Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Metapost: Gone Fishin'

Ohhhhhh, break, how I have longed for thee. I'm off to go snowboarding and celebrate 2007 in style. Posting to resume in January.

Have a safe and happy holiday and New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Robe and slippers

I had been looking forward to Saturday for months -- it was BFF Hanukkah/Christmas spa extravaganza! M and I had been trying to plan a day at the spa for a year (not even kidding) but both of us kept procrastinating. Finally, around Thanksgiving she asked me if I wanted to do a day at the Spa for the holidays this year. It was the perfect solution.

We chose the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa because I'd been to the one in Darien (Conn.) and enjoyed it. The spa's flagship is on 5th Ave. and it seemed like the perfect day -- spa, then shopping. I called and made the reservations for both of us. The best part was at the end of the call when the attendant confirmed our reservations. "Make sure you show up at least 15 minutes early," she said, "for robe and slippers." Ah, robe and slippers. It sounded so nice! Also loaded in there -- not having to worry about anything because we were about to get pampered.

The weather had other ideas however. Saturday was cold, windy and generally nasty. The kind of day when you don't want to leave home. I was awoken unceremoniously at 7:30 AM by my upstairs neighbor. Someone set their vibrating cellphone on the floor as an alarm, and it went off three different times in the span of 15 minutes. There was no getting back to sleep after that. It dumped me straight into a grumpy mood. That didn't mean I wanted to get out of bed though. I think I stayed there until noon.

Finally I got up and readied myself. At 1:30, I left so I could make it to the spa by 2. I took the 6 to 51st St and transferred to the E. That dropped me off at 53rd at 5th, less than a block away. I knew to look for a big red door (the spa's entrance) but unfortunately for me I came out on the same corner as the spa door and could not see it behind me. In a comedy of errors, I walked a block in either direction on 5th Ave, then hit three of the corners at 54th. I finally called the spa (their advice? Look for the big red door -- thanks.) and was able to figure out where to go by naming the stores on each corner. For the record, it's on the northeast corner of the block.

I also called M and told her my dilemma. From across the street, I saw her waving frantically at me. I waved back and crossed. I got to the big red door and pushed. It didn't open. What the hell? I pushed again...then I realized it was a pull. Ah. Did I mention I really needed a spa day?

Inside, M and I hugged and squealed, and then made our way to the 9th floor. We checked in -- she was getting a massage and a pedicure while I signed up for a massage and a facial. After checking in we were told to change into robe and slippers.

M and I had been debating how many layers we needed to take off -- down to skivvies? Bra yes or no? Nothing at all? I sheepishly asked an attendant. The verdict was skivvies only, but I kept my bra on for comfort. The attendant took our clothes and gave us a coat check-style medallion.

Since we were a bit early, they told us to go into the relaxation room to wait for our masseuses. The room was quite nice but there were two teenage Chatty Cathys in there that made my eyes roll into the back of my head. Blah de blah blah blah aaaahhhhh! Shut up shut up shut up, my look said to M, who laughed. Robe and slippers, I kept telling myself, robe and slippers. There was also some woman who was wound up more tightly than I was. I guess her appointment was running very late and she did not look happy. So much for relaxation.

A couple of minutes later M and I were whisked away separately to our massage rooms. I don't know why but I was kind of nervous. I shouldn't have been though because it was wonderful. The room smelled like eucalyptus and the lights were very low. New agey music was playing. My masseuse told me to disrobe and get in between several layers of sheets and towels on the table. He stepped outside while I did. I guess I wasn't listening very well because when he came back in I was in the wrong layer. He stepped out again and I righted myself -- above the blue towel, below the sheet. OK.

During my massage, I never feel asleep but I felt very relaxed for most of it. I was a bit self conscious about a stranger seeing nearly everything, but I got over it. I tried hard to suppress it, but I giggled when he was massaging my feet. By the end, I couldn't believe it had been 55 minutes.

Next I went down to the 8th floor for my facial. The masseuse guided me to the waiting room and told me to drink some water, which I did. Then my facial consultant came out to get me. She was awesome! She had developed some of the products in the Elizabeth Arden facial line, including this awesome mask she used on me that smelled like papaya. I told her it reminded me of my trip to Hawaii earlier this year. Before the mask was my glycolic peel. First she asked me why I wanted one. I wanted one because my chin has been breaking out something awful since I moved into the city. And I do not usually break out.

