Sunday, February 28, 2010

Into the Deep

Finally I am actually resuming my Harlem Church series here on my blog! I'll have to walk the length and breadth of Harlem before I leave New York and take a picture of every single church that I haven't captured yet, so that I can continue to post them when I move back to North Carolina. Or maybe I will start posting Southern churches. There are so many there, too! Meanwhile, I'm glad I was able to get a picture of Grace United church in the winter, when the tree right in front of it was bare, because otherwise it would have been impossible to see anything. I'm so curious about the message on the sign--the name of the sermon? I wonder if it was about Jonah and the whale.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I've Lost It

Everyone says I'm walking around with my head in the clouds, without a care in the world. It's true that the three days of non-stop snow hasn't even registered with me. I'm seeing sunshine and rainbows in my mind. So yesterday, when my boss' wife ran over to my desk and demanded to know: "Will you definitely be here tomorrow no matter what?" I just smiled and said "yah." I've been operating on an amazing combination of sleep deprivation, euphoria, and Diet Coke, which seems to be working just fine. Except for yesterday morning when, early in the workday, Dali pointed out that I'd worn a pair of torn stockings to work. I bent to take a look, and bumped my head very hard on the side of the huge refrigerator-sized safe. That required a sit-down, a few Excedrins, and a few hours before I felt right again. But it probably kind of woke me up.

Maybe the daze I'm in has caused my recent spate of forgetfulness and propensity to lose things. On Wednesday I was convinced that I'd lost my watch for good. My darling little gold watch that I put on every morning wasn't on the bedside table where I always put it. I searched around my room to no avail, and since I had jury duty that morning, I spent the entire time mourning the loss of my watch, which I finally convinced myself had somehow fallen off my wrist onto the street, where I'd rushed unconsciously away, listening only to the sound of my i-pod earphones. However, that night when I went home I decided to search one more place, and found the watch in the pocket of the jeans I'd worn Tuesday night. A relief! But strange to have no memory of ever taking the watch off and putting it there.

Last night Peter called and demanded to see the hardware. He didn't want to borrow the drill, he wanted to see my ring! So I went over to his house, where I found my roommates congregated (skipping Institute class) watching the Olympics. After an hour or so of watching, I decided I needed to go get my computer so I could get a few things done, so I went back out into the blustery snow-filled night, only to discover when I got to my door that my apartment keys were no longer on my keychain! I couldn't believe it, and searched my pockets to no avail. Finally I just went back to Peter's house and borrowed my roommate's keys. But on my way back home again, even though I was sure that some miscreant had found my keys, entered the building and tried every door until they found mine and then stole all of my belongings, I decided to look very carefully on the ground. And, as luck would have it, amidst the horizontally blowing wind that was piling the fist-sized snowflakes into huge drifts, I looked down and noticed the tiniest glint of metal from under a patch of snow, and it was my keys! Thanking the storm, because on any other night the keys would have been ultra-visible and a temptation to any passerby, I scooped them up and felt the wave of relief wash over me.

The thing is, I'm not a forgetful person, and I rarely lose things (E will say except for metro cards!) but the past few days seem to prove otherwise. Hopefully its not a trend that will last. Then again, if it means coming down from this wonderful high that I'm on from being in love and engaged to be married, then forget about it--I'll just have to accept the fact that I'm going to lose things on a daily basis from now on. I have never felt like this before.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Of Course, The Cookies!

My new favorite pastime is shocking people by telling them that I'm engaged. It's fun to see people's reactions, because nobody saw it coming! On Tuesday, my Israeli watch dealer/cookie supplier brought me a little bag of my favorite shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate from Sant Ambroeus, and when I told him my news, and flashed my diamond ring at him, he was quite surprised too. But after congratulating me, he said that he's not really surprised, "It was the cookies that did it," he said. According to him, the cookies he's brought me every week have kept me so happy, relaxed, contented, and therefore more charming. "The cookies made you beautiful, so no wonder you found a husband!" If not this guy, he said, another would have snapped me up soon enough. And just then another watch dealer--a creepy strange one--walked in and said, "Yeah, I had my eye on you, but now I'm too late!" I laughed at them both, smiling inwardly at the thought of cookies leading to love. And I have my own theories as to what brought my man and I together, but I sure have appreciated my weekly gift of cookies, and I will miss them when I'm gone. I wonder if Sant Ambroeus ships?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Big Reveal

