Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Pegged Jeans

This weekend I noted not one but five different young ladies sporting the banana clip in their hair*. That clip is a terrible element of the 80s to try to bring back into vogue (stop it, Urban Outfitters, I know it's you that is to blame for this...or maybe Forever 21). But here in this photo is a wonderful element of 80s style to bring back -- the pegged jean!

This is the fabulous ER, who I'm proud to say is a colleague of mine, rockin the pegged jean. Hot!

*Note: all these youngsters were spotted in Brooklyn

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Divorce

Life can be hard. I have now been sitting here in front of my laptop for more than ten minutes trying to come up with a follow-up sentence to that statement that gives it justice and also sends us into the point of this blog post, but I keep deleting the drafts. There's not really much more to follow up with after that simple statement: life can be hard.

A few years ago when my ex-husband and I were in the thick of our culture shock in South Carolina, life was hard. Soon after that we went to counseling and life got even harder because we unearthed the hard truth that I wanted kids from our marriage and he didn't. I was sad and I was angry, but what I didn't realize then that I see plainly now is that we had started on the path to clarity.

After spending a lot of time trying to first convince my ex- that we should have children and then convince myself that I didn't need children in the marriage, I came to a point of acceptance. Mind you, once I got to a point of acceptance, life wasn't rosy. There was and still is a process: I moved back to New York to restart my career, I reached a point of forgiveness of myself and my ex- and I am now currently (re)learning how to be (yep, I'll always be learning that; spoiler alert: we all will).

My ex- and I worked really hard to make our divorce as smooth a process as possible. We started the work of drafting an agreement last year with the goal of being officially divorced by June 2011. But the month came and went this year and the trial still wasn't on the calendar in the courts in South Carolina (you know, y'all, it was the summah and therefore beach season). I began to get really anxious. I was panicky. I had kept "the first week of June" in my head as this marker — a milestone that would soon be surpassed. After that hurdle was cleared, relief would be the reward. But once June morphed into July, I became a total wreck. The what ifs wormed their way out of my subconscious and into day-to-day thought.

Then like a gift a date was finally set for our divorce trial: August 23. I made sure to keep my cellphone close by me in case something funky happened at the trial, but thankfully it was smooth sailing. Sure enough, when my ex- texted me that it was official (so Gen Y of us, right?), the sense of relief struck deep. I wasn't surprised by the feeling. I had intellectualized the process enough so that I assumed relief would be the outcome. It's just that I didn't fully understand why relief was going to be the response. Now on the other side of August 23 I realize that I was relieved because I was no longer responsible to a relationship that wasn't working. Couple that with this amazing lift of the pressure of having children, a pressure that only I was putting on myself, and I present to you, my dearest darlings, the joy of life.

Are there trying times ahead? Yes of course there are and these times can probably be summarized under one general category: dating. Is joy fleeting? Yes, I believe it is. But there's this concept I learned from my therapist in South Carolina that was recently echoed by my sweet JK who got it from this TED talk by Brene Brown and it is that in order to have joy in your life, you must open yourself up to grief. As Brown says in the talk, "to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive" and I am thankful and relieved that I am alive.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Day of Beauty, EV-Style

What's your personal maintenance regimen? Does it involve more than one place? One of the 5,892 reasons why I'm so glad to be back in NY is that all my beauty bars are within walking distance. Here's my list, for which I have the lovely ladies of the EVC to thank (except for my eyebrow place - I found that one all on my own!)

- EYEBROWS: Lulu's Nails on 1st Avenue between 8th and 7th Streets. This place has zero frills but the waxing woman knows the difference between "clean up" and" shape" and has never given me vampy eyebrows.

- BIKINI WAX: Maria Bonita on Prince Street. You're in, you're in pain, you're out. It's a nice, clean job every time.

-NAILS: Top A Nails on, you guessed it, Avenue A. This place is also very efficient. In the winter, they wrap your newly-done toes in plastic wrap, then put on your socks and shoes (smart).

-HAIR: Of course I go to Devachan, y'all. It's probably one of the top 20 reasons why I moved back here. Curly-heads of the world, UNITE!


