Friday, March 30, 2012

Away We Go

I love the smell of hotel rooms.

It’s always a mix of central AC, cleaning products, with hints of chlorine and coffee. You wouldn’t think these ingredients would be quite so pleasant, but my nose finds them comforting.  Maybe hotels simply remind me of summer? Whatever the reason, it always smells like home.

Dad works in hotels. I worked in hotels. A sister, an uncle, and an aunt also toiled in the industry at one point or another. I feel as though the Fitzgeralds grew up amongst the Marriotts of the East Coast, hugging front desk clerks and short-sheeting beds along the way.

Plus, hotels mean you’re on the road – you’re traveling. Such an exhilarating three syllables. Did you know I haven’t left New York City for more than five days at a time since moving here almost two years ago? So we’re taking a quick trip to Boston, and while it will only be a three day excursion, our mini-vacation will give us just enough time to stretch our legs into the uncharted Northeast.

Happy Friday, friends.
I’ll be sure to steal some soap for you.
And don’t worry Dad, I won’t short-sheet the beds.
Or put Vaseline on the phone.
Or plastic wrap under the toilet seat.
No, no, I’m far too mature for that ;)

We're coming for you, MA. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Poor In New York: Grocery Day?

D I N N E R.
Boo poverty... 
Hooray humor!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mad Men, Mad World

Our perfectly coiffed hostess opens the gate to her apartment. As she swings the metal barricade closed and locks it with a small key, her dress spins about into a bell shape any 1960s housewife would envy.

We climb the carpeted stairs in slingbacks and loafers to a 2nd floor apartment. Sounds of the McGuire Sisters and Ella lazily crooning in the background embellish our tangible imaginations. Because tonight, you see, it’s 1960 – or maybe 1963?

The porch lights are on, smiling over our patch of New York, and the conversation is fitting. Oh how I needed another bobby pin! Doesn’t your hair look fabulous? What a lovely shade of lipstick you’re wearing. Such darling pearls. Don’t the men look dapper?

Trudy shouted from the living room that “The Twist” was about to play. Well, we simply had to join! Isn’t the culmination of every memorable cocktail party on the dance floor, pivoting to and fro? Gin and tonics were tossed aside like secretaries in an ad agency and we danced, danced, danced…

In my mind’s eye, there are scenes of Donald Draper walking smugly down Madison Avenue to the Sterling-Cooper building. But I also see E.B. White typing away columns for magazines, and Bob Dylan just beginning to make his mark. Can’t you envision Edie Sedgwick stumbling through the Village with Andy and her posse in tow? Or maybe you imagine Robert Gottlieb and Korda pouring over Catch-22. How glamorous we can make a turbulent decade appear in hindsight, through the eyes of fake Ray Bands from the corner store.

Even still, I love this time period and its juxtaposition of contrasting American ideals. Pretending if only for an evening, that we took part in 1960’s New York City is all too enjoyable for the current inhabitants of this ever-changing town. Movements, riots, literature, music – many of these cultural contributions began within blocks of our homes.

But when the night was through, I slipped off my heels and changed into Toms. I let out a few pins from my hair to curtail the squeezing of my scalp. Then I walked into the night air with an encouraging thought that many of my 1960s idols may have been without: I, hopefully, will be remembered for more than my red dress, my silky pearls… my fake, plastic pearls.

So let us play. Let us flippantly play in the past for a moment or more.
And then we move on.
Happy Mad Men my friends. 

"I can't believe it now, that the city opened before us like some land of dreams, but it did." -- Mary Cantwell, in "Manhattan, When I Was Young" circa 1950-1960.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Apple a Day & Sleep Deprived Play

The computer screen’s white light was numbing my mind.
There was a dull silence, ringing in the office.
Perhaps that persistent “eeee” is actually a mixture of overhead lighting and bulky electronic devices.
An email notification invaded the bottom right corner of my screen.
Then the familiar humming sound of the copy machine rocked me to sleep…

WHAM. I caught my head with the palm of my hand again. Sunday, 4 hours of sleep. Monday, 4 hours of sleep. Tuesday… Tuesday? Rotten Tuesday had turned to an even more rotten Wednesday without a blink of sleep. I’ll never escape my ol' college habits.

