Saturday, January 31, 2009

Remembering Januaries

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 January 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 January:
January 2008
January 2007

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Catching a Cab

I love hopping into a cab after a long day of work or a happy hour with friends when the darknes of night is sprinkled and splattered with the lights of the city. Whenever I'm alone, it always reminds how catching a cab at night makes me feel so "New York".
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: To Quote DrunkBrunch, "La Cena Buena"
Two Years Ago Today: The Classic Cab

Friday, January 23, 2009

There Will Be Scaffolding

Scaffolding builds its way into your life in New York City. Some days you love the shelter it provides from the rain and snow. Other days you despise its distraction from the beauty of many New York streets. And sometimes it reminds you just how beautiful those streets are when you make a right onto Eighth Avenue and wonder what's different.

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - 917

I know it's cliche, inane and artificial, but I love my new New York phone number.

I decided today to numerically leave North Carolina behind and joined the 917 area code; I've paid bills, fines and taxes here for three years, and I'm subject to the same jury duty summons risks as any other New Yorker, so why not? And even though I share Carrie Bradshaw's sympathies with keeping sweaters in her stove (I stack shoeboxes in the fireplace in my bedroom), the 917 area code is not extinct.

Of course, I recognize my true identity as a New York Transplant, but there is corny satisfaction in knowing that my family and friends can now reach me at 917-...
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: Endings on Repeat
Two Years Ago Today: Life Decisions

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Official-Unofficial Inauguration Party

Making responsible choices - like not flying back to D.C. yesterday after work on the 7:55pm JetBlue flight for a post-inauguration gala party hosted by Jeffery Wright, to which my best friend was invited, and fly back today - SUCK.

Our plan was for me to return to New York this morning on a 6 o'clock flight out of Dulles. Just in time for me to drag myself into the office in yesterday's little black dress. The only obstacle that stood in our way was car service to the airport directly from the party at 4am. Car service companies were either completely booked, charging $200+ from Georgetown to the surrounding airports or requiring three-hour minimum reservations. And on-call taxi companies were expecting to run on two-hour-plus delays. All options that diminished the welcome surprise of a fairly inexpensive, last-minute, round trip airfare.

Since I had already afforded myself the entire three-day weekend for a last-second trip to D.C. and enjoyed the adrenaline rush of spontaneity on my race to JFK a few days earlier, my best friend and I agreed that a mature, 29-year old, with a middle-class income and upper-class rent, would opt not to return to D.C. less than 24 hours after leaving. I reminded myself to be grateful for the recent inaugural opportunities of which I had been able to take advantage and decided not to pout.

While alleviating the final wisps of disappointment with a bottle of Two Buck Chuck, my roommate and I discussed our New York City Inauguration options: pricey socialite, celebrity and charity balls, neighborhood bar presidential specials, our living room ... And that's when we - and our empty bottles of Two Buck Chuck - devised a most excellent plan. We would have an Official-Unofficial Inauguration Ball in our Hell's Kitchen apartment. We would dress up in evening gowns. We would pop cheap champagne. We'd serve light hor'devours from Food Emporium. We'd watch Barack and Michelle dance their first dance as First Man and First Woman from our own four-floor walk-up. It was brilliant. Never mind the weeks of PR surrounding Obama's Neighborhood Ball, where the use of interactive technology including text messaging and webcasting, would link together attendees at other neighborhood balls across the country. Our idea was incredible. We invited Neighbor Dave. He happened to have a tux. It was like kismet.

Our plan was to dance and drink in our apartment until we were brave enough to venture into the bar downstairs in our formal evening attire. Instead we danced and drank until we fell asleep.

The country awoke this morning in a world where a Black family is making the White House a home. And I woke up remembering that I'm not 19 anymore ... but it sure is a great year to be 29.

Photos to be posted.

A Year Ago Today: The London Post
Two Years Ago Today: Juilliard Sunday Football

Monday, January 19, 2009

Other Inaugural Recollections

The energy in D.C. was electrifying. There is no other way to describe it. I have heard it compared to the positive and uplifting vibe that John F. Kennedy brought to the nation's capitol when he was the President-Elect of the United States. Having just turned 29 on January 18, I cannot recall the emotions of watching JFK being sworn into office ... since I did not yet exist, but I feel a new empathy for that time and the mentality fueled by a country's hope for a historic change.

The personal highlight was joining my best friend in some of her first baby steps onto the Hollywood social scene, but the bigger picture was entirely consumed by narcissistic pleasures. The weekend was made all the more memorable by the droves of Obama supporters swarming about D.C. There was a steady hum that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. There was a collective realization that we were witnessing the preparation for something extraordinary, a simultaneous moment in time that would have a distinct and simultaneously united view from every angle. Though I regretted not being able to stay through Tuesday for the Inauguration, I was grateful that I got to sense the anticipation and experience the atmosphere first hand.

