Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Fashion Week is Back

And so is winter ...
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The infamous Fashion Week tent in Bryant Park
from a conference room
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The fall 2007 Fashion Week begins February 2
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This morning on the downtown 1 train, the doors of the train opened and shut repeatedly at the 125th Street station, which isn't generally uncommon - especially at rush hour. However, this time the conductor announced:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not your personal mode of transportation. Please do not delay the train and stand clear of the closing doors. The rush hour trains are two minutes apart. If you can't get on this train, just wait for the next one. Thank you and have a nice day."

I inadvertently made eye contact with a girl sitting across from me. Our car was relatively empty for rush hour; it's the subway phenomena where multiple cars are packed like sardines - generally the middle cars nearest the most common entrances to the subway, while others - often the front and last cars - are almost empty. We were both chuckling to ourselves when our eyes met briefly. We smiled quickly, and then closed ourselves back into our own little commuter worlds.

It made for one of eight million New York moments in the same New York minute.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Cab Views

On 6th Avenue
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On 42nd Street
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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Classic Cab

A week or so ago, Joe.My.God posted commentary in his blog regarding the way advertising is seeking to further infiltrate the New York City transportation system:

New York City taxis are about to be outfitted with a GPS-based video system that will play commercials for restaurants and stores as the taxi approaches that location. Passengers will have the option of turning the screens off, but I expect that most will sit slack-jawed and vacant-eyed, watching dreary Starbucks ads and robbing themselves of the quintessential New York experience, viewing this amazing city from the windows of a cab.

Ever since my first New York City cab ride, I have loved viewing this city through the windows of a taxi. Today I took cabs between our midtown and downtown office and tried to capture the quintessential experience Joe.My.God described and that I know and love.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Apartment in Progress

Today I lounged on my new couch and watched my new television that the Best Buy installation crew just hung yesterday. But it's not exactly a formidable sign of my current financial status; I actually chose to splurge on the television when I found a no-fee apartment. The money I had saved to pay a broker went to a cute, little flat-screen LCD, which could be justified as a necessary purchase due to the very limited floor space.

I have a few more pieces of furniture to buy and plenty of decorating to finally begin. It has been a slow process because I've been spacing out large purchases based on the remainder of my relocation savings and the limitations set on my income by numerous New York City bills. It's hard to do everything at once and still contribute to my 401k, IRA and emergency savings account. There are lots of things I want, but I want to be smart. I don't want to be the man in the Lending Tree commercial: "How do I do it? I'm in debt up to my eyeballs!"

So I'm securing the things I need, and I'll get the things I want as I'm able to afford them. My preferred method of payment is by credit card because I want the rewards points, but since college, I've learned to watch my spending. I slip up some months when there are extra dates with friends or a pair of boots I absolutely have to have (I'm only human), but I try to keep the bill within what is fully payable each month.

As the granddaughter of a tax attorney, this way of thinking is ingrained - if not forced and/or genetic - through the generations. Though often viewed as cheap or stingy (as I frequently labeled my father when I was a child), I don't know that I'd now have it any other way. When it came down to it, his financial practices proved that his family would truly never do without what we needed even if we didn't always get what we wanted.

The current status leaves me in a half-furnished apartment with about 10 more small boxes left to unpack. It's a work in progress, but it already feels worth it.

Phone Photo Op - Last of the Boxes

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Almost Home

If my life flashes before my eyes at my last breath, I hope today is one of those days included in the montage of moments. Specifically the moment when I threw my arms in the air and collapsed backwards for the first time onto my brand new couch.

Very Mary Tyler Moore-ish, I know.

But this isn't just any couch. It's the first couch in my first apartment in New York City. I ordered it right after Thanksgiving, and it finally arrived today. My apartment is starting to feel like a real home.

There is no place like home, and there is nothing like the feeling you have when your place starts to feel like a home. And I'm creating it entirely on my own, and that makes it even better.

I was sitting on my couch looking out my one window, which overlooks the Hudson River and peeks down Broadway, and I didn't realize I was smiling until my face started to hurt. I want that in the montage, too.

