Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday Update, Part Two

So I missed my flight, and I had no way to get to Iowa in time for church or family celebrations. I took a cab home ($30 more bucks down the drain.) I ran to the grocery store before it closed (I'd thrown out my perishable food. $20 more bucks down the drain.) I spent the rest of the night on the phone to United. They disconnected me six times and were no help to me on the seventh time. Friday, Dec. 22, I was practically in tears as I trudged off to work. (On the bright side, that's one personal/sick day I didn't have to use up.)

That night I accompanied Tom to Dom and Tori's Christmas party. I wasn't quite my normal, gregarious self. Usually, I get all fixed up for parties and am very outgoing. For this one, my skin was broken out from the stress and I didn't have time to do my hair and makeup or change from my work clothes. On top of that, I was depressed about missing my flight and it was raining. I made the best of it and, though I was a bit introverted, we all had fun.

The next day, Dec. 23, I accompanied Tom to a coworker's party. When my flight home fell through, Tom invited me to all these parties and to celebrate with his family. I told him, "I hope it's not bothering you, the way I'm tagging along to everything." He laughed and replied, "I was just thinking, 'I hope she doesn't feel like I'm dragging her to all these parties.' It's like our own Gift of the Magi situation." "Well, the misunderstanding part, not the crushing poverty part." "Exactly!" he exclaimed. At the party, Tom's coworker made a comment about me being Tom's fiancee, and we both nearly choked on our hors d’oeuvres. That's right, people, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Some boyfriends last. Some don't. I like this one a lot more than the last one, but that's no gaurantee. I'm going to make any long-term romantic decisions carefully. I'm reminded of a scene in Brigadoon: One character sings, "But when lassies sit and have no men, oh, how long becomes the night." Fiona replies, "But I fear the night is longer when the lad's not right." My sentiments exactly.

On the 24th, we celebrated with Tom's family. These people know how to eat. His mom made enough cookies to feed and army (pecan, lemon, chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin and ricotta). The meal itself was linguini with calamari tentacles and rings and spungili (I think I've butchered the spelling. Anyway, it's conch.), shrimp cocktail, clams and mussels on the half-shell, baked clams and stuffed artichokes. Then for supper we had lobsters and king crab. The crabs' legs were bigger around than a baby's arm. Anyone who has seen me eat seafood knows I can back away crabs' legs, but I could only eat one of those gigantic things! That night Tom's brothers, Tom and I all camped out in the living room. The next morning breakfast was toast and Christmas Cookies. Then we open presents and Tom rushed me to JFK airport...where I sat for the next six hours.

Again I quote from my letter to United: "The flight that [United Ticket Agents got] me on was delayed significantly, so I didn't arrive home until 10:30 p.m. Christmas Day. In fact, your company booked me on Delta flight 5361 to Des Moines. When it landed for its layover in Cincinnati, I was told the second leg of my flight had already left, and I wouldn't be able to get home until 3 p.m. Dec. 26! It was only when I pressed them that they managed to get me on a United flight from Cincinnati to Chicago and an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Des Moines. My luggage didn't arrive until December 27.

"It was the most stressful traveling experience of my life. Because of your company's management of the situation, I missed every church and family celebration. This was my only opportunity to see some of my relatives this year."

What I didn't include were the details: being driven across a tarmac to make a flight just before the door closed, the other passengers giving me dirty looks (although those looks turned to sympathy due to my obvious asthma attack), crying in various airports (including while I was getting a security pat-down in Cincinnati), and making frantic phone calls on my dying cell phone ("No, Dad, I'm not arriving 10:30 a.m. tomorrow! I'm arriving 10:30 p.m. tonight!")

Mom and Dad were both sick when I got home, so we Dad gave me a quick tour of the improvements on the house and we all went to bed. The next day we rested and tried to recover from the previous day. Wednesday my bag arrived, so I wrapped presents and did laundry. Then I helped my parents empty a semi-trailer full of stuff salvaged from the tornado (the guy who loaned it to us needed it back). That night, we opened presents around the tree.

Thursday I drove to see J.B., Erika and the girls. It was a lot of fun. Courtney has great hand-eye coordination (she rules at peekaboo. J.B. plays a version where she pulls down a blanket to find him.) She's also at a very cuddley stage.

Brooke is smart as a button. She noticed that my hair is longer and lighter that in some pictures we had taken when she was a baby. She answers questions really well, with specific details. (When asked what animals live on Grandma and Grandpa's farm, she responded, "Sheep and...two dogs! Mac and Scooter.") She's also getting to the point where she tells stories, unsolicited. She has a doll named Max ("He's a little girl.") and another named Max's Little Sister. Hee. Brooke has a bag with a butterfly on it. I asked her what it was. She thought hard and exclaimed, "Its...a...BUG!" "Yes," replied, "It's a bug. It's also a butterfly." "A butterfly?" "Yep." The next day I asked her about the bag again. She thought hard and exclaimed, "It's...a...butterwing!"

For posterity, Brooke's favorite movies right now are Mary Poppins (she can sing all the songs, even when they use words like "precocious" and "atrocious.") and The Wizard of Oz. I told her that's a scary movie. She replied, "Erin, it's T.V. It's not real." Undoubtedly, she's repeating something her parents have told her several times, but it still cracked me up. When I put on my black trench coat to leave, she asked if I was a witch. I replied, "I do wear a lot of black, don't I?"

Friday afternoon I went to see Karen, Connor, Hannah, Helen and Unkie. We did a gift exchange. I got a lovely journal, some scrupmtious Choxie and a fairy tale Hannah created for me on the computer. I also got to read the play she wrote. The kids seemed to enjoy their presents (a doodle book for Connor with some cool codes and hints to improve his artistic techniques and a craft book for Hannah that also included some fun recipes). We used Connor's pogo stick. Hannah played a song for me on the piano. We all sat around and chatted.

That night, I joined up with my college suite-mates (the Heritage 11 Suities) for Chinese food and conversation. I had a great time, and I'm glad I got to see them. Kelly surprised me by arriving as Kelly-brown-hair. It's a running joke that she loves dying her hair brown, but it hates staying that way and quickly fades back to its natural blonde.

That basically brings us up to date. Mom and Dad went to a football party. I would have gone, but was given insufficient warning. ("Want to come to a party in half an hour even though you haven't even showered today?" Sorry. I can't get around that least not happily.)

If all goes well, I'll be back in New York by 1:30 p.m. New Year's Eve. Who knows what the night or the New Year will bring. Here's hoping your holidays were happy and that your New Year is a blessed one for you and your family.

Holiday Update, Part One.

There have been complaints (or at least hints) that I've been remiss in my blogging. 19 days! That's almost three times my normal time between posting. Okay, okay, people. What have I been doing all that time? Sometimes I was sick. Sometimes I was at work or checking papers or lesson planning. Sometimes I was doing housework or resting or sleeping. Sometimes I was working on Grad school applications (I won't make the ones with Jan. 3 deadlines, but I will make the ones with Feb. 3 deadlines). Sometimes I was Christmas shopping.

One night (was it the 15th?) Tom and I helped his friend Danno (Dan-O?) celebrate his birthday. He's quite the character and the place was like a hybrid between a bar and a Chuck E. Cheese. My favorite was playing Skeeball. Tom and I proved surprisingly good at this military game where you have to hold big fake guns and kill people. His friend Dom crooned, "Aw. The couple that kills together..." Um, I don't think that's how the saying is supposed to go. I'm not sure how I feel about violent video games. I definitely don't support children playing them. Generally I think adults should find better ways to spend their time, but for one night it was okay. We pooled all our tickets for Danno to buy prizes with. In the end he had more than 4800 points, which allowed him to buy several things. He didn't get the blender, as Becker suggested, or the basketball hoop I suggested, but he seemed happy with his remote control cars and other goodies.

Another night (the 16th?) Tom took me for Medditeranean food. I had the most delicious lamb kebabs. On the way there, we heard a lot of honking and saw police lights flashing in the distance. Suddenly, I saw something strange. A COW! A calf? I don't know. It wasn't a baby, but it wasn't full-grown, either. Anyway, this cow was running down the sidewalk, full-tilt, its hooves slipping and sliding a bit. It was obviously terrified.

"Tom, A COW!" I exclaimed.

"What? Oh, it is a cow," he replied, surprised as six cop cars with their lights blazing and sirens screaming came tearing around the corner.

"Should we stop?" I wondered, "I know how to catch a cow, and they obviously don't."

"No, Erin, you are not going to catch the cow," he said.

"Why not? I can do it!"

