Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thursday, January 1, 2009
4:10am JST (Japanese Standard Time)

If you are reading this post from any location west of the general geographic alignment of latitude 36°00' N and longitude 138°00' E prior to midnight in your time zone, greetings from the future. It is 2009 here, and we've just returned from celebrating in the streets and bars of "The Land of the Rising Sun."

Wishing the world all the best for the new year!
See the rest of you when you get here.

New Year, Old Me

The end of one year and the start of another often - if not always - brings self-reflection and resolutions. I don't know that I'll sign on the dotted line for any new goals at the stroke of midnight, but I will continue to try to understand who I am and what I want. Here's what I think I know:

The basic themes of the novel Rules for Saying Goodbye generally define me. But I realize something new about myself once or twice a week. I don't seek to constantly reinvent myself, yet I might not ever really know everything about me all at one time because different parts of me change, sometimes frequently; this should probably bother me, but it doesn't.

I don't have a very good awareness of my personal space so I often bump into things. Because of that, I accidentally shaved off the very top of the middle finger on my right hand and permanently disfigured the nailbed when I was five years old, broke my right arm when I was six, and I have a permanent, dime-size, swollen bubble over the third metatarsal on my right foot. There are various scars on my legs, arms and back, and I generally have a few bruises or a twisted ankle at any given time.

I wish I was wittier, but I typically end up bordering on corny and sarcastic. I like to surround myself with people who provoke thought. I'm a sucker for a sense of humor. I don't fall in love easily, I don't get attached easily, and I have to be both of those things if I'm going to get jealous easily; I can probably thank a military brat upbringing for that. I was nominated for the "Most Friendly" Senior Superlative at my second high school (I am still usually nice 10 years later). I like to step back and absorb certain moments so that I can remember the details; I do that most often when my friends are laughing.

I have - not so much a phobia of - but a general repulsion of clumps of dust, hair, and I despise grimy countertops. Despite a few isolated circumstances, I feel like a fairly lucky person - especially considering all of the horrible things that can happen and have happened to others in the world. I'm boycotting diamonds, and not because I don't absolutely adore them and not because of the movie Blood Diamond, Kanye West's song or other trendy political fads, but because of the book When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden by Bill Maher.

Moving to New York City three years ago was the best decision I ever made.

When I used to have a kitchen with enough space for a table, I liked to read the back of the cereal box while I ate breakfast. I love Manhattan, Lox cream cheese with my Friday morning bagel ritual, weekend brunches, and Pinot Noir. I have a dark side, and I generally do not trust those who don't. I'm a chain gum chewer; not a nervous habit or to break any addictions - just do. I believe that only time tells all things, and it is the one thing I firmly stand beside and simultaneously fear because it is an undeniable, unpredictable constant that both richly and unremarkably defines all of us.

A few general standards that seem to remain constant about me include the following: I like astronomy (not astrology), chocolate, cultures, horseback riding, maps, national and international political affairs, nutrition, photography, reading (for fun, knowledge or to pass the time), some sports, travel and writing ... and if you've got undiagnosed OCD like me, you'll have noticed that I listed my general interests in alphabetical order. I just do organized shit like that with minimal effort.

I'd like to sit with Stephen Hawking and talk about the mysteries of the universe over red wine and lightly toasted miniature bread roll slices topped with raspberry jam and warm brie cheese. Oh, and I have a girl crush on Ellen DeGeneres.

A Year Ago Today: Again
Two Years Ago Today: Tonight's the Night the World Begins Again

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remembering Decembers

As with previous months, the responsibilities of my expanded job position and my trip to Japan have prevented me from blogging as regularly throughout December as I would have liked. Thus, affecting my Year Three in Preview, where "posts of present accounts of being will end with 'a year ago- and two years ago- today' links to the past of becoming until the third year comes full circle and the 'Becoming a New Yorker' blogtale is complete."

So here is a year ago this month and two years ago this month for December:

December 2007
December 2006

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Japan

I made it to Japan. I arrived in [town eradicated] late Thursday night (Thursday morning in the U.S.) and roughly 24 hours after I left Newark. Friday morning, I rode with Terrence's BJ league basketball team to another Japanese town, which is where I am now - about six hours from his seasonal home. The girlfriend of one of his American teammates is also visiting (from Los Angeles) so it's nice to not be the only girl on the team bus. It was a beautiful drive north along the coast before we looped south around a chain of enormous snow-capped mountains. I do also have to mention that the Japanese coastal tunnel system is quite impressive. I took lots of pictures, of course.