She told me that breakouts on my chin are caused by hormones. Forehead breakouts are caused by digestion she said, and middle of the face by stress. Interesting. In any event, since it was my first time she used a low concentration of the peel. Glycolic peels are one of the gentle peels anyway -- they shouldn't really burn. Since they are not licensed dermatologists, the spa has to use a less potent solution. She cleansed my face, and then put the peel on.

"Tell me when the burning feels like a 3 out of 5," she said. "And I will fan you." Except I never got to a 3. The peel didn't hurt at all. It just kind of tingled. She had a timer going and when it was done, she took the peel off and then put a cool towel on my face. Then came the mask -- oh my lord it was heaven. It smelled good and felt good. She left the mask on for 20 minutes and I nearly fell asleep again.

When time was up, she washed the mask off (aww) and then moisturized. She recommended some products for me but I didn't buy any. Maybe I'll go back for the mask sometime. After the facial was done I thought M and I would meet up but I was running a bit ahead of schedule and she was a bit behind. Every facial comes with a complimentary makeup touch-up. It was hysterical -- I looked like a space alien when they first put on my foundation. Then the artist tried lining my lower lid, but my eyes kept tearing. She wasn't exactly gentle, either. My top eyelid ended up heavily lined and when I was done I looked...odd. Sort of like when I was on the campus TV station in college, except with lighter eyeshadow. The liner was really thick. I couldn't stop looking at myself and laughing.

Still no sign on M, so I went back up to the 9th floor and grudgingly changed out of robe and slippers. I paid, and then went back down to the 8th floor to wait. She came out of the second elevator right as I excited the first. I waited while she got her makeup done (she came out looking similarly silly, we laughed at each other). Then I waited while she changed and paid.

Neither of us felt much like shopping and her boyfriend was meeting her not too much later anyway. So we said our goodbyes. I went home, incredibly overdressed to play videogames and chat on the phone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ah, those only in New York moments

For all my poetic spouting about food yesterday, come dinner all I wanted was Wendy's. It's those damn red wig commercials. After work I swung by their location on 23rd St, or what used to be their location. The windows were covered by taped up cardboard and no one was home. I'd missed my chance by a few weeks it appeared.

Disappointed but not defeated, I stopped by my apartment and decided to walk to McDonalds instead. Fast food, dammit!, my tummy and thighs said. Cellulite be damned! To feel semi-healthy, I walked to their location in the 80s. I ordered a 6-piece nugget and fries meal, but somehow through a combination of cash register and payment errors I walked out with a 10 piece meal and a large fries. Ugh.

I decided to take an alternate route home for a change of pace -- I walked down 2nd Ave instead of 3rd. Though it is bad practice (and very dangerous, ladies) I always walk with my headphones on and music playing. Walking is my escape time. Since it was so cold out the foot traffic was kind of light. I had been walking in a small pack but broke off from them to get down to 2nd Ave from 3rd.

About halfway down the block, I started to get that creepy I'm-being-followed-WTF feeling. Someone is pretty much always following you in New York but not like this. It had a menacing vibe to it. My street-smarts turned on and I checked my periphery for any other pedestrians but none were around. The block was pretty much devoid of traffic too -- not a good sign.

I shut my MP3 player off so I could hear the sound from behind -- it only sounded like person. I crossed the street mid-block but to my horror my stalker followed. I noticed the man following me wasn't being quiet...he was singing. "Barracuda" to be exact. What the hell? Had he just come from a karaoke bar? Was he reliving a round of Guitar Hero III?

Last resort time -- my fingers clutched the pepper spray I always carry in my pocket and took off the cap. I felt a tap on my shoulder (real or imagined? Who knows?) I stopped, wheeled around and came face to face with the man, who had definitely been close enough to grab me from behind. I stood up on my heels and tried to make myself look as intimidating as possible. I don't know why, but I growled at him and told him to back the fuck off.

It worked, because he shrunk back and asked me if I could spare some of my food. Good lord. I realized he was disturbed and possibly homeless. Deciding he wasn't much of a physical threat, I reached into my bag (still clutching the pepper spray with my other hand since you never know) and gave him most of my fries. Then I growled at him to stay the hell away from me. He ran away in response.