Phone Photo Ops - Couch Sweet Couch

Looking out the window over the back of my mini-sectional couch. To the right is my darling plant, Sasha, who traveled with me from North Carolina. She has been partially removed from view to protect her anonymity. :)
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And the mini-sectional itself. It still needs decorative pillows and some paintings or pictures hung above it, but it's going to feel great tonight with a glass of wine.
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Subway Tunes

It was so cold today, I travelled beneath the city like a mole during my morning and evening commutes, determined to stay underground for as long as possible rather than walking from or to Times Square. As I was walking along the stairways and corridors from the 7 train to the uptown 1,2,3, I - like many others - peered over this railing with the same silent question: From where is that festive music coming?
(The blur on the right is the 7 train arriving at the TS station)
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I was one of the few who was overcome with curiosity and ventured down just to take a look at this delightful ensemble. I wonder if they'll ever know they were reviewed as "delightful" by one of this city's million bloggers.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

2007 State of the Blog

I wasn't going to post anything about last Tuesday's 2007 State of the Union address that George W. Bush gave in world that is now free of one Iraqi FUSSDIRAG (a recent verbal epiphany of Steven Colbert's, an acronym for "Former United States-Supported Dictators Internationally Reviled for Acts of Genocide"). But I couldn't resist the reviews of fellow bloggers.

From Joe.My.God:
Last night Dubya was interrupted by applause 62 times. He was interrupted by the sounds of millions of eyes rolling 62 million times. But wasn't it great to see Nancy Pelosi sitting up there? Overall the speech was deadly dull and by the numbers. Introduce heroes from the audience: check. Usage of the word "terror" two dozen times: check. Mention Republican base-rousing issues like immigration and tax cuts: check. I could barely keep my eyes open. What did you think of the speech? [Leave your thoughts under the comments for this post at]

From Categorical Aperitif:
For the 2007 State of the Union Address, I was all set to play the Terror* Drinking Game, wherein you drink every time Bush mentions terror or one of its cognates, but this year, Greg Palast and his kids turned out to have a much smarter idea for a SOTU drinking game:

There was that tongue again. When the President lies he’s got this weird nervous tick: He sticks the tip of his tongue out between his lips. Like a little boy who knows he’s fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat.

In his State of the Union tonight the President did his tongue thing 124 times—my kids kept count. Indeed, it was an awful night for those of us playing the Terror* game: it was a full twenty minutes in before the Decider mentioned "terrorists." That's a long time to go without a drink when you're listening to George W. Bush.

From GalaxyGoo Blogs:
The New York Times recently published a web tool that interactively displays the usage of specific words in President Bush's State of the Union addresses from 2000–2007. I'm not sure it's useful, but it's certainly impressive: The 2007 State of the Union Address

From Gripper News:
President Bush just can't catch a break lately. It's normal for a president to get a little bump in the polls after a major address like the State of the Union. But Bush got bupkis.
President George W. Bush concluded his annual State of the Union address this week with the words “the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.” Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at its worst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.
Bush has been perfectly wrong on so many things. He ignored those who said Iraq would become a quagmire. He ignored those who told him he'd need more troops to secure the country. He ignored those who told him attacking Iraq would destabilize the region. At every step, ignored wiser people to pursue his own beliefs and those beliefs -- right on down the line -- have been perfectly wrong.

You can't fail and fail and fail and fail without people starting to notice it. And, in the SOTU, Bush failed yet again by following his perfectly wrong impulse to ignore the will of the people. His polling reflects that.

John Stewart continues - in my opinion - to be one of the nation's best satirists. Here's his take on the SOTU, with a brilliant reference to Seinfeld, which lives on in syndication as - in my opinion - one of the nation's best television shows. Too bad it's NOT about - again in my opinion - one of the nation's best presidents.

Unfortunately a lot of Stewart's criticisms were dead on, but when it comes to facts, no one has defined them better than his protege, Colbert:

"Facts – too often, they upset the truth that is in your gut."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Green Tuesday

Blue Monday was followed by Green Tuesday. I woke up yesterday morning, only lightly nauseous, but ill enough to know that I had better call in to work.

After living through the violent episode of vomiting that ensued, I am now certain that - had I attempted the morning commute - I would have joined the rankings of countless others for whom a subway conductor has announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, our train has been delayed due to a sick passenger."