The team had a game yesterday, which they won. Their fans are amazing. I was surprised at how many of them made the six-hour trek to support the team this weekend. You cannot miss them because they were dressed head to toe in fan gear and were waiting at the arena to welcome the team when the bus arrived for Saturday's game. I don't think I have seen anything quite so adorable as watching Japanese fans, dwarfed by the American players, asking for photos and autographs. Some of the children are as tall as Terrence's knees and stand with pen and paper in outstretched arms with their heads cocked so far back that the backs of their necks disappear. After the game, they waited around the bus to take more photos, get hugs and then stood waving until the bus pulled away. I have always thought it to be corny when entertainers and athletes tell their fans that they love them, yet - even though their fans had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever - I felt something like love watching them interact with the team. The sincerity of their admiration and the pride in their smiles were so genuine and warm.

There is another game tomorrow at 2:30pm before we head back. The day after Christmas, we leave for another Japanese city.

A few initial notes on Japan:
- The Japanese definitely have the cleanest genitalia in the world. I find the toilet posterior shower and bidet spray quite refreshing.
- When I arrived, I noticed that random people were wearing surgical masks. The American in me assumed that these random Japanese were phobic of other people's germs or air pollution, but Terrence told me that they wear surgical masks when they have a cold or other contagious ailments because they do not want to infect others - something I could never see happening in the U.S.
- They have squid jerky here. I took a few pictures.

A Year Ago Today:
What I Love About New York
And More
Two Years Ago Today:
Morning Star Sighting

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

En Route to Time Out

In approximately four hours, a car to Newark airport will be picking me up for my flight to Japan. I highly recommend 212-333-3333. The next time I will see New York will be in 2009.


A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today:
Drunk Santa

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Phone Photo Op - Close Quarters

Our neighbors rarely remember, take into account, or care that our living room being positioned directly opposite their bedroom means that we can see them.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Saturday Night Lights

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Phone Photo Op - Living Room Picnic

You know you have great friends when your girls' night sleepover in Queens (hence the spacious living room pictured below) opens with a carpet picnic on Mayra's baby blanket with wine, cheese and chocolate.

A Year Ago Today: "Things I Love" Thursdays - Fall Foliage
Two Years Ago Today:
Swirling Diamonds
5pm Pic

Friday, December 12, 2008

Phone Photo Op - NYPD Police Horse Trailer

In case you've never seen one ... I hadn't either.

A Year Ago Today: Choices
Two Years Ago Today: The Morning After

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Evening Views

I love the view of Midtown from my boss's glass office.

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

A Year Ago Today: BNY's Installment of Gawker Stalker
Two Years Ago Today: Corporate Holiday Party

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Phone Photo Op - Women in Black Against War

Peaceful protesting on the steps of the New York Public Library

A Year Ago Today: Around the Office
Two Years Ago Today: More Food for Thought

Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Things I Love" Thursdays - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of It All

Speaking of Christmas trees, the most wonderful - and equally annoying of all - was lit in Rockefeller Center last night. I was trying to run errands in Midtown, four blocks from my apartment, in the Rockefeller Center area when the absolute madness forced me to flash my employee ID at NYPD officers and fib that I had to deliver the contents of my Saks 5th Avenue shopping bag to a photo shoot within the restricted blocks. To my mild surprise, it worked.

Upon completing my errands just before 9 o'clock, I was walking toward Hell's Kitchen on West 51st Street when I heard Beyonce singing from Rockefeller Center. I was too cold, carrying too many bags, and too irritated with the masses to hang around on the crowded streets. But her voice was so beautiful. It echoed along 51st Street, scoring my walk home with Christmas carols, and reminded me that for every one thing I hate about this city, there are 10 things that I love in its celebrity-obsessed, overpriced and tourist-infested streets.

A phone photo op from 5th Avenue as I weaved my way through the slalom of Rockefeller tree-lighting spectators with my "bag for the photoshoot."

When I finally got home, I entered my apartment building, letting the door bang shut behind me, shrouding me from the holiday insanity. Seconds later, as I finished the grueling ascent of the four-floor walk-up, my heart was ironically warmed by more Christmas cheer upon discovering that my roommate and our neighbor had decorated our hallway with strings of lights.
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today:
This Just In
Deflation Countdown
High-end Furnishings

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Celebrity Sightings & Overpriced Surroundings

In New York, you're more likely to see NFL stars guest appearing on TV shows while walking from the office or browse $100 Christmas tree ornaments at Saks.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Bloomingdale's Blues

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Phone Photo Ops - Christmas in New York

In case there is any doubt where you are, according to New York City, it's definitely Christmastime.

A Year Ago Today: Men in Macy's
Two Years Ago Today:
Sobieski Sighting
Subway Symphony