At an awards brunch on Sunday, I heard Kerri Washington and Hill Harper give incredible politcal activism award acceptance speeches, each poignantly recounting their campaign journeys or their personal interaction with Obama. Washington's message was one of unity, reminding supporters that he is equally an interracial symbol of the evolving face of America as well as a role model for those of color, who are now finding the courage to consider the possibilities. Harper told a beautiful and endearingly witty story reliving the semesters he shared with Obama at Harvard Law School.

After an interesting first night that led from the chaos of car keys (permanently) lost by the valet to oddly-formed new friendships and various jaunts around the capitol to witness the sights, we rounded out the three-day MLK weekend by celebrating my 29th birthday yesterday before today's afternoon flight back to NYC. We had dinner at Marvin and hopped over to an Eric Roberson concert at The Black Cat. Afterward, we went out for drinks with my secret service buddy (off duty from his assignment to Joe Biden) and his fellow agents at J. Paul's in Georgetown. Throughout the course of the evening, my secret service buddy mentioned his admiration for my spontaneity with regard to my last minute trip on one of the most hectic and historic weekends in Washington D.C.'s history.

"You're doing something that very few people really do," he yelled over the bar chatter in J. Paul's. "And you know what it's called?"

He leaned into my ear, "It's called living."

I could not have been given a better compliment on my birthday.

Impromptu In Review

My best friend had called me in New York at 10am to see if I could join her for a few entertainment industry events in Washington D.C. surrounding the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. She joked that as an H-List celebrity, she does not often receive much advanced notice for events, and since her husband could not attend at the last minute, she hoped I would join her for the three-day MLK Weekend and pre-inauguration festivities. I was on a plane out of JFK by 3:30 in the afternoon.

The focus and highlight of the weekend was watching my best friend find her place amidst Hollywood minglers. After ten years of watching her perform at WCU, The Juilliard School and in the small but gratifying array of professional stage, TV and film credits to her name, it was incredibly surreal and exciting to join her in this weekend's perks of her budding success and act like I attend stuff like this all the time without also appearing trite and contrived.

If my best friend ever becomes an A-List celebrity, events like these may likely become commonplace routines in her life, which will ultimately lack the electrifying amateur excitement of rookie Hollywood minglers. I can only hope that her talent and love for acting breeds a career that makes her a famous A-Lister - not because of socialite association or shock-valued scandal - but because the skill in her craft touches the spirit, moves the soul and inspires the creativity of art imitating life. Until then, her "H-List" status will ensure that industry events, to which she may be invited - even if her RSVP is not A-List priority - will continue to make us giggle like school girls at the end of the night.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Becoming 27 in New York City

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Not Your Typical Rush Hour

The irony of Twitter per ...

jkrums: Leaving the city, had a great day. Trying to beat the traffic. Wish me luck! about 1 hour ago from Twittelator

jkrums: - There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy. about 1 hour ago from TwitPic

And coincidentally, JKrum's Twitter update, which I followed on Twitter, prompted an interview on MSNBC and a post on another reputable news source:

I wonder if he helped haul Monique's boss out of U.S. Airways Flight #1549 bound for Charlotte, which experienced a crash landing in the Hudson River just off the shore from my apartment in Hell's Kitchen.

Sometimes the world becomes so small when you're just trying to beat rush hour traffic. And kudos to the pilot for skillfully avoiding my 42nd Street office building and my West 50's abode on his descent.

Thurs, 5:12pm EST Update: And a Facebook friend just uploaded the same photo in his profile. Instant globalization through technology at its best. I bet JKrum had no idea that he would be on MSNBC this afternoon thanks to a TwitPic or that his name would be googled more than "Kim Kardashian's ass" by the end of the workday. Actually I know that for a fact because his updates on Twitter don't indicate that he wondered about either of these things this morning. But I suppose the bigger picture here (no pun intended) is that I bet none of those passengers thought they'd be standing on the wing of a sinking plane in the middle of the Hudson River. And I'll bet my 401(k) and employee stock that they had no idea they'd crash land within a hop, skip and a few breast strokes from my* Midtown apartment.

Thurs, 5:38pm EST Update: The media has labeled the cause of the crash a bird strike. Is this a final attempt by the Bush Administration to embed war-on-terror propaganda in news headlines?

Thurs, 5:54pm EST Update: One of my coworkers just forwarded me an email that was sent by her cousin with JKrum's TwitPic attached and the following note: Coworker is on the ferry on the Hudson right now… took a camera phone pic.

