Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are book stores going out of style?

I am a lover of the written word. I do not own a kindle. I do not listen to audio books. I still subscribe to about 10 different magazines.

There is nothing that compares to me to the scent of a new book, and the feel of the pages between my fingers as I eagerly flip the page. And I just love the way they look all stacked on my bookshelves. I've been known to buy on Amazon. I do love their freakishly accurate suggested purchases, but I prefer to stop into a bookstore, wander between the stacks and look for new friends that I hadn't thought to buy.

Yet, the last few times I have gone to a bookstore to pick up my monthly read for book club, or just a book I've been itching to read, they haven't had it. Barnes and Noble didn't carry Just Kids by Patti Smith. Borders was all out of Swan Song by Robert McCammon, and there was not a volume On the Road in sight. That just seems like a sin. Where has all the inventory gone? Am I just hunting for unpopular books, or has buying books in person simply started to go out of style?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boots I'm loving

One of my favorite things about fall is all of the fabulous boots that appear in stores. I happen to live in a location where I get to pass Aldo and Steve Madded everyday on my way to and from work. This leads to quite a bit of window drooling as I oogle all the fab fall shoes. These boots, called the Dalley, have really caught my eye. At only $80 bucks, I just might go pick up a pair today in preparation for the cooler temps later this week. I have a thing for suede, but I hate how messed up suede gets in even the slightest hint of rain or snow. These boots are the perfect combo, party up top with the suede, business on the bottom with leather. I need them so I can dilly dalley all over the city wearing them. Want.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tugboat Tours!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a tugboat, and pull a giant barge down the East River? I have. I am fascinated with tugboats because:

1. My Grandpa was a tugboat sailor, and traveled around the globe toting other ships and often found himself in NY Harbor.
2. I have always lived near the perimeters of NYC (the rent is cheaper there people!), and I tend to go running along the river paths. Tugboat spotting while running is a sport to me.

If you’re as weirdly fascinated by tugboats as I am, now is your chance to experience riding one. How often does that opportunity come around? My guess is not very.

Tomorrow at 1pm and 3pm, the tug Pegasus (from 1907!!) is giving FREE 2 hour rides around NY Harbor, starting at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6. Get there early, each tour only takes 40 people. Check out this site for more info.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kitten Heels clawing their way to the top

Kitten heels are everywhere this season, stomping down runways, clogging up the shoe section, and on the feet of the women in my office. I, for one, am not a fan. Granted, I understand they go with the whole 1940's revival vibe that's going on in fall 2010 collections. Hemlines are dropping, bust lines are rising. There's a real return to old fashioned styles, some of which I support. Cute cardis with full skirts? Yes. The leather Louis Vuitton poodle skirt? Yes please. Rocking a bouffant? If I knew how to tease my hair in a way that didn't look like a rat's nest I would totally do it. However, there are some trends that I am happy to see left in the past.

Take tea length skirts/dresses falling below the knee, but not quite to the ankle. Is that really cute on anyone? I've only seen that style relegated to poor choice in bridesmaid's frocks, and now it's all all over my fall fashion magazine issues. It's not demure, it's just unflattering on most, making you look shorter and stumpier. Ditto for Kitten heels. There's something very old ladyish, and prim and proper about a sensible 2 inch heel. Especially with a pointy toe in slingbacks. And I find them wobbly to walk in after being used to having such a great distance between my heel and the ground. I may have turned my ankle once or twice even trying them on.

Ok, so I'm somewhat of a heel extremest. I'm either wearing flats, or wearing something 4 inches and up. Heels any shorter just don't do much for me. They don't do much for my calves either, and they definitely don't give me the sexy sway in my step that balancing on higher spike will. And they just don't make me feel as good about myself and my look as a daring pair of towering platforms.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How I decided what college to go to

Where are the "Bodies" coming from? That is the question.

This week I have had two separate conversations with two separate strangers on the subway who were gazing over my head while I happened to be seated in front of a large ad for the Bodies exhibit. If you haven’t heard of the exhibit, check out some info here.