"Because they are the NYPD, and they might not understand who you are or what you're doing or that you know how to catch the cow. So no, we are not stopping." Okay, good point. There've been some problems lately with them shooting first and asking questions later. Anyway, it was a bizarre moment.

On the 17th, I went to my church's fake Christmas Eve candlelight service. You see, so many of the church members have families far away. This way, we could celebrate with our church family. Monday was the work holiday party. Tuesday Tom took me to an amazing bakery for cupcakes (the person who runs it helped create the famous Magnolia bakery). Wednesday my girlfriends and I had a gift exchange at Blue Angel, home of the cutest salt and pepper shakers. (See photo at left where we posed them with umbrellas from our drinks.)

Thursday, I was supposed to fly out. Well, for this part I'll just quote the complaint letter I sent United Airlines: "Before leaving for the airport Dec. 21, I checked online, and my flight was supposed to depart on time. I arrived at 5:45. My flight that day was delayed from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I wasn't allowed to use online check-in, supposedly because I wouldn't make my connecting flight. (I would have made my connecting flight, but if I missed it I could have found alternate transportation from Chicago to Des Moines.)

"Your agents at LaGuardia made anyone flying through Chicago stay in line for hours (pulling other travelers out of the line, but telling us to stay), which caused us to miss our flights. I assume people flying standby or the many people whose flights had been delayed or canceled took our seats. At 8:45, the agents told us to go home. I stayed to make new flight arrangements. The agents couldn't get me a flight to Des Moines (or any nearby airports like Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, etc.) until December 25. They informed me that the flights were oversold."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rocking the Holidays at Rockerfeller Center

Kelly came to visit, YAY!

Knowing that she was coming on Friday, Tom and I decided to get together on Thursday. We met up at Rockerfeller Center and snapped a few photos. Then we went to see a cool Christmas window display. After that, Tom took me to see a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Then we went to lovely Mill Korean. I love that place. It serves lots of yummy food quickly for a reasonable price. It was also nice to go out with him on a weekday. It gave me something to look forward to when I was at work. Then he stayed over. Friday morning, it was so nice to have him there. Getting up was...less terrible.

Friday night Kelly got in late (delay and change of airport), and Tom was sweet enough to drive me to pick her up. We slept in the next day, then took a bus to LaGuardia to get her luggage.

We also went to see Morningside Park, St. John's Cathedral and the nearby Peace Fountain. I also took her down to the village where we explored the holiday market. We went to Frutti Di Mare for scrumptious Italian food. Then I bought an adorable hat. (Argh, splurge! Why must I spend, why?)

We met up with Laura and Riza later for drinks and dancing. Riza was sad (boyfriend trouble), so I drew smiley faces on her knees.

We went from place to place looking for a fun place to dance, but none were working out. An old fave, Opal, completely changed formats. (No more dancing. Why?) Then I had a the beginning of a brilliant idea, but not the mental capacity to finish it. "Laura, what's that place we go to and dance and it's like a basement and there're these benches?" "Ooh, yes, let's go there. What's it called?" Then Laura had to make about 10 phone calls before she reached someone who remembered the club's name and location.

Niagra! Oh, Niagra, how we love you and your stage and your raised dancing platform. We drank and danced on the floor and the stage.

During the go-go dancer's break, Riza asked me to take over her platform. I agreed, but only if she came with me. We had quite a captivated audience...well, the guys, at least. At about 3:45, we went for munchies at the diner across the street, 7A. By a little after 5, we were home and in bed.

Sunday we didn't make it out of bed until after noon. We had some cereal, then went to see the adorable Kristin Chenowith in a musical, The Apple Tree, which was delightful. Then we went shopping at H&M, followed by Chinese food.

Later we spent Kelly's last night in the city back at Rockerfeller Center so she could see the tree. It made me feel like a child, somehow. I think the tree is bigger this year than when I've seen it in the past, like a recently-living skyscraper. On the other hand, maybe it's the same size. Maybe seeing the tree is like that every year: it always seems new -- bigger and brighter.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I am a Master.

Guess what I have in my hand? (Or did right before I put it down to type this?)

My diploma! Yes, I officially have my Master of Science in Teaching degree. I have had it since August 31, but no one told me. I only have the diploma because I walked in, stood in a line, asked the enrollment services lady, "Excuse me, I think I graduated, and I haven't received a diploma. Do you know how I could get one?" The folks in the office did some investigating, then gave me a cardboard envelope. Voila! I'm a graduate. If I were pretentious, I could sign things "Erin Kiley, M.S." I'm not pretentious...although if I get a Ph.D. or a D.A. I think I'll be rather tempted to make people call me Dr. Kiley. Heh.

As it is, I am busy applying to go back to grad school, this time for a Master's of Fine Arts in Writing. (I was thinking about a Doctorate of Arts in writing, but I don't know if I'm up to it.) I'm researching programs, tracking down letters of recommendation and transcripts, writing application essays, filling out forms and polishing my poetry, fiction and nonfiction portfolios. I'm also trying to adjust my finances so I can afford grad school.

With work, moving, being sick (three respiratory infections in three months!) computer trouble, and spending time with my friends and my boyfriend, this all kind of got away from me. The same thing happened last year, and I missed the deadline. Well, not again! Right now the U of I Writer's Workshop and Hunter College here in NYC are the frontrunners. I just hope one of them likes me, too.

In other news, work is kind of aweful (the less said the better) but I can handle it. I'm still annoyed with my roomie, but I can handle that, too. My boyfriend's fun and supportive, as are my best friends. I made it to church Sunday and enjoyed singing. Afterward, I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. Money is tight this year, between my expensive plane tickets home (I'll be in Iowa at 11:55 p.m. Dec. 21 and leave at 3:45 Dec. 28), the cost of living in NYC and trying to save for grad school so I'm trying to find presents that are thoughtful, not expensive.

Oh, and my friend (and former college roomie) Kelly is coming to visit this weekend. Yay! She gets in Friday night and leaves Monday morning. I'm trying to get a lot done this week so I can just hang out with her all weekend. We're going to have so much fun!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until Tuesday, I had no idea what I was doing for Thanksgiving. I had bought a frozen turkey dinner, just in case. I was contemplating going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade the way I did my first year in the city. The thing is, the weather reports were predicting a miserable day. I was also considering volunteering to help a charity serve Thanksgiving dinner. Then Tom called me and invited me to have dinner with his family. I agreed.

The thing was, I'd kind of gotten pschyed up about volunteering. Then I found my opportunity. I got of work Wednesday, made a batch of fudge to take to dinner, then went to "the theological seminary" to help prepare meals that would be served the next day. I was a particularly valuable member of the crew because cutting onions doesn't make me cry. I also learned a fabulous method for doing so. Too bad I don't really like onions. Everyone there was just so cheerful and warm. Clearly if I had decided to spend Thanksgiving with those folks, it still would have been a good one.

Eventually I tore myself away, quickly went home, showered and packed a bag of stuff for the weekend. Tom's brothers' band (Dead Men Dreaming) were playing at Lit Lounge. I didn't get there, carrying the world's fullest backpack, until after their set was over. I ditched my bag under a bench. (Perhaps that was a mistake. Some of the clothes inside ended up beer-soaked, but at least I wasn't carrying them all night.) At one point I heard a ruckus behind me and Tom was making a wierd face. It turns out Tom's brothers and their friends were giving him thumbs-up and shouts of approval following my arrival.

The next day, we went to his parents' house. His parents, his brothers and his dad's parents all live there. They're this hilarious Italian family: warm and loud and arguing, but mostly happy.
When we came in, I asked Tom if I should remove my shoes. His dad's first words to me were: "That depends. Did you step in shit out there?" Then they preceded to feed me until I thought I might explode. At 1:30 there was a huge antipasto course of meats, cheeses and fried artichokes which, it turns out, I like. They were shocked that I'd never had it before.

His grandmother asked it I like Italian food. I replied that I did. "But you're not Italian?" I admitted I wasn't and she sighed sadly, then shrugged. "Well, at least you like Italian food."

People watched football for a while. Dinner was served at 3:30 and was enourmous, leaving all of us stuffed for hours to come. Then we watched The DaVinci Code (I fell asleep). Then, in lieu of the evening meal we had the dessert course. Chocolate pudding pie, apple pie, pinoli cookies, rainbow cookies, my fudge, nuts and ice cream. There was also port, which is perhaps the most delicious alcoholic beverage I've ever tasted.

The next day Tom and I walked to Prospect Park. Before we left, I told him I needed a snack, but we both forgot. Halfway through the park, my bloodsugar crashed, and he had to half-drag me to a snackbar. I didn't like that. I'm very independent, and it makes me feel so silly. I'm a strong woman, yet if I forget a snack I'm suddenly so light-headed and weak that I'm in need of rescue. On the other hand, it's probably good for me. I have trouble letting myself depend on others. After we got home, Tom make me some amazing Italian dish that involved noodles and clams and garlic and fresh parsley. Yum! I love men who cook.