What's your routine? Have any cool, affordable places in NYC to share? Comment!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 304ish

I woke up, went to work (subway), came home from work (subway), stopped by Filene's and bought some Vince jeans on sale for $39.99, happened upon a dance troupe of 10 people dancing in unison and not-so-in-unison in the square outside of the St. Mark's church which is now a cultural center, decided to stop and watch the troupe, decided then to sit (under my umbrella because it was raining! they were dancing in the rain), then a man also standing in the square who had been whistling at a bird who was chirping back tried to get my attention about how he was talking to a bird and I looked away and continued watching the dancers, then the man kept staring at me so I rolled my eyes and left the bench, I walked two more blocks home and peeled my wet clothes off, got into dry ones and thought it was a pretty nice end of March 31, 2011, my 304th(ish) day back in the city.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Favorite NYC Restaurants as of March 2011

Hello lovers! That's right, I'm so back in action now I can OFFICIALLY share with you my updated list of favorite restaurants. I crafted this list back in my SC days for when friends over there were planning visits here and asking me for my recommendations. Since then, plenty has changed. But some solid favorites have stayed on the list. And so now I think it's only fitting that I celebrate coming to the close of my 10th month back in the city with this groovy wee list.

Enjoy!

FAVE FARM-TO-TABLES
Northern Spy
Back Forty
The Redhead

GREAT BIG-NAME RESTAURANTS
Locanda Verde (Ricotta prepared differently for breakfast than for dinner = love)
Blue Hill
Hearth
WD-50
Craftbar

GREAT RAMEN
Ippudo

GREAT TAPAS/SMALL PLATES
Alta
Boqueria on 19 Street or Spring Street
Bar Jamon on East 17th

FAVORITE GREEK
Pylos

GREAT MEXI
La Palapa (Still the best margarita in all of Manhattan, IMHO.)
Hecho en Dumbo

GREAT BRUNCH
Ciao for Now
Hundred Acres
Prune
Public
Five Points

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monkey Centeno


I have a vivid memory of the day in 2001 that the World Trade Center was destroyed because it reeks of guilt for me. I slept late because I had a service person coming to my apartment to work on...what – a window, the radiator, the buzzer – something that was so instantly trivial, my mind squelches that detail of the memory. He was running late for a visit scheduled for 9:30 am. I commented on his tardiness and told him I had to get to my work at an office (figuring that was something he could never really understand) though the reality was I had only woken up about 20 minutes earlier. "I don't think you’re going to get to work today, lady," his flippant tone annoyed me, as if he knew my secret wake-up time.

"Oh I walk to work, so if it's a matter of the subways being off, that isn't an issue for me." This poor now-faceless guy was going to get it, whether he deserved it or not.

"Uh, have you opened your windows today?" he replied. "The twin towers are down. They've been hit. No one's going to work or anywhere else for a long time."

I grabbed the string that pulled my window blinds up and gaped at the far-off scene unfolding. Only one tower? Smoke everywhere? What does this mean? Would my new friend/comrade be the last person I would see on earth?

The seconds quickly evolved into hours as I turned on the television, learned about the attacks and began my personal story of where I was on September 11, 2001.

In order to mentally calculate my dog's age whenever people asked me, my mind would shoot back to September 11, because Monkey Centeno, the fawn-with-black-mask colored French bulldog who was my dearest fur ball and sweetest companion to-date, was born on October 11, 2001, exactly one month after that historic date. Whenever I struggled to think of how old she was – whenever strangers asked me her age because she was so youthful, so playful – my baseline was that tragic day for New York and the world. It was a historic day with a date I'd never forget, so it worked as the subtle reminder for a proper calculation. What's more, in a matter of one month I went from someone who was considerably selfish, to someone who could be enthralled by another living creature other than myself.

When I first got Monkey, my boyfriend at the time was a seasoned dog-owner and lover. He had enjoyed two Pitbull Terriers before his "overbearing" mother got rid of them behind his back when he left for college. I now realize she didn't want to take care of dogs that were simply not hers, but at the time I made sure to show support for the injustice of it all. We talked of revolution in the form of dog ownership, and six months later – after I completed numerous dog and human personality tests – we decided on a Frenchie.

There's part of me that hates the fact that he was a part of Monkey's life. But I really can't hate someone who took such good care of Monkey in her puppy years. Being a dog owner has its territorial qualities not unlike the personality of dogs in general – is this a learned behavior born from spending so much time with them? You teach your dog, and she teaches you.

After hearing about a stellar breeder in Ohio from a couple I met, I got the nerve up to give her a call and see if there were any dogs available. Her website indicated that she had a litter on its way, but maybe each pup was already claimed?

I had wanted a brindle-colored French bulldog. They're the ones with the tiger-stripe-like coloring. But when I spoke to the breeder, she informed me that there was possibly one pup left (she’d have to check with the woman who originally expressed an interest) and she was fawn black mask. I’d never heard of such a color, and Googled it right after I hung up the phone. Huh, it looked a lot like a Pug. Would everyone confuse her for a pug (answer: yes)? Would I be disappointed if people confused her for a Pug (answer: yes; defensive too, but for different reasons than I had initially thought)? I decided to be glad there was maybe a waiting list for this Pug-colored French bulldog.

