Friday, July 25, 2008

We've Moved!

Are you looking for Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt?

We've moved over to our new site:

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

People Come and Go So Quickly Around Here

You know what I’m tired of? People leaving.

I said goodbye to another friend tonight. He’s moving back home to Texas. We’ve been friends for ten years, and now he’s leaving.

I know, New York is a transient place: people come for a while, then they leave. That’s the nature of a place where people come to make it. They’re here for a purpose, and then they’re gone. I guess you have to kind of accept that, but every year, we say goodbye to more and more friends, and you know what? It’s hard.

I mean, you come here and you get to know people. You spend time together. You watch them get married, and have babies. You’re a part of it all. You build your life with these people. And then they leave.

I’m whining, I know, but it’s painful to have it happen again and again. And I’m not saying people shouldn’t do what they have to do, or chase their dreams, or follow where God takes them, but I am saying that it’s weird to know someone for so long and then have them pick up roots and move somewhere else. On the plus side, I now have friends all over the country. But also, and mainly, I’m tired of saying goodbye.

How do you all deal with this? Or, (May) what’s it like when you’re the one who leaves? Is this just a part of life?

I was trying to find a video of the scene from The Muppets Take Manhattan when they all split up and go their own ways after they move to New York together? Does anyone remember this? What does it say about me that I was thinking about something serious and the best way I could illustrate it was The Muppets? Anyway, I couldn’t find the video, but here’s the trailer. What a good film.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Debt in America

A few years ago my mother, a public school Kindergarten teacher for many years, retired to take care of her ailing father. But once he passed away she missed teaching and went back to her job, even as we tried to talk her into staying retired and relaxing a little.

Flash forward to the current recession. As I'm sure you've heard, Florida was one of the biggest bubbles for the real estate market and now has some of the highest rates of foreclosure. Last time I visited home it was scary to see so many foreclosure signs but it still felt like everything was going to be okay in the end. We live on the beach! It will bounce back, we said.

But a funny thing happens when people get foreclosed on...they don't pay property taxes anymore. And when they don't pay property taxes, the local school system goes bankrupt. The school district in my hometown cut a third of all jobs this summer, just to stay afloat, and the teacher's union dictates--last in, last out. And so it was that my mom lost her job and is now having to polish up her resume after 30 years of tireless service. The odds of her getting one of the few positions actually open in the county are slim to none and she's already trying to think of ways to volunteer because she knows she'll miss the kids so much.

This is my family's story about the recession--and truthfully we're the lucky ones and we know that. So many people have been hit so much harder and I find myself curious about their stories. I want to hear how they're coping and what we all can do to lend a hand.

This past weekend I stumbled across an amazing piece in the New York Times called The Debt Trap. It focuses on how Americans are carrying more debt than they will ever be able to pay back in their lifetimes and the predatory lenders who extend them these loans. But ultimately this feature is the story of our recession.

[Just use the Series Index at the bottom and watch the three videos. I had tears rolling down my face at the end. There's also a debt calculator that you can have some (grim) fun with and a chart showing how debt has grown in our country, while savings continue to decline.]

This is the first serious recession I've really known, because I was in college during the dot com bust--and I find it very scary, very sobering, and very, very sad.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Miley, etc.

Thanks to Karen for bringing this to our attention: Miley Cyrus says she’d "love to do a younger, cleaner version of 'Sex and the City" (possible title: "Absolutely No Sex and the City").

Can’t you just see Miley playing Emily of Emily Ever After?

Miley! Call us!

Ok, back to reality.

We are SO close to unveiling a new website for you all. Wayne has been hard at work coding and designing and… uh… webbing and stuff. We’re really excited about the new site! But I’m giving you fair warning, so when you come to this site one day (hopefully later this week) and it looks totally different, you can’t freak out. It will still be us. Just taller, and better looking.

In other news, it’s hot, and I haven’t been able to go running (I like to sweat but I’m not suicidal), and my brain is fried, and I’m getting very excited because next week we’re going to Cape Cod. My friend has a house there (with a tennis court! I don’t play tennis, but it’s cool anyway. And a golf cart! I love the golf cart!), and he’s letting us stay there to hang out at the beach and read and just chill. I cannot wait. The house doesn’t have internet or cable, and I plan to do nothing more strenuous than turning pages. Ah. It’s my idea of a perfect vacation.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation? Anyone have any fun summer plans?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pew Widow

Slang seriously cracks me up. I love it when British people say "Crikey!" and "fancy that!" and "bother!" I love it when teens say "busted!" and "mos def!" and "tope!" And so I sort have this soft spot in my heart for dorky Christian slang.