Saturday began well enough. We made french toast and bacon. Later we went to a birthday party for Tom's friend, Pablo. Pablo is from Barcelona. His wife, Janey, is six months pregnant. She's American, but was born in Korea. They're a fun couple. We had lunch at Heartland Brewery, then went to see Volver, the new Almodovar film. The movie was great except for two notably fake elements: Penelope Cruz's curves and her singing voice. Yep, that is definitely a padded booty(I found confirmation online), and I'm pretty sure her bra was padded, too. And the voice? Beautiful. Very Spanish. Just not very Penelope Cruz.

After that we went to Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, where we met up with more of Pablo and Janey's friends. I was afraid the smell would nauseate me, but luckily it didn't. We had so much fun. Then Tom and I went back to my place since I wanted to get up in time for church this morning. When I opened the door to the building, I could already hear the music. I knew it was coming from my apartment. I opened the door, and fourty people looked at me. I walked around. Rick was nowhere in sight. We decided to ignore it and go to bed. We even managed to fall asleep. Then, at two a.m., the guy with the speakers arrived. We woke up. People kept trying to come into my room (thank goodness I locked the door...but how many people were in my bedroom before I got home and locked it?) I went out again, in my pajamas. Now there were easily fifty people, spilling out of the apartment into the stairwells, both up one flight and down one flight.

I found Rick and informed him it was too loud. He replied that he didn't know I was home and said he'd keep it down and get them to leave "earlier than I'd planned." But it didn't get quieter. The music was so loud, it was creating waves in the glass of water on my bedside table. I went out again and found Rick. I asked him what leaving "earlier" meant. He replied that it meant 3 or 4 a.m. (Oh, and in the past he's told me Dominicans are very "flexible about time", so 3 or 4 means at earliest 4 or 5.)I told him I had somewhere to be in the morning and would have to leave by 9 a.m. I asked him why he didn't call me to let me know he was having a party. He said, "Well, I would have invited you, but I knew you wouldn't come. I mean, I thought about calling you, but I didn't think you were coming home, so I didn't."

I finally just made him give us money for a cab (It cost $45!) and at 2:30 a.m. Tom and I left to get a cab to his apartment in Brooklyn. As we were leaving, Tom heard a guy on the stairs say, shaking his head in disgust, "How you not gonna tell your own roommate?" Hee. Even the partygoers were on my side. I did not wake up in time for church choir practice. I am, even now, mad at Rick.

But that aside, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving that reminded me of how lucking I am to have my friends, my family, my boyfriend, and all my opportunities. I know that I have something to offer, ways to make this world a better place. I'm doing my best to find them and use them to the best of my ability. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hi, Mom!

My mom hadn't spoken to me in a while, and she said it'd been a while since I posted (6 days). So since my internet connection is actually working for once, I better update while I can. Thursday night I had Parent Teacher Conferences. It went fine; I'm great with parents. Then Friday I installed an overhead light (a quite affordable paper lantern) in my bedroom. Yay! It's no longer all shadowy in there. Now I can read well or put on makeup with accuracy. Then I made fudge for Fake Thanksgiving.

Friday night, I stayed at Tom's because Rick was having a loud party, and I was not in the mood. Saturday, Tom and I went to Fake Thanksgiving at his friends' house. It had all the trappings of normal Thanksgiving, only cooler. The football game was on TV, but muted with great music playing. Dinner was so delicious. Everyone loved my fudge ("You made this? Seriously?") After dinner we all played Trivial Pursuit, which we all feared might be boring. Actually, I've rarely laughed so hard in my life. We got together at 1 p.m. and didn't go home until midnight. Then Sunday Tom and I hung out more, watching movies and eating Chinese food.

Today was work: I found out that I'm supposed to do nothing but test preparation from now until the statewide exam in January. Yep. That won't be at all boring for the students. They definitely won't get bored and act out as a result. Nope, not at all. Grr. Two more days until vacation.

I haven't decided how to spend Thanksgiving yet. I'm trying to decide between going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or volunteering serving dinner to the needy. I'm leaning toward the shelter idea. If I don't talk to you before turkey day, dear family and friends, know that I love you. I am so greatful to have your love and support in my life.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tsampa, Solas, Carne and Otto's Shrunken Head

Those are just a few of the places I've been spending time. It's been so long since I posted! It's partly been because I've been busy, and partly because of a faulty internet connection. Anyway, two Saturdays ago was Tom's birthday party. It was in Brooklyn, and hard to get to due to train repairs. It's a continual problem for citizens of Brooklyn. That's when I realized: Tom and I have a long distance relationship! It took me more than an hour to get to his place. More than an hour is a long distance relationship.

I was hanging out with all of his friends, and they were a lot of fun. I got to see Lex, too, which was nice. Tom liked his present: The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. On the inside cover, I inscribed it, "If we had an inside joke, this is where it would go." That made him laugh. I spent the night at his place where we made out and ended up having the relationship talk. The result: He's officially my boyfriend. The next day we lazed around in bed, ordered pizza for lunch, watched a movie, had leftover pizza for supper and watched the Simpsons before Tom drove me home.

Then there was a week of work --the less said about that, the better-- and then it was the weekend again. Yay! (The most interesting thing about that week is I read a new book, Bee Season, which started out charming with an intoxicating take on language. It ended up all weird and sad and disorienting. Anyway, back to the story...)

Friday night the girls and I went to dinner as usual, but Tom ended up joining us. You see, Laura made it seem like all the guys were coming. Laura was wrong.Tom didn't mind, though. We had delectable Tibetan food at Tsampa. I devoured every scrap of my food, then scavenged leftovers from Laura and Riza. "Wow, Erin," Laura exclaimed. "I've never seen you eat like this." Then we had drinks at Solas before going to Otto's Shrunken Head. Who By Fire (Laura's boyfriend Ryan's band) had a gig there. Yes, that's the name of the band, and they stand by it. The band's pretty good. The lead singer sounds like he's channeling Jim Morrison, though, and Tom correctly surmised that it would help if they played some of their songs in different keys to make them more distinctive.

The next morning, Tom and I decided to make brunch. The bacon frying set off the fire alarm. Oops! Also, I'd never made pancakes and he hadn't made them in years. They were rubbery, not fluffy. Any suggestions? After that we went for a walk in Morningside park. It's a decent little neighborhood park, the most distinctive attribute of which is a gorgeous waterfall. We walked by the cathedral of St. John the Divine and its nearby trippy Peace Fountain, which includes a giant crab, giraffes and the Archangel Michael fighting satan. Nestled in the base of the fountain was a live albino peacock just wandering around. (Seriously. No, seriously.) For supper we went to a restaurant named Carne (Meat? Who names their restaurant Meat?) where we got some scrumptious hamburgers.

Then we tried to go see Stranger Than Fiction at Lincoln Center. It was sold out, though, so we just sat on the edge of that pretty, lit fountain in front of the Metropolitan Opera (see photo at left I downloaded froma talented photographer's blog, Livinginny. I didn't take the photo, nor am I in it, but it's a perfect shot.) and talked and kissed. He spent the night again and I barely made it out of bed in time for choir practice Sunday morning. I went to church and sang my heart out.

Monday it was back to work and today was Parent Teacher Conferences. Now it's just tomorrow, Thursday (with the second half of Parent Teacher Conferences making my work day last from before 8 a.m. to after 7 p.m.) and Friday until it's the weekend again. It's probably not a good sign when you're counting down to the weekend on a Tuesday night, but oh, well.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Last night, Tom and I went to see the Village Halloween Parade. It was a crazy crush of people, and a mad show of color and light. I had my digital camera, which is challenging to adjust in the dark (I think I might have a time-release setting?). Also, many of the pictured were taken one-handed with the camera held over my head. The result is a bunch of blurs, but it really captures the craziness of the event,

This was a freaky ghost-baby-butterfly puppet that swooped over us.

This is Kiss.

These are crazy lit-up pumpkin-man-puppets. There were guys wearing crazy suits that controlled the pumpkin man puppets around and above them.

I have no idea what this float is, but the swirling color is exemplary of the parade, which included a few floats, some marching bands, people on stilts, and random costumed individuals. You see, anyone who wants to be in the parade can be! They just have to show up at the staging site.

We eventually managed to squeeze our way out of the crowd and went for a peaceful dinner before making our way home to catch a bit of sleep before work in the morning. So much fun!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The most popular girl in the world!

