of her pants and on the verge of tears. Later when Jack joked with her about a personal matter, she leaned in affectionately, squinted her eyes at him and said, "You be good now!"

I kept wondering what thoughts get locked inside and how scared she must feel sometimes. But my heart also reaches out to Jack, who has assumed his caretaker role out of a sense of duty, perhaps unconditional love, and even a degree of fear. Fear of being lonely maybe? Fear of not being able to afford the high-priced assisted living that she already needs?

And that thought scares me, too. That one day I will watch someone I love deteriorate rather than have them watch me. In some ways, you are then locked in your own mental prison as the one person who shares a lifetime of memories and thoughts can no longer make sense of the world around them. The wrinkles I can deal with. When Jack looks at Sarah or when Sarah is really seeing him, you can tell that they each see what the other thinks they still look like. And that's what I want - someone who will see what I think I still look like.

Between her fits of anxiety, Sarah would graze the table cloth with her fingers or trace the designs of her placemat and would repeatedly comment on its look and texture.

"Beautiful," she would say slowly in a low, sophisticated tone before returning to a high-pitched, childlike whimper. I guess despite Alzheimer's grip on her mind, she still searches for the beauty of this life.

That is what I chose to be thankful for this year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sweet Home North Carolina

"Enjoy the oxygen. Make this week about doing things u cant do in the city. It will b cleansing & therapeutic. NY will be here when u get back, SAMANTHA!" Tokii texted me before she, too, left New York for Raleigh.

"Awww...poor thing! the city loves u too! enjoy the south as much as u can while youre there! ;) so when we both get back on sat. we will have 2 celebrate our fabulous lives [in nyc]." That was a text from another friend headed to NC for the holidays.

So many North Carolinians in New York. Seems to be a trend among those of us trying to put the "Y" in "NC". As much as I am slightly itching to get back to the city, I have to admit that I have enjoyed being back in my high school #2 town. I define towns I've lived in by the stages of my life. Since I don't have a hometown due to my military brat upbringing, there are my elementary school #1 and #2 towns, my middle school town, my high school #1 and #2 towns, my college town and so on. I guess New York City will be my life town.

I've been catching up with old friends, going through old yearbooks and high school notes stored in boxes in my old bedroom, reminiscing on a life that is almost an astounding 10 years behind me. Hanging out and drinking beer in Wild Wing Cafe or Whiskey Tavern isn't exactly like the trendy Lower East Side lounges, Tenjunes and Marquees of my new life, but there is something comforting to be found when surrounded by the people and places of your past. I don't know if I ever really fit in down here in Asheville, but good memories have a way of making you feel welcome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Phone Photo Op - En Route To Time Out

So I made Friday and Saturday into one long day by pulling an all-nighter before flying to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Tokii and I joined friends for an album-release party at a club in the Lower East Side before returning to my apartment at 4am so I could pack and catch a 8:50am flight out of La Guardia. Surprisingly I was not regretting the up-all-night extravaganza as much as I thought I would as I wheeled my suitcase out of my apartment and hailed a cab to the nearest M-60 bus stop.

Tokii has her own set of keys to my place so she saw me off before crashing on my side of the Hudson River rather than hauling it back to Jersey. We had to admit though that we were both a little shocked at how alert we were at 5:30am - especially as our bodies get farther and farther from those college days. In fact, it was probably easier to get rolling (literally) at that hour without napping.

I don't know what it is about leaving New York for me. Even when I know I'm coming right back. But as the M-60 bus crossed over the East River in the early dawn, I felt a slight twinge of sadness as my journey South began.

Gina B. and I met at the airport and chatted momentarily while waiting for our respective flights to Greensboro and Charlotte (where my parents would be meeting me to drive the final 2 1/2 hours of my journey to their mountain home). Cassie was also flying to North Carolina today, but on a later flight and was still en route via train from Connecticut. As we had all expected, the Thanksgiving travel was already crowding the airport.

I boarded my flight around a quarter to 9 o'clock, took a few photos with my digital camera (digital photos uploaded below) as we cruised over my neighborhood and banked south, then slept through beverage service and the subsequent landing in NC. As the plane taxied to our gate in Charlotte, I happened to notice that the stamp from the nightclub was still on my wrist - the last bit of evidence from my New York night out ... 12-hour-old make-up, sweat suit and frizzy hair notwithstanding ...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

New York By Air

Photos with my digital camera upon take-off from La Guardia featuring my office building in midtown and my apartment in Harlem.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Autumn in New York

More signs of autumn arriving in mid-November as seen looking up from a New York taxicab.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A canopy of leaves in Madison Square Park

Friday, November 16, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Dinner in the Dark

Enjoying exotic food by candlelight last night courtesy of my club promoter friend and the fabulous dinner parties she throws each week.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I'm not sure what I ate, but it was good. It might have helped if I could see, but the dim lighting set the mood, and everyone looks more attractive in the dark.

