Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Blog of 2007!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually, that second part is a lie. When it comes down to it, 2007 was a pretty good year all around.

It started with a slight hangover and a cup of hot chocolate with my dear friend Ruchi at the Tea Lounge in Park Slope. On top of my hot chocolate, the barista made two interlocking hearts of cocoa which she and I took to be an omen of things to come. While I end 2007 single, there has been much love and good will in my life this year. I've made some fantastic new friends and met some brilliant and inspiring people. I reconnected with a dear friend from college who lives nearby but who I didn't see for years. (Foolish!)

I started the year living in a rental apartment and am now the proud owner of a lovely Brooklyn Co-op apartment, in spite of our seriously crap plumbing and the fact that I had to shower at the gym yesterday to avoid flooding my downstairs neighbor's basement (yes, three floors down!). My neighbors are lovely, I'm healthy and happy, and gosh darnit, people like me.

So far, all factors indicate 2008 will be pretty kick-ass too. I'll finally finish painting that hallway, replace the light in the bedroom and maybe even take up spinning classes again. Although that last one is pretty ambitious...

What are your big plans for '08?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Holiday Child Extravaganza

There exists a videotape of Christmas 1982 that may be the single most embarrassing, incriminating thing on the face of the Earth.

My parents had set the video camera up waiting for us to come down for Christmas morning, and the entire unwrapping event has been preserved through the years to be sure that we never try and put them in a nursing home. This video shows the year I got the Barbie Dream House, a complex, do-it-yourself mansion of plastic parts that my father had apparently spent the entire night putting together before getting about 7 minutes of sleep before we tore into their room to see if Santa had come.

In this video, Julie's 3-year old chain-smokers voice can be heard asking for Pep Pep, her beloved toy whale. Jackie, 1 1/2 is stumbling around in her footy pajamas about to be knocked over by the frisky Newfoundland puppy at any second. I, on the other hand, am calmly sitting there with my disheveled hair authoritatively telling everyone exactly what I think they should be doing at every moment in time. I instruct Julie that she has to share things with me, but I get to decide if I have to share things with her. Oy. I am evil!

When we watched this video when Jessica was young, she was devastated. "Where am I? Why didn't you guys let me be in the movie!" And we were all "Jess, this was before you were born..." and she burst into tears. "But why didn't you guys let me be in the movie!" No concept of "pre-me" with that one at the time. Now, I think she's grateful that the videotaping Christmas era pre-dated her existence.

Next up on the X-mas Embarrass-a-thon came the Holiday Child Extravaganza, a holiday beauty pageant cooked up by my grandmother and aunt who made us sing, dance and do interviews on camera. It was the 80s. There's a lot of awful clothing and feathered hair.

I can't actually bring myself to reveal more about it. Suffice it to say that you, dear reader, are very happy to have missed out on participating in the Holiday Child Extravaganza and if I hear you ever do that to your own children I will help them put you in a nursing home when the time comes. Oh yes.

This Christmas, there will be no videotapes. We will instead sip cocktails as my dad is on a fancy fruity martini kick, and on Christmas morning no one will run down the stairs like a bat out of hell to see if Santa came. Now it's more of a "Go get your sister up it's almost 10" kind of event. No dive into piles of presents all lovingly wrapped and then thanklessly torn to shreds. Now there's coffee to be made, teeth to be brushed, dogs to be fed. Then we can gather around the fireplace next to the tree and exchange the things we got for each other.

When I was 5, I got the Barbie Dream House. This year, what I really want is a... Microwave.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why Oprah is on my Sh*t List

Because I am a writer and I want her to like me. Because if *I* wrote a memoir you can bet she'd be the very first person I made sure had a copy. Even before my mother, my grandmother and God. Oprah would read my book. And with a mere mention on her over-hyped program, I would be famous.

I say this because I want the world to know I WAS READING "PILLARS OF THE EARTH" BEFORE OPRAH TOLD ME TO! To prove it to anyone on the New York City subway who happens to read the cover of my book while I'm commuting to work, I'm not even reading one of the new, giantic copies that have suddenly sprouted up like babies nine months after a blizzard. (Oh! Isn't that the latest Oprah book?) Christ. I'm reading an old-skool mass-market paperback edition that has yellowed pages and a torn cover. It looks like a well-loved Steven King novel. It is my shield of literary street cred against all that is Oprah.

Because let's face it. She has great taste in books. At least she endorses books that I think are worth reading like 75% of the time. The James Frey thing was unfortunate, and I totally lust after and envy Joanthan Franzen for having the integrity to tell her she couldn't put her stickers on "The Corrections." Which was brilliant and sardonic and everything a book about family should be. Of course she wanted to put her name on "The Corrections." She's the King Midas of book readers. Every page she touches turns to gold. Who else could get 21st century middle-aged housewives to read Tolstoy and John Steinbeck?

