Monday, March 26, 2007

These boots were made for...

people with skinny ankles. Or at least people who don't have sturdy Polish legs and can't seem to point their toes enough to get the foot through the narrow neck.

I'm talking about cowboy boots, and that means I'm talking about Texas.

I arrived yesterday morning in the fine city of Dallas to find that there are indeed parts of Texas with plenty of trees, and that UNC basketball fans are everywhere. After a rejeuvenating and tasty burger at a Dallas sports bar, my beloved grad-school roommate, MKS, took me to Boot City.

Boot City is next to Boot Town, right off of a highway, and oh lordy do they have boots. Cowboy boots come in more shapes and sizes (all boot-like however) than I had thought possible, and those f*ckers are hard to get on. First I tried the ladies boots. Ladies boots have pointy, pointy toes. Pointy toes and narrow tops for ladies who have more graceful feet than I. And the boots come in every color of the rainbow - red boots, brown boots, black boots, brown boots with orange embroidery, brown boots with blue tops and rainbow embroidery, boots that look like snake, boots that look like alligator, and some that had this nubby presence that seemed to be to repicate dinosaur skin. Some were $50. Some were $699. I think those ones were made out of real alligator. Or at least I hope they were made of real something.

Each pair of boots is on a shelf, organized by size, then organized by color. You take the right boot and you try it on. This is not as easy as it sounds. First of all, these are tall, stiff shoes that don't really yield when you attempt to pull them over the previously mentioned Polish ankles (thanks dad...) and sometimes, when attempting to pull them on, one falls over. Not awesome. However, I'm not alone in my inability to wrangle cowboy boots onto my feet, because the store actually had metal sticks with handles and hooks so that you can pull them on. There's also a device for removing them, but I won't go into that.

Don't wear cowboy boots to the airport, that's all I'm sayin.

Anyway, back in Boot City I found myself looking at the mens boots which had wider openings and wider widths, and still found myself wrestling with the metal sticks and the boot-remover until finally.... I found them! Sassy dark brown cowboy boots with crazy tan, red and orange stitching that are so hilariously awesome that I shelled out more money that I'd been thinking it was possible to spend on shoes that started out as an ironic joke.

I love them. And as soon as I get back to Brooklyn, I'm putting them on and finding myself a hipster bar and some indie rock. And once I'm there I promise I will steal neither tiny jars of jam, nor salt and peppers shakers. Sorry Roebling Tea Room.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I dreamed a dream... or depressing times on Broadway.

I dreamed a dream... Last night I saw the revival (i.e. resuscitation) of Les Miserables last night over on Broadway, and I have to say the theater ain't what it used to be. Call me a crotchety old lady, but since when does everyone in the theater show up in jeans?

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to New York for weekends, and we would get dressed up and go see a show. We saw Showboat, Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis (back when it was awesome). People put on their Sunday best, or at least something business casual, and head to the theater.

There weren't lines down the block like you were waiting for your turn on Space Mountain.

Sure, there were the unfortunate actor-wannabees who were hawking programs and T-shirts at a booth in the lobby, but I can't help but feel that some of the grandeur of Broadway has been lost with the Disney-fication of Times Square. Back when the Hard Rock Cafe was on 57th St. and there weren't giant M&Ms hanging off the sides of buildings.

Am I being old fashioned and nostalgic for something that didn't exist? I don't think so. The NY Times had an article a while back about how Broadway has lost its luster. The shows might be excellent, but it's become a tourist trap - something people with fanny packs do at the end of the day. While that may make me a New York snob, wearing my business attire yesterday I was quite over-dressed for the show.

The other remarkable thing - I saw Les Miserables twice when I was in high school. It was dramatic. It was sentimental, and it totally made me cry. This time, it just had this campy pseudo-sentiment thing going on that depressed me even more than the play used to. Jean Valjean was wicked melodramatic, throwing himself prostrate on the baricade when he realizes that Marius has been wounded.

The main problem with the show is this: they cut it by about half an hour. They cut lines, they cut a few little songs, but most uncomfortably, they just sang really, really fast as if to squeeze it all in.

As my companion last night said - when they sing that fast it's like they're ashamed of what they're doing. And we blame the director. Don't let the Disney vibe of Times Square make you rush through what could be a really powerful show.

Entertainment tally for this week:

Indigo Girls show at Town Hall Theater: A++
Les Miserables: B-
Dinner at Hell's Kitchen cuban restaurant: A-
Dinner at portugese tapas restaurant in Times Square: B+

Next weekend we'll have a Julliard School dance performance, a Catholic school performance of Aladdin and a trip to the tax man to report on. In the meantime, I'm off to Texas to buy me some cowgirl boots.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New York Does Suck Sometimes...