I bust out laughing when Christians say someone is "missionary dating." And it cracks me up when we say "h - e - double hockey sticks." But one of my absolute favorite Christian slang terms is: pew widow. A pew widow is someone who must sit alone every Sunday as the rest of her family sleeps in/watches the Cartoon Network/goes fishing etc.

I've only ever heard it used by a woman in jest, like, "Oh Tom's going to the ballgame and making me a pew widow again." But as funny as it is that we have a term for this, I, for one, cannot stand being a pew widow. In fact, I have an absolute fear of attending church by myself.

In general I'm a very friendly lass who does virtually nothing alone. I'm the sort of person you can call up at the last moment and I will always, always say yes. I'm a rabble-rouser to the core and I love nothing more than to be surrounded by a nice gaggle of friends. Big parties? My bag, baby!

And so it was that as this weekend approached I grew more and more nervous. All my friends were attending the BlogHer conference in San Francisco and tied up. My fiance was out of town. And my closest church friend is currently spending her summer in the wilds of Minnesota. In short, every day I inched closer to Sunday, the picture of me sitting all alone in a pew became clearer and clearer.

I got cold feet. I just couldn't do it. I know that church is about community, but my community had bailed on me. And sure I could have used today as an opportunity to make new friends but I...flinched in the face of the challenge.

As it turns out my church offers live webcasts and even podcasts of every sermon! I get that these are intended for shut-ins, but it was awfully nice given my bout of extreme paranoia. Here's how to get them yourself, if you're interested. It's very easy and of course 100% free.

Am I the only person with this fear? I tell you what, it reminded me to be a little friendlier during the passing of the peace portion of the service. Sometimes, just getting there and making it through can be the hardest part of all.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Week in God

First off, I’d like to announce the proud winners of my iPhone Giveaway!

Natalie was the first to claim the empty can of Guru, so she’s now the proud virtual owner of an empty piece of metal! Congrats, Natalie!

Bethany wins the empty bottle of SmartWater, and has graciously offered a trade: I get to keep the bottle (the possibilities!) in exchange for adding a link to her blog. Done and done.

Kara, who lives in New Zealand, wins the passes to Equinox Gym in New York City! Hooray for Kara and the useless passes!

And Felicity wins the t-shirt, which she may or may not share with Serenity.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for playing. Kara and Felicity, could you send me your addresses?

Moving on.

The New Yorker stirred up quite the controversy this week with its recent cover depicting Barack and Michelle Obama in traditional Muslim garb, burning an American flag, presumably posing as terrorists. The cover cheesed off Muslims and pretty much everyone else, and though the magazine maintains the cover is meant to be satire, my copy of this week’s magazine is going straight where it belongs: Into the pile with all the other unread New Yorkers, where it will stay until I get stressed out by the stack and throw the all in the recycling bin. Take that, terrorists.

Boy was I glad that I was out of town and therefore not trying to walk anywhere near my office on 34th Street on Monday. I somehow managed to escape the Hugging Saint. Mata Amritanandamayi, who claims to have hugged 27 million people, made a stop in New York this week, where crowds of people waited in line for hours on 34th street and didn’t even get an iPhone at the end of it all. Apparently they just lined up to get hugs. Makes perfect sense.

Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”) is under attack! Or, actually, just the authorship of it is. Apparently there’s some doubt that the theologian who is said to have written the prayer actually did so, which ruined the serenity of people who care about such things this week.

And Yoko Ono, haven’t you done enough already? I didn’t think it could get worse than breaking up the Beatles, but her lawsuit over the use of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” in Ben Stein’s movie Expelled, (we talked about it here), about Intelligent Design, meant the film had to be pulled out of theaters. Thankfully (?) the case has been dismissed, the movie is being re-released, and Yoko Ono can go back to being the one who ruined it for all of us.