My heart pounding, I finally made it 2nd Ave, which had plenty of people on it. I walked as quickly as I could for a few blocks before determining I was safe. The whole thing was unreal. I had been so lost in my music. I made it out of a bad situation unharmed, thank God. Lesson learned.

Nothing nearly as exciting this morning, but I did have another OINY (only in New York) moment. I was running late and pleasantly surprised when a 6 train was waiting for me in the station. I trotted into a car, where we waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, an MTA worker came by our car and asked if anyone had seen a bag without an owner laying around. A woman on the platform said she had, and the worker plucked it from the car behind us. Next thing we know the conductor announced that the train had to emptied. Thanks to the "If you see something, say something" campaign policy, the train had to be emptied and searched by the police. People moaned and groaned but I have to say I wasn't too upset. I'd much rather be safe than sorry.

The only part that made me mad was that a woman who got off the train last rudely leaned against me while we waited for the train to leave. Seriously, she couldn't move over an inch? She had to be in the exact same spot as me? Stubbornly, I refused to move. I'd gotten there first. Fuck it.

The empty train departed the station a couple of minutes later and another 6 arrived right behind it. NYC commuters know exactly where the doors will open at the stations even when the floors aren't marked, so everyone was crowded around the door positions. But the new 6 train stopped a little off the mark. The woman who had been leaning against me just had to be first on and pushed to the right so she could be first on. She forced her way so harshly that she knocked over a man, who was reading a newspaper and not paying attention. He was thrown foward and hit his head against the car. She then pushed a woman, who in turn knocked over her young child. The kid started crying. Poor thing. For all the commotion, she still wasn't first on the car. She was second.

And yet somehow, we all made it to our final destinations. Amazing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


In New York, I've gone from being a picky eater to trying just about anything. There's such a wide variety of yummy food available that you learn to just try anything, regardless of the genre of the food.

If you had asked me a year ago what naan was, I'd have looked at you like you had two heads. Now I'm down for Sirtaj anytime. I used to avoid spicy foods at all costs but Spice (and, um, Chipotle to a certain degree) has changed that. My lunches during the week can range from Korean to Greek to Italian and back again. I am a creature of habit though and so on days when I can't decide what to eat I gravitate towards certain favorites. I love the 5th Ave Epicure (and the super nice staff) and you can't go wrong with Eisenberg's.

A few months ago, however, a coworker and I discovered a cute place called Spoon. It's on 20th St between 5th and 6th. She digs it because they had a wide range of vegetarian-friendly choices; I love it because it inadvertently reminds me of "The Tick." I've tried 5 or 6 different dishes there and have never been disappointed. Their Mediterranean Chef Salad is my favorite, but they also have a nice selection of sandwiches and soups. Their brownies and treats are to die for. Plus, each day they make a different entree special.

I don't even know the specific of what's in my order half the time but it's a healthy mix of protein and veggies. One time two coworkers and I got the special, got back to the office and ended up debating what one of the ingredients was. It was a roasted onion-like thing that tasted kind of crunchy like an apple. I called Spoon and found out they were turnips. Awesome!

And then there are always the old standbys. Last week a crew of 7 peeps from work went to Madison Square Park to get Shake Shack. How I love Shake Shack. The line is killer in the summer -- you can easily wait more than an hour. But it is totally worth it.

Shake Shack is now open year-round.
Even in the cold last week, there was a decent line.

Until this year, Shake Shack would shutter shortly after Labor Day and reopen around Memorial Day. But this year it was announced that Shake Shack would stay open year-round. This excited me to no end...their shakes really do rock.

So even though it was 25 degrees out the day we went, I got a hamburger, fries...and a chocolate shake. Between the wait and the shake, I froze for the rest of the day happily after indulging. You can call ahead now but what fun is that? Part of the experience is waiting forever dreaming of shake.

While we were waiting for our orders, I snapped some cold weather shots of the park. There are these mysterious metal trees around the park. During the fall they blended in, but now with the leaves gone they are exposed like ethereal metal ghosts. Madison Square Park plays host to some interesting art exhibits, and one check of the Conservancy's site confirms the trees are by industrial artist Roxy Paine.