The next day the breeder called me back and informed me that the woman who had been in line for the last puppy in the litter had bailed. Based on all I had been thinking just one day before, I completely surprised myself when I blurted out, "I'll take her!" I guess I was ready no matter what color, shade or tone this dog was born with.

While we waited for her to be born, and then to be old enough to come to our home, my boyfriend and I played house like the stork was delivering us a pickle in just a matter of days. I was happy to be sharing this experience with someone I loved, but he was younger than I and I knew deep down that he truly would not last as the lifetime owner of this dog. She was mine and I could feel it before I even met her.

Monkey was born into a litter of three pups with a brother who was being adopted by a family in New Jersey. This family owned a private plane, and since Monkey's breeder was based in New-Something-or-other, Ohio, the family and I negotiated a deal whereby I'd help pay for plane gas and they'd bring Monkey back to Jersey with their new pup. My boyfriend and I joked that Monkey was going to think she’d be living on Park Avenue, and not Avenue D.

After we drove the soup bowl-sized lump of fur back to our apartment, we delicately carried her up the stairs and gingerly placed her on one of what would be at least 15 different dog beds. We stared at her wondering what she'd do next. She stared back at us, her head all eyes, and peed on her first bed. I knew I would have my work cut out for me with this little fur-covered cannon ball.

When I walked Monkey down the street, or in the park, or carried her around in a dog carrier to take her to Florida for the holidays, the conversation with strangers was always the same:

"Your dog is so good, what's his name?"

"Her name is Monkey."

"Oh, that's what I call my husband/wife/son/daughter/dog too. How'd you choose the name? Because she looks like a Monkey?"

"I gave her the name before I even met her. I knew one day I'd have a dog, and her name would be Monkey."

Monkey grew to precede me in every circumstance. When I'd walk her to Tompkins Square Park dog run, neighbors on the streets where she and I ended up living – first 6th Street, then 10th, then 12th and again on 10th – would call out, "hey Monkey!" or "there she is, in a rush to get to the park." She was the official mascot of each office of the four different companies where I worked over the course of her lifetime. When she and I lived in South Carolina with my husband, she was the muse for two works of art: a song with the line, "running through the grass, you can tell she's having a blast, it's Mon-key" and a drawing done by a young woman in art school of Monkey sleeping in a pile of clothing strewn on the floor. For I don't know how many years of my life, at least the past five, when talking to or emailing with friends I hadn't seen in a while, the first two questions they would ask, in the following order, were always: "how are you?" and "how's Monkey?"

Having a seemingly ever-present lump of love around all the time was life changing. There was a time that I was selfish. There was a time that I had too much free time. Then there was Monkey. Her importance in my life took me so much by surprise, I suppose her sudden death makes sense in that it equally took me by surprise. Just as quickly as she took a hold of me and rocked my trivial world by becoming the dearest family member, so too did she rock my life by leaving so abruptly. At the beginning of the week she was having seizures, by the end of the week she was gone.

Monkey, aka, my sweetie girl, Mageelee Mo, Mugs not Drugs, Monkers Speelunkers, Mugs Geelilyloo, Mary Mo (and a host of other nicknames), I miss you dearly...and thank you.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't Give up on Century 21 Department Store

Yesterday, after recycling some electronics at TekServe with SH, I decided to cruise down to Century 21, my all-time favorite discount department store, to purchase some new jeans. Though I didn't get off the N in time and therefore took the scenic route downtown via Brooklyn (but who doesn't love a beautiful view of the city from the Manhattan Bridge?), I eventually ended up elbow-to-elbow with many European tourists sifting through the racks.

Many of you dear readers have recently lamented that Century "isn't what it used to be." I use this post to say to thee, you are correct. In fact, it's better and here's why:

1) There are now dressing room stalls
2) The women working in the dressing room are actually nice
3) I didn't overhear any sales people lamenting about their nare-do-well baby daddies
or some other type of gripe. In fact, I didn't overhear any employee conversations.

And on top of all this new-and-improved customer service, basically everything in the store is at least 1/3 if not 1/2 off. I got two pairs of J.Brand jeans for $40 each and I went there looking for jeans. True story.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My Fashion Forward Office

How cool are my colleagues? Answer: so cool! Today everyone is rockin the hot styles. So much so that I simply had to share their funky outfits on the blog. Check em out, yo. And by the way, Happy New Year!

Here's Karen in culottes and a tie-at-the-neck top:



And what about Simon's glasses? Awesome, right?



Check out Sara, our fearless leader, in these pink wool pants. That detail she's pointing to is PART OF THE PANTS!