Yes, I've been SO popular this week! In my last post, I mentioned my Saturday date with Tom to Laura's party. Well, soon more and more things were piling up. Chris, husband of Madrid, called me to invite me to his birthday party on Friday. Jay and Dea, my aunt and uncle, called to see if I wanted to sight-see. Tom called, mid-week to see if I wanted to go to dinner and a movie on Thursday. Yes, everone, yes! I want to do all those things and go to church on Sunday. Then on Friday Tom texted me to ask if I wanted to go to a costume party after Chris's birthday party. Yes, again, some more!

Wednesday I couldn't sleep, and on Thursday I was exhausted but I didn't care because I was excited about my date. Tom and I went to L'Annam for yummy Vietnamese food. Then we went to see The Prestige, a movie about magic which was way trippy and surprising. That's all I can really say without giving things away. After that we went to have a drink and basically spend more time together.

Friday I rushed home from work, showered, did my makeup and figured out an outfit that could use the skirt from my costume and hide the bustier. I ended up putting on a cardigan, wrap-style, which I fasted on with a brooch. I also put on my patent leather Maryjanes with the three-inch heels. Yow and ow. I printed and framed a cute photo I took of Madrid and Chris and ran out the door. I was late to meet everyone at Red Bamboo, but they were all forgiving and Chris liked his present.

Then I hopped on the train to Brooklyn to meet up with Tom. His apartment is amazing! So spacious it tempts me to move to an outer bourough...well, tempts me for about 90 seconds. He had jazz on the stereo when I came in, which was a relief. You see, he is a heavy metal afficionado, and its nice to know he listens to other things, too. The party was great. I was an evil Girl Scout from Troop 666 (I sewed demerit badges onto a sash-- see photo above) and Tom was Rowdy Roddy Piper (a pro wrestler when we were kids).

Tom's friends are hilarious. Following the wrestling theme, someone else was The Ultimate Warrior. They had a half-hearted match in which Tom hit him over the head with a chair. One group of ladies were dressed as the Golden Girls, which they played with great commitment. Hee! The party ended so late that I stayed over at Tom's place. The next day, he drove me into the city. I had just enough time to shower and throw on clothes before going to meet Jay and Dea.

We had lunch at their hotel, The Marriott Marquis Time Square. Then Dea and I chatted while Jay had a meeting. After that, they wanted to go to Serendipity III for frozen hot chocolate. I suspected they would need a reservation, but didn't think to mention it. When we got there, there was an hour-long wait and they weren't in the mood so I took them down the block for a frozen hot chocolate at Dylan's Candy Bar. Then we proceeded to Central Park where we walked around admiring the scenery and snapping photos. Jay seemed to be having a great time. I then took them to the subway station, dropped them off at the right platform and rushed home.

Due to a train delay, it took forever to get home, but I did, threw my costume (for Madrid to borrow) and Laura's present into my bag, changed my clothes and hit the road. I called Tom to warn him I'd be late. It was his first time meeting my friends, so I apologized profusely and told him to look for Laura, "the girl with the shiny, shiny black hair." He did, and according to Laura he was great. After I arrived, it came time to order. Tom was aghast that I didn't know what gnocci was. He explained, and my friend told me not to order it, Madrid or Laura (I don't remember which) saying, "You'd eat three bites and be full." Hee. I love that my friends know me so well. Laura and her man Ryan, Madrid and Chris, Riza and Pete, and Carolina had all beat me there. I felt bad that Carolina was on her own. Laura had sworn she wouldn't be a singleton, but all the other singles baled. D'oh!

Laura loved her present, which included a pair of earrings and an oil pastel portrait I drew of her as a fairy. She loves fairies.

After dinner, Madrid and Chris ran off to a kinky Halloween party. We went to No Malice Palace, aka GothHop Bar (known for its Hip-Hop music and goth decor, as well as its lack of a sign out front. There was a sad girl sitting by herself on one of the couches. We all discussed her loneliness. Carolina, in particular, expressed concern. I told her she would be the perfect one to go talk to the depressed fairy. She could use excuse of being the only singleton. But no. She and Tom decided that I, as the nice one, should be the one. So I went over and chatted with Emily (the depressed fairy), whose friends were late. I kept her laughing until her friends arrived. Meanwhile, Tom got to know my friends.

Laura was drinking away, having a good old time. Usually Laura can drink anybody else under the table, but she was good and drunk. She was saying things like, "Erin, I felt your drawing. I felt because I didn't know for sure if you did it because I didn't know you could draw. I didn't know you could draw. You didn't tell me you could draw like that and all this time you could draw, but I didn't know you could draw." Hee! I replied that she should be careful feeling the drawing because oil pastels can smear. "I know!" she replied, very seriously. Heeeee!

Eventually, a good portion of my night was spent giving Laura glasses of water and stroking her hair. I tried to talk her into going home, as she was wobbley, but she wasn't having it. Right before I left she was boogying down to the floor. Then others helped her back up. As we were leaving, the usually reserved Riza was giving Pete a lap dance. Errm...okay. It was impossible to get a train home, and the cabs were playing hard to get, too. The wind was so strong, I was almost blown off my feel. Literally.

Then we got back to my place and, sorry to yadda-yadda-yadda the best part, but, yadda-yadda-yadda, "Morning! Want a waffle?" Then I ran off to church and sang in the choir. It was so much fun. After that Then I had to run errands (almost blowing away again on the way home) and prepare my food for the week. I was invited to a party where Ryan's band was playing, but I managed to turn it down so I could fall into bed where I basically passed out. Sleep, precious sleep, for more than six consecutive hours. Hooray!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marathon Date

Last week, Tom and I scheduled a date for Saturday afternoon just in case. You see, Tom is a Mets fan, and was hoping they would win the pennant and continue on their attempt to conquer the world. Or something.

Anyway, that didn't happen. They lost on Thursday. Friday night I went out with my best pals and he with his. Then, as planned, I called him to iron out the details. I was hoping we'd switch to a Saturday night date, thinking that would be a better sign.

"No, why don't we go ahead and get together for brunch?"

I was a bit disappointed, but agreed, suggesting we meet up at Itzocan Bistro, which I adore. The next day, there we were, enjoying a scrumptious breakfast. I had the three chile Eggs Benedict. He had crepes with walnuts and caramel sauce, the only non-egg food on the menu. He doesn't like eggs. I know! He says he's tried to like them, but it's never worked, though he likes just about every other food. I kind of like the anti-eggs thing. It makes him more understanding about the foods I don't like. Wow. With obsessive minutiae like this, it's no wonder I have such a large, riveted readership.

Anyway, after brunch we planned to go to the museum-- perhaps Museo del Bario or Museum of the City of New York. But it was such a gorgeous day we decided to walk around the park for the next three hours, zig-zagging all around. We explored the Conservatory Gardens, circled Harlem Meer, hiked through some rocks, found a few waterfalls and chatted. We somehow ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That's where we spent the next few hours. I'd never seen the moon viewing room which was beautiful. Then, sitting on the front steps we engaged in long-term p.d.a., which I'm not used to, but is fun. I was thinking, "Wow. For once I'm one of those couples I'm always seeing, so wrapped up in their own little world."

Then we went to Vol de Nuit, a Belgian Beer Bar where we had mussels and pommes frites and I had a lovely framboise (raspberry flavored) beer. The Bishop girls introduced me to it years ago, and it's the only beer I've ever liked.

Over dinner we discussed lots of things, including the fact that niether of us is into playing games in relationships. So later, he was giving me long, flirty, questioning looks. I looked at him with an eyebrow raised. "Are we laying it all on the table?" He confirmed that we were indeed laying it all on the table.

"Okay. You can come back to my place. We can fool around for a while, but I won't have sex with you. Okay?"

"Let's go!" he exclaimed, grabbing my hand and leading me from the bar. We went back to my apartment and made out for hours. He never pushed the issue, instead making the best possible use of where we were. It was great. He didn't even mind getting up early the next morning so I could go to choir practice and church. He was a bit surprised by it, though. As he put it, "It's one I know goes to church, so it's a bit out of left field." Sunday morning he was a total sweetheart and we shared toaster waffles for breakfast.

Anyway, the marathon date was great. Next weekend I'm taking Tom to Laura's birthday party, which coincidentally falls on his birthday. He's having his own birthday party the following Saturday, to which I am invited. Yes, we're already planning two weeks in advance. And now I've got to pick out a birthday present for a guy I've only had two dates with! If you have to have a problem, that's a pretty good problem to have.