I hate that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cirque du Crap

If I had never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance before Wintuk at Madison Square Garden's WaMu Theater on Saturday, I would still have found the tepid juggling and bizarre anti-plot to be a disappointment.

I can't believe I exchanged cash money for the chance to sit and watch that load of horse sh*t.

Cirque du Soleil. What comes to mind?

Lithe, somewhat emaciated very short Bulgarian trapeze artists in elaborate costumes doing death-defying leaps through the air. Teams of men on trampolines somehow crossing paths in midair while tossing burning swords. But all with a somewhat French sheen of blase and Marcel Marceau oddity. It's compelling. It's mezmerizing. It's not Wintuk.

In the photo here note the weirdo creepy puppet dogs. At times the dogs sing. The boy in the red parka keeps babbling about how he wants to see it snow, but one has no idea who he is or why it's suddenly so important that it snows that he gets on a flying sled with a mime, a woman in a gaudy patchwork cloak who keeps throwing up her arms like she's casting spells in Macbeth, and of course, the giant dog puppets.

I don't want to slam the performers, but aside from the crappy story, the spectacle itself was underwhelming. Two women who were doing acrobatics on ropes basically just spun in circles. There was a woman who juggled 7 pink balls. Impressive if you're at a frat party, but one expects something more from the creators of Corteo, Mystere and "O". The acts were almost comically short as well.

One woman standing behind me at intermission said she felt like they were scamming people by doing the show on a small stage in New York at Christmas. It had to be a gold mine. The performance was sold out. But putting on a lackluster cash-cow of a show should be shameful to Cirque du Soleil. Hopefully next time they come to New York they'll live up to what audiences have come to expect.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Just in case you were wondering...

There have been requests for photos of my wee Brooklyn abode, so here it is in its mostly-finished glory!

My apartment!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Too Many MCs, Not Enough Mics...

In other words, what do you do when you anticipated that your holiday party would be ill attended as it's 10 days before Christmas and tons of people actually love you and decide to come! Ha ha. What a glorious problem to have! But seriously, turnout is on track to be better than I'd anticipated so I'm very excited and looking forward to seeing how many people can fit into 500 square feet of Brooklyn apartment space. I have decreed that no one is allowed to wear big pants or ball gowns. That would take up unnecessary space.

Skinny pants are okay, as long as you don't wear a belt with them in hipster white. That would be too much for my tiny mind to handle.

But the point is this: It's Christmas Time in New York! (Holiday time, if you want to include those other ones...)

Christmas in New York is spectacular. As the days grow shorter and one doesn't even manage to leave the office before nightfall, it's uplifting to see that the street lights are strung with garlands and snowflakes made of lights. I love the crowds clogging Rockefeller Center to get a glimpse of the enormous tree, which never fails to both impress me and make me a little bit sad. So beautiful! So festive! I can't believe we killed that tree!

Somehow the lights and the buzz of holiday shopping and throngs of tourists whip me into a Christmas frenzy and I start doing things like drinking Gingerbread Lattes and mulling wine. Suddenly stew seems like a perfectly viable meal option and brussel sprouts are back in full force. Window boxes in Brooklyn shed their flowers for those cabbage things that go all red in the middle.

When I was a kid we came to New York City during the holiday season to see both Showboat on Broadway and to see the Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular, complete with dancing girls and Santa. Ever since, I've loved Christmas in New York. Apparently lots of people do because you can't get a hotel room between Thanksgiving and New Year's without forking over quite a wad of cash. Makes having that apartment even sweeter.

In keeping with the "embarrassing things that my parents did to us as children" theme I've been developing lately, I'll share the downside of that trip to NYC back when I was about 12. Just old enough to be mortified. By what, you ask?

My mother decided to dress the four of us into outfits as "old fashioned" as we could muster without actually having to go shopping. Kind of crossed with this furry babushka thing - furry hats and furry muffs. On top of the costuming, which was almost too much for a 12 year old trying so hard to be cool to even bear, we then had to go out in the most public of places.

We had to ice skate in Rockefeller Center while she took pictures of us.

If you can't see why this would mortify a 12-year old, I cannot help you. Needless to say, it kind of killed the joy of being one of those ice skaters making endless circles between the golden angels blowing on their trumpets, under that giant, sparkling tree. Those pictures still make me cringe on the inside, remembering the awkward, clumsy girl I was at that age, bumping into things, fretting over who had the other half of my "best friends" necklace.

It makes me sigh with relief that I'm now an adult and on the other end of the Santa spectrum, as in pretending to be Santa instead of pretending to believe in Santa.

Stay tuned for notes on the Holiday Child Extravaganza, the time the pogo stick was thrown on the roof because "Santa dropped it" and the joys of the White Elephant gift swap.