Just make it till noon and then post-lunch, things will be better.

After pulling an all-nighter because of both school and life, I sat at my kitchen table and watched the washed out sun rise from the fog. It was a relatively anti-climactic sunrise, but at that moment I was able to concoct my master plan: work on a few projects until lunch and then take a nap in Central Park during my hour break. I would be rejuvenated enough to make it a (somewhat) productive day.  

Well, easier said that done.
The buzzing in my ears seemed too loud.
It was 11:57am.
Screw it – close enough to noon.

As I walked through the 5th Avenue crowds, a sudden drop in blood sugar had me looking for the closest bench. This happens when too much coffee, speed walking, and no sleep meet at the intersections of 59th and 5th. So I flopped into a chair and leaned on a metal table outside of FAO Schwartz and the Apple Store. Only a few days ago I’d been dining across the street at the Plaza…

I bit greedily into an apple.
The table was cold and felt marvelous. I bent over, resting my chin on my forearm, as heavy eyes were getting heavier. And then somewhere between thinking about the Plaza brunch and biting that apple, I passed out Snow-White-style on the metal table.

And then I woke up.
A noise had suddenly catapulted me from a confusing dream to the streets of Manhattan. I jolted upright with an 
embarrassing, twitchy jump.
Maybe no one saw?
An old French couple starred at me as though I had two heads.
Yeah. People saw. 

 They were sitting at my table, eyes narrowed and mouths slightly ajar. I heard the woman say something about “Ah-mar-e-cans,” though I couldn’t guarantee it was derogatory. (Then again, if I could speak another language, I would have said something to my husband about the strange narcoleptic 20-something at our lunch table.)

About 30 minutes had gone by since my tumble into dream world, and something most unfortunate seems to have happened:

I’d fallen asleep, sprawled across a table on 5th Avenue.
Passed out.
With a bitten apple still in my hand.
But even more unfortunately…
…I seemed to have been drooling.


Then, to the amusement of my onlookers, 
I began to giggle like a true crazy person.
And I finished my apple.
And I went back to work.

My new French friends 

(Editor's Note: 1. Don't worry, it was the middle of day 2. All projects were completed at the office and 3. I promised myself I'd get in bed before 2am. So goodnight peps.)


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Weekend Well Worth It

The Plaza for brunch. So we skipped lunch. New York streets. 
Front row seats. Ringing ears. Overpriced beers.
No writing today. Just music to play.
Enjoy, and happy Monday.

The Head and the Heart perform "Lost in My Mind" at Terminal 5. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Poor in New York: Paper Towels & Coffee Filters

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, as the sun spills into my little apartment from all angles. The street is quiet, the windows are open, and the light looks golden as it waltzes on my wooden floors. While typing frantically for a midterm is no ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I could think of worse pastimes. The only thing that would make this activity better would be a cup of coffee.

I clean out the pot, grab the coffee grounds, and find the filters. One problem: I can’t find the filters.

Not on my shelf.
Not by the coffee maker.
Not in the wrong cabinet.
Not even in their secret spot behind the spices.

At first, I’m displeased. Then anger sets in. Must I really change out of my PJs and walk to C-Town? Really? Must I? Because today is Sunday… a lazy Sunday.

Ah, but isn’t laziness the mother of all invention?

Frustrated and decaffeinated, I glanced around my apartment. Teapot, toaster, microwave, paper towels…


We already know paper towels are good for everything. They can act as plates, toilet paper, Band-Aids, cutting boards, and tissues. I use them to scrunch my hair into curls, and I think they’ve even been incorporated into few Halloween costumes.