By the way, I saw Kirk Cameron this week. Sadly, I didn't have enough time to stand in line for his autograph, and I somehow missed Tootie from the Facts of Life as well, but to even be in the same room with such greatness...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Holy Land!

Today, one of my life’s dreams was fulfilled. I got to go to the
Holy Land Experience theme park!

What’s the Hoy Land Experience, you ask? It’s basically like Disneyworld, if Disneyworld were tiny, low-budget, owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and completely devoted to recreating the world as it was when Jesus walked, minus all historical accuracy. It was amazing.

I’ve been obsessed with this place for years, and this week I was in Orlando for work, so I knew I had to go. I basically arranged my schedule so I would have this afternoon free to check it out. I wasn’t really sure why anyone would come to Orlando and choose to spend one of their days here instead of one of the Disney parks or Seaworld or Universal or something, but there were plenty of people there, and I’m pretty sure all of them were better Christians than me, because no one else seemed to find the place as hilarious as I did.

I mean, for one thing you walk in and you have to go through the gift shop to get to the real attractions, which is genius/terrifying. It’s also kind of bizarre that there are random plaster animals all over the place, all of which seem to be arranged by whim and not by anyone who has any actual knowledge of the animal kingdom. I loved that the shark and the lion were friends, as were the kangaroo and the monkey, and Zaccheus, the meerkats, and the terrifyingly large butterfly.

The shark, by the way, is part of the display where you walk through the Red Sea and get sprayed by water.

If that wasn’t enough water for you, you could be photographed with a plaster Jesus calming the storm.

Or you could take a look at a model of Noah’s ark, which sort of oddly resembled the loft condos springing up all over Brooklyn. My favorite part is that there were dinosaurs in the ark.

This is the temple or something. I don’t really know what happens there.

Here’s some evidence that a gardener has too much time on his hands.

Here’s the Ten Commandments. I’m pretty sure they’re the actual ones Moses brought down from Sinai.

Here’s me with some random centurians or something. I didn’t really have the heart to ask them what they were supposed to be.

Here’s me in front of the empty tomb.

But without a doubt, the highlight of the afternoon was when Jesus came out. We were all gathered around waiting to meet the son of God at the appointed time at the right place, and then I looked up and realized he was there (it was pretty anti-climatic) and had already started posing for photographs. I wasn’t sure whether I should be disappointed that he didn’t do much of anything except provide photo ops, but I decided to just stop being cynical and get in line.

Jesus was very good with the kids, getting down on his knees and talking to them and telling him very seriously how much he loved them. It was petty sweet, really, which is why I was so surprised when it was my turn and Jesus put his arm around me and asked where I was from. I told him New York, and his response was, “I won’t hold it against you.” He then proceeded to tell me I didn’t have an accent, and I explained that I’m originally from California (I would have thought that'd be one of the things he would have known about me, like how many hairs are on my head, but oh well). He smiled, and then it was the next person’s turn. People always say meeting Jesus is going to be amazing, and I’m here to say, based on my experience today, they’re right. I can only hope that when I actually get to heaven, the conversation goes so well.

Sadly, I only had a few hours, so I didn’t get to see the collection of ancient manuscripts, and the only show I was able to take in was Praise Through the Ages, in which the performers traced the history of worship music all the way from Jesus’ time to the pinnacle that is Christian Contemporary Music. But maybe some day I’ll make it back when I have more time. Or there’s always eternity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Say Yes to the Insanity

You know how they always say pregnant women crave, like, peanut butter on pickles at midnight with a scoop of rocky road ice cream? Well, I swear getting married is giving me weird TV cravings. I have this recent obsession that I'm sure exactly no one shares with me and truly I cannot fully even explain to myself.

Say Yes to the Dress.

Even just typing the title sends a frisson of excitement through my veins. It's like a drug that is calling me and what should I say in response? YES! And it's on the Learning Channel. Seriously, how did people learn before The Learning Channel? And don't you dare say books, smarty pants, because the kind of thing you learn on TLC cannot be found in books, like exactly what a home birth looks like, exactly what it would be like to raise sextuplets with a set of twins, to buy an expensive wedding dress in Manhattan.

Men who read this blog right now are saying to themselves, they have shows for this? THEY DO!