P.S. My job is terrible, but I've decided to just try my best and not dwell.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The First Date with Tom 2.0

After Lex's birthday party, I told you all about the smart, funny guy who asked for my number. Unfortunately, he happened to be a math teacher named Tom. I decided not to let that strange coincidence get in the way and gave him my digits.

Then, on Tuesday, Tom 2.0 (the newer, better Tom) called to ask me out. I said yes and asked him what he had in mind. He began, "Okay, this may be a dorky suggestion, but there's this think called Hell House." According to Wikipedia, a Hell House "is a haunted house-style attraction typically run by fundamentalist Christian churches [...] Hell houses frequently feature exhibits that are meant to depict sin and its consequences. Common examples include abortion, homosexuality, suicide, use of alcoholic beverages and other recreational drugs, pre-marital sex and occultism."

I replied that that sounded awesome. A Brooklyn theater group decided to put on the Hell House. They're not really mocking the original. They want expose people here to a different view of the world. It's really up to the audience how they take it. That's why the writer of the Hell House script gave them the rights to put it on. He said he felt it would cause some New Yorkers to convert.

I found the extremity of the script to be funny, but if I'd seen it when I was twelve, I would have been scared to death. In fact, I think I would still be traumatized to this day. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday night, I rushed around to be ready for our date. He's said he would aim to pick me up at 6:30, but with traffic might not make it until 7. At 7:10, I hadn't even heard from him. I was pacing around my aparment, looking hot but steaming mad. I thought he'd stood me up. Then the phone rang. He apologized for being late and told me he was stuck in traffic. At 8, he finally picked me up. I was a bit crabby until I saw how upset he looked. He'd been on the road since 4:30. It turns out, a major route from Brooklyn was recently closed (and will remain closed for the rest of the year). Now all the other bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn are packed.

Anyway, we went straight to the Hell House. The actors were amazing. They managed to play every scene straight, tears and all, while the audience laughed. The script was just so over the top.

After the show ended, we went to a quirky French restaurant. The food was great and we talked and laughed. Then we lingered at the table. Tom 2.0 said, "I don't want to go home, and we can't go to a bar..." (since I'm on antibiotics) "...I've got an idea. There's someplace I want you to see. Let's go."

He took me to the Brooklyn Promenade (see photo above, which I downloaded from Petite Pomme). "This is why I live in New York," I said with a sigh. The view was gorgeous. It's also kind of surreal because it looks so serene, but the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is humming away under your feet.

Anyway, it was 1 a.m. and we strolled along admiring the view. He was casting these little sideways looks at me. I just smiled at him and raised an eyebrow, as if to say, "What are you going to do?" And he kissed me.

When he kissed me I was disappointed. Kiss. "Damn," I thought. Kiss. "And I really liked him." Kiss. "Now I'm going to have to find a way..." Kiss. " tell him I'm not interested when he calls, and..." Kiss. "Wait, what was I saying?" Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.

We kissed, on and on. I was bent back a little, and we kissed until my back began to ache. I stumbled, and we ended up leaning against the railing, which was helpful. We kissed for a long time. Suddenly, a bunch of people showed up, even though it was about 1:30. We ignored them and kept kissing until they went away. We kissed until we were both shaking. Once in a while, we had to stop to get my hair out of the way. "Buzz cut," I whispered. "Don't do that!" he replied, laughing. We kept kissing.

He kissed me with his hands in my hair. Once in a while, he would grab a handful of it just hard enough. Other times, we would stop with our foreheads touching (which I've always been a sucker for on TV and in the movies, but had never experienced so perfectly in real life). A couple of times, we paused with our lips almost touching, each daring the other to be the first to close the distance and start the kiss. I apologized for my cold hand against his face. He took my hand in his, and placed both our hands just below my collarbone on the skin exposed by the v-neck of my shirt and coat. It was sweet. Then he said softly, "You know you don't have to go home."

"I know," I replied, "but things are moving really fast. They've already gone further that I'd usually take it on a first date. I don't think I've ever kissed for so long before."

"You're fun," he said with a laugh. When we got to the car, it was 2 a.m. He drove me home and called the next day to see how I was doing. So far, so good.

A Weighty Issue: Part 2

My mom always referred to a bare midriff as a "credibility gap." So why am I baring my credibility gap on the internet?

Well, it's to tell you about something very near and dear to me. It's the diet and exercise system that has changed my life. It's Megaloozalux 2000, and it allows me to eat what I want and still look hot and trim in just seconds a day.

How does it work? Simple! You just inhale!

Sorry. I saw an infomercial for an exercise system (which came with a diet plan). It was called "The Bean," and I found myself wanting it. I had to be firm with myself: "E.J., you barely find time for yoga anymore, let alone the Yoga Booty Ballet set you bought. And that dance hoop system? You almost broke a mirror. So, no. No, you cannot buy The Bean!"

What's more, I knew the photos were likely fake. It's easy with fat suits and Photo Shop. Then I decided to see just how easy it could be. I tucked the bottom of my shirt into my bra and stuck my tummy out as far as possible and took the first picture. Then I inhaled, flexed my abs, changed my posture into a very uncomfortable position and snapped the second picture. (My sucky-inny abs do look kind of cute. Hee!) The real me is somewhere in between, and that's all right.

Look, people, I fall for it sometimes, too, but lets stay strong together, okay? We'll eat a little less and move a little more. It doesn't really require giving more money to what is already a multibillion dollar industry. Right? Right?

Monday, October 09, 2006


It's Columbus Day (a.k.a. Our People Conquered Your People Day), and no school, so YAY! I had daydreamed about having a fun NYC day. I thought about sight-seeing or hanging out in the park. The thing is, I've started feeling sick again...or still? I don't know. So I spent the first half of the day lying in bed in my room and the other half at the doctor. I had to wait for hours, but I've got medicine now, so hopefully I'll get better.

Speaking of my room, yesterday I did a little bit of nesting, decorating my room (see photos above). I love my quilt. My bed doesn't have a headboard, so I decided to put up curtains. The red curtains aren't that shiny in real life. Another cool thing is, now that I've got the curtain rods in place, it would be easy to change and put up whatever curtains I want. I need to pick some art for the wall on the right. I might use a portrait Val created. Anyway, I'm loving my new room!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Lex!

Last night I stayed out until after three and had a great time. I didn't feel tired even though I'd only had four hours sleep the night before. What magical gathering kept me going into the madrugada? Lex's 25th birthday party!

I went to dinner with Carolina and Laura and Mills Korean (which is not just a few blocks from my apartment--Yay!) and had gorgeous fried dumplings and a beef dish fried up in a hot stone pot. After that culinary exstacy, Carolina drove us downtown to the party. On the way we stopped at Bearded Papa's, a reknowned cream puff store. I didn't have one, but I got one to give Lex, along with her pop-up surfing birthday card and a few drinks. Then we looked for a parking space FOREVER. Okay, it wasn't forever, but with the stop-and-go traffic steadily increasing my nausea, it felt like it. Then, when we got out of the car and started walking the many blocks to our destination, Mama's, I began to miss the car.

You see, I was wearing a beautiful dress, thinking, "This will be the last time it will be warm enough to wear this dress this year." Turns out, I was wrong. Last time I wore it was the last time it was warm enough. Brr. We got there early and waited at a bar across the street which had no name, but looked gothic and played hip-hop music. I nicknamed it "The Goth-Hop Bar." I snapped a lovely picture of Laura and a silly one of Carolina.

When we went to Mama's, I saw a group of people that I instantly assumed were Lex's crew. Lex laughed that I could look at a bar full of people and instantly know which ones were her friends. Then we realized we'd left the cream puff behind. "A pastry?" Lex asked. "You better run and get it, woman!" We did, and rescued it before anyone at Goth-Hop even realized it was there.

Lex flipped for the card (see downloaded picture at left) and enjoyed the cream puff (although her girlfriend, Jen, loved it even more and demanded to know where it had come from. It looks like Bearded Papa's has a new devotee to join its fanatical customer base).

I was surprised to see Drew there, because Lex and I thought he'd bail when he found out I was coming. It was a little awkward at first, but he made it a point to come and talk to me. I congratulated him on his career. He told me about his new rooomie. I told him about my move. He made me laugh until my stomach hurt, just like old times. I don't think that the party changed anything, though. At the end of the night, Lex's former roomie Ken and I were splitting a cab uptown, going right past Drew's apartment. He declined to share the cab even though it was late and cold. I suppose it could be a money-saving thing, but he looked...pensive. It was disappointing.

