Friday, October 30, 2009

World Series

Go Yankees! The longer I live in New York, the more I begin to love those things that New Yorkers love: hot dogs, parades, black clothing, baseball... but not just any baseball. I am turning into a Yankees fan! The game completely mystifies me--I don't understand how any of it works, or why there has to be seven games, or why none of the players can even hit the ball most of the time, but I'm strangely fascinated. And I really hope the Yankees win (even though I keep thinking about how their uniforms look like pajamas)!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Else I've Been Up To

On Monday afternoon I had a real treat--a ride through the heart of Manhattan in a bright red Mustang convertible, with the top down! It sounds crazy, but I was transporting goods to a watch show, and the security guard was driving me in his own car, which was obviously his baby. (It's a whole other story, but this guy went to Julliard, culinary school, was a bronze-medal cyclist in the Olympics and a retired NYPD officer who killed three men in the line of duty back in the day, which surprised me because I've never met a sweeter old man. On the way down he told me about how he and his eleven-year-old son go out and birdwatch together.) The autumn weather was gorgeous and it was fun to have such an amazing view of the city--one I've seldom seen, since I'm used to walking or taking the subway everywhere. Cruising down 6th Avenue in the seat of a convertible is nice. It was a pleasant and relaxing way to start a maddeningly busy week.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of watch wheeling and dealing as I've been taking part per my job in a major watch show for dealers only. It's basically just a big room of a small convention center filled or two days with watch experts and all their friends buying and selling from and to each other. Just like kids playing Go Fish or Old Maid, these grown men walk around trading watches for other watches, looking for the watches they need, haggling and boasting, showing off their wares and their expertise, buying what they like and selling whatever they can so they can have money to buy something else and start the cycle all over again.

The Metropolitan Pavilion sounds so fancy, like it should house a state of the art exhibit at the World's Fair. However, for the watch show it's just a room filled with rickety booths made of patched together piping, spotlights, cheap old showcases on fold-out tables with velcroed-on rayon skirting, and if you have a safe (that looks like a relic of WWI) in your booth, there is no room at all to walk around. In these humble circumstances, the most magnificent watch deals go down. I spent my two days at the show, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., counting stacks of hundred dollar bills, keeping an eye on watches worth more than four times my yearly income, meeting buyers and sellers from exotic locations, and trying to keep track of the Machiavellian politics of the place and the labyrinthian trails that my boss would go down in an effort to buy or sell and make even the smallest of profit. Are you starting to see why my job is alternately stressful and fascinating at the same time?

Next door to the Metropolitan Pavilion was a line down the rainy street for a VIP Yves St. Laurent sale of some sort but, the few times when I was sent back to the gallery to pick up a certain watch box or other needed item, I hardly noticed the fashionistas who stood in stark contrast to the scraggly watch dealers smoking their cigarettes under the eaves of the building. Chelsea was cold, gray, and drizzly, but I was too caught up in the flash of diamond-dialed Rolexes and shiny gold Pateks to notice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I've Been Up To

No, dear readers. I did not abandon you. I have just been either too busy or too tired to blog. Then again, I'm pretty dang tired right now, but I'm not going to let it stop me. It might make this a long and rambly post though, so beware.

So my brother came to visit me! It was so much fun. He's the oldest child in my family, and I'm the second oldest, so we have always had a close friendship. But this was the first time he's been out to visit me since I moved to New York. Actually, he hadn't been here since he was a kid, so it was a great chance for him to see the city and all it has to offer. Luckily, there were a few gorgeous fall days while he was here. A few rainy ones too, but oh well.

The weather was the most gorgeous on Thursday, which made it a perfect day to be in Central Park. We took the train to Columbus Circle and went into the park from there. We walked everywhere there is to walk below the reservoir, and saw Sheep's Meadow, Tavern on the Green, the ballfields, the playgrounds, Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle, the Promenade, the Carousel, the Ramble, that big fountain... and probably more things I can't remember right now. There was a really amazing jazz band jamming in the middle of the park near the little amphitheater where everyone rollerskates. I tried to make a video of them with my camera, but had technical difficulties, so the song must live on in memory only. We went to the Zoo, too, a place I consider a real gem within the city. It is just so relaxing and lovely there, and well worth the price of admission. This time I actually saw the red panda! After that we went to the Apple store, and then dowtown to eat at Shake Shack, where I had the best hot dog of my entire life. Go there and get the "Shack-ago Dog." It is heaven. To round out the day we walked two thirds of the way across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun set and by that time we had done so much walking we had to quit.