One of the metal trees back in the early fall...

...and blending in last week. They're
on display through Dec. 31.

I like how the sculptures stand out now. They are very cool pieces of industrial art and remind me of Stephane Halluex's amazing creations. The look is perfect for winter as the cold settles in. This winter baby is digging it.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

In case I haven't said it enough...I love my job. Sure my boss sometimes makes my blood vessels pop from stress and I'm sprouting a few gray hairs, but for the most part my job is quite enjoyable. In contrast to jobs that have been so bad they've made me angry, depressed or frustrated with life, this job makes me happy 90% of the time. And that's pretty good.

One of my favorite things is the lack of a dress code. I can't tell you how underrated this is! After college I worked on a newspaper sports desk where I could wear jeans and jerseys to work. It was hog heaven. At my last corporate job I had to wear business casual clothing and it was a mess. Slacks make me itch. Dress shirts make me sweat. Heels kill my tootsies. I like to dress up every now and then for work, but not any more than that. I often watch "What Not to Wear" and identify with the fashion victims that don't want to do business casual. Unless you can afford the highest quality clothes, work outfits are uncomfortable. It's not like I'm a slob; I have decent fashion sense. But dressing up all the time gets old.

Besides, it wasn't like I saw clients face to face and I never understood what the big deal was at my old job. It was just another way they controlled their employees! Now my work uniform consists of jeans and a stylish top and I couldn't be happier. Like a pig in shit. A well-dressed pig though. And yes, when clients come in I dress to the nines. But normally I am dressed for comfort. It's the opposite of most -- stylish on the weekends and borderline drab during the week. I dress up to shop, and that's about it on the weekdays. I love my jeans, dammit!

Still, every once in a while I feel the need to clean up real nice. We had our company holiday party last night and I seized the opportunity. A few weeks ago a coworker and I were talking about our work outfits and how it would be fun to go overboard for the party. Initially we wanted to break out old prom dresses and wear those. That idea evolved to evening gowns and then we realized that was probably a bit silly. We finally settled on wearing dresses that hadn't seen the light of day (or the ambiance of night) in awhile and invite the rest of the women in the company along for the ride.

Come yesterday I was hyper with excitement. We share our floor with an upscale salon and last week our Office Manager K went there for a blow out. (Shampoo and blow dry styling. Sounds like something from Texas but it's very popular in NYC with our crazy weather and the havoc it wreaks on your hair.) Her hair came out amazingly gorgeous and I wanted to try yesterday. But I didn't want to go by myself, and no one else seemed interested. I gave up on the idea and ran to H&M to get some cute hair clips instead.

I was on a conference call when K stuck a sticky note on my monitor that said "Appt @ 4:45." I thought that meant she'd made an appointment for our boss, but come 4:45 she grabbed me and said time to get our hair did! Sweetness. Another coworker joined us.

My hair turned out amazing. Sleek, stylish, hot. I love how the salon used the same basic tools as me - a natural roundbrush and a hair dryer but made my hair look 1000 times better than normal. They even gave us a building discount. Well, they actually forgot to give it to me, but I've gotten free stuff there before so I figure it all works out.

After that I was ready to go. I wore a cute strapless holiday dress that I bought last year and then never used, with a matching necklace and big drop earrings. Tights and heels completed the outfit. My co-conspirator A looked amazing in a brown bridesmaid dress, and the rest of the ladies played along. Our company is known for employing hot women and it was never more obvious than last night. One of the company's gentlemen said "Ladies, you always look great, but tonight you look amazing." Damn straight.

We pre-partied at the office before heading to Dip. Though the place is less than a block away from my fave sports bar Tonic East, I'd never noticed it before. We had the entire balcony to ourselves. Open bar...even the shots were paid for. Yummy finger foods. Four entrees to choose from. was great. We work so hard and it was nice to get rewarded for it.

It was also my unofficial one-year anniversary. Last year I was hired in December but didn't start until January. I was invited to the holiday party though so of course I made it down for a bit. I'm kinda glad I had a conflict last year though and had to leave early, because this year I learned about the tradition of making the newest company hire give a speech! That would have been me last year.

