Saturday, February 28, 2009

Remembering Februaries

As with previous months, the responsibilities of my expanded job position and ups and downs in my personal life have prevented me from blogging as regularly throughout February 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 February:
February 2008
February 2007

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - NYC Guide Books

There is something I find endearing about seeing tourists carrying their little New York City guide books ... maybe because I was one of them once.
"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: Always Something to Miss

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're Drinking It Up in New York

Bottled NYC tap water. I know you wish you had thought of it.

Stop by my apartment, and I'll hook you up for free.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Center Stage

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oral Fumble

I'm covering the desk of our company's executive assistant to the Co-CEO while she is out today.

Our company's celebrity founder just asked me about our Co-CEO's whereabouts.

I seemed to forget how to form a coherent sentence.

This is a classic example of the kind of impressions I make.

A Year Ago Today: My Best February Birthday Ever
Two Years Ago Today:
HBO's Life Support
Bald Britney Cut-Out

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Manhattan Chimes

I'm not due for another "Thing I Love" Thursday for another five days, but I love the sound of church bells on Manhattan streets on lazy Sunday afternoons.

A Year Ago Today:
Close Encounters of the Heroic Kind
Phone Photo Op - Constitutional Commute
Two Years Ago Today: No post

Saturday, February 21, 2009

To Be or Not to Be ... Free

Highlights of the past week:
- Returning from the Caribbean ... not free
- Attending the premiere of "Madea Goes to Jail" ... free
- Lower-level tickets to the Duke game in Madison Square Garden ... free
- Friday morning bagel with Lox cream cheese ... not free
- Lower-level tickets to the Nets game at the Izod Center ... free
- Round-trip NJ Transit rail ticket to get to watch the Nets play the Wizards ... not free
- Good, hard Saturday morning work-out ... not free
- Placing third in a scavenger hunt at the Museum of Natural History ... free
- Celebrating said victory in an Upper West Side bar with friends ... not free (would have been free if we had won)
- Having wonderful friends ... free

The good things in life are not free ... the great things in life are.

A Year Ago Today: "Things I Love" Thursdays - Coming Home
Two Years Ago Today: Midweek Recap

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Movie Premieres

It may be just a coincidental pattern, but some of the best recollections of pivotal moments in my life have fallen on Thursdays. Maybe it's true what they say about the power of positive thinking. In any case, today's Thing-I-Love Thursday is "movie premieres."

Who doesn't love movie premieres? Whether you are the quintessential New Yorker, born and raised, who simultaneously loves and hates everything that makes this city what it is -- or the trite and contrived wanna-be, who - in an effort to feel like less of an outsider - does not respect their role as a transplant New Yorker -- either way, it's cool as hell to turn a corner in the streets of Manhattan and roll up on an A-list celebrity event (no matter how long you've lived here as noted in Exhibit A or Exhibit B). But how cool would it be if you were ever actually invited?

I found out on Tuesday morning when my best friend called me on my cell phone. I slipped out of my cubicle and into my boss's empty office to take the call.

"Guess who's coming to tomorrow night's premiere?" she squealed. With a small - yet substantial role - in Tyler Perry's latest film, she was in New York, crashing at my apartment and meeting with her agent, publicist and stylists for Wednesday night's red carpet event at the AMC Loews on the Upper West Side. Not to mention that a BET camera crew would be following her through her premiere day preparations. When she walks out of an apartment door in Hell's Kitchen and introduces herself, I am proud to say that the apartment door would be mine. (The previous sentence is meant to be read using Chandler-from-"Friends" inflection.)

Looking out over my boss's high-rise view of Bryant Park, I blurted out viscerally, "Denzel Washington!"

"Nope," she replied. Michelle Obama. Nope. Oprah? Nope. Angela Bassett? Nope. Will Smith? Nope. Diddy? Nope. I went through my personal list of top Black actors and entrepreneurs. Impatient, she began to drop hints.

"She's a secretary."

"... Of State?" I said. "Hillary Clinton?"

"No!" she finally exclaimed. "You!"

"Me?!?!?!" I could barely contain my excitement, jumping up and down and struggling to keep from screaming in my boss's office. However, there was one issue that I had to address before I let the exhilaration consume me. I momentarily stopped bouncing around the office and said matter-of-factly: "But, Tokii ... I'm not a secretary. I'm an executive assistant."

