Monday, November 29, 2010

Pre-Season Observations

Fear not, Gentle Reader. There will be an entire post devoted to the Magic of Our First New York Thanksgiving later this week. But for now...I have to tell you these things before I forget, or before I realize they aren't all that funny after all.

The Christmas windows should be up by now at the big department stores here, but the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Dean and I found ourselves outside Macy's, enjoying the "Miracle on 34th Street" window display a little early. It's full of little automated people, doing things like smoking pipes, sitting in a stranger's lap, and going on trial. It really piqued our interest in the Splendor of Macy's, so we ventured inside to experience the thrill of holiday commercialism first hand.

The place was packed- locals and tourists, perfume sprayers and asthmatics, children and their handlers, all rubbing elbows, all side by side. Kids were everywhere, especially around the special "Write a Letter to Santa" display. They could sit down, write a note to Santa, and then put it in special mailbox that is solely for letters headed to the North Pole. However, letters to the North Pole are not exempt from US Postal Service rules and regulations, and the letters would not be accepted without a stamp on the envelope. Seriously. A stamp.

Dean was especially aware of the irony there, and as we walked away from the mailbox area, he declared- in the midst of many, MANY young children- "Why do letters to Santa need a stamp? I mean, come on! Guess they're really making their money off this, aren't they?" I looked around, noticing the number of kids holding their parents' hands, and I loudly replied, "Because they want to make extra sure the letters make it to the North Pole! Everyone knows Santa won't get the letters without proper postage!" And that was how Dean almost ruined Christmas at Macy's.

We actually were looking for a good terry cloth bathrobe for me, and it's worth sharing that these days, most ladies' robes are this polyester fleece stuff. After lots and lots of looking, we realized that cotton terry cloth robes are in the same section as towels. Did you know that? It was news to me. It's like putting baby clothes in the lingerie section. I guess one leads to the other...?

And speaking of babies, I have a request for all the holiday shoppers with babies. Please leave your strollers at home when you know you'll be in close quarters. After Macy's, we wandered down to Union Square to check out one of the city's Holiday Markets. They're great, full of little pop-up stands with people selling handmade and specialty items- it's where Dean found my new hat! It's a cute place, and very popular and crowded. But people, space is at a premium there. People make faces at you if your coat is too big, or if your shopping bag infringes on their personal space. When you take a giant stroller and shove it through a crowd of people, we resent you. We aren't thinking how sweet it is that you have been blessed with a sweet little miracle; we are thinking, "I was going to stand there." Take a tip from the hippies, and use that Baby Bjørn you got at your baby shower. Take it out of the box, sling it around your neck, and put your baby in it. Parents all over the world carry their children like this- close to them- and their fellow shoppers are grateful. And we will be, too. Now excuse me while I look at these hand made dog sweaters.

We did other things that weekend- we saw "The Coward" and "Looking at Christmas," and really enjoyed each other's company. We also went to mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral Sunday morning (my birthday), and it was really strange in some ways. It was like going to church during a football game. People were jockeying for a seat with a good view of the priest, sometimes settling for a good view of the television monitors. Tourists kept opening the side doors during the service, checking things out and taking pictures. Communion was rushed and a little unorganized, with one priest looking like he was just shy of tossing a handful of wafers out over the crowd, like beads at Mardi Gras. But on the flip side, it was very moving. The church itself is ornate and historic, and I just felt better for being there. While Dean and I go to another church on occasion, I found that I missed the familiarity of the prayers in a Catholic mass. I like knowing the words without looking at the book. I like incense, and the ceremony and ritual of it all. While it may be awhile before we head back to St. Patrick's Stadium, it was good to go, especially on my birthday.