Phone Photo Op - Subway Rules

On my way to a downtown dinner party last night, I realized that I have made it over a year in New York without ever knowing the rules of the subway.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Metro Book Club

I love opening a novel on the subway. It makes the ride go faster and I can catch up on some reading.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Fall is in the Air

Or on the leaves anyway. It's warm one day, bitter cold the next. I, and my wardrobe, wish that the temperature would make up its mind.

West 135th Street
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, November 09, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Returning from Sick Leave

Call in sick for one day and return to 100 emails.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Enjoy this last shot of Lotus Notes; our company switches to Outlook soon! Thank God!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Fall Fashions

The wardrobes change as dramatically as the autumn leaves in New York.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - People Watching

I love witnessing strangers experience the unexpected.

Like a few weeks ago on the subway when a Black teen with cornrows and baggy clothes offered his seat to a White gray-haired gentleman with a cane. The man politely refused and the teen went back to bobbing his head to his iPod, but as the man leaned against the subway pole, I noticed him continue to look down at the teen for a few moments with a content smile of pleasant surprise.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Night Out Summary via Text Message

A text message from my friend Tasha summarized last night out with the girls:

"Had a blast last nite! Love you girls! Highlites: limo ride, porn, finding my $30 lip gloss after I lost it, and Iris falling on 27th Street!"

All correlated details have been omitted from this post.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - The View from the Top

So we aren't exactly at the top yet, but if kind of feels that way. My best friend will now be in 23 episodes of Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Tokii (known by another name in the industry) will be flying down to Atlanta from New York every Sunday through Wednesday until January.

Last night, I left midtown after work and went to her apartment in Jersey to hang out before she leaves on Sunday for her first week of filming. Tonight some friends and I are taking her out for a little V.I.P. treatment at our favorite Lower East Side lounge.

The view of the city from Tokii's apartment before I fell asleep last night
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And the rainbow sunrise looking East over the Hudson River when I awoke this morning
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The city becomes even more beautiful when you are feeling on top of the world.

Corporate Farewells

Today I sent a message to my [former] boss's personal email account:

Dear [named removed],

I just want to thank you (again and again) for the opportunity to work for you over the past year. You have no idea how much my job here has affected my life in New York. So many of the things that I had hoped for have happened to me already in this amazing city that I now call home. And a lot of those things might have never been possible, or would have happened to me at all, if you and [other boss] hadn't taken a chance on a naive, fresh-off-the-farm (or near it) temp. I've always been more of a shit-happens kinda girl, relying on coincidence as an explanation for most of the lucky breaks I've had in my life, and I can't tell you how many times I woke up in my overpriced, tiny 350-square-foot apartment in Harlem and felt like the luckiest girl in New York because I got to come to work here.

I have admired and appreciated your guidance, compassion and patience with me as I strived to learn about the [industry] and often struggled to keep up in this fast-paced industry. And I hated to see the end of my days assisting you on 42nd Street, but out of all of this comes a small opportunity for me to share something with you.

I was going to save my blog for the day that I would finally decide to leave you and [other boss] here at [celeb-founded company] - as sort of a here's-what-I-really-thought-of-you farewell gift (smile) to our team - but I thought I would go ahead and reveal it to you now.

It's called "Becoming a New Yorker" at ... From NC to NYC, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly - and even the Boring - of being a New York transplant, in my own words and others

The posts that you might find the most interesting are labeled:
Colleague Convos
Corporate Crux

Please don't tell [other boss] or any of the team about it. One day I will reveal all to them, too, and I hope they will get a good laugh - and sometimes an eye-roll - and look back fondly on the times we've shared. And as always, I hope there are more good, bad and ugly moments to come in this thing we call life ... and I hope to include you in more of the things I write about ...
Much love, Katie

Her response:

my sweet katie,

thank you so much for sharing this with me. i am really touched. you are an amazing woman and i am the lucky one here, that i had your spirit, your humor and your kind heart to assist me over the last year. and oh, yeah, you did an incredible job keep everything together in a volatile environment - not easy!