Here's a funny side-note: the beatiful dress? At one point a strap fell, exposing the entire right cup of my bra. Whoops. And even when it wasn't falling down, it exposed a lot of cleavage. Well, cleavage isn't quite the right term, because I wasn't squished together, but it was a plunging neckline. Anyway, Jen had made a bunch of t-shirts labeled "WWLD?" on the front and "What Would Lex Drink?" on the back. When Lex saw Drew talking to me, she gave us shirts and insisted we put them on "to show you're with my party." Later, I thanked her for making me less self-conscious. I didn't want to seem like I was flaunting myself in front of Drew.

"I saw you two talking," she said, "and I thought, 'Erin, for God's sake, cover those up!' Although I am glad I got to see them for my birthday. It makes me like you even more."

"You like me more because I'm apparently unable to dress myself properly?"

"Basically, yes."

I had such an amazing time hanging out with Lex and her friends. I’ve been missing Lex a lot, and we keep giving each other the whole “Let’s get together soon. No, seriously” treatment. Her friends were entertaining. I also met an adorable, smart, funny guy who asked for my number.

There's just one problem: he's a math teacher named Tom. What are the odds? Lex told me, "I think he likes you." I replied, “Well, he’s great. He’s adorable. But he’s A MATH TEACHER NAMED TOM! I just got out of a relationship with a math teacher named Tom.”

“Okay, that is a little weird, but if you’re going to make an exception, make it for Tom. I never advocate for my friends in romantic situations, but in this case, I will. You should flirt with Tom some more.”

All night, Lex had been suggesting I dance on a table or the bar. I ruled out the bar because it was covered with candles, but replied, “It’s your birthday. I’ll dance on the table if you will.” Somehow she talked Tom into it, too. She wanted to, but she was a little bit scared. I said, “Look, what’s the worst that could happen? The bartender gets mad and tells us to get down. We get down.” And that’s precisely what happened. Hee. It’s all for the best. Those tables weren’t very sturdy anyway.

Happy birthday, Lex! Congratulations on 25 years of life. Thank you for welcoming me to the city, for giving me love and support (even when you were put in the uncomfortable position of being the go-between) and for all the good times. Knowing you is an adventure, and I love it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This week I’ve learned

Being lonely can be tough.

So can having someone. An independent friend of mine is having relationship problem because she’s become too dependent on her mate. She doesn’t know how to be independent with someone. And from experience I can tell you, if you’re too independent in a relationship, the result is just as bad. On one side of the spectrum, your partner feels smothered. On the other side, your partner feels unnecessary. It’s a tough problem to solve, and I don’t envy her that.

My phone is not meant to be a music player. My MP3 player is gone. It was either stolen at school, lost in the move, or lost or stolen somewhere/sometime else that same week. One way or the other, it was very sad. It was a present from Mom and Dad, and I loved it.

Instead of paying a lot of money on a new Shuffle that might get lost or stolen, I decided to just spend a little cash to use my phone’s music capabilities. My Verizon store sold me the wrong kit. I went back and got the right one, then went home, used it and found there was room for exactly three songs on my phone. I made several calls and discovered I needed an external memory card. Nice of them to tell me after the fact. The guy at Circuit City sold me the wrong one (“You’re sure this is the right one?” “Yes, I am sure.” “Really?” “Of course! It’s my job.” Ha.). I went back and got the right one, but for some reason it’s still not working. AAAaaaargh!!!!!!!! Sometimes I hate technology. [I have since gotten it to work, and it was cheaper than buying a new MP3 player, but it was such a hassle!]

The people at my church are cool! Apple picking and the church picnic at lovely Rockland State Park were so much fun. I was afraid it was going to be me and a bunch of married people and their small children, but I was wrong. There were tons of young adults around, many of whom are members of a group that has brunch every Sunday after church. Pastor Bill calls it “The Brunch Bunch.” I rode up in a van with them, and two girls and I sat in the very back discussing linguistic stuff. At one point we realized the people in the front were listening and discussing our conversation. “We were just marveling at your conversation, that’s all,” said Pastor Sara. Then Mike piped in, “I thought the cool kids sat in the back of the bus. “Well,” I replied, “that’s the sad part: we are the coolest kids on the bus.” “Oooh!” everyone exclaimed, before complimenting my quick thinking and advanced skills in mocking.

We picked a few apples, but mostly just enjoyed the fall air and the scenery at the orchard. Everyone engaged in an almost constant stream of witty banter, which made me feel very at home. The more a conversation sounds like dialogue from an old screwball comedy, the happier I am.

Then we went to Rockland State Park for the picnic. For quite some time we watched ducks and swans, as well as one enormous caterpillar. Then we played with a Frisbee for quite a while.

At one point, the minister dropped trou, which shocked us until we realized he was merely stripping down to tennis shorts in the hopes of getting someone to pick up a racket and play. Then we all ate and ate and ate. We went home tired and full just before it started to rain.

Singing with the choir on Sunday was great, and some of my old singing skills are coming back. Afterward, I joined The Brunch Bunch. They’re supportive, dedicated to community service and Christ-centered, yet surprisingly and pleasingly sarcastic. I hope to spend more time with them in the future.

A Weighty Issue

It amazes me, the amount of time my friends and I spend thinking about and talking about weight. We are strong, educated feminists. Most of us do not read fashion magazines. Most of our mothers didn’t pressure us about weight loss. And yet, how much time do we spend thinking about, talking about, lamenting, our weight, caloric intake, exercise regimens? Do less-educated or non-feminist or fashion-mag-reading women worry about it more, or less? Well, as I see it, the problem has many layers:

1-The mate-snagging thing/the media

People don’t want to be lonely. They want to…well, snag a mate. And because we find people on TV shows and in the movies attractive, we think we’ll be more attractive if we look like them. (Do we remember that the people we are attracted to in real life don’t often look like The Desirable Men of stage and screen? Not often enough.) TV and Movie chicks tend to be tall and thin, yet improbably also have slamming curves. If you move into the realm of models, the degree to which The Desirable Women are genetic freaks only increases. Genetic freakiness aside, we know that their appearances are also a product of dieticians, personal trainers, and in some cases drugs and plastic surgery. Does that stop us from trying to look like them and feeling inferior when we do not succeed? No, it does not.

2- The shared-vulnerability bonding thing

In the movie Mean Girls, there’s a scene where The Plastics are all discussing their bodies. Each girl complains about one of her body parts. If she’s lucky, her friends quickly reassure her that she’s wrong. It quickly becomes clear to Kady that she must find something to hate about her body if she wants to fit in.

It was that way when I was in high school, too. I never liked playing that game, so I didn’t, and alienated me from a lot of my classmates. Now I find myself playing the game from both sides. It’s a surprisingly cozy ritual. You confess a weakness. A friend responds by telling you you’re wrong or confessing a similar weakness. You end up feeling closer.

The same conversation gets played out over and over: L-“I want to lose ten pounds.” M-“Why? You look fabulous!” L-“I don’t like my tummy.” E-“Shut up! Your tummy is adorable.” M- “And if you’re too big, what about me? I’ve been trying to lose all this weight FOREVER. I’m all…crumbly. I just…I really used to love my body, you know?” E- “I know what you mean, but I actually think you look nice with the weight. I think you’re actually prettier. I on the other hand keep inexplicably losing weight. I’m getting kind of…gaunt. I eat! You guys see me eat.” L-“You are kind of skinny. Maybe you should eat more.” E-“I eat a ton already.” M-“Shut up, Slim.” E- “Sorry.” Over and over, as comforting as Mr. Rogers’ ritual changing from jacket and tennis shoes to cardigan and house shoes.

So it turns out…

There are actually only two layers. Okay, three if you count health. We always say its about health, but I don’t really believe it. “Health and physical fitness” is the same excuse beauty pageants use to defend the bathing suit competition. We’re just embarrassed to admit that we all want to look like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition hotties. Well, health is important and our nation has an epidemic of obesity, so we should consider our health when forming our diet and exercise choices. I’m just don’t think most people really do. All I know is we all keep trying to improve ourselves. We eat healthier and exercise more. We accept ourselves more and support one another.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Apartment good. Health bad.

I'm enjoying my new apartment. I'm getting into the swing of things. There's a better range of grocery stores than my old neighborhood: there's one bourgeois grocery store, one organic grocery store, one ghetto grocery store (aka a bodega), and one grocery store that's in-between the others. I haven't found a good laundromat (the one I used was really expensive and I ended up hand-washing a bunch of it because it didn't even come clean. Grr.) but I'm on the lookout for a better one.

I love being so near the parks, and I've found a bus that magically has a bendy route that starts a block from my apartment and drops me a block from my church. This weekend in the church choir we sang some glorious Handel. Love, love, love. Work is going fine.