So there you go, Gentle Reader. Let's review what we've learned from this entry:
1. Letters to Santa need stamps
2. Cotton terrycloth robes are located in the towel section.
3. Keep your baby close to you while shopping.
4. Church can be like football.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Our Neighborhood Rocks

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I joke about our neighborhood. I often fake-complain that it's full of pregnant women and strollers, or I pretend to be really annoyed by all the tourists on Central Park West, taking pictures of the Dakota or asking me for directions in the park.

But I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Case in point: I got home from an agent audition tonight (it went really well, thank you for asking), and Dean has gone to a play reading, and I thought it would be nice to have a glass of wine waiting for him when he gets home. I realized there was no wine in the house (it doesn't last long around here), and I looked at the clock- it was 9:03! So I grab my keys and dash around the corner to Nancy's, our beloved wine shop which normally closes at 9:00. Mike was bringing in the plants, closing for the night, but he said, "come on in, and take your time," which was really sweet. But what was even SWEETER was that the other guy...the bald one...the one who wants to look at our groceries before he recommends a wine...Jerry? JERRY says, "and you're taking home some pinot." I thought it was a sales pitch, but it turned out he was sending me home with FREE WINE! They'd had a tasting earlier, and I was the lucky recipient of the leftover wine.

Reason number two: our Italian landlords yell at each other a lot, sometimes in Italian, and it's pretty entertaining. Pedestrians are treated to Romance-language arguments on a nearly daily basis. It's a shared experience, really, and it's fun to make "yikes" faces at the other people on the sidewalk when Luigi and Maria are going at it.

Reason 3: An old guy was sitting on our corner today, playing Christmas carols on the sax. The best part? He was wearing a Rudolph nose that lit up. He threw in the theme from Spider Man, but all I could think of was Homer Simpson singing "Spider Pig."

Reason 4: As mentioned in a recent post, the Most Famous Parade in the World starts two blocks over. Enough said.

Reason 5: We find the coolest stuff on the street. First it was a really good quality bookcase, and the other night it was what is likely a haunted portrait of a woman holding her creepy baby. It was a total score. And bedbug free!

Yep, we have a great apartment...a little messy on occasion, but a great place to live in a super neighborhood.

Come visit us and see for yourself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Tragic Tale of the Sneaky Jalapeño...or...The Post My Mother Doesn't Want You to Read

Beware the jalapeño. Though it is little, it is mighty. And sneaky.

Last night, Dean and I made pizzas for dinner. Individual sized pizzas, so we each had our own toppings. Dean is not a fan of mushrooms, so I loaded them on MY pizza, and I am not a fan of jalapeños...and will never touch them again.

I do a lot of chopping in our kitchen, while Dean does most of the cooking. True to my job description, I chopped our toppings, including the jalapeño, and as I chopped, I told Dean the story of the last time I chopped one of those little buggers. I’d been wearing contacts at the time, and found out the hard way that touching the jalapeño, and then touching my eyes was a bad idea. I went on to tell Dean that I’d tried everything to get the pepper oil off my hands: I soaked them in milk, I doused them with bleach, I washed, rinsed, and repeated- to no avail.

As we were enjoying our pizzas, I happened to wipe my mouth, and the sudden burning was a pretty good clue that once again, I’d fallen victim to the sneaky, injurious jalapeño. I did my best to avoid touching my face for the rest of the meal, and then we settled in to watch “Raising Arizona.” (“Turn to the right.”)

And then, I went to the bathroom.

You never stop to think about just how one goes to the restroom. The actual gathering of the toilet tissue, the folding, the...using. One never really has cause to think about just how much of the tissue’s surface is actually touched by our hands. Or how much of our body is touched by the tissue. I’m here to tell you, you’d be surprised.

I came out of the restroom, sat back down...and that’s when I felt the burn.

Apparently, the oil from the seeds is transferrable. As I sat there writhing, Dean suggested I take a shower to try and wash it off. Even though I’d washed my hands multiple times without benefit, I thought it was a pretty good idea, and figured it couldn’t hurt.

And...I was wrong.