With less than 24 hours to the premiere, I left my office immediately after work and went hunting for a dress, which I found quickly and easily at a store in Columbus Circle. I wanted to find something classy, but not overdone. Something that looked like I was meant to be there, but didn't look like I was trying too hard. Something that said, I'm so proud of my best friend and put careful time and thought into honoring this invitation, but without drawing unnecessary attention. How does one dress for a movie premiere? That's already a tough question for the people who actually have to fear widespread post-event wardrobe criticism. It's an even tougher question for someone who was just invited solely because their friend's agent was able to get an extra ticket. I went with a low-cut, sleeveless black trench dress that seemed appropriate for a guest of an actor and was also appropriate for my wallet - especially after I applied the $100 American Express gift card that my boss had given me recently.

When I arrived at the theater, I met my best friend's agent at the side entrance and we found a front-row spot near the end of the red carpet, adjacent the E! and BET camera crews. The stars arrived, one by one, pausing expertly with their best angles projected toward multiple shutters. I waited eagerly, tiny digital camera at the ready, for when I would see her appear on the red carpet, and only slightly aware that I was lightly trembling and intermittently forgetting to breathe. As the seconds ticked away, I tried to mentally process what was happening immediately in front of me. And to enjoy the moment. Because, from what I've perceived of an industry like Hollywood, you have to indulge in each blessing you receive. Actors - and the people who know and love them - can just never be sure when their next blessing will come around. One moment you might be the next up-and-coming sensation, another moment you might wine-and-dine at the very top of the A-List, the next - the tabloids are publishing your most unattractive photos and reveling in your demise.

And as I stood gazing down the red carpet, watching the shutters flash and the reporters thrust their microphones into the faces of Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Sofia Vergara, Mary J. Blige, and Ray J. to name(drop) a few, I thought about how much work has gone into these few strolling red carpet moments. And I don't just mean the rolling out of the carpet and setting up of the lights. As often happens whenever I get exciting news regarding my best friend's acting career, I could not stop the mental reel of flashbacks over the last ten years - filled with shining moments and false hopes, extreme highs and incredible disappointments, a rollar coaster of emotions, physical strife and the risks of the unknown, all which leave you simultaneously anticipating the next thrill and dreading the next fall. I'm not going to go into the clichés of Tokii's starving actor story, but the clichés for actors - or anyone with a dream - are the mere truths of entire lives - most of which goes unseen, unnoticed, unacknowledged, unrewarded. The camera catches the glamour of the Hollywood red carpet, but not many outsiders really comprehend the volumes of proverbial blood, sweat and tears that go into a few snapshots and sound bites. I certainly don't have a fundamental grasp of it all - at least not more than peripherally.

And then, there she was. My best friend. Smiling for the wide-angle lenses and chatting comfortably with reporters. As I strained to get a shot of her on my own tiny Canon digital camera, a bodyguard poked a little fun at me: "Why are you taking that picture from so far away?"

"Leave her alone," a woman wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard said over his shoulder, "She's with the talent."

In characteristically-corny-Katie, the headset-and-clipboard-woman's brief statement went on repeat in my head. She's with the talent. If I were a peacock, I would have been slowly pacing along the end of the red carpet with a huge, open plume of feathers. If pride were helium, my head might have exploded.

"Why don't you go out on the red carpet and get a closer shot of her?" the bodyguard whispered to me.

"No way!" I hissed back. "I can't do that."

"Sure, you can," he insisted. "Hurry before you miss all the good shots."

I hesitated, too timid to set a foot on the red velvet in front of me. The simultaneous anticipation and fear of the unknown washed over me, much the way it did when I was riding up I-81 to begin my new life in New York City over three years ago. Much the way it did when I went apartment and job hunting to open the next chapter of my life. The risk of embarrassment at being shooed away as an outsider on this coveted Hollywood landscape loomed. But the idea of the personal shots I could get of my best friend being interviewed and photographed sparked some courage. I leaned toward him, "Will you go with me?"

He laughed, "Sure! Let's go."

So I did.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).
A Year Ago Today:
Official Quotes of Our NBA All-Star 2008
NBA All-Star 2008
Two Years Ago Today:
More Reasons to Love New York

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Trying to figure out how to be a Corporate New Yorker for half the year and a scuba diving instructor in the Caribbean for the other half.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Better Than Chocolate

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

President's Day Weekend Caribbean Island Hop

Two islands in four days and new loves: quaint, rural islands; scuba diving; and breakfasts on mountainsides overlooking the sea.