This morning, bleary-eyed but content, I'm trying to keep my hair as sleek as possible. Nothing wrong with looking pretty two days in a row.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Laundry time

I had put off doing laundry for too long, so it was back up to Connecticut over the weekend. Usually I stuff my largest suitcase full of my dirty clothes and take a taxi to Grand Central. But this time around I had so much crap that I ended up booking another Mini Cooper through Zipcar.

OK, actually I just wanted to drive the Mini again. Can you blame me?

Unfortunately I needed a 24-hour rental and the two closest to me were booked. I had to go down to Central Park South to pick a different one up on Saturday. The garage was right near the Time Warner Center and I was very tempted to shop. Another time. I got there a bit early so I admired the horse carriages on CPS and missed my horses. It might not be a sight to see for much longer; NYC is considering a ban on the carriages. Finally, it was 1 PM and time to pick up my car. It had been a bit of a haul to get down there and the wait was killing me.

The trek was completely worth it though. First of all, it was a kick driving through Midtown. I felt a bit cool cruising in my little urbanite car as the pedestrians strolled the holiday-themed streets. On 3rd Ave I cruised from right to left lanes while making my way uptown.

When I got back to my apartment to load up, there was no parking. I had to park illegally in front of a hydrant and run back and forth. The stress led me to miss a few items that needed to be laundered. But who cared? I was eager to be in a car; where I could sing as loud as I want, drive as fast as traffic would allow and enjoy a quiet, serene, solitary travel experience.

Once I hit the road, the FDR sucked as usual but I was able to weave effortlessly between lanes. After I cleared the Triborough Bridge it was smooth sailing. It was amazing to me as I sped along that cars were still passing me as though I were standing still. I-95 is crazy like that. I hit the predictable traffic in Greenwich, Stamford and just before my exit in Norwalk.

Since I had a car, I brought "Guitar Hero III" for 360 with me. This made me my old roommate's hero. We watched movies, played some games, and generally chilled. I laughed that our house seemed so huge to me now that I live in a tiny apartment. And it's true -- my friend's studio on the UWS once seemed so small to me and now it also seems big by comparison. Having a whole house to explore was like being in a mansion.

Saturday night I cleaned Kohl's out of tights but forgot to get new sunglasses. I lost mine somewhere in the Brooklyn Target a couple of weeks ago. I cruised around every suburban store as my one-stop. I was loading up while I had a car at my disposal.

Early Sunday morning, I was drifting off to sleep when I heard the dreaded sound of a car alarm. Living in the city you'd think I'd be used to the sound but I jerked awake, worried someone was breaking into my rental. It turned out to be a car down the street but the alarm went off all friggin' night. Sometimes I'd fall asleep only to have the alarm wake me up again. It was pretty miserable and I barely slept. I missed my room and was a bit tempted to kick the current roommate out -- I'm the guest, you may sleep on the futon.

On the way back to the city two weird things happened with the car. First, I couldn't get the gas card to work. That was annoying. Secondly, my EZ-Pass which had worked fine on the way to Connecticut didn't work at the toll entering Manhattan. It's illegal to back up in the toll lane, so I had to wait until the attendant came over.

"Where's your pass?" The attendant asked me. I pointed to it, right below my rearview mirror. "Yes, thank you, it's the white thing on your windshield. Gimme it," he snarled. So I did, all the while thinking that was pretty rude of him. Sometimes New Yorkers are jerks. He held the pass up to a sensor and it worked fine. He gave it back to me and told me to move along. I resisted the urge to retort in kind.

I made it back to the city in time for NFL. I was meeting up with friends at Ship of Fools to watch the Packers game. I cheered excitedly as Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant ran up the points for my fantasy team and was happy when the Pack won. (I am the worst 49ers fan ever.) We ended up staying for the Pats-Steelers rout, and afterwards I stumbled home drunk and tired.

After a quick nap, I started unpacking my laundry. I like to use good-smelling detergent and in my drunken state I was all about the smell of my clean laundry. In fact I was so all about the smell that I dumped my suitcase out on my bed and laid down in it. The things you do when you're drunk. I drifted to sleep dreaming about Colorado...