On the negative side, I'm sick! I didn't quite feel right last week. Wednesday night I was dizzy and short of breath, but I thought it was just an asthma/allergies thing. Friday night, my ear hurt so much I kept grabbing it. Saturday night the hearing in my left ear kept getting all muffled. Monday on the way to work I had an asthma attack and my hearing was cutting out again. I also had a headache, though I hadn't really noticed it until the doctor asked during my appointment on Monday. But it turns out, the headache was the crucial point in the diagnosis.

Apparently, I have an upper respiratory infection which spread to the middle ear. The doctor says if I'm not really careful about recovering, I could have hearing loss. Great. So now I'm being a good girl, lying in bed and drinking lots of fluids while waiting for my fever to break. Must go nap now. Love you all!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Belated blogging

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. The internet at the new apartment is on the fritz. (I'm currently using a computer at my hated alma mater, Fordham, the university that doesn't seem to care about anything but getting the most cash possible out of my pockets, and customer service be damned-- see picture at left.)

I'm not sure how much time I would have had to blog, anyway, as I simultaneously moved and started the new school year. (The mover was unbelievable. He had this method of strapping six medium sized boxes onto his back, and them walking them down the five flights of stairs. It was unreal. I'm still in shock.) I'm really enjoying the apartment. Well, I have a few complaints (He said we had cable, but we really only get 8 channels total. I don't have a key to the mail box, and he's always out of town so it takes several days to get my mail. The e-mail is on the fritz. Where is the neighborhood grocery store? There has to be one, right?) But on the whole, I really like the place, and Rick is kind of fun. He loves to sing along to Beyonce. Hee. Gotta love a guy who's not afraid of singing falsetto.

School is great so far (knock on wood!) I finally got a top-ranked class, and they're such good little students. I don't have a homeroom, so no more gathering them up at the end of the day or at lunch to take them downstairs (my least favorite thing about teaching). Also, my classes are smaller, which rocks! Well, it's also kind of scary, because sometimes the district will see a school with small classes and another school with a few big classes and shift some kids. The other school sends the kids they want to get rid of, so not only are they coming in late, unaware of the existing rules and procedures, but they often have behavioral or learning difficulties. So nobody tell about my small classes, okay? It's sort of a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

All in all this year, teaching is more fun. It's not perfect. I still have one class full of pains-in-the-neck because they failed the seventh grade, yet magically got to test into eighth grade. As such, they believe they don't have to do my work to go to high school. We'll see about that. But by and large, I'm just having more fun with the kids. Here's hoping it continues!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Ever since the VMAs aired, I've been flipping back and forth to MTV. I had no interest in watching the MTV Video Music Awards except for one thing: OK, Go's live performance of "Here it goes again." Yes, this plucky little group's rise to fame was fueled by homemade music video that they uploaded to a web site called YouTube. It featured a choreographed dance routine performed on eight treadmills. Hee. Hee-hee. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! It never fails to make me laugh. It is pure, unadulterated fun.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Lately, I've had this quote stuck in my head, one that had to do with hearts being like glass: "Even the way they break is beautiful."

Why was this quote about heartbreak going around and around in my head? I didn't know. Then, when I first got back to New York, I met Jenny for drinks and Auction House. We talked for hours, and somehow we got to talking about ex-boyfriends. I hadn't really known her when Mr. B and I were together, and when I explained why we broke up, she was shocked...almost as shocked as I was when I heard these words escape my mouth: "He broke my heart."

I was about to take it back. I hadn't been in love with him...had I? Could someone you weren't in love with break your heart? In that moment, I realized someone really could. I finally understood why people link romance to an organ, the heart. I understood why the end of romance was called heartbreak: because sometimes that's actually how it feels.

When Mr. B accused me of lying, it felt like an actual knife slitting open my heart, which then turned inside out. I remember clutching my chest from the pain, and tears springing from my eyes. It was instant. Normally, there is a progression for tears (your throat gets a lump in it, your face feels hot and tears well up in your eyes), but not this time. They were instant. I was speechless, crying, fighting just to breathe. It sounds really dramatic, but that's just how it was. My heart broke.

I blocked it out, though, or talked myself out of it. I wasn't in love with him, right? And even if I had been, it was over. What good could it do to dwell on it? On the other hand, can you fix something by ignoring it? When I decided to have sex with Mr.B, I did it in part because I suspected keeping myself separate physically was a way to keep myself apart emotionally. I was putting my heart on the line, trying to make myself open to love. When Mr. B responded so callously, it was my worst fear come true.

Thursday I had to see Mr. B again for the first time in months. It was hard. When I saw him, I was simultaneously angry and attracted. I tried to act indifferent, but he was just so friendly that I tried to be friendly, too. We have to work together, and treating him unkindly won't help me heal. I don't think I'm sorry I chose him, either. It's a part of my life now, and I love my life.

Today I went online to figure out the exact quote was and where it was from. It turned out to be from Everwood (Season 2, Episode 18, "Last Looks). I'm not sure it applies to me, exactly, but I can certainly see why it's been stuck in my head. Two characters broke up, and as the episode ended, Irv the narrator summed it up perfectly:

"A heart is a fragile thing. That's why we protect them so vigorously, give them away so rarely, and why it means so much when we do. Some hearts are more fragile than others, purer somehow, like crystal in a world of glass. Even the way they shatter is beautiful."

Friday, September 01, 2006

I won't be homeless!

To all of you who have been supportive during this challenging time, thank you! After hours and hours and hours online (searching Craig's List and e-mailing potential roomies), about a dozen apartment viewings, a lot of stress and some tears, I have finally found an apartment.

I'll be moving to the other side of Central Park. My new apartment is at 112 and 8th (Also know as Central Park West...also known as Frederick Douglas Boulevard.Yeah, New York can be a confusing place).

Now I had been hoping to move in with someone young and cool...someone I would have a lot in common with. That's not what's happened. My new roomie is a Dominican flight attendant named Rick. He's tidy. He's always away working, visiting the Dominican Republic or hanging out with his mom. In other words, he's the male version of my current roomie, Clara. He even has similar taste in decorating. It's not ideal, but I can definitely deal with it.

The Negatives:

Location- I would have preferred the East Side, as I know it better. I know where all the restaurants and stores are. It's closer to my church, bank, doctor and dentist. Also, Morningside/Harlem seems to be more single adults and fewer families than Spanish Harlem (or as Lex calls it, "SpaHa"). I like the warmth of Spanish Harlem, and I think I'll miss it. I'll also miss the murals in the neighborhood and the garden behind my building.

The apartment- I think the room I'm moving into is smaller than the one I have now, but I don't think it will feel like it because of the closet space and lack of giant, ugly armoire. I'm also going to get bed risers so I can store things under my bed. The worst thing is that my room only has one small window and it looks out on an airshaft. It provides no view and very little light. Also, Rick is only a moderately better decorator than Clara.

The Positives:

Location- I'm one block from Morning Side Park and two blocks from Central Park (both of which I love!) I'm about 4 blocks from one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Mills Korean. I'm two blocks from a cross-town bus, making it simple for me to get to the East Side whenever I need to. I had feared I would have to move out of Manhattan. I'm so glad I don't have to now. I'm close to the 2 subway train, which shortens my commute to work! Also the Morning Side area of Harlem is really hot, and improving all the time.

The apartment- It's on the second floor, as opposed to the fifth floor. I won't have to climb as much (though I won't burn as many calories). My room comes with a big closet (which is rare in Manhattan), an air conditioning unit and a huge chest of drawers. It also comes with a full bed (luxurous after the twin I've been using for two years). It's so pretty and fresh-looking. It'll be really nice once I decorate it.

The bathroom is big for a NYC bathroom. All utilities are included in the rent, even wireless internet and cable. There's no divider between the kitchen and the living room, so I can cook while I watch TV. Rick says I can use his treadmill. I'll often have the place to myself.

In Conclusion:

It's not perfect, but I'm sure it'll be fine. To be honest, I wasn't sure about this place when I moved in, and now I'm sad to leave it. I'm sure it will be the same with this new apartment.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

How looking for a NYC apartment is like online dating

In NYC, if you don't have a ton of extra cash to get a broker, you probably have to use Craig's List. Craig's List is a free website. People post ads for their apartments. Then you e-mail them with information about yourself. If they like your e-mail, they contact you about an interview or open house. Then if you meet them and they still like you they will give you a call to come talk some more or to offer you the apartment. My friend Jenny has been dating using, and I've started seeing similarities between our experiences.

How looking for an apartment online is like internet dating:
1- You read listings in which people post flattering pictures. People write descriptions that make them (or their apartment) sound good, but not so good that you'll be disappointed when you meet them/see the apartment.