I know there are probably a few people who read this blog and are totally confused about the news in my last post, because me suddenly getting engaged seemed to come right out of the blue. Well, the whole thing has happened rather quickly, and the reason why I haven't shared much information is because it has been both a very extremely personal and a very spiritual experience.

The part I can tell you is that I'm definitely in love! I'm engaged to a man I've known for many years, whose character I've seen in many different situations, and know to be of sterling quality. He's a man I've always been drawn to mentally and intellectually, and who has been a friend, confidante, and anchor to me the whole time I have known him. But I didn't know I was going to fall in love with him or marry him!

It all happened when I went home for the holidays. I went to say hello to him, like I always did when I was in town, but something different happened that day. It was as if my eyes were opened and I suddenly knew that he was the man I was going to marry. Something prompted me to share that feeling with him, and while I wondered if perhaps I had lost my mind, I felt so right and so calm and peaceful the entire time, somehow, miraculously, knowing that we were meant to be together. I can't even explain it! I'm learning that God has a plan for us, and is guiding us, and if we just listen and follow His promptings, our lives will be blessed, we will receive answers to prayers, and discover that the most wonderful things are possible.

During the past few months we stayed in constant communication, sorting out our feelings, quickly falling deeply in love, until the moment came that he asked me to please marry him, and make our dreams come true. How could I refuse? In the short span of this new year, my heart has opened up to him and blossomed with love. There were so many times I wanted to write about it here, but it has been so special, so sweet and wonderful, that I can't even find the words to use. But I'm sure if you read between the lines, you probably knew something was up. And now it's official! I am engaged to be married, to the best man I've ever met, who absolutely adores me, and who I love in return.

So, after a whirlwind weekend of flying to North Carolina and getting engaged, and finally announcing it to friends and family, I'm back in the city for a little while longer, to finish my job here and tie up the loose ends of my city life. Then, home awaits me down South, with a fresh start, a wonderful new beginning. Don't worry--I'll keep blogging. I'll try not to gush, but it will be hard!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going to the Chapel

Rats! I'm in North Carolina for the weekend and didn't bring my laptop, so I don't have any Harlem church pictures to post today, even though I promised! Oh well. However, yesterday as I was driving around I found a random steeple on a trailer. Also, I got engaged this weekend, does that count? Yup. I'm gettin' hitched! It's a long story...

Friday, February 19, 2010


Apparently, I've got the electric feel. (Shock me like an electric eel! Oh great, now I have that song in my head.) As I walked out the door this morning to run some errands (yes, I was skipping work), I slipped my i-pod into my pocket, and put the earphones in. Then I wrapped my scarf around my neck, and immediately the static electricity zipped along the wires and right into my ears. Then I was really awake. Walking down the street, my ears got a few more little jolts, and then as I acclimated to the dry cold winter air and street, the electricity seemed to die down. A girl I know once told me that whenever her hair gets all staticky, it invariably snows a few days later. I'm hoping that New York City has had its allotment of snow for the year. Today was sunny and clear and lovely, and most of the snow is finally melting away. I don't mind the big piles of it, keeping the city cool on ice, but my heart is beginning to yearn for spring.

There is another electricity running through me. Jolts and bolts of excitement, anticipation, happiness, love. In fact, although I am no physicist, I have been doing some studies of electromagnetics. Basically, by running electric current through a wire, a magnetic field is created. And, metaphorically, I am noticing that the electricity caused by two people in love causes another sort of magnetic effect. The electromagnetic field can be used to create energy, like light, and the same is true with the two electrically magnetically affected hearts. Happy belated Valentine's Day, everyone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home Again, Home Again!