If JKrum had been an anonymous blogger (or twitter-er), I'd now know where he works ... but based on his Twitter updates, Facebook link and his willingness to accept interviews, he's not worried about remaining anonymous or encouraging virtual stalkers. And he's lucky I'm not crazy cause his profile pic is h-o-t. Maybe Janis Krum will become my next news-breaking celebrity crush. Move over, Chris Cuomo. But I'll suppress the urge to add him on Facebook.

Fri, 9:30am EST Update: I overheard another coworker mention that one of her close friends was on the flight bound for Charlotte.

Sat, 11am EST Update: Reporters have been contacting my parents in North Carolina regarding the whereabouts of their neighbor, who was one of the flight attendants on Flight 1549.

Mon, 10:30am EST Update: Monique sent an article written about her boss, who mentions having held the front cabin door open for a flight attendant named Sheila (my parents' next door neighbor in NC) as she worked to assist passengers escape from the sinking airline.

*BNY, author of "Becoming A New Yorker", a blog whose personal explorations and astonding revelations of daily NYC transplant-life receive an astounding 14 page views per day (information courtesy of SiteMeter)

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Run-On Update

Returned to post-vacation reality last Friday, was thinking about aspiring to become a housewife instead of a Corporate New Yorker on Monday, hadn't figured out the whole "housewife-without-being-married" thing on Tuesday, but began to remember why I love working in New York City today.

Life on ...

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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rost in Tlansration

Greetings for a final time from the land of redundant packaging. See photo below.

Today is my last day in [city eradicated] ... not quite my last day in Japan as I have an 8-hour layover in Tokyo tomorrow before my 13-hour flight back to the armpit of the northeast, I mean, Newark. As usual, Terrence was busy most of the day with game film meetings and basketball practice, but I was able to enjoy one of very few sunny days that I've had during my trip. Most days were windy, rainy and snowy. Scattered showers. Lows in the twenties. Between team trips to away games in other cities, I caught up on a lot of much-needed sleep and discovered over sushi and Japanese pastries.

Terrence has a comfortable, furnished apartment decorated with tatami mats and shoji screens. He doesn't live in the most lavish neighborhood in [town eradicated] , where I was told that the per capita income is higher than any other city in Japan, but his neighborhood has adorable, narrow streets lined with tiny restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shops. Bell Bakery, two blocks from his apartment, has become a daily favorite of mine. They have the best bread and cakes. It's always crowded before noon and the wide variety of baked goods go fast. I am certain that everything is fresh every day because one evening I went in and literally bought the last bag of rolls.

Very few people in [town eradicated] speak English so I have purchased quite a few things that weren't exactly what I thought they were - the outcome of which has had diverse effects. Grocery shopping, for example, is a lot harder than one may think. Imagine walking into a grocery store where none of the packages or cans have labels; that is what it feels like. Or imagine sitting in a restaurant and trying to order what-you-thought-was-chicken based on a faded, blurry photo adjacent some Japanese characters. The experience overall has been a lot of fun - and certainly memorable.

The Japanese also have an amusing disregard for what Americans would accept as proper English spelling and grammar (much to my delight). In the past three weeks, I've noted the following: a candy called Crunky (pronounced Crunchy); a T-shirt with the words: "Love is Brind"; a sign that read: "Wishing Christmas pals to bring you a happy time"; a hardware store called Hard-Off. I wish I could remember some of the other good ones. The variances in spelling and grammar have to do with Japanese pronunciation. R's are pronounced like L's and some L's are pronounced like R's - even though the Japanese don't seem to be able to produce a true R sound. Terrence's fans, for example, were always shouting: "Tellence! Tellence!" And his teammate Rodney has learned to answer to "Law-doh-ney." I also found much delight in this and encourage Tellence to legally change his name.

As I prepare to leave Japan, I am reflecting on the experiences and discoveries that I am logging to memory. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that, in my 28 years, I have vastly underestimated the value of a heated toilet seat. I am also quite sad to leave behind the posterior shower and bidet spray. If I ever own a home, I fully plan to invest in importing one from Japan.

Until then ... sayonara.

A Year Ago Today: NYC Real Estate: You Do Not Get What You Pay For
Two Years Ago Today: Penmanship Approved

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Must ... Stop ... Clicking

Sentences like the second one in this blog post are why I am searching for an A.A. group to help me phase online social networking out of my life. Every time I try to deactivate my Facebook account I choose "This is temporary. I'll be back." when I know the truth is "I spend too much time using Facebook." I deactivated it once for awhile, but before I could truly allow my withdrawal symptoms to subside, I was reactivated and relieved that my profile was indeed "restored in its entirety."