I actually started to talk to them (this is very uncharacteristic for me, I normally avoid talking to strangers) because I was curious about their outrage at something I thought was an interesting medical display. I haven’t been to see the Bodies exhibit yet. I had been entertaining the idea, but still a little skeeved out by the idea that it is real people’s bodies they are showing. Now after I’ve been hearing all about where the bodies come from by way of the aforementioned strangers on the subway, I am having second thoughts.

Ever wonder where all those bodies came from? Well, apparently this is the source of the outrage the people I encountered had. The bodies come from a medical school in Dalian, a coastal city in China. The university owns the bodies, and is leasing them to Premier Exhibitions for $25 million over a 5 year period for use in the exhibits.

The Chinese government has provided certificates that “guarantee” that none of the bodies has been a murder victim, prisoner, mental patient, or aborted fetus. However, in a country that is notorious for human rights abuses, many don’t put much faith in these “guarantees.” Both people I spoke with are of the mind that the bodies were victims of Chinese government executions.

Strange coincidence? Perhaps not. China has been put under growing scrutiny this year to reduce the number of executions for capital punishment from nations around the world, and from organizations such as Amnesty International. Human rights watchdog groups are troubled by the idea that people did not give consent for their bodies to be displayed before their death, and that after recent Chinese government bans on the black market sale of body parts the Bodies exhibit might just be another way for China to hide the bodies so to speak in a seemingly legitimate scientific forum. There is widespread poverty in China, a huge financial incentive, and previous record of government secrecy and rights abuses. Should the Bodies exhibit really be taking these on faith that the bodies were obtained in an ethical manner?

Public opinion of New Yorkers on the subway is clear. It is a vehement No.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Improv Everywhere

I've heard of Improv Everywhere before, but never been witness to one of their stunts....until this weekend. They are a comedy troupe that stages large scale public pranks across NYC. They are the creators of the No Pants subway ride. They put on a performance in the subway of the scene when Princess Leia meets Darth Vader. They painted a line down a 5th ave sidewalk dividing walkers into two groups: Tourists and New Yorkers. They have even recreated scenes from Ghostbusters in the NY Public Library.

Their latest endeavor took place this past Saturday at Coney Island. I happened to be there with my lovely friend Annie. We decided to take advantage of one of the last weekends of summer by going to the beach. And I had been dying to ride the Brooklyn Flier ever since I heard about these awesome flying swings that shoot you nearly 40 feet up in the air. We were relaxing on our beach blanket, taking in the usual freaks that tend to wander the Coney Island area, when we started noticing people in formal attire. We figured there must have been a wedding, and brushed it off as nothing too out of the ordinary for a place full of weirdos. We even remarked what a mean bride it would be to make your bridal party schlep around Coney Island in formal wear. Then I saw a few people on the board walk who looked as if they had been swimming in their tuxes. Weird.

Turns out it wasn't just the typical strange people who are drawn to the Coney Island beach and new Luna Amusement park, but Improve Everywhere (IE) putting on a show as Gothamist reported in Coney Island Goes Formal. They just wanted to mess with people's heads, and see how people would react to dress so entirely unsuited for the beach. As a typical New Yorker, I was unimpressed. I just shrugged my shoulders, gave them a strange look, and figured it's NYC, you're bound to see some of the strangest things.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alligator Invasion in Queens

The urban legend is true. There ARE alligators living in NYC’s sewers. Gothamist reports that yesterday during the torrential down pours an 18 inch babeh gator appeared near a storm drain in Astoria. Police are reluctant to admit that the critter came from the sewers, and suggested rather that someone had dropped it out of a car. Sure. I travel with loose alligators in the front seat to ditch during rain storms all the time, I don’t know about you. I think we know the truth here. Urban legends are real, and this time there’s proof. Bystanders at Newton Ave and 29th street took cell phone pics, and documented the event, it’s not just something you heard happened to your cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s sister-in-law’s baby sitter. Don’t worry for the little fella though, police have turned him over to a licensed reptile rehabilitation center. Check out the full story here.