Wow. I just realized I haven't written on my blog since last weekend! I completely forgot to post a church pic on Sunday. Well, I could post one now, but it would be kind of random... so I'll wait till next Sunday.

Palm Beach was intense. I'm so glad to be back home, nestled in my own little room, in the great New York City. Strange how accustomed I have grown to this city that never sleeps. In Palm Beach I kept wishing for a Duane Reade corner drugstore so that I could run out and get a Diet Coke or a chapstick or whatever I needed, whenever I needed it. But no, I couldn't even find a store that sold Coke products within walking distance of my hotel! Finally, three days into my trip, I found a Coca Cola machine in an alley behind a movie theater, but Pepsi had some sort of strange monopoly in that town.

The other thing I couldn't believe about Palm Beach was the plastic surgery. It was out of control! Probably three out of four women I saw had had some kind of work done. And the others, more often than not, were wearing the most ridiculous jewelry and clothes. I just don't understand how those people can look in the mirror and think they look normal.

My workdays were intense there--I had to be at the show from 10 a.m. to 7:30 every day, and we'd get so busy that there would never be time for lunch. I think I only had lunch one day out of the five days I was working at the show. But somehow I was blessed with reserves of energy, because by the end of most days I wouldn't even feel very hungry or tired. Still, I would always try and beg off having dinner with my bosses, so I could go off and have some free time, and I'd go swimming in the hotel pool or soak in the hot tub. I ordered room service for the first time in my life, and found it to be a delightful experience.

What else can I say about Palm Beach? I never saw the sunlight, except for about an hour each morning before I arrived at the show. Sometimes I'd go for a morning run, and get a smoothie for breakfast on the way back. I enjoyed seeing the greenery, the white marsh birds everywhere, and the cutesy stucco buildings. I watched the third largest implosion to ever take place, when they imploded an old condo on Flagler Avenue to make room for a new development. That was pretty awesome.

There were crickets chirping in the bushes at night and even mosquitoes flying around!

It was a long, interesting, stressful, busy, tiring, but entertaining trip. I'm so extremely glad it is behind me! Compared to Palm Beach, this city is cold and gray and edged with piles of dirty snow and ice, but I love it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Life in West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is full of strange looking people! I have only been here for two days and already I have seen enough plastic surgery to make me never want to see another botoxed lip, chin lift, or... anything else. Other than that, it seems like a very nice place. I woke up and went for a swim in the hotel pool, which was so pleasant and invigorating. The West Palm Beachers think this is terribly cold weather, but to me it is downright balmy. This morning the wind was tossing the palm trees all around and blowing the cushions off the pool chairs, and I was the only one brave enough to dip my toes in the water, but the pool was heated, and once I got in and started swimming around, it was wonderful.

But soon it was time to head to work. The show was so busy today! I almost didn't get a chance to eat breakfast before going to the convention center, but I'm sure glad I did, because from eleven to seven I didn't get a bite of food, or a moment to even sit down. But that's a good thing! We were so busy! Hopefully the whole show will go this way. Three more days to go... Also, I saw Rudy Giuliani walking the show, looking at antiques. I don't recognize a lot of celebrities, but he is very distinctive looking, despite his casual attire and lack of entourage.

As soon as we were done for the day, my bosses and I headed over to the Valentine's Day Eve party being held by some friends and clients. Their swanky West Palm Beach penthouse condominium was decked out! In fact, as soon as we exited the elevator, a trail of rose petals and red curtains led the way to the party, which was soon in full swing. My dinner was a delicious mixture of shrimp and chicken on skewers, vegetables with hummus dip, sushi, crabcakes, mini spanakopita, and so many other amazing appetizers. A few wineglasses of diet coke later, I was quite recovered from my long busy day, and meeting some very interesting people. In fact, I still can't really believe it. So a few days ago, one of the party hosts told me that the Twilight actor Taylor Lautner was going to be at his party helping serve food as a joke. But I'm starting to think the joke was on me! At the party tonight there was definitely a young guy who looked a LOT like Lautner, and he was helping out the caterers, but dressed in a tux. I went up to my host and asked him if he was serious--was that really Lautner? Yes, he swore up and down, but he was also a little tipsy... and when he introduced me to the Twilight star/Twilight lookalike, the kid said "Hi, my name is Nick." But, according to my host, that was the name they agreed he'd go by during the party so as not to attract too much attention. It was a crowd of older people, no Twilight fans among them, but, according to my host, Taylor was an old friend and owed him a favor. He didn't seem to be lying, but I'm a bad judge, especially when I've only known this guy for a few days. So... maybe I will never know if it was really Taylor Lautner or just a lookalike who served me crabcakes.