I was standing in the shower, when it dawned on me: I would have to use my hands to wash myself. I thought back to the toilet tissue issue, and did some quick calculations. There was no way I could touch the washcloth and then touch myself. Nor could I not use a washcloth. My hands were poisonous. I was helpless. And most of all, embarrassed.

At this point in the story, I will spare you the details, but will say that being married has its benefits. And I can say without hesitation that Dean Poynor is the most caring, helpful man I know, both in and out of the water.

I'm typing this with bandages on the three offending fingers, bandages which serve as a barrier between my contaminated hands and every touchable part of my body. If memory serves, it takes a while for this to wear off my skin, so I'll still be extra careful--and extra grateful that I'm not wearing contacts these days.

And if I find myself needing some extra help until then, no problem- because with Dean around, I am in very capable hands. (Pun intended.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Holidays in the City

New York is America's City. It's Big Apple Pie, it's the country's second-greatest baseball rivalry, it's Mom and Mama Mia.

Veteran's Day was yesterday, and veterans got an all-American parade up 5th Avenue. A couple of weeks ago, our city hosted the legendary West Village Halloween Parade, and in a couple of weeks, we will roll out the Mother of All Parades, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. People all over the country will pop the turkey in the oven, and plop themselves in front of the TV to watch boy bands lip sync, Disney starlets waving out from under furry parka hoods (provided they get a day pass from rehab), and high school marching bands working it all the way down Central Park West and Seventh Avenue, never letting on that they've lost the feeling in their frozen toes.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade begins TWO BLOCKS FROM OUR APARTMENT! And they inflate the giant balloons the night before right next to the Museum of Natural History, also TWO BLOCKS FROM OUR APARTMENT! Our friend Jill gets up at the crack of dawn to secure a prime viewing spot on Central Park West, and this year, I'm getting up with her. We'll all watch the parade live, then come inside to watch it on TV as it reaches the finish line at Macy's in Herald Square. There will be turkey in there somewhere, and our friends Tim and Stephen, and probably some pie. It's going to be a good, good day.

And as we all know from watching this parade for years and years, the parade ends with the arrival of Santa Claus, and the start of the holiday season. Christmas in New York City. Think about that one for a minute. Isn't it like a fairy tale? NYC is where America comes to do their holiday shopping! It's horse drawn carriages in Central Park, it's hot nuts for sale on every corner (not just in the Village), it's big shopping bags and twinkly lights and F.A.O. Schwarz. Christmas here means ice skating under the giant tree in Rockefeller Center, it means the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, and this season, it means Elf, the Musical on Broadway.

I have this running list in my brain of all the New York City Holiday Things I Want To Do, and Dean can tell you, the list keeps growing. Sometimes I forget that we live here now, and that we're not tourists who want to pack as much NYC fun as we can into a few short days. We have weeks and weeks to check out the windows at Barneys, visit Santa at Macy's, and gaze at Christmas lights. But time flies, doesn't it? One minute you're mad because your mom makes you put plastic baggies on your feet to go out to play in the snow, and the next minute you're married to an amazing man and living in New York City.

So, I'm going to start on this list before it's too late. And once I've checked it twice, I can start thinking about how to spend St. Patrick's Day in America's Most Irish City.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's all in the bag

In NYC, everyone needs a bag. I don't mean a purse, I mean a tote bag to haul stuff around in. We are away from home for hours and hours every day, without the ability to use our car for our locker. Like an urban hiker, we have to pack everything we'll need for our day on the streets.

For me, my bag usually holds:
water bottle
folder of headshots/resumés
granola bar type snacks
regular purse
extra bag for purchases
phone charger

And it MAY hold:
extra pair of shoes
laptop and charger

(Were you paying attention? One of those items is fake- I don't usually carry lotion.)

This morning, I had a revelation. I realized that the store with the coolest bag wins. If a store sends you out the door with a kick-ass bag for your overpriced purchases, you may use that bag over and over again, and what does THAT mean to the store? Free advertising.