...but woke up a few hours later feeling not so great. The combination of wings, beer and Mountain Spring Tide made my stomach uneasy. Ever wake up with that pukey feeling? I struggled to make it out of my bed, desperate not to throw up on my nice clean laundry. Now when I smell my laundry, I feel a bit pukey. It's that not so fresh feeling.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Is that you Santa? No, it's just my upstairs neighbor

Click clack, click clack. From above comes the sound of hooves, or in this case shoes and paws. The apartment above me that had been empty for a couple of months has been rented. Like my apartment, I believe the management company renovated it and put in hardwood floors. I think that they forgot the soundproof layer between the subfloor and the wood though because I can hear every little fucking noise coming from up there.

It's driving me nuts! Every time the dog comes back from a walk it runs around. 10 minutes of click click click making my eyes tic. Every time the desk chair is pulled back ...screeeeeeeeecccchhhh (I guess the tenant doesn't care about scratching those nice new floors). The best is when I get the combination of Santa Baby traipsing around upstairs and my next door neighbor screaming to her friends on the phone. A cacophonic chorus of unpleasantness. But the worst, THE WORST, is that my new neighbor likes to vacuum at 2 in the goddamn morning, every morning. What could she possibly be vacuuming?? I break the thing out maybe once a month for my rug. It could be worse I suppose. The sounds have been innocent so far.

Initially I thought I was nuts and making too big of a deal about it. It's not like I live in a monastery -- I can make noise at times too. I put on my MP3 player to sing, dance and jump around like a madwoman for pete's sake. But when two of my boys who are also Manhattannites came over and commented on how loud it was, I knew I had a legitimate complaint.

My boys had good suggestions - try talking to the neighbor and mentioning that the former tenants had rugs and it worked out well. Ask her if she's considered felt pads for her furniture. And politely mention that as a dog lover I respect a dog's need to chew a rawhide and fetch, but the constant clip clopping of paws and plopping of said rawhide proves quite annoying to your neighbor down below.

Coincidentally, I ran into my new neighbor at the building's entrance. And she is quite nice. I didn't realize it was her until the very end of our conversation so I was unable to mention the issue. It's not like I blame her personally -- she probably doesn't even know it's an issue. And my management company? They're less than sympathetic.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mini makes everything better

I had the pleasant experience of using Zipcar again. And this time around, there would be no denying me my Mini Cooper experience. So pleased was I that I needed to share it with my friends.

I was just a bit excited about my Mini.

When I picked it up this morning, I jumped up and down like an idiot and clapped as the lot attendant drove it up to me. It was red! It was shiny! It came with a medallion, not a key! You press a button to start it! It had a hard drive! I am so simple to please.

I got in and absorbed the coolness of the car. My first favorite thing was that there is a "Start/Stop" button to turn the car on and off. When you insert the medallion into the keyslot, the car emits a couple of pleasant tones, not the monotone beeps normal cars give. I know the button is slowly becoming a common feature in cars but it felt very "Get Smart" to me. I was also happy about the amount of interior room -- plenty. I'm pretty tall and I was wearing heels but I didn't feel crowded at all. My God, I am totally this car's target demographic. Minus the money to buy it or room to store it when not in use.

The car's interior had appealing styling and
was quite roomy for a little coupe.

A car is a ridiculous luxury in New York City. But somehow driving a compact makes it seem a little less challenging while maintaining an air of extravagance. I may have been on-level with the wheels of most of the SUVs, but I felt small, maneuverable and sneaky. Plus, I was jonesing for some driving time. At one point, I switched the car into fake manual mode so I could utilize the steering wheel shift paddles.

It's a dangerous yet thrilling experience driving in the city. And pretending like I'm Charlize Theron in the "Italian Job" remake makes it twice as fun. I deftly weaved and bobbed through the midday traffic on may to New Jersey, and channeled my inner stunt driver on the way back through the Holland Tunnel.

Back in Manhattan, I picked up a friend to drive to lunch. As I drove up to his office, I tooted the horn and waved like a madwoman. He was completely cool and reminded me that he drives a company Mercedes, so he would not be impressed by my temporary Mini. But after wheeling our way through midtown he admitted he was a bit impressed. After lunch he asked if he could drive it. Sorry buddy, I replied, this baby's all mine.

After work I gave BFF M a ride home from her job. She at least shared in my excitement. With the sun long gone, we utilized the double sunroof to take in the skyscrapers at night. At one point we drove under the giant snowflake by 5th Ave in the 60s and got a killer view from underneath. We agreed that with our (pretend) million dollar bonuses from work, a Mini Cooper would be on our list of purchases.