Since I can never get myself to re-click that ominous red deactivation bar with the appropriately selected radio button indicating that I am an addict, I decided that my first step was to stop telling people to "find me on Facebook". Then I changed my privacy settings, made it impossible for more acquaintances to search for me, request me as a friend or invite me to join groups. I couldn't even get myself to delete my adolescent MySpace account so I updated my profile with a note that I would be checking in intermittently so one should email me instead. Email! There's really no way out of the abyss.

Poking, status update stalking, mindless personal photo surfing that subtly fosters my inner narcissist, and other inane applications are just an endless misuse of my time, and I must stop the madness of secluded virtual interaction.

Not that blogging is the most productive use of my time either since my public posts are rarely revolutionary, introspective or inspiring ... not like BNR's. About to go leave comments on other people's blogs instead of further exploring the gorgeous Japanese city in which I am vacationing for only two more days.

A Year Ago Today: Random Act of Kindness
Two Years Ago Today: Please Use All Available Doors ... If You Can Get There Before I Shut 'Em

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Yen For Your Thoughts?

Lack of non-Christian-based Japanese religions aside, I was confused by the message of this sign in a Japanese hotel.

A Year Ago Today: The Moments That Make the Ride
Two Years Ago Today: Brush with Death

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"Things I Love" Thursdays - The Crossroads of the World

I'm alone in Terrence's apartment in eastern Japan, listening to Times Square celebrate the New Year on the other side of the world. It's just after two o'clock in the afternoon here. Beyond the shoji screens of the floor-to-ceiling windows, the morning snow that topped the oriental bushes is gone. The space heater is warming my bare feet on the tatami mats. I can't decide what to eat. Terrence has a jam-packed first day of 2009 with game film sessions and basketball practice. My mom and I talked via Skype for her last 30 minutes of 2008 while I watched live streaming video of Times Square on

The video is still playing in another web window, and Louis Armstrong's magnetic voice is crooning What a Wonderful World over the horns and screams in Times Square. I know it sounds more savvy as a New Yorker to announce that I hate the tourist trap in the Crossroads of the World, but I don't. I can't say I'm always happy squashed between a family from Minnesota decked out in the latest and greatest tourist gear and a homeless man pushing a shopping cart filled with trash bags of unwashed clothes, a broken coffee maker, a Scooby Doo plastic dining set, and a step ladder, but I do love living within five blocks of Times Square on a narrow street tucked away in Hell's Kitchen with Broadway in my "backyard." I love that magical moments can actually happen outside the gaudy souvenir shops, below the neon lights and oversized billboards. I love that my intimacy with the streets edifies me to avoid the crowds when I want to and provides solace in familiarity.

I imagine this is how a jealous lover would feel, watching someone else dance with the object of their affection. Or maybe it's more envy of not being able to join them because I would gladly allow others to cut in if only for the chance to share that beautiful, dirty, wonderful, grimy, charming, smelly city. New York moments are, after all, best when shared.

Ringing in 2009 in Japan roughly 14 hours ago wasn't too shabby, however. I joined Terrence and his American teammates outside a Japanese castle in the city square, which was haloed in a gorgeous fireworks display at the stroke of midnight. But I still thought of New York.

Last year, I gathered for the 2008 countdown with my New York friends in an apartment on Bleecker Street in the West Village, continued to celebrate at after-hours on the Lower East Side ... and somehow ended up in Jersey.

Three years ago, I brought in 2006 working in a smoky casino in North Carolina holding a tray full of drinks and watching the guests around me jump up and down, blow horns, and kiss and hug each other. It's weird how you can feel completely alone in a sea of people. I quietly consoled myself among the masses with images of what my night could be like a year later somewhere in New York City. It would have to be in Times Square. My next New Year's Eve had to be better. For me.

So for 2007, I found myself again in a sea of people, but for a few brief moments, I felt like I was one with everybody in the new city that I called home. It's so cliché but the sheer, non-alcohol influenced happiness was absolutely surreal. For the first few minutes of 2007 - despite what hardships may follow - we were at peace with ourselves, our lives and the world.

Immediately after "Auld Lang Syne," Frank Sinatra's voice floated over Times Square as confetti drifted in loops and swirls to the jubilant bodies below.

Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it,
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes
Are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it -
New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap
These little town blues
Are melting away
I'll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you,
New York, New York.

I sang along at the top of my lungs, completely off key, and half swaying off beat and half jumping up and down, waving my long, red balloon, and thanking my lucky stars for that first night of '07.

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

A Year Ago Today:
On the Brink of 2000-Great
Two Years Ago Today:
Rockin' New Year's Eve
Phone Photo Ops - First of 2007