Perfect example: A few months ago, I desperately needed a new yoga mat. I'd not packed mine when we moved, and I NEEDED ONE NOW. (It's the same feeling I had when I bought Bento for the computer.) So Dean and I trek all over our neighborhood until we stumble on a little shop called Lululemon.

I'd never heard of it before, but apparently, it's like hallowed ground for yoga enthusiasts. So Dean and I buy a yoga mat. (Side story: When we took it to the counter, the woman said, "What type of yoga do you do?" I replied, "The kind a person does when they don't ever really do yoga, but think they want to, so they go out and buy a mat." Turns out, there are different mats for different types of yoga, including one type where people voluntarily cram themselves into a heated room and sweat all over their new mats. To each his own, I guess.)

And here's the point of the story: They put the mat in this awesome tote bag.


The bag is covered in sayings like, "Do one thing a day that scares you," and "Dance, sing, floss, and travel." Inspirational things for city folks like us. And the thing is, I see these bags EVERYWHERE. Little ones, big ones, on the arms of the elderly and the bouncy- they are all over the place here. And every time I see one, I think of going back to that pricey, elitist, awesome store to spend money I don't have on items I will rarely use.

Their scheme worked. Damn you, Lululemon. Damn you and your kick-ass bags.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hank's New Career

Today Hank had an audition for a commercial. And I'm worried it's gone to his head.

Let me clarify that I ALSO had an audition for the same commercial, but Hank would like you to know we had different call times. I went in at 1:10 to audition for "Dining Couple," and Hank went in at 3:30 to audition for the role of "Dog."

I learned today that A) it's tricky moving a dog 45 blocks, and B) Hank does not like cabs. Regular cars, regular drivers, no problem. But Hank quivered and shook on the floorboard of our cab for the entire ride there. (see photo)

I actually felt kind of silly hailing a cab with a dog on a leash, and several passed us, even though they were
clearly available. But one good natured cabbie picked us up, and even offered us blow pops. At least I think that's what he meant. It was just Halloween, and there was a bag of candy hanging just above Hank's head...

There was another dog waiting for the elevator, but he was clearly inexperienced, and wanted to play with Hank in the lobby. Hank is a professional, and needs his time to focus and smell things, so we took the stairs to the 3rd floor- Hank enjoying the scent of whatever that was in the corner, and me enjoying the Sharpie graffiti on the walls of the stairwell.

After that harrowing cab ride, Hank needed to check himself in the mirror. We decided he looked pretty good, and hoped they wouldn't smell him, because he needs a bath. I told him to wipe that sad look off his face (see photo), and he took a minute to get into character.

It was Hank's turn to go in, and he really wowed them, keeping in mind "Wow" can apply to lots of different situations. Hank did sit on command for as long as it took to blink, and was then more interested in looking out the window than he was in sitting, laying down, or staying. He did manage to pull it together and lick peanut butter off a plexiglass window, as directed. But what do you expect? Food was involved.

We left the audition, and started to walk home, rather than hail another cab. The walk home was 45 blocks, from 30th to 75th street. All in all, it was a good walk, and Hank got to see lots of places he's not seen before.

He also saw some places he thought he might like to audition next. The Big Apple Circus, for example.

Or maybe there's a role for a dog in an upcoming opera at Lincoln Center?

Yes, Hank has gotten his first taste of fame. He's been bitten by the acting bug, and is already pestering me to enroll him in obedience classes so he can ace his next audition. And maybe we will. Maybe he'll get an agent before I do, and maybe he'll show up in the next J. Jill catalog, instead of those stupid bulldogs they use.

Until that happens, I'm going to do my best to keep him grounded. He'll still eat Beneful instead of chopped sirloin, and he'll still sleep on his bed, instead of getting some fancy trailer.

Which is fine with me, because it's pretty darn cute.