Free Jeans Friday

Levi's is giving away free jeans this Friday. For real. Starting at 10am, and going to 4pm, on a first come first served basis Levis is handing out a pair of their new Curve ID pants to anyone who comes in and brings an item of clothing that no longer fits, which will be passed along to Goodwill. I heard about the event first from my weekly W mag email. After not believing my eyes, and doing a little googling, this blogger has the low down on free jeans Friday, and lots of other cool free loot. There will be performances by Janelle Monae, and styling tips from Bobbie Thomas. The mastermind behind Curve Id, You Nguyen scanned the bodies of over 60,000 women in 3-D, then used the body mapping to create a new line of jeans designed specifically to fit female body types. The new system of fit is based on body shape, not body size. They came out with 3 main shapes.
  • Slight Curve – designed to celebrate straight figures
    Slight Curve is designed to define a woman’s waist, while accentuating her curves. If jeans usually fit in the hips and thighs but are too tight in the waist, a woman should try the Slight Curve.
  • Demi Curve – designed to fit even proportions
    Demi Curve is designed to flatter a woman’s waist, while smoothing her shape. If jeans usually fit in the waist, but don’t flatter the figure, a woman should try the Demi Curve.
  • Bold Curvedesigned to honor genuine curves
    Bold Curve is designed to hug the waist, without gapping or pulling. If jeans usually fit in the hips and thighs, but gap in the back, a woman should try the Bold Curve.
Interesting idea, no? I would definitely try a pair on for size and fit, for free? Of course. Here's to taking an early lunch on Friday to score some free loot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fordham Law goes Fashion

Fordham Law School is pairing with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to launch the world's first Fashion Law institute. I discovered this first when reading the Fall Fashion issue of New York magazine, and came across an ad for the new school. Since Fordham is my alma mater, I was naturally intrigued. I checked out Fordham's Web page, and it's really happening. The first class starts in Fall 2010.

The goal is to provide legal counsel to fashion design students and designers. The institute was created in large part from generous support from the CFDA's president Diane Von Furstenburg (aka the brilliant mind who invented the wrap dress). The program is chaired by Susan Scafidi who has worked to pioneer the field of fashion law, striving to give more rights to designers for intellectual and cultural property. The goal is to provide Fordham Law students with the skill set to become leaders in the up and coming field. Students will focus on particular areas of the law that commonly relate to fashion, including intellectual property, business and finance, international trade and government regulation, and consumer culture and civil rights. The school will be monitored by distinguished members of the fashion industry and the NY Bar association. Very cool! 

As anyone who went to Fordham can probably already guess, it's just another part of Father McShane's 5 year plan to take over the world. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Feeling punchy

There are few things I love more than a good alcoholic punch in the summertime. It's kind of like jungle juice for adults. Everyone likes it. It doesn't really taste like alcohol, and no matter the weird ingredients you mix together for it, it generally still tastes delicious. With it's bright colors and fruity flavors, it's the perfect light summer beverage for a party, and it frees you up to have fun since it can be made in huge quantities and set out in a fancy bowl to let party goers ladle their own. An end to refilling beverages, and worrying that people don't have a beer. Here's some recipes to get you going.

My favorite punch recipe from my childhood (before I spiked it with alcohol) was the classic party punch. Yet, it's even better with a little vodka mixed in. But beware, it's my mom's recipe, straight out of the days when no one could tell if punch was spiked or not. It may taste delicious and refreshing, but it packs a punch. Now that I think of it, maybe that's how it got it's name...