For those of you who haven't seen Say Yes to the Dress, and I'm assuming that's ALL of you, it's a reality TV show set in Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan. The show tries to sell this place as the premier bridal salon of NYC but I have to tell you...I don't know if that's true. All the Manhattan ladies I knew when I lived there either went cheap and funky or dipped into their future children's college funds at Vera Wang.

The show follows the sales ladies at Kleinfeld Bridal as they try to convince brides-to-be, and usually their Nanna, their weeping mother, their doting and slightly menacing dad, and assorted aunts and cousins, to buy an extremely expensive wedding dress. And for some reason, this is really compelling.

I think for me, it's slightly reassuring that I'm not the only person in the world that struggled with this. But it's also like a train wreck that I can't turn away from. Probably no show on TV can compare when it comes to shedding light on the billion-dollar wedding industrial complex--and the way it exploits the anxiety a woman has surrounding her wedding day.

Sometimes you laugh at them or sometimes you laugh with them. Sometimes you almost want to cry. And once in a very long while, you actually like a dress one of the brides chooses. And Jersey accents ABOUND. All in all, typical TLC stuff and yet I can't turn away. Chalk it up to weird pre-wedding cravings.


It's on Tuesday nights at 8/7c if I've convinced you. No? What about this clip?

Monday, July 14, 2008

iPhone Giveaway!

Now that I’ve got your attention, I have to admit I’m not actually giving away an iPhone. I’m actually giving away all the free stuff I got while I waited in line for an iPhone.

We were pretty excited about the release of the new, more affordable iPhone around here, since our phone contract was up and we needed new phones and Wayne’s a tech geek and we like shiny new toys. And I was going out of town on Sunday, so I wanted it before then, so after my half-day Friday (OMG I love summer hours so much) we went down to the Apple store in the Meatpacking District. It’s one of the three Apple stores in New York, the one we thought would be least crowded because it’s kind of out of the way.

We were wrong. We started laughing when we saw the line was down the block (I mean, people were lining up to pay a lot of money for phones! Insane!), but we dutifully got in line and started waiting. We figured it would be an hour or two, and proceeded to enjoy the sunshine. I guess we should have been more worried by the fact that they were passing out umbrellas for shade and water, but four and a half hours later when we finally made it inside the store we were hot, sweaty, sunburned, and dehydrated. And then there was the wait inside the store, which was also ridiculous, but blessedly air-conditioned.

I know, it sounds insane. What kind of person would spend eight hours (by the time we walked out phones in hand, it had been a full work day) for this? The answer is, no one who knew what they were getting into. But once you’ve wasted two hours waiting, it’s hard to just get out of line. Once you’re so close you can almost see the phones, you can’t turn back or it will have all been for naught (I mean, it kind of is anyway, but you know what I mean). We would never have done it if we'd known how long it was going to take. I could have waited a week.

Anyway, I am not going to complain too much about our interminable, horrific, insanely long wait, because I realize how ridiculously blessed I am to be in a position where I could waste a day waiting to pay a lot of money for something I don’t really need. It’s not like we were waiting to fork over our savings for bread or anything. We asked for it. But I am going to remark on the fact that there was this weird excitement in the air, and this weird vibe of collegiality. In addition to getting a ton of reading done in line, we made friends with the people around us. There was a sense that we were all in this together somehow, and everyone was sharing umbrellas and snacks and chatting. It was kind of a fun time.

And part of that was due to the fact that there were some really smart people out there promoting their products to a captive audience. So today I’m giving away everything I got free while I waited in line for my iPhone, not including the sunburn, sore muscles, and the feeling of despair that hit around hour six.

First off: an empty bottle of Smart Water.

If they were really so smart, they would have charged me for it, but as I got it free, I’m sharing the wealth. I could even fill it with genuine New York City tap water if the recipient wanted, though not if I have to mail it because I think that’s against postal regulations.

Next up: Passes to Equinox gym, which apparently calls itself ""THE BEST GYM IN AMERICA"" (I was quoting the quotes there, in case you couldn't tell) with locations all over New York and probably some other places too.

I’m not entirely sure these are valid, but I already have a gym so I’m too lazy to go find out. They were handed to me by some skinny girls in Equinox gear who informed me, as I stood in the sweltering July sunshine, that I could be at their pool instead of standing in line. I didn’t point out that their pool didn’t have an iPhone at the end of it and just took the passes and smiled. I’ll mail these anywhere to anyone who wants them.