Meanwhile, at the party I also met the up and coming author of a book about what kind of women divorced and widowed men are really looking for, the guy who told Tropicana not to change the look of their packaging, an old man actor whose name I forget but who was just in a big movie, and his girlfriend "Googy" (a very scary plastic surgery collection!), and many more very unusual characters. What a day, and what a night. I'm ready for some sleep before doing it all again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Made It Here Alive!

After a long and tiring day of adventure, I am sitting in the "business center" of my West Palm Beach hotel room, writing to tell you all that I was successful in escaping the piles of New York snow, and snowbirding to sunny Florida, where the palm trees are swaying in salty warm air. No vacation for me though--it's going to be a lot of work. I'm here on business, and the woman who was supposed to join me fell on the icy NY streets and broke her wrist yesterday! So, I'm happy to have the hotel room to myself, but unsure how crazy the show is going to be with so little help. (It's just me, my boss, and his wife...) Oh well--how bad could it be? And I am invited to a spectacular cocktail party on Saturday night at a glamorous penthouse. And this hotel has a (heated, I think) pool, so that is a big plus. The downside? No wi-fi! I'm paying for these minutes and hating every moment of it. Come on! This is the 21st century!!! The internet should be free. Okay, I'm climbing down from the soapbox now, slowly, because I'm exhausted, and heading up to my room to get into my luxurious queen sized bed and watch cable TV until I fall asleep. Tomorrow will be another long, full day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The view from my front window... New York City woke up to either a winter wonderland or a weather nightmare, depending on how you look at it. J was ecstatic because it meant schools were closed and she didn't have to go to work. I was in knots because I was supposed to be headed to Newark airport, to fly to Florida. I'm supposed to be in Palm Beach now, lounging by the pool, or at least laying in a splendrous hotel room enjoying cable TV. My company is participating in a retail show there, and I'm sort of in charge of everything. Set-up begins tomorrow, but it doesn't look like I'm going to make it in time. My flight was cancelled yesterday, before it even started to snow, and the airport was completely shut down today, so instead I just went to work as usual. The city was still pretty active, and the subways were running fine, but the snow continued to fall fast and furiously all day, in a wind that made it stick vertically to trees, buildings, and people.

I have no idea what chaos is going to happen tomorrow without me, my boss, or anyone at the show to set it up. But hopefully it won't be a total nightmare. And hopefully I will be able to catch a flight eventually and be there to help out. I just can't believe that all winter long we have had pretty nice weather until the one day that I have to fly somewhere! It reminds me of that line from Casablanca, when Rick says, "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine." Why did miss white winter weather have to come along today of all days?
Sigh... At least it is beautiful. My roommates were able to go out and enjoy the day, trudging around in the snow, taking pictures. There were sledders on that particularly steep hill in St. Nicholas Park. And for me, work was quiet and pleasant with no phones ringing or people coming in to bother me. We even ordered pizza for lunch. If only I had no where to go and could just stay and enjoy the quiet snowy days. But alas, I'm all packed and ready to go, if I can ever go. I guess I'll just try my luck at the airport tomorrow morning and see what happens.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Faithful Workers

The Harlem Church of the Week is this one that I found on 135th Street. The name is so charming (click on the picture to enlarge and see the whole sign). Even if I don't belong to this church, I hope that I can be considered a Faithful Worker. Because, after all, we are the Lord's servants and hands here on earth, and ought to be industriously doing His work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hot Mexican Blood