When my body began to ache, I called my dad as he is my personal guru to the medical field. Based on my reported symptoms, he offered a tentative diagnosis: Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease or more commonly in American English, stomach flu. Then, he told me to try to stay hydrated as best I could and to try to sleep through the next 24 hours.

Hydration and sleep were an obstacle, but the 24 hours passed, and he was right. I went to work this morning, a little weak and shaky, but relieved that I could keep water down without gagging and convulsing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Colleague Convo - Life Decisions

At a bar last week, a colleague asked me about my moving to New York story. She seemed particularly interested in the fact that I had left a committed and exclusive relationship in the South to move to the city on my own. The conversation I had with her has played over in my mind a few times since that night and has reaffirmed that this move was the right thing for me.

Though we were shouting back and forth across our small corner of the table, our conversation was likely inaudible beyond a three-foot radius due to the constant drone of bar talk and music. I explained to her that - throughout the year prior to my big move - Terrence and I had several serious conversations about our separate ambitions, and we had agreed to a number of things. He would help me move to the city, and we would continue a long-distance monogamous relationship for as long as we could. Above all things, we wanted to give each other time to follow our goals freely.

Terrence and I agreed that as long as were upfront and honest about everything, a friendship would always be salvageable. If he decided that he wanted to see other people, I might be devastated at first and might not be able to speak to him for a long time, but as long as he was upfront with me, we could eventually be friends again. However, if either of us were to cheat rather than ending the relationship first, we both knew that friendship would never be an option. We had been friends first, but that foundation would be lost by any wrongdoing.

My colleague would ask a question regarding our relationship and how things were working out for me in New York City, and following each answer, she nodded her head intently and asked another. Finally, over the babbling rumble of bar-goers, she shouted to me, "You know, Katie. I was in a similar situation once, where I had a choice between following a personal goal or following a boyfriend. I chose the boyfriend ... That is such an amazing and remarkably mature decision that you two made. I often wonder where I'd be now if I had chosen me."

I don't know what the future has in store for me and Terrence, but I do know that we'll never regret letting each other spread our wings and fly.

Blue Monday

From Joe.My.God:
According to British scientists, today is the most depressing day of 2007. Researchers say that unpaid holiday bills, bad weather, and the realization that New Year's resolutions won't be lived up to, all combine to make today the unhappiest day of the year.

I had a pretty good day. This month's bills have been paid on time, I arrived at work an hour early, it wasn't too cold, and I bought new gym clothes from Old Navy to go along with my new gym membership (which was not part of a New Year's resolution, but one of my bosses and I just joined Equinox last week - again not a New Year's resolution; we've been planning to join since November).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Juilliard Sunday Football

Watching my best friend in a student-directed production at The Juilliard School.
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Walking along Columbus Avenue after the show to Malachy's Donegal Pub on West 72nd Street for drinks with her classmates and the second half of the Colts vs. Patriots game.
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Phone Photo Op - Raining Rice

I don't know what is happening in one of the two dozen or so apartments above me, but it has been drizzling uncooked rice for the past 10 minutes. Here are a few grains on my windowsill amidst the dried stains of pigeon droppings. At first, I thought it was hail.
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Subway Art

1,2,3 at 14th Street
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Times Square station
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F,V at Delancey Street
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Confronting My Ugly Betty

I don't know how to recount a moment during Happy Hour on the evening of my birthday without sounding conceited OR without seeming like I am conceited but trying to sound like I'm not. To that point, this will be another post that kind of makes me wish I hadn’t shared this blog with family and friends. Without total anonymity, I can't write nakedly about everything that I think, feel or experience with no fear of judgment.

But I’m going to make an attempt at a naked statement and try not to care how others will view it: I didn't know that my coworkers thought that I was pretty until Thursday night. To be honest, I never wondered whether my coworkers thought I was pretty or not, which is probably why I noticed when a colleague asked how we snagged a great table near the front door of The Ginger Man (a bar that was overcrowded with men that night), and one of my bosses replied, "I sent the pretty girl to get it."

I disguised my shock over her response. In fact, I pretended like I didn’t hear her say it. I didn’t want to be the annoying girl who appears to be fishing for additional compliments by replying, “No, I’m not” ... You know - the shallow “oh, go on” line.