I know a lot of people who say they hate New York, and while I can't say the same, there are sure a bunch of things that make my skin crawl. A condition I commonly refer to as "sidewalk hives"- a state of being in which your desire to be farther away from people is inversely proportional to the distance they are from you. Like walking through Union Square at 6 p.m. to get to the subway. There are about seventeen thousand people, you can't turn. You can't stop. You can just trudge along, knowing full well that you just got elbowed in the boob but that there's nothing you can do about it. The resulting anger makes you want to start swinging, but that dude looks like he could take you... Sidewalk hives.


I don't think I need to vent about the trash and dirt everywhere, but today there's a new plague dousing the city - melting ice. Every scaffold in the city is leaking like a faucet, plunking freezing drops of filthy water onto the top of my head when I walk under them, and there's no not walking under them. Lame.

My other pet peeve of the week has to do with laundry facilities. I.E. I have none. If I want to wash my own clothes I have to drag my laundry through the streets of Brooklyn and vie for the few non-"for staff use only" washing machines at the dingy Union Street laundromat or I have to wash my clothes in a bucket in my tub. How modern! How convenient! Instead, I wind up dragging my hefty bag of soiled garments to the Chinese laundry place that's closest to my house where, although probably cheaper than the self-service one, I wind up with shirts with too-short sleeves and pants that make me look like an 8th grade boy who just had a growth spurt. Awesome.

I just didn't want you all to still be so jealous of New York's otherwise fabulousness. ;)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Googling Me

This afternoon while whiling away my time I decided to Google my own name.

I thought I'd be presented with a list of articles about technology and companies - the dry business stuff I spend my days sifting through. But that isn't what happened. Sure, the first story was some one-off article about a random thing that was connected to Microsoft back in the day, but then the second was the most personal thing I'd ever written. Which had been posted to the internet about five years ago.

It tells the story of the accident I had when I was seven years old, and it was especially jarring to find that at the top of a list that essentially presented who I was to the world, according to Google.

In case your curiosity is now sparked beyond your ability to tolerate.


It's a pretty raw account of something that happened to me a long time ago, and something that has come up more frequently than usual in the past week. As I wrote in the essay, people are so inconsistent with when they think it's appropriate to ask that it always catches me off guard. And having to tell them about something so... well, traumatizing, is an odd cross that I seem to find myself bearing. You have no secrets when something is written across your face.

So, maybe I'm writing this to feel a little more in control of who finds it by putting it somewhere of my own - not at the top of 178 pages of google results.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bookbuyers Anonymous?

They say the first step to getting over any addiction is admitting you have one, but what if you don't want to?

Take, for instance, what I consider to be the bane and joy of my cube-bound existence: Amazon.com. The two Barnes and Noble stores flanking the route I take to and from the subway every morning come in a close second. And I love them. Love them love them love them. Without them I would be a hollow shell of myself. Pedestrian. Plebian. Dour.

The stacks of neat, crisp pages on the tables by the door of the Union Square B&N (we're on an initials-only basis these days), are more seductive than the finest intoxicant. Nothing is more indulgent than a leisurely stroll around the paperbacks, reading back cover copy, flipping through pages to assess the font, line spacing, print size. How long would this one take if I dedicated two hours every night? Or if I spent Saturday at the Tea Lounge with you instead of watching TV with my roommates, I ask a prim copy of "Postwar", a gargantuan tome chronicling everything that's happened in Europe since Hitler got the boot.

I admit I have a problem.

I own more books than I can count, and every time I move I aim to prune the collection and remove anything that hasn't seemed like a good idea in five years or more. This often ends up in towering jenga-like structures against a wall or on the back corner of my desk, teetering piles of paperbacks that are destined for the re-sale counter of the Strand on Fourth Avenue, but which tend to wind up right there. In a pile that stays well past it's sell-by date, and most likely makes it into my next round of brown-boxes and on to the next apartment.

It isn't just that I can't bring myself to get *rid* of books. I'm more likely to resist a martini or a (miraculous) glass of 2003 Stags Leap Wine Cellars cabernet than I am to resist clicking "move to cart" after reading a few pages of... Aristotle, Austin, pulp fiction, anything Penguin Classic, anything I'll need for book club (I'm in two) and then anything else I can justify sneaking into my own shopping cart as I prepare to click "buy"...

I even buy my book-club reads on separate trips so that I have an excuse to buy books twice a month. Two times! And it's never just one. So the shelf of the un-read grows more crowded and my guilt and shame become a darker cloud on my horizon. Not only have I spent more money that I could have given to my credit card company in exchange for my eventual freedom (the indentured servitude of the 21st century), I have more words, more thoughts, more great ideas, stacking up waiting for my lazy brain to get around to turning off American Idol and turning on a lamp, pouring myself a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and doing something other than obesssing over the things I don't know.