On Friday it was kind of cold, but not rainy, and the sun even peeked out a bit, but it was gone again by the time my brother and I made it to the top of the Rockefeller Building. However, sun or no sun, the view from the 70th floor was uh-mazing. It was breathtaking to see the city extending for miles around and to look down on skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes. Endlessly fascinated, we stayed up there for a long time just taking it all in. Then it was back into the elevator, which goes so fast up and down that your ears pop. Since we were at Rockefeller Center we had to get a Cinnabon, and watch the ice skaters. Then we headed down to J&R Music World, my brother's favorite store since he was 5. We made a stop in Chinatown and gawked at the tourist wares, but neither of us are hagglers, so we mostly enjoyed browsing at the Pearl River Mart, a store full of wonders. I can't remember if we went to Times Square on Friday or Thursday--but it's in there somewhere, along with a visit to the M'n'M Store, even though I still don't know why M'n'Ms are the only candy with their own store.

Friday nights are free at the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, so we went to both of those places. At the MoMA we ran into Garrett, who had a funny story about waiting in line for a free shirt at the promo for White Collar (is that the name of that new show?). My brother and I had actually contemplated standing in that line, but gave it up when we realized it would have taken us 5 hours to get a shirt. Anyway, I highly recommend seeing the Monet waterlilies exhibition at MoMA.

Saturday was another day at the museums. Big Brother and I got up and went straight to the Met, where I was amazed to see a line out the door and down the street! I've never seen a line outside the Met before, but maybe because it was such a rainy day all of New York wanted to be inside looking at the treasures of art and culture. B and I looked at samurai swords, medieval European armor, modern art, contemporary art, ancient Roman art, American decorative arts, arts of ancient Oceania, medieval religious paintings, the photographs of Robert Frank, and the Vermeer painting on loan from Amsterdam in commemoration of Henry Hudson's voyage 400 years ago. There might have been some other genres in there as well, but you get the idea. And that's not even half of the Met. Lunch was a delicious grilled cheese sandwich at a local deli and I dragged B to Sant Ambreous to buy some shortbread cookies. Later in the day, when the Guggenheim had its "pay what you wish" Saturday evening hours, we went up there and took a look at the huge Kandinsky exhibition set off to perfection against the sculptural spiral shell of a museum that the Guggenheim is. Kandinsky's work has no discernable subject matter--his paintings are just gestures of color and free-wheeling shapes, as abstract as music, but B and I had fun pointing out the images we saw within the pretty chaos of each canvas. Afterwards we ended up at S'Mac for some gourmet mac'n'cheese, and that ended another day of New York.

On Sunday, we churched but left early because the day was so fine and I didn't want to "waste" my brother's last day in the city sitting inside a building. So after sacrament meeting we went down to Chelsea and walked along the Highline, New York's newest park. At the end we were treated to an impromptu jazz concert by a band stationed on the fire escape of a nearby building. This is what I love about New York.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Church of the Day

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kant, Kafka, and Atheists

Nobody really gets on the Subway expecting to be inspired. It's morning and you've got to get to work, you're not quite awake and already dreading the workday. There are no available seats because the train is packed with other commuters and there's no room for you to read the paper so you look around at the ads and signs in your car. There's often the old Dr. Z ad for skin care, and usually a Delta ad or one of those pictures of the super-orange kids on a beach trying to convince you to go to the Bahamas. Then, tucked away between an ad for laser hair treatment and a community college, there might be a "Train of Thought" quote, a series sponsored by the MTA to, I guess, enlighten and inspire its riders. Hmmm... Maybe that's where my 2 bucks a ride is going?