So I decided this could work (with a little motivation from Google). First I folded the paper towel in half. I then folded it one more time, making a square. Next I formed a cone by opening up the small square (with three sheets of the paper towel creating one side of the cone, and one sheet of paper towel creating the other side of the cone – it’s uneven but it works). Finally, I trimmed off the top of the cone and made a pot of coffee as usual.

Maybe I should be lazy more often. Maybe I will be lazy enough to create the next Snuggie. Maybe I will never buy coffee filters again.
Here are the steps for you visual learners:


Thursday, March 8, 2012

"My Mother Punched Your Mother"

"My mother punched your mother in the face. What color was da blood?" "Red!" "R-E-D, that spells the color red and you are not it." 

Have you ever heard the rhyme, Eenie-meenie-miney-mo?
Yeah, it's like that. 
Except not. 

"My mother punched your mother in the face. What color was the blood?" This time a girl with braided pigtails shouts out "blue!" B-L-U-E, blue. Phew. I’m not "it" for our impending game of freeze tag. Thank goodness. I could never keep up with these balls of neglected energy, much less be the instigator of giggly sprinting. 

Newark, NJ has its fine moments and I never enjoy the city more than when I'm bounding around like an 8-year-old on a blacktop (except maybe when I'm bounding around on a rooftop). There is an inherent carefree perspective to the city when you’re running in parking lots with its most innocent inhabitants. Though like the children themselves, a worriless existence is often marred by the sharp pangs of reality - their reality, mind you, not mine. 

The people who work at Safe Haven, a nonprofit after-school program in Newark, sometimes come into the city on weekends. They need an outlet to see others their own age and to escape what can be a highly uplifting or horribly depressing lifestyle.

But the opposite is true for me.

There are days I need to leave the city in order to half grasp my own existence, much less remember why I relocated to New York in the first place. I'd be lying if I told you my connections in Newark weren’t one of those reasons. 

The truth is, I need to be pulled in multiple directions. I need to get holes in my clothes, and scratches on my knees. I need to fall down and run fast on a playground and have hair in my eyes and let a fraction of my "adult" life die - because if I don’t? If I do not escape my everyday world, I will surely loose touch with a more truthful version of reality. 

And that can’t be found in an office. Or a club in the Lower East Side. Or even at a bible study in the Village. My realities are always found when I'm most uninhibited, and yet heavily burdened by something that has nothing to do with myself. 

“Tag! I gotcha!”

A smaller girl with big brown eyes laughs around my “frozen” self. As she skips in a giddy circle, a group of children run past us, mowing her down in a matter of seconds. WHAM. Tearfully she looks up at me from the concrete, with a rip in her tights and dirt on her white blouse.

Ah, the pangs of reality.

But I wasn’t worried about her. I knew in a matter of minutes she’d be smiling again, probably trying to play tag by pulling on my green sweater and perpetuating an unsightly hole in the right sleeve.

If there is anything I’ve learned about the children of Newark, it is that they are a special type of brave we can only strive to be within our own worlds. Their resilience shines through every bump, cut, and bruise.    

Hawkins Street playground battles, and a little dose of reality.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Making It Happen

This is a pretty awesome idea.

Hector is a close friend I met in college (as well as my sister’s boyfriend!) and he has some extraordinary thoughts about how to merge his passions. Basketball and serving others in need don’t always go hand-in-hand, but he wants to prove how they can.

Here’s the program: “The Shooting Touch Sabbatical Program grants graduating college seniors the opportunity to travel the world and partake in a international work program using the platform of basketball to help foster education and influence positive social change in third world communities.”

The video below is a part of Hector’s application process, as well as further explanation of how he hopes to achieve his goals and use any grant money received. The more you watch, the more it helps his chances.

PS – This guy has his crap together. As he was listing all of his extracurricular activities on campus, I couldn’t help but smile: Hector was always busy while I was in school with him, but when you are talking together, you’d think you were the most important person in the room. This is one of the many qualities I know that will help him later in life - whether it’s through this grant or through another opportunity just as selfless.

Enjoy and pass along. Happy Friday peps.