The only downside? I had to gas up the car and it is not cheap. Though the gas fees are included in the Zipcar membership, I was still a bit disturbed when a tank fill-up cost $45. Minis take premium fuel and it has been awhile since I bought a tank. I forgot how expensive gas has gotten.

Sadly, Mini Cooper is now back at the garage for another Zipster to use. But I must say that for all the times I miss Hunk, my old SUV, it is nice to be free to see other cars every once in awhile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Amazing movie billboards

I am a fan of amazing contemporary art. I'm fascinated by deco architecture, I love travel art from the 1950s and I enjoy the look of comic books from the 1970s (though I've never been able to get into reading them).

Every night on my way home from work, I see a movie billboard that has been painted onto a building on the corner of Park Ave and 23rd or 24th St. The art is so good I initially thought they were the same old boring posters you sometimes see attached to skyscrapers. But when I saw the artists working one day I realized they were actually art pieces.

The latest poster for "I Am Legend"...

For example, above is the latest piece for Will Smith's "I Am Legend." Nevermind that this movie looks awesome (even if the book doesn't take place in New York City...). This billboard looks awesome! From my usual crossing at 22nd and Park it looks like a poster, but upon closer inspection you realize that someone took the time to paint this. I have no idea if the artists are using a template -- I'm sure the movie poster is an inspiration. Is it a pre-printed work they are just pasting up? I don't think so. I don't really know how they do it. But it is a site to behold!

...and a close-up view
of the artistry involved.
If you look closely, you can see
the bricks of the building through the art.

It's a true urban masterpiece, right up there with the brilliant murals and graffiti art around the boroughs. And like those other forms of art, it is also temporary. Every month or so I'll see surprised to see the once-glorious poster covered by a sad layer of grey paint as the artists prepare to illustrate a new movie's message. I feel a mixture of remorse at not admiring the old piece more and excitement for what is coming next.

I regret not taking pictures of the summer pieces I saw -- especially the one for "Oceans 13." It had a full cast picture rendered so lifelike and yet it had the tender touch of a paintbrush from close-up. I would love to know who the artist is that builds these short-lived classics on brick and mortar.

The last installation was for
"The Brave One."

So, yes, OK, it is just a promotional movie poster at the end of the day. But that makes these works no less valuable. Or at least really fun to look at.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

First snow

Whoo-hoo for the white stuff!

I am a winter baby, and I love the fluffy white stuff. Snow that is. On Sunday we finally had (temporary) accumulation here in the city. While everyone else whines and moans about winter I love it until about March. I love snowboarding. I love building forts and tobaggon trails and having snowball fights. I even love shoveling.

The whole 1 inch we got made walking treacherous. It was a slushy mix by mid-afternoon and even in my winter boots I was slip-sliding along the sidewalks. A couple of times I almost took a spill. When I crossed in front of doorman buildings and businesses, the sidewalk was salted and noticeably easier to walk on. I suppose this is how it goes. It doesn't give me much confidence in my winter walking ability -- I put the over/under for number of times I fall at 10.

Of course, since it was snowing and freezing I had to run about 15 errands...I went to the Rainbow/Ace Hardware on 1st Ave. at least twice. That place rocks, by the way. They really have everything there -- household goods, tableware, candles, drugstore stuff, some food. I fell in love with these storage towers, but they were a bit too expensive. I also had to run to see Julio; he was holding some of my winter clothes. I sprang for a taxi ride there and back, and slapped myself silly when I got home and realized I'd forgotten my portable heater. Guess Julio gets another visit soon.

If I squint, I can almost see

The snow has me dreaming of the mountains. I plan on hitting the Rockies during a trip to Colorado this winter (hello, Copper and A-Basin!), but in the meantime I'd like to go to Stowe, Vermont. They've had a pretty good snow season up there...I can almost feel my lips freezing now.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Shopping Commute

It's crazy what you miss when you move. There are the obvious things, like regionally unique customs or topography and there are the less obvious things.

When I went to Colorado, I missed the buzz of New York City (and the concerts) and pizza from Famous Pizza in Connecticut. When I came back to Connecticut, I missed the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the spectacular starry nights and the taste of fresh Angus beef.