2- You write back using a catchy subject line (my current favorite is "Making me your roomie would be great! Leaving me homeless would be sad.") Your e-mail should make you sound good, but reveal enough of yourself to hopefully make a good match. For example, if you couldn't clean to save your life, you'd be pretty miserable if you misrepresented yourself and ended up living with a neat freak. The same is true of if you hated sports, pretended to love them and ended up with a sports nut.

3- When you have an open house, you have to pick out an outfit and do your hair and makeup so that you look nice, but not like you're trying too hard.

4- You need to tell stories and be interesting so you'll stand out amongst the 50 other people they're seeing, but you can't seem desperate.

5- Everyone wants someone "laid back" with "no drama." (Half of the people who want a "laid back" roomie are the same people who write "MUST BE CLEAN. Seriously. NO MESSES. NO DOGS. NO CATS. NO COUPLES." Heh. Yep. You're laid back. I can tell.)

6- Sometimes people say they'll call but they don't. They're just not that into you.

The Differences
1- If you take a little time to think about an apartment, someone else will probably snap it up and sign the lease. If you take a few days to think about dating a guy and call him up, he probably won't have gotten married in the mean time. (Although Jenny warns he might have secretly been married to start with.)

2- You don't have to find a man. It's nice to find a good one, but it's not a matter of survival. There is no deadline (unless you count the biological clock). You do have to find an apartment.

I have sent out more e-mails applying for and apartment than I have sent out college applications and job applications in my entire life. Yep. So far, I've found one I liked but they were supposed to call me today and didn't, one I liked but she doesn't like the idea of me having friends (especially boyfriends, I think) over, and one that is PERFECT, but they're not going to decide until the end of the week. It would be a gamble to wait on them, because in the end they might pick someone else! Oh, well.

Clara's agreed to let me stay as long as I need to to find a good place. That's removed a little of the stress. Today also helped because I went to see three apartments, and each time I walked through the park. After a week mostly stuck in my apartment packing, reading Craig's List and sending out apartment-seeking e-mails, it was so great to be out in the fresh air and green.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Blog stuff

1- I have been busted by Val. You see, there is a setting on the blog that lets me post-date entries. For example, when I was in Iowa you may have noticed no new postings. Then, all of a sudden there were 5, and according to the dates, I wrote them every few days. Yeah, I cheated.

2- Why do I fib about the dates? Because if I put five entries worth of stuff into one mega entry, no one would want to read the whole thing. It would be too long. It also helps establish a timeline. It makes it easier to find entries in the archives, too.

3- Blogger (the site that hosts my blog) is all cranky. It has some bug and thus won't let me post pictures. Grr.

4- My internet connection is cranky, too. It quit when I was trying to post comments. (Half of which was to tell Kelly about my apartment search difficulties, half of which was to concede that I do know one person who looks great in jeans -- especially a shredded pair she inherited-- and a short dress, and that person is Val.) Grr again.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fashion atrocities (a rant)

Okay, I was gone from New York for 30 days, and in that time there was a fashion revolution. Oh, I'm sure it's actually a constant thing that you barely notice if you live here, but was like when you see a young relative only once or twice a year. They look so different every time you see them.

When I left, some people were rocking the ugly, baggy boho look. A few sad souls were emulating Madonna's most recent look with '70s disco-exercise attire. Sundresses and peasant skirts with long tops abounded. The hot new fashion accessory for that outfit was to cinch your waist with a wide, '50s-style belt. Culottes were improbably popular (ugh). Most girls, myself included, were wearing A-line skirts with fitted t-shirts.

Then I came back, and now tons of girls are wearing sundresses over jeans, miniskirts over leggings and the skinny jean. Now I'm not a fashion expert, by any means, but I suddenly find myself very opinionated on the subject, so I'm going to get it out of my system.

I am willing to support leggings under a skirt or dress. I used to rock the leggings look back in the mid-90s, and it can be cute as a button. What's more, this will allow women to rock minis they'd previously been unable to wear due to shyness, being too lazy to shave, veins, pallor or cellulite. All I ask is that no one go back to wearing them under baggy shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters. It made everyone look like they were shaped like a fudgesicle-- a chubby oval on top and a skinny little stick on the bottom.

The sundresses over jeans look...well, it's just strange. It only looks good, I can't think of anyone it looks good on. The jeans make the skirt of the dress bunch up. I think the outfit is intended to look free and artsy. Instead it just looks like the girl got distracted while changing her clothes, or ran out of clean shirts.

The skinny jean. Oh, the skinny jean. Here's the deal. Clinton and Stacy on TLC's "What Not to Wear" have valiantly spent several years trying to convince the public that tapered pants are evil. They also did a tremendous public service by educating the fashion-challenged on the horror of pleat-front pants. On a recent episode, they warned a woman they were helping (I'm paraphrasing because I'm too lazy to look up a transcript), "For some reason, tapered pants are going to be really 'in' this year, but you should ignore that. Tapered pants only look good on the skinniest models...and they don't really look that good on them."

The skinny jean makes you look like a ham hock if you have a butt or thighs. If you're petite and very skinny, they will make you look like you have short little toothpick legs. If you're tall and skinny (like a model)...well, chances are you have big feet. Tall usually means big's a physics thing. Big feet are okay. I have big feet, and I don't mind them... but it's not a feature I try to highlight. Well, the skinny jean is like a giant neon arrow pointing at your feet. You might as well strap on clown shoes.

Perhaps worst of all, I fear the skinny jean will encourage those poor women who persist in wearing "mom jeans." Mom jeans have tapered legs, pleated fronts and high, often elastic waists. They are, perhaps, the ugliest form of clothing in existance. The pleated fronts make women's stomachs look pouchy. The seat of the pants are strangley cut with large, ill-placed pockets that make a woman's rear look both flat and dumpy. Why would anyone wear them? WHY?

I hear women who wear them call them comfortable. How can it be comfortable to look that bad? Besides, ankle room is comfortable. Get a pair of jeans with a middle rise and a little bit of stretch in just the right size. They'll be comfortable, and you'll look so much better, you'll feel like a million bucks.

You know, sometimes I wish Iowans were more stylish. I sigh when I look at a room full of people all dressed the same, reguardless of age. All of them wearing jeans or jeans shorts with a baggy's depressing. But, at least Iowans have the good sense to resist most idiotic fashion trends. I think the worlds of New York and Midwestern fashion have a lot to learn from each other. New York teaches us that fashion can be fun, and we can all find a specific look that expresses who we are. Iowa teaches us that we don't have to jump on the fashion bandwagon. Stay strong, people. Resist the skinny jean tyranny.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back in the City

Monday, it was really tough to leave Iowa and my parents. It was so great to spend time with them, and they thanked me for wanting to. Also, I as stressed about coming back to the stressful things waiting here, especially my job and my apartment hunt. I spend pretty much all day every day looking at apartment listings.

Tuesday, I met Jenny for drinks. I had butterflies in my stomach, like when you have a date with a person you like. I realized, suddenly, that I was excited to see New York. New York is my boyfriend. He's high maintenance, but he's worth it...I think.

Wednesday, I met up with New York Jenny, Laura and Riza (which is how I should have been spelling Reesa all this time) for Pub Night. I drank too much, which was dumb, and got sick. It is the second time in my life that I've done so, and I felt like such an idiot! I'm too old for such foolishness, though Jenny (a respectable, responsible 35-year-old) assures me that it happened to her recently. You see, most three appletinis is my limit. Well, I only planned to drink half of the third one. But then I looked down and...huh! It was empty. How did that happen?

Then I was giving out massages, and one recipient bought me another drink. I wasn't going to drink it. I remember deciding not to drink it...but then I looked down, and...Huh. The glass was empty again! How did that happen? When I was still sober, this guy Paul offered me a massage. I said no. He asked again when I was drunk, and I was too out of it to refuse gracefully. He started massaging me PAINFULLY. (I have BRUISES from it!) I couldn't figure out how to tell him to stop. Then, once the torture ended, he asked me for tips on how to improve. I just shook my head and leaned on Laura. She realized I was in trouble and took me to the bathroom where I tossed my cookies.

While I was doing so, Paul asked Jenny for my number. Thankfully, they didn't give it to him. Jenny took me home in a cab. I drank lots of water, had some Tylenol and ate lots of saltines. Then I woke up at 4:45 and repeated the process. I woke up this morning feeling fine, however. Thankfully, I don't seem to suffer from hangovers.

I'm starting to get really frustrated with my apartment search. It's making me all emotional. I called Jenny, Madrid, Laura and Paul to vent about it. They're being very sweet and patient about it. Wish me luck...because cardboard boxes are drafty.