New York City can do that to you. In a place where incredibly striking women are a dime a dozen, beautiful can easily begin to feel average, and pretty can begin to feel less than average. My boss’s comment made me think about how I've spent the past few months surrounded by size-zero models, fashionable women whose handbags cost more than my entire outfit, and advertisements for liposuction and rhinoplasty in the city's dailies during my morning commute. I have let my environment cause me to stress about my recent weight gain, covet other women’s shoes, feel less than average and forget that I am not all that shabby-looking on a good day.

Cry me a river and let’s be real. It’s not only New York City to blame. Though I am generally confident in my abilities, my self-esteem sometimes reaches an annoying and unattractive low. My feelings about my appearance have been a roller coaster since puberty, and it’s up to me to finally realize what is truly important. So what if I'm not as beautiful as the models who show up in the lobby of our office every other week or the flawless faces on the magazine covers I pass at every corner newsstand? There are certainly worse things in the world than not measuring up to others physically. Yet so many women waste so much time on self-assessment and self-pity. I've certainly been guilty of it on more than one occasion.

Today I stood in the mirror and thought about how being average in the metropolis of beautiful people is ok because I believe that I am incredibly striking on the inside. You don’t have to be the most beautiful woman in the world to have beauty, and that's not just something that Ugly Betty tells herself. Loving what you look like inside is so much better than loving what you see in the mirror. I need to be happy with what I've got and feel lucky to have it instead of selfishly wishing I was as beautiful as Beyonce, Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie.

If I could just be comfortable with how I look, maybe I could learn to appreciate a compliment instead of looking away in embarrassed silence. And then I wouldn’t even think to write about this superficial insecurity in my blog.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Becoming 27 in New York City

I turned 27 in New York City, and the Big Apple did not disappoint.

I arrived at work and received several birthday cards, flowers, and a chic candle from one boss, and a 50-min massage at an Equinox spa from the other. Later in the afternoon, the office surprised me with a small cake and sang "Happy Birthday." And after work, we went to Happy Hour at The Ginger Man on 36th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.

After wine, soft pretzels with honey mustard and potato chips, I returned from Midtown to West Harlem, changed clothes and went back downtown to meet Nikki and her friends at Stereo, the same club I patronized twice this past week with T and Kev and where Nikki promotes on Thursday nights. Although I was beyond the hyper buzz and was now in a more chill, people-watching mood, we danced the night away with no cover charge and free bottles.

I tried to remember what I did last year on my last birthday in North Carolina, and I honestly cannot remember. I only remember that a year ago today, I was six months into my "move to New York within one year" plan, and I was starting to question whether or not I could really make it happen. The fear of the unknown was causing me to analyze my life and my mistakes and was sparking a lot of regret.

And then I received the following essay via forwarded email just after my 26th birthday. I saved it when I realized that I might have been experiencing a small case of "the Quarter Life Crisis" myself.

The Quarter Life Crisis

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that maybe those friends with whom you thought you were so close aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people with whom you've lost touch are some of the most important ones. What you don't recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren't really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job ... and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you.

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life, and you are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn't.

One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you know that you aren't a bad person. One-night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself... and while winning the race would be great, right now, you'd just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that everyone reading this probably relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.

There is someone I came to New York City to meet ... me.

Phone Photo Op - Could It Be Winter?

I woke up this morning to the Big Apple's first valid attempt
at a Winter Wonderland.
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Phone Photo Ops - 1st NYC Birthday

Photos from my first birthday in New York City yesterday:
A coworker gave me my first NYC scratch-offs
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... I didn't win anything

Flowers and mini-balloons from one boss
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A 50-min massage at Equinox from the other boss
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... aren't my bosses the best?

Happy Hour with colleagues to celebrate after work
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Entering the Late 20s

Here’s what no one ever tells you about your 20s. You’ll still have no clue who you really are, and you will be the last one to know it. When I was a kid, I thought I’d have it all figured out. By the ancient age of 28, I’d have a glamorous husband, a successful career, possibly a castle …”
- Playing House, LMN

Tomorrow I turn 27 years old. And I have a 300 square-foot studio apartment, a subway pass and an entry-level position surrounded by amazing, sophisticated women who all unintentionally make me feel 17. I know it's because I'm young and naïve in the industry.