Anyway, the quotes are always interesting, thought provoking, but often rather pessimistic. For example: "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, nothing entirely straight can be built." -Immanuel Kant. That's not exactly what I want to think about on my way to work in a giant city, surrounded by both said crooked human timber and the incredibly large buildings built by them.

Then one day I looked up and read, "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect." And that was it. I was like, "What?!" The quote is the opening line of Kafka's famous book, The Metamorphosis, and it is definitely a thought-provoking, interesting line, but really? On my morning commute do I want to be thinking about someone who has just woken up in an insect's body? Or, if I do, I really want to know the rest of the story--just the one line is much too tantalizing. And then I start thinking about how I am like one little ant in a huge ant colony, and every day I have to go do my job like all the other worker ants while somewhere the big fat queen gets to just lay egg and eat bon bons all day.

So, as if this isn't depressing enough, I just read that the Atheists are rolling out an ad campaign for the New York subways in which they will ask, "A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?" The New York Times article I read says that atheism is on the rise in New York, so I think it's kind of strange that the Atheists are suddenly advertising. They seem to be good without advertising. I don't really care about the ads, though, because when I see them I will just answer in my head, "No, not really," and I will have been reminded about how much I rely on God in my life. And then I will look over at the Kafka quotation again and start feeling like bugs are crawling on me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Brother

My brother is in New York with me! It's so funny to have him here, walking around Harlem with me, because I've told him so many stories about my life here that it's funny to have him here with me in the places that I've tried to describe to him so many times. I've got the rest of the week off work and we're going to just see the sights and take in all the fun that the city has to offer us. I'm sure we will visit Central Park often, attend many museums, climb a skyscraper or two, and eat a bunch of delicious food. He arrived tonight and took the bus from the airport to 125th Street where I met him at the Apollo. Unfortunately there was no Amateur Night going on, so instead we just hopped on another bus and went to my house. I gave him the tour, and we fiddled with my computers for a while, and then I showed him Fairway, our amazing grocery store, and the Hudson River, and Dinosaur Barbecue, and then we got $3 sub sandwiches at the corner deli (free can of soda!) and went up on the roof of my building (secretly) and took pictures of New Jersey and stuff, and now we're just sitting around planning what we're going to do the rest of the weekend. It will be nice to have a break from work, and I'm so happy that it's going to be 73 degrees and sunny tomorrow!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Furtive Apologies for Not Posting A Church Picture

Agh! Ten more minutes of Sunday and I don't have a Harlem church pic to post. Sorry!!! It's not that I've used them all--there are still hundreds of churches in Harlem that I haven't taken pictures of yet--it's just that I have not been making time to go find and photograph them. I was all caught up today with a clothing drive for the people of Sierra Leone ("who's that?" said one lady), church, my photo-shoot, and then helping to host a dinner party where I met a very intriguing gentleman (hopefully more on that later!). And then of course I had to go watch Mad Men. Sunday always goes by much too quickly, and now it's practically Monday and time to go back to work. Boo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cold Nights, Warm Hearts

They're predicting rain for the next five days, at least, while some Nor'Easter blows through town. I have to remember to wear my rain boots to work so I don't ruin my heels. Most New York women will either wear flip-flops or tennis shoes on the way to work to save their nice shoes from the streets. They carry their good shoes in their bag or in a separate little pouch, and change when they get to work. It's a good idea, because the streets are tough on shoes, and some shoes are quite expensive. I've worn out more pairs here, though I admit I am more of a walker than most people. The other thing about New Yorkers is that they think a few blocks is a long walk. People don't often venture out of their neighborhoods, or if they do, there is so much public transportation, and taxis wherever you look, so why walk? I get strange looks from my coworkers when I tell them I walk over to the library on 58th and Park on my lunch break. Then they act like they were really just surprised that I actually read books. Well, maybe they are genuinely surprised about that, too. The truth is that I haven't been reading as much as I used to, which makes me sad. I keep having overdue books without even having finished them! It's a sad, sad day.