Just hire ME one day, ok? sending you love, peace and courage,
[name removed]

(and yes you can post this to show all how awesome you are!)

PS - mum's the word on the blog

So I did. See how awesome I am?!?!?!?! :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - New York Moments

So here is how a moment in New York feels more magical than anywhere else in the world. Last night, I received great news that would have been good to hear anywhere, but to receive it while walking through the Village in a Halloween costume on a brisk New York night felt iconic - and ironic - in ways I can't describe. Maybe because this is my life, and this is New York.

I was exiting the train station at Christopher Street-Sheridan Square between Marilyn Monroe and Cat in the Hat when my phone rang. I am not a habitual call screener, but I am also not one of those people who feels the need to answer my cellphone every time it rings, and I was in no mood to chat. I wasn't feeling irascible, but to briefly describe the atmosphere, I was amidst an intense crowd created by the Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue, in which the scuffle to either enter or exit the train station prompted one stranger to yell at another: "Bitch! I will slap you!"

But since my best friend's name popped up in the caller ID as I filtered through the crowded sidewalk, I flipped open my phone.

"What are you doing?" she asked. I smiled and replied, "Oh nothing, just trying to cross Seventh Avenue dressed like a slutty devil. You?"

She laughed and started talking about driving home (just across the Hudson River in Jersey) and deciding against ordering fried chicken for dinner, then she slyly added, "Besides it probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to eat fried chicken when I'm going to be ... 10 episodes ... Tyler ... of Payne."

"Wait? What?" I stopped dead in my tracks, straining to hear her above the groan of the subway below my feet and the commotion on the city streets. A fairy stepped on the back of my red, Patton leather stilettos. I turned around and mouthed the word "sorry" to her and then almost stumbled into the gladiator in front of me. The police had paused the ghoulish pedestrian traffic crossing Seventh, and as I tried to keep my balance on the uneven sidewalk, she laughed and casually said again, "It probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to eat friend chicken when I'm going to be on TV in 10 episodes of Tyler Perry's House of Payne."

With no regard for the sexy French maid, Groucho Marx and the pirate smooshed on the curb beside me, I began to jump up and down and scream into the phone. I had so many questions and wanted every detail. So from there, I was half skipping, half jumping and fully squealing along West 4th Street to Sullivan, tears streaming down my face, and barely cognizant of the fact that I was almost jogging in stilettos with no regard for why my body suddenly seemed to be in such a hurry.

For whatever primal reason created by my own primitive stereotype of what my life would be like in New York, I can't think of any other scenario in which receiving this news might have been more fitting. If that moment is ever reenacted in a biographical movie about my best friend, this is how the screenplay will read (proper screenplay formatting has been compromised by Blogger's inability to center only selected text and the fact that I am not a screenwriter):


A crowded West Village street on Halloween night. Noisy and frenzied.

People in Halloween costumes of all variety hustle and bustle in every direction and create bottlenecks, where police officers and barricades are trying to maintain organized pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow.

KATIE exits the subway station with her cell phone pressed to her right ear and begins squealing on the curb as she waits to cross Seventh Avenue. She is jumping up and down in her red stilettos and despite a few looks from the painted and masked faces immediately surrounding her, her screams are lost in the chaos of the New York night.

Oh my God! Oh my God! Are you serious?
(continue with incessant, blurted expressions and questions mixed with shrieks and squeals)

As KATIE crosses Seventh Avenue, she receives the exciting details from her best friend of 10 years as she heads along West 4th Street to to join friends at an apartment on the corner of Bleecker and Sullivan.

Tears stream down her face as she struggles emotionally to grasp the reality of this news while an alternative realm of myth and fantasy floods around her.

Surrounded by ghouls, goblins and sexy nursemaids, she zigzags in and out of the crisscrossing pedestrian traffic along West 4th Street. The Halloween night seems to blur and the bustling bodies around her become illusory figments as if she were the only person in New York.

[Cue wistful music that tugs at heartstrings]

KATIE continues to talk excitedly into her cell phone.

[Zoom out from West 4th Street to Birdseye panorama of New York City]

[Fade to black]

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Phone Photo Ops - Penis in Penn Station

Just behind the mouse and adjacent the French maid, a large penis stands tall in Pennsylvania Station.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
As seen through the window of a downtown no. 2 train.

And other characters crowd the subway on Halloween.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

No one does Halloween like New York City.