I don't have what I thought I'd have by my late-20s, but I’m happy. I have great friends, New York, a job on 42nd Street between Times Square and Grand Central, a boyfriend who flies up from Atlanta whenever he can, a supportive family I can call on whenever I need them, Tequila Tuesdays with coworkers, and DVR to record LOST while I’m working late or out on the town.

Tokii and I were talking the other day about those lists that teenage girls make describing their perfect man ... which seems realistic when encompassed by the optimism of childhood but progressively converts to fiction as youth is absorbed by age. I think I actually wrote out a list when I was 14.

Neither of us had thought about our lists in years. We've stopped needing those lists to figure out what we wanted from someone else. Let's face it; you can't truly know what you want from someone else until you know who you are. And as I've been learning who I am, I realized that the list of qualities I had expected of my perfect man were actually the qualities I wanted in me.

When you create that list as a kid with the intention of sizing up a potential partner, sometimes you're actually sizing up yourself and who you want to be. I'm not exactly who I thought I'd be by the time I turned 27 years old. In fact, I'm still figuring that part out. But I don't mind if I'm the last to know as long as I eventually know it.

They say that life doesn't always turn out the way you plan. That saying is so cliché and I'm so glad that it is.

Phone Photo Op - Chocolat

I have never been employed in an office where coworkers returned to work after a holiday with chocolates that he or she had picked up in Paris over the weekend ... until today.
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Weekend Compilation

Kings at the Knicks' house on Monday
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The Empire State Building from Madison Square Garden
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McDonalds on Trump International Hotel & Tower's plates
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My first glass of Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon ... ever
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I'm a cheap wine and low-calorie beer kind of girl.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Regaining My Perspective

I was a little overwhelmed at work today. The stress of the advertising sales and marketing pace has been getting to me this week. Part of it has to do with the fact that we're understaffed with no immediate budget to add more support to our team. Part of it is assisting two people with diverse needs. Part of it is me being annoyed for allowing myself to get overwhelmed.

I mean, I was so irritated when I left the office that when a panhandler asked me for spare change, my gut reaction was to shout: "You've got to be kidding me! Do you know how hard I worked for my money this week?"

Instead I politely replied that I had no cash, which was true.

So what is a young, lone professional girl to do when the job has her on the brink of a mental breakdown and tempted to cuss out the less fortunate in New York City?

I went to 205 Nails on East 26th Street for a $10 pedicure. It wasn't the $55 pedicure at Spa Belles, dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of pedicures" by my friend David. But it was cheap, and they do a good job. And I did feel more relaxed.

However, it wasn't the pedicure that put my week in perspective.

On my way home this evening, I witnessed a large protest in Times Square in response to President Bush's plan to increase U.S. forces in Iraq.

Local troops who have already toured in Iraq will be returning for another tour of duty. And there are currently 159 New Jersey National Guard troops, who planned to return home soon, and must now remain in Iraq for an extra four months - 125 more days - to support the President's agenda.

If I make a mistake in advertising, no one dies. I don't fear for my life on a daily basis nor does my job impact anyone's life beyond indirectly influencing them to choose one arbitrary product over another. I don't have to say good-bye to my family and friends as I leave for the office and wonder if it will be the last time I see them.

As I watched the protesters march, chant and wave picket signs, I thought about my week and how hard it wasn't.

Phone Photo Ops - Opposing Uncle Sam

Protesters in Times Square voiced their opposition of the President's troop increase outside the most famous military recruiting station in the United States.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - First Art Show

This evening I attended my first art show opening in Manhattan ... well, my first art show opening ever. A colleague invited our entire division to see his work and that of another artist.

This is the first time that he has ever hung his pieces anywhere so this was his first art show opening, too. I sipped wine and viewed eclectic paintings and carvings and found myself genuinely interested in the art and the inspiration behind the work.
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When the City Smelled of Maple Syrup

One of this morning's dailies featured quotations from various bloggers in its "Blog Beat" column regarding the pervasive smell that took over the city's streets on Monday. One blogger's comment regarding the stench made me laugh out loud - a little LOL during the morning commute ...

"Possible asphyxiation aside, this is more exciting than the time the city smelled like maple syrup." - Metadish

When I arrived at work, I read the excerpt to my coworkers.

"Oh," Julie said, "I remember that."

I looked at her and tilted my head to the right like a confused cocker spaniel: "You mean that actually happened?"