Meanwhile, I'm obsessed with the idea of winter coming in. I can hear it in every raindrop and feel every icy breeze that blows in through the cracks of the a/c unit still in my window. A couple of months ago I planted some snapdragon seeds in a little pot and I was so excited when two of them actually sprouted and started to grow in the sunlight on my bathroom windowsill. Now they are confused by the mixture of frigid air from the window and torrid heat-waves emanating from the radiator pipes, and they are looking a bit wilty no matter how much water I give them or what music I play. They know that there is no place for snapdragons in winter.

I came home from work yesterday to find my roommate making homemade donuts in the kitchen. She fried the dough in a pot of oil over the stove and then rolled them in sugar and cinnamon. We sat and talked in the living room, enjoying the glow of our paper lanterns, and the coziness of warm donuts and cold milk on a blustery October evening. Tired from staying out too late the night before listening to rock'n'roll (the show was great, by the way!) I dozed off under a fleece blanket listening to P and J argue about languages, and then I woke up and ate another donut. It's hard to believe, in moments like this, that my life is not very very good, despite the onset of winter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Chilly Winds

This is my 501st blog post! It's pretty amazing to think that I've had that much to say. And what do I have to say tonight? Not much, really. I'm blogging tonight because I have an hour until Peter and I leave to go to the rock'n'roll show and I'd rather blog than pick up my room, even if it looks like a tornado has come and gone. Peter is forgiven for cooking lobster at his house and not inviting me (he told me he was washing his dishes!) and for making fun of High Noon, because on Sunday he gave me a band-aid for the cut on my foot. However, if he starts lecturing me tonight about how I need to do something with my life, I'm not hanging out with him anymore. Then again, I need him to take a picture of me wearing my new shoes and coat, which I am in love with. The shoes are Coach, bought for a song from Marshall's--high heeled, black suede Mary Janes with cute oversized gold snaps on each side. They will by my winter staple, along with the soft-gray houndstooth wool coat I found at Marshall's too. All my life I have wanted a houndstooth coat, and now that I have one I can't imagine anything more chic. Now I just need to whip out a few crocheted scarves and hats in bright colors (red red, turquoise, neon pink, and yellow!) and my winter wardrobe will be complete. The chilly winds have already begun to blow. Luckily, the steam heat has come on in my apartment, and the place is cozy and snug, despite the dry wind that blows across the river and forms the dead leaves into scuttling heaps outside. Soon there will be ice on the pavement and snow in the air, and I'll be complaining about how long the winter is lasting.

Anyway, I appreciate all of my blog readers and will not bore them any longer today with ramblings! I guess its time to transform myself into a glam hip-but-not-hipster kind of girl, and rock another night away.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Worth It's Weight

Gold is up over $1050 an ounce today! Tomorrow I'm going to take some old chains and stuff to 47th Street and scrap them for cash. Last week we had an event at work, and I overhead some of the guests talking about gold. "It's the one thing that lasts forever," one woman said to another. It's true. Gold is constantly recycled and reshaped, melted and molded, but it never goes away, never spoils or rusts. Not only is gold beautiful, it's useful for all kinds of things from coins to dentistry, from spacesuit visors to arthritis medicine. It's really the best stuff there is. You can even eat it--but I wouldn't go that far. However, I will use the money I get from scrapping my gold to buy a few lunches for myself this week. Check your jewelry boxes and your junk drawers. You might have some old earring backs or a broken 14k chain or something that you can sell for cash. Now's the time!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

United Church of Deliverance

Harlem church of the week. 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." I guess that's the minister's motto here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crochet Love

Maybe it's the cold weather, or maybe I really have become a spinster. All I want to do is crochet. It might be a phase, because I have been through other phases, like the time I was making so many quilts that I couldn't look at clothing in stores without imagining how the fabric would look in a quilt. Recently I've been collecting vintage crochet patterns, like this special issue of Ladies Home Journal from 1976, because they are filled with such unique dresses and sweaters. I even found a pattern for a crocheted swimsuit (I think this was a DON'T pose on America's Next Top Model, though) and a wedding dress! I found this on and I love it because it not only has some great crochet patterns, it has detailed instructions on how to do "old-world peasant" embroidery, applique, and the ancient lace technique called "filet guipure." Somehow I have taken it on as a life's mission to keep these dying arts alive. But it's not just the old magazines that have been charming me. I found myself perusing the crochet magazines at Borders today on my lunch break, and I had to buy one for the most darling sweater pattern inside. (Not to mention the crocheted gingerbread house that I would love to make just to taunt Peter with. He was telling me one time about how he doesn't understand why anyone would make a gingerbread house--why not just eat the cookies and candy as they are? Well, if he can't understand that, a completely inedible crocheted version will surely blow his mind! Cue evil maniacal laughter.)