And now in New York City I miss living in a beach town, horseback riding, driving in my car...and discount department stores. Yes, it's true, in the sea of wondrous shopping that is New York City, I long for a Manhattan Kohl's and Target. I guess you can take the girl out of suburbia but you can't take the suburbia out of the girl.

Kohl's is where I like to get my winter leggings and tights, my socks and occasionally a cheap basic shirt or two. Target is where I buy most of my health and beauty stuff as well as my purses. Sorry Coach, my favorite. And sorry Kate Spade, you may be two blocks away from my work with your new wonderful 5th Ave store but I don't make that kind of salary yet. The Bed Bath and Beyond at 61st and 1st also sells discounted toiletries but it isn't quite the same fun experience that Target is. I was so mad a couple of months ago that I wrote Target an email pretty much demanding they open a store in Manhattan proper, preferably on the Upper East the 70s...maybe between 3rd and 2nd Aves...?

At least there is a Target accessible by subway at the Atlantic Ave. Terminal in Brooklyn. I made the trip yesterday, taking the 6 to 59th St and then cruising the rest of the way on the 4. I know I whine about the subway a lot but it is a cheap thrill riding the express lines on the weekend. It feels like an underground roller coaster ride! You go so fast and it's kind of herky jerky and you stop less often. My favorite part is when you breeze past stations with everything a blur. And it's much less crowded than weekdays so you can actually somewhat enjoy the ride. Some lines like the N have awesome skyline views when you cross the Manhattan Bridge and the Queensboro bridge.

Since I was on the 4, we did the river crossing underground and I missed out on the views. I was in full-on shopping mode so it didn't much matter. Last time I hauled to Brooklyn Target the place looked like it had been ransacked -- empty shelves and much of what we needed out of stock. I'm not sure if the early time had anything to do with it, but the trip was much better this time around. It wasn't very crowded and I was able to find everything I wanted except for these Glade glass nice-smelly things I swear by in my apartment and winter tights. In fact it was so nice I stayed longer than I planned to and bought more than I'd initially planned.

I had to pass on the bulky items I used to buy in Stamford and then drive back to Norwalk, like laundry detergent, paper towels and the like. I browsed their furniture section but nothing really caught my eye. Eventually I checked out and left.

Back in Manhattan I was still longing for my winter tights, and a Kohl's. There are other places carrying the tights, yes, but none so cheap and disposable as what I want. I don't care if the tights last for only one season when I get them at Kohl's because they're cheap and the styles change so quickly anyway. I have one pair of textured brown tights from last season, and the rest ended up in the trash as passé. They also carry some pretty cute shoes. But the closest location, according to their website, is in Jersey City. No thanks. If I'm going to Jersey, it's for Ikea.

I tried a couple of the discounters around -- Daffy's and Strawberry -- and then hit Forever 21, H&M and even the TJ Maxx on 6th Ave. Nothing caught my eye. I'm probably being overly picky. Sounds like a trip to the suburbs is in order.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Metapost: Wachovia to customer: you lose!

It's not nice to laugh at the folly of others, but hot damn this story made me laugh out loud. Some poor guy in Georgia got a letter from Wachovia saying he owed the bank $211,010,028,257,303.00. Hey, at least it wasn't 211,010,028,257,303.01!

Besides, $211 trillion isn't that's only a few more trillion than 70 times the United States Federal Budget. It's only a few trillion more than the 5 richest people in the world are worth, combined. Just set aside $100 from your next 211,000,000,000 paychecks! It'll be easy. Or you could just take Wachovia out to dinner, laugh, smoke some cigars and say what's a few trillion between friends? And a Merry Christmas to you, too, Wachovia!

No worries though, Wachovia says it was just a word processing error! Turns out the amount is actually the guy's account number (he's obviously since closed the account). I hope they offered to pay for the heart surgery their customer will need after reading the letter.

To be fair, I have to say Wachovia was a huge help to me when I went through cashier's check issues while securing my apartment. But I also remember them being extremely rude to me when I first opened my account and how they neglected to tell me that all of my checks would be held two weeks before cashing as a new customer. So I tittered a bit to see them in the doghouse.