"Yea," she replied as if an entire city smelling of maple syrup wasn't entirely out of the ordinary. "I didn't actually smell it, but I remember people talking about it."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fresh Direct

Fresh Direct just delivered my groceries for the first time. I was able to shop on my laptop in the comfort and convenience of my own home, schedule my preferred delivery window (I chose between 10 and 11:30 p.m.) and await the shipment while watching reruns of "Friends."

Approximately $80 worth of groceries arrived in four neatly packed boxes. One could argue that I am reaching new heights of laziness, but in New York City, you have to understand - without a car, you can only buy what you can carry or be willing to pay to have it delivered.

Shopping in bulk has become a thing of the past for me. My current options include: Purchase overpriced, rotten fruit from the C-Town across the street ... struggle 10 streets and three avenues via bus, train or sidewalk from Pathmark with nine stretching and ripping plastic bags or pushing/dragging a collapsible cart ... leisurely grocery shop on the Internet for a $4.95 delivery charge plus tip.

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And I'm the loser who took a photo of my groceries to share with the reader(no "s") of my blog.

What Was That Smell?

That's what I wondered yesterday morning when I emerged from the subway in midtown. That is what my coworkers wondered as the dampers in our midtown building were shut to reduce the smell seeping into the offices. And that is what the nation wondered as it caught up with the recent headlines regarding the gas-like odor that drifted throughout New York City and parts of New Jersey.

In a post-9/11 New York, there were sirens, evacuations and up-to-the-minute news coverage. Yet many New Yorkers and Jersey neighbors remained calm - mostly wrinkling their noses and making jokes. In fact, Stan H. Eason, a spokesman for Jersey City said, "We’re going to get some industrial fans out and blow the smell back over to New York."

As I left to run an errand on another floor, I peeked into my boss's office and nonchalantly mentioned, "I'm headed outside to light a cigarette. I'll be back in a few."

After receiving a text message I had sent about the weird smell, someone (from the South, who will remain nameless) texted back: "I farted a few days ago. Meteorologists said it was headed northeast. My bad."

According to The New York Times, mysterious odors come and go in the New York City area, sometimes never identified.

In August, a pungent smell wafted through Staten Island, alarming hundreds of residents. The City Department of Environmental Protection dispatched a hazardous materials crew, using equipment to test air quality for “volatile organic compounds,” which are emitted from a range of products from stored fuels to aerosol sprays to paint.

But the investigation into its source proved fruitless.

In a city scared of terrorism, pungent odors, sweet or sour, can raise vague worries about some kind of chemical attack.In October 2005, an extraordinary sweet smell wafted from downtown Manhattan to the Upper East Side, Prospect Heights in Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island.

While personally exploring these Manhattan aroma-nomenas via, I came across's New York City Subway Smell Map, which charts the following smells reported throughout the city's train transportation system: alcohol, body odor, chemicals, feces, food, mold & wet, perfumes, sewage, urine and vomit.

In a city of 8-million people, I am guessing that mysterious smells are inevitable. And Joe.My.God has a theory.

Phone Photo Op - Rush Hour at 96th

Even a short delay of an uptown 1 train creates a traffic jam on the subway platform during evening rush hour.
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Phone Photo Op - Cloud over the City

View from a conference room in the downtown office building just before our large team meeting around 3 p.m.
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Monday, January 08, 2007

Penmanship Approved

The highlight of my Monday might have been the new Magic Bullet Blender I bought with a 20% discount coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I've spent many a late night watching the infomerical, wondering if it really works and waiting for it be sold by a reputable retailer. I don't trust items that "aren't sold in stores."

But something even better happened.

The founder and former CEO of the company for which I work likes my handwriting! She saw my notes on some Post-Its I had placed on a few of her books that needed to be autographed for clients.

This afternoon I received a phone call that she had requested that I write guests' names on place cards for an upcoming photo shoot for one of her magazines. My penmanship is supposed to be featured in the October 2007 issue!

So I will probably have forgotten by October that I had even created the place cards. Ok. No I won't. But a lot can happen between January and October. Hundreds of photos are taken at shoots, and there is a chance that the photos in which my handwriting is featured could be omitted from the final publication.