It seems like the European crochet booklets have all the interesting dresses and sweater patterns. I have so many on my to-do list that it's going to take a long time to get to all of them, and before I make things for myself, there are so many things I want to make as gifts for Christmas. I'd better get busy! Actually, I'm almost finished crocheting a sweater vest for my nephew, and next I'm going to make some booties for the new baby of a co-worker. Meanwhile, I really need to make a few hats. Today was the most blustery windy dry-leaves-scuttling-along-sidewalks October day, reminding me that winter is just around the corner. Luckily, I've got plenty of patterns to choose from.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weary Days

In an upper east side apartment, a wilting ivy plant is waiting for me to come and water it. I should have gone to my housecleaning job today after work, but I rushed home instead to see if a package had come from my sister--a box full of homemade fruit leather and Idaho Spuds, that she told me to expect in today's mail. Also, I wanted to watch my Netflix movie: High Noon. I had been looking forward to it all day--watching the movie and eating Idaho Spuds with Peter and Josh. But when I got home, although my movie was waiting, the box was replaced with a notice telling me to go pick it up from the post office. But how am I supposed to go to the post office when I have to work every day? Now I'll have to wake up early and go before work tomorrow. Also, Peter was too busy to let me come over and watch my movie, so all of my plans were dashed, and instead I've just been hiding out in my room, under a warm blanket, working on a crocheted vest for my nephew, hot chocolate in hand, reading a book about two brothers who lived as desperadoes back in the 1870s in Illinois and Nebraska.

My sister called to see if the package had arrived, and we chatted for a little while. In Idaho, her kids are out of school for a week for the potato harvest. In New York, the jewelry & watch business was quiet because of a Jewish holiday whose name I've forgotten but which involves going into your backyard and eating apples, according to my boss. So after work I ate an apple, but mostly just because it has been in the fridge for a really long time and I was tired of looking at it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Church of the Week

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Utah Hair

E is enjoying Arizona, but she has encountered kind of a culture shock. For one thing, there are a lot of girls that go to her new ward and her school that are afflicted with what she and I named "Utah Hair." Not that there's anything wrong with Utah, that's just the place where we first noticed that a LOT of girls were doing their hair to look like it should be on the head of a cartoon character. Huge chunky stripy highlights, weird spikes, too much wedge, bumps that defy gravity... Our theory is that there are a lot of people in the LDS culture of Utah and Arizona whose children, these teens and 20-somethings, are trying to be edgy and semi-rebellious, but they are cut off from the mainstream fashion world and have likely never even left their home state, and so they end up thinking that their hairdo is the coolest thing since sliced bread, when in fact it actually looks like one of these:

I told her she ought to illustrate a book on this bad-hair phenomenon! She said she's going to get a spy-pen so she can take covert pictures of the hair-offenders at school and at church.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Laziest Weekend Ever

To continue with the theme of self-indulgence, let me just go ahead and plan out my weekend...

Friday Night: celebrate the end of the workweek by coming home, cooking some comfort food, getting in bed and watching a movie. Check, check, check, and check. Then, stay up as late as I possibly can, doing whatever I feel like doing.

Saturday: Sleep in and then go to the Harlem Knitting Circle meetup group and work on a crochet project. Later, go to Marshall's and shop for winter shoes. Spend the afternoon working on projects (crochet, quilting, and painting), cleaning up the house, listening to General Conference (church on the internet--it's the greatest thing!) maybe grocery shopping, and then later go running. When it gets dark, curl up with a book, a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket. Maybe go hang out with the boys next door and watch a western (I've been craving a western--is that strange?)