I also got this absolutely nasty bottle of energy drink called Guru.

Now, I like some energy drinks, and I applaud this company for their foresight in sending a coterie of scantily-clad girls in pastel-colored mini-cars to cheer up the line of mostly male Apple diehards. That’s just smart business. But this stuff tastes like vomit. After weighing the environmental consequences (the label says all-natural, but after tasting it I don’t buy it) I decided it couldn’t be much worse on the fishies in the Hudson than the antifreeze already in the gutter, and I poured it out.

Still, the bottle is pretty cool. I’m not actually going to send this empty can anywhere, because that’s kind of weird, but if someone lays claim to it in the comments I will declare them the winner and they get the honor of knowing they won.

But here’s the best part. Someone was handing out these free t-shirts and saying something about Jessica Simpson, so how could I resist? I reached for one and knew I’d struck gold. Here’s the shirt:

I saw a picture of Jessica Simpson wearing this sucker in one of the gossip rags earlier this week!

I remembered it because while I recognized it was funny, I also found it kind of maddening. PETA slammed her for it, too, and published a list of reasons why only stupid girls brag about eating meat. Seriously. (PETA, why do you do this to me??).

Anyway, it turns out the shirt is actually an ad for Primehouse, which I guess is a steakhouse in New York or something.

It’s a cute shirt, but as I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life, it holds little appeal for me. I’m giving it away to the first commenter who claims it. It’s never been worn, except for when Wayne put it over his head to keep from getting sunburned before we managed to snag an Apple umbrella/parasol. It's size extra-large, though that's super-model sized or something because it fits me perfectly and I'm tall but not exactly huge, if you know what I mean.

All you have to do to win one of these treasures is post a comment telling me what you want (though let’s not get greedy when the stakes are so high. Please request only one). If you’re the first commenter requesting a specific item of wonderfulness (except the energy drink can), you win and I’ll contact you.

It’s just my way of spreading the joy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pulling the Plug

It's currently 10:40pm and I'm just getting started on my blog post for tomorrow (Monday), but for a change, procrastination isn't the reason. Today, I pulled the plug on 2008.

Last night when I came home to my apartment, I noticed a curious thing--only half of my lights worked. The living room? Yes. The bedroom where the wireless Internet is hooked up? No. The bathroom? No. I deduced in my infinite mechanical wisdom that obviously something was wrong with the wiring in my high-rise condo building and the best thing to do was...go to bed and pray it was magically fixed in the morning.

This is my very female solution to all mechanical problems, by the way. Is the tire looking low? Enh. Ignore it. Maybe it will get better. Is the cabinet falling off the hinges a little? Maybe using it more would help it regain its...uh...mojo.

Needless to say, I woke up this morning and my lighting problem was not fixed. (By now it is probably obvious to all the men who read this blog what had happened. But bear with me. I'm trying to re-create my mindset.) "Well," I thought. "I'd better call the building manager, but I'm sure he's going to say the whole block is out, or something." So I decided to forget about it and deal with it later in the afternoon when I had a little free time.

And so I went about my day, not worrying about the lighting problem, and eventually, something magical happened--I stopped caring. You see, without the Internet, I really couldn't get any work done. And you know what that forced me to do? RELAX. I watched hours and hours of DVDs. I called old friends and chatted forever. I smeared on a whitening face mask and chased my little dog around the apartment. I daydreamed and looked out the window. I even made a list of things I should do...but maybe not today. Maybe tomorrow, I'd do them. And so when the building manager called and talked me through how to throw the circuit breakers in my apartment and the power magically came back on, I was little bummed.

I must say, it made me realize how miserable I am at keeping the sabbath. Normally my Sundays consist of rushing here and there, running errands, frantically writing, and loads upon loads of laundry--in short, nothing that involves reflection on higher things, and nothing that recharges the soul. And so today, I made a promise to myself and you know who that I'm going to start taking the sabbath off. I'm going to commit to unplugging and force myself to spend the day enjoying the beauty of life.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? And yet 2008 is a very addictive drug. Staying away from email and the information super highway will be hard--but if today is any proof, I will be a happier, healthier person for unplugging, even just once a week.