But within a year, my handwriting might be featured in a major magazine. No one will know it's mine, but the picture will be framed in my office and will be hung on my mother's refrigerator. And whether it makes the final publication of the magazine or not, she likes my handwriting!

I am such a dork.

Phone Photo Op - From the Big Boss's Office

View from the midtown office of our founder and former CEO
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Random Act of Kindness

The highlight of my afternoon walk was an unexpected encounter.

In Harlem, often considered one of the (stereotypically) harder neighborhoods in the city, I came across an elderly Asian man (pictured below in the grey jacket and red cap), who appeared to have spilled a large bag of coins - some 400-500 pennies - in the middle of a crosswalk. He had a cane and was painfully trying to bend and pick up his pennies each time the light was red.

A young Black man had stopped to assist the older Asian man in scooping up his coins. I decided to help them, and when the light changed, we all scooted over to the sidewalk.

The light turned red again, and this time a young woman also stopped to help us gather pennies in the road. The light changed and we all returned to the sidewalk.

When the crossing light permitted pedestrians to walk again, a man in mid-stride looked down upon us as we squatted over the coins and said, "You guys are trying to pick up all of these pennies?"

Then he, too, crouched in the street to join us.

Altogether it must have taken 4-5 lights for all of us to pick up the elderly man's pennies. We'd scoop up handfuls and pour them into his outstretched hands and he'd stuff them into his jacket pockets. When those pockets were full, he began putting them into the pockets of his pants.

Just before I returned to the middle of the street to help gather the last of the spilt coins, I waited a few seconds so I could catch a quick camera phone photo op of this random act of kindness.
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Phone Photo Ops - One Mile Radius

Phone photo ops from my Sunday afternoon stroll
within a one-mile radius of my apartment.

George Washington Bridge
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Basketball on the Hudson River
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Downtown River View
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St. Nicholas Park
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City Squirrel
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Sign reads: No people except in the company of a dog
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Architecture in Harlem
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And the famous Apollo
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Saturday Night

Around 5 o'clock yesterday evening, I received the following text from Eileen, a designer in the fashion industry: "Single fabulous girl reaching out to friends to see where the party is tonight..."

My response: "Disgustingly lazy girl replying that she hasn't gotten off her fat ass since Friday except to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

She replied: "Lol...We are going out."

To which I texted back: "Does that require me to move?"

Her response: "I'm sorry but yes! Where do you want to go?"

"But I'm in a boring funk and I fear that you'll void our friendship if you see me in this wretched state," I said.

"Grrl...I'm in a funk too...Lets get back to our fab roots!" she replied.

I ended up going out with David after Eileen bailed a few hours later: "I'm feeling lazy all of a sudden. I can't get off my couch."

My text response: "What a coincidence!" But by then, I had already committed to meeting David on the Upper West Side and splitting a cab to the East Village. A coworker of ours was have a birthday party at Beauty Bar, a bar that looks like a beauty salon.

"Will you hate me if I bail?" she texted to me. I texted back: "Forever!"

On my way to meet David, she called to chat before I went out. Somewhere during our conversation, we were talking about our transitions from North Carolina to New York City (she migrated a few years ago).

"So you're not going to be one of those people who moves up here for a few months and then leaves, are you?" she had asked.

"Nope!" I replied. "I may never leave!"

At about 10:30 p.m., David and I joined colleagues at Beauty Bar. We left around 1 a.m. and had another drink at Phoenix, a gay bar a few blocks over. It felt odd and refreshing to be surrounded by hundreds of men who had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever. After we left Phoenix, we went to Nino's for pizza and then split a cab back to the West Side.

I know they say to never say 'never,' but I don't plan to leave anytime soon. The city has me under its spell. And today is another beautiful day so I'm going to go out and see what there is to see.

What could be better than a Sunday afternoon in New York City?

Phone Photo Ops - Beauty Bar & Nino's Pizza

Beauty Bar, where you can get a manicure and a free drink
for $10 in the middle of the night.
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Empty shots were left in one of the salon sinks along the walls. Meanwhile bar hoppers mingled at the bar or seated in dryer chairs.
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And the 2:30 a.m. pizza. It wasn't Famous Joe's Pizza, but once you've had pizza in New York City, you'll never want it anywhere else.
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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Feels like 71ºF

It was a beautiful, warm winter day.
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