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Phone Photo Ops - Basement Cooking Class

Walking home from work last night, I noticed the most interesting little cooking class in a basement near my apartment.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Manhattan Photo Ops

This evening, despite the overcast skies, there was a gorgeous Manhattan sunset - a barely visible sliver of red along the skyline, peeking through the high rises beneath ominous clouds.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Wall Street Pact To Be Necessary

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quote of Whenever - If I Can Make It There ...

From Sandra Bullock's interview with InStyle, where their readers asked the questions:

What did you learn from waiting tables?
Ayoka L., Charleston, SC

"If you wait tables in New York, you can do any job in the world..."
Not a quote of the day, week or month. Just of whenever. Until the next quote that moves me.

A Year Ago Today: Bienvenido a Miami
Two Years Ago Today:
Peaks & Valleys
Emotional Ramblings
Phone Photo Ops - Week Recap

Monday, February 09, 2009

From the Desk of the CEO - Figuratively Speaking

Yesterday, I started blushing like a school girl when my boss asked our Co-CEO if she and I had met ... and, much to my surprise, our Co-CEO replied to my boss that she was my biggest fan. Our Co-CEO looked over her shoulder to where I was waiting to hand my boss a stack of reports and smiled, "You knew that, right?"

I hope this is a good sign that our Co-CEO has forgotten my rambling response and subsequent open-mouthed stare during our first conversation and a subsequent elevator fumble - neither of which could have made remotely impressive, lasting impressions.

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

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Food, Fun & Life in the Big Apple

Awesome Things About this Week*:

A good friend, and fellow anonymous NYC blogger, gave me a pair of sixth row tickets to Tuesday's Nets game, which I gave to my roommate and the girl sleeping on our couch. A proud and indefinite inhabitant of our Hell's Kitchen apartment since December 29, she's like our own Half Baked "Guy on the Couch" - without the plume of smoke. Since relocating from Phoenix, she's been looking for employment in the city, and though I'd love to use my blog to foster networking opportunities for her, I live in morbid fear of creepy cyber stalkers. However, if any of my NYC blogger friends - with whom I've developed legitmate relationships - have any leads, please email them to my personal email account. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and is considering any teaching opportunities and nanny positions.

I went to see Wicked with my aunt and cousin, visiting from Upstate New York and Syracuse respectively. Add it to your Broadway must-sees. We also ate at one of my favorite Italian spots Roberto Passon and tried a sushi spot across from the Gershwin Theatre called Bluechili.

A quarter-of-a-million dollar house sat on my couch - in the form of a 5-carat diamond engagement ring (phone photo op below).

DrunkBrunch won a one-hour open bar at the Village Pour House on the Upper West Side.

My best friend was crashing at our apartment while she was in the city to consult with her agent, publicist, wardrobe stylist and hair and make-up artist regarding next week's red carpet premiere of Madea Goes to Jail, in which she plays in her first major onscreen role!

*Note: Results not typical of most weeks as a resident of New York City.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - The Bryant Park Post Office

The origin of the definition to "go postal" may very well lie at 23 West 43rd Street, where the postal workers of the Bryant Park Post Office will do anything in their power to ensure that you are having as bad a day as they are by the time you walk out with your book of stamps. I can always count on them to be abrupt, irritated and rude. Their consistency is comforting.

Rather than despise their attempts to spread worldwide exasperation, I love them for it. Sometimes when I've experienced way too many unwelcome surprises in the office, I venture down the street to the postal sanctuary, where I know I will find a familiar scowl to remind me that no matter how bad my day has been, postmarking boxes and redirecting customers to the proper mailing forms is always worse. The sky is always bluer when I exit that place.

Except for the little Asian woman with the photos of her family at the far corner counter. And I'm not just saying that because I'm half Filipina, but she is the only one I have ever seen smile, bid me good day, or not talk to me like she is chewing my face. I avoid her when I am having exceptionally bad days.
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: Any Given Super Bowl
Two Years Ago Today: Fashion Empire

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Phone Photo Op - Thought Bubbles

While walking to work recently, I read someone's thoughts.

It was actually a walking advertisement for HBO's Big Love.

A Year Ago Today: Aftermath of a Giant Super Bowl Win
Two Years Ago Today: No post

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

You Say Potato, He Said An Entire Life

A few months ago, I took a picture of Joe Ades on my camera phone and forgot to blog about the entertaining potato peel sales demonstration that Terrence and I watched one Saturday afternoon at the Farmer's Market in Union Square. You rarely witness people, who truly love what they do, in the middle of what they're doing.

I guess it's never to late to be remembered.

James Barron, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2009

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