Sunday: Sleep in as long as possible. Make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, and then see how long I can stay in my pajamas before going outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather that I just know will be in full force. Take pictures of my neighborhood to share with friends who still haven't seen it. More General Conference. Do my nails. Work some more on projects while catching up on podcast-listening. Go to a dinner party at a friend's house. Mad Men.

Hmm... It doesn't sound like much when I write it all down, but it's going to be divine! And maybe not so much lazy as luxurious.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Self-Indulgent Blogging

Josh was telling me that he thinks blogs are self-indulgent, and he doesn't understand why people don't just use facebook and only facebook. I had to disagree. While it's true that some blogs are overly self-indulgent, I personally feel that blogging has many positive uses that outweigh the negative connotations of reveling in one's own life. And anyway, what is so bad about a little self-indulgence? Oprah has made herself a billion-dollar career out of it. So here are a few positive reasons for blogging:

1. Blogging is like keeping a journal, but more fun, because typing is easier on the hands than writing, and you can add pictures, videos, links, and all kinds of other stuff to your blog that you can't stick in a paper journal. What's more, a blog can be a community journal of sorts, devoted to one particular topic such as recipes, or child-care, or acting, and be a place more interactive than a regular website and yet less frenetic than a chat-room. Also, blogging is better than old-fashioned journaling because you can add labels to your posts for future easy reference, or you can quickly do searches of your text, and you don't have to kill trees.

2. Blogging helps me practice my writing skills. I have a dream of writing a book someday, but until then I've got to constantly practice putting thoughts into words. Blogging is a really good way to practice, as well as to record stories and imagery that might someday be useful in a book. It's a nice medium because its immediacy promotes quick improvisational thinking, and yet the ability to continually edit makes it writer-friendly.

3. Blogging keeps my family and friends informed about my life. Sure, they could get on facebook and read my status messages and find out that I love pink starbursts and laugh at stupid quiz results, but is that really any less self-indulgent? I could write facebook notes about my life, which are pretty much just like blog posts, but personally I find the blog format a bit more user friendly, nicer to look at without all the ads and junk, and just more fun. I could talk on the phone or write letters, but the problem is that I hate to talk on the phone and I don't enjoy writing the same stories ten times over again, which is what I would have to do if I wrote it all down in letters to people.

4. Blogging is like having my own little corner of the internet all to myself. Okay, so it's self-indulgent. But if my intentions are to promote good by talking about lovely things that happen in New York, for example, what is so bad about being self-indulgent? I like being able to design my own page, choose what elements to include in the side bar, and play with the colors of my blog. I like to know that despite all the filth on the internet, my little corner is full of nice things. For others, maybe blogging is an outlet for self-expression. Writing can be quite therapeutic.

5. Blogging is fun. I guess it's like any hobby. I mean, why knit a scarf? It's self-indulgent to be warm. Why play video games for three hours every night? That's not self-indulgent.

6. A blog can be anything you want it to be. It can be a music review forum. It can be a list of what you've eaten every day. It can be nothing but pictures of broken umbrellas. Facebook is going to always be facebook, but a blog has endless possibilities. Hmmm... this reason might be the same as #4, but who cares.

7. Then there is that element of voyeurism, and I'm not just talking about reading blogs. I have to admit that I enjoy writing things and wondering who on the other side of the world might somehow come across my blog post and read it. It's exhilarating to write down a thought and put it out into the ether where anyone can see it. Is it self-indulgent to think that other people might be interested in what I have to say? Well, even if only one or two people are, I still think that's pretty sweet. It's fun to get comments on blog posts from strangers who have read what I've written and connected in a positive way with something I've said. And even if nobody read my blog, I would still write on it, because I enjoy going back and reading old posts myself.

My point is that I'm definitely pro-blog. Josh already thinks I'm lame, so I might as well be self-indulgent too.

I Heart New York

I really do have a crush on New York City. I thought at first it might just be a passing thing, but what if it really is true love? How do you know when you've found "the one" city? All I know is that as I sat in Ray's on my lunch break and ate a slice, I couldn't stop staring at the city just outside the door.