In the watch business you encounter a lot of interesting characters. One of the guys my boss does business with is a Mexican real-estate tycoon who calls on the telephone persistently, every 30 minutes or so, if he knows we've sold one of his watches. He always seems in a rush to speak, and his thick accent makes it difficult to understand him sometimes, but I've grown so accustomed to his blustery "Hi, this is George!" and, invariably, "How are you, fine? Everything is good?" spoken almost as one long word. He comes to New York every now and then, and is actually kind of handsome, in a hair-slicked-back hot shot way. But guys like that make me nervous. He seems too slick, and too young to have so much money. So my coworkers and I secretly refer to him as the Mexican Drug Lord.

George visited once with his friend Eduardo, a plump and sunny guy, who carried a Mexican newspaper under his arm, proudly explaining to everyone that it was his uncle's newspaper company. Apparently the newspaper business is a big deal in Mexico. Since then, Eduardo often comes to New York without George, bringing a watch or two for his friend. My desk is hidden from the front of the store, but I can always tell when Eduardo walks into the place, because he is a very fragrant man. I've never met a man who wears so much perfume. I'll get a whiff of it wafting through the air, and come out to find Eduardo greeting me with a huge smile and a cheek kiss. Today was no exception, except he also brought us packets of Emergen-C to ward off the nasty bug that's been going around. My theory is that he wears the perfume because he is self-conscious of the fact that he sweats a lot. One not very hot day Eduardo came in bringing us a watch, and his shirt was drenched in sweat. My friend Joe, the watch dealer who brings me cookies every week, was standing there drily observing Eduardo mopping himself with a handkerchief. "Look at you and your hot Mexican blood," said Joe, with cool half-lidded eyes. Joe's urbane chic is never ruffled.

Imagine my surprise one day when I answered the phone and it was George, but instead of asking to speak with my boss, he declared he was going to take me to dinner next time he was in New York. I brushed it off, thinking it was just another instance of hot Mexican blood, but sure enough a few months later, there was George and Eduardo standing in the shop, asking if I was free after work. I declined, not very keen on having dinner with a possible Mexican drug lord and his sidekick, and I have not regretted my decision. I prefer to keep things professional. Anyway, I don't know if I could sit through dinner with Eduardo's perfume. Today when he arrived I could, as usual, smell him from a mile away. And so could another nose. In her office, my other boss began sneezing uncontrollably. She emerged, seeking the source of the offending perfume, and demanded to know, "Who is that man and when is he leaving?! I'm allergic to him!" I suppressed my evil laughter, and went out to be greeted by Eduardo's effusive smiles and cheek kisses. He was mopping a sweaty brow, on a 36 degree day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Projects

On evenings like this, after I've come home from a long exhausting day at work, feeling like something the cat has dragged in, when it is cold and dark and snowing outside and all I want to do is hibernate, it's a really good idea to give my mind over to a project. Having a project ensures that I don't waste my leisure time watching mindless television or losing myself on the internet for hours. The ideal winter project doesn't require too much thinking, but is complicated enough to provide satisfying and productive results. Back in December my project was my gingerbread house. I'd come home, sit myself down and tesselate candy for hours. Now, I've begun sewing a 1940s apron (at least, I think its 40s, based on the wide shoulders and the non-full skirted dresses). I'm not sure where this pattern came from, but my mom decided to send it to me, and so I've decided to use it.

Last weekend I went down to the fashion district, the area around 39th and 40th Streets, where there is just one fabric store after another, each with an even more exotic selection than the last. There are also tassel stores, ribbon stores, and button stores. I needed fabric for something else, but then my eye was caught by the most charming retro printed cotton I'd ever seen! Dove grey with little white bellflowers and red bows. So I'm making my apron out of it. But the pockets will be a contrasting red and white pinstripe. So far I've only got the sides finished, and I'm sort of having to improvise because I refuse to use bias fold tape as the instructions call for, but the whole thing seems to be coming along nicely. I'll post a picture when it's all done!