Mom's Raspberry Sherbet Punch

-1 or 2, 2 liter bottles raspberry ginger ale
-1 large container rainbow sherbet
-1 large bottle Hawaiian punch
-1 large bottle raspberry vodka

Chill all ingredients overnight. 15 minutes before party is to start, pour all liquids into a large punch bowl (or plastic Halloween cauldron from Party City if it's at my apartment). Give it a stir. Scoop in the sherbet in large gobs. Stick a large ladle in the bowl. Party on. *To make it a little less sugary sweet, and your hangover a little less crippling, use regular ginger ale, seltzer, or unflavored vodka.

My BFFL's Strawberry Punch

In case some of you are unfamiliar with the term BFFL (pronounced biffle, like wiffle), it stands for Best Friend for Life, but I got this recipe from her. I tried it out on my book club one month, and it got rave reviews.

-1 to 2 bottles cheap champagne. I prefer Andre for all punches, but you can class it up a little bit if you feel like it. I used one bottle regular, one bottle strawberry flavored.
-1, 2L bottle seltzer
-A cup or two strawberry vodka
-A quart of strawberries, sliced lengthwise

Same preparation method as the previous punch, though this one's best served in a pink bowl rather than the Halloween cauldron. Pour it all together, mix. Dump in the strawberries last so they float around on top. As bonus points when I made it, I had a little left over lemonade in the pitcher, so I froze a tray of lemonade ice cubes and dropped a frozen raspberry into each cube before putting it in the freezer. These kept it cool, and gave it a little extra fruity lemony flavor when they dissolved and did not water down my punch. Mixing lemonade with this punch would probably be fairly delicious too.

Bowl fulla Arnold Palmers

This recipe was invented when I was brainstorming with the BFFL for a party punch that was slightly less deadly than the strawberry bubbly concoction.

-A big pitcher of iced tea (a gallon?), sweetened or unsweetened to preference
-A slightly larger pitcher of lemonade
-One bottle Sweet Tea Vodka (I like FireFly the best)
-5 lemons sliced width wise

Mix all the liquid ingredients together, and float lemon slices on top. Use more lemonade than tea, since the sweet tea vodka will add a little tea flavor, and you don't want to overpower the delicate balance of an Arnold Palmer with too much tea.

Now go out there, take a hold of one of the last weekends of summer and be punch drunk with delicious fruity cocktails and happiness. These will not disappoint.


Have you tried the tasty line of snacks that Duane Reade has branded DR Delish? Well they really are delicious. There is a Duane Reade directly below my office, so I'm in the habit of popping down for anything I need during the day, especially a snack.I am totally hooked on their Kettle Cooked Peanuts in the Sea Salt and Cracked pepper flavor. I tried them one day, looking for a nutty snack, but something a little different than your average peanut. They are SO GOOD. The kettle cooking gives them a little extra crunch and snap when you eat them which makes them all the more satisfying. And they are really flavorful. They're coated in a mixture of sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon juice solid that is to die for. They're a little spicy, a little salty, and a pretty healthy snack when it comes down to it. That is, if you can stick to the 1/4 cup serving they recommend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

There's something for everyone, Ladies.

Can we talk about the cast of this movie? I've seen the trailer so many times, and I'm still not really sure what it's about because I am so distracted by how sexy the ENTIRE cast is. I mean ladies, really, if there is not one man in this movie that you're dying for, there's something wrong here. We've got:

  • Paul Walker: Ok, no. He still can't act, but I have a soft spot in my heart for this surfer boy because of his starring role in my favorites of the Fast and the Furious franchise (that would be # 1, and #4).
  • T.I.: All Southern gentleman mixed up with a little thug life, who could resist that combo? Hot.
  • Hayden Christensen: He's not my cuppa tea, but who didn't love him in Star Wars?
  • Idris Elba: LOVE. Badass on the Wire, funny on the Office.
  • Jay Hernandez: What a cutie! Am I right?
  • Michael Ealy: He won my heart in 2 Fast 2 Furious and in Barbershop with those baby blues. 
  • Jonathan Schaech: Did anyone else watch that Party of 5 spin off Time of Your life?

For the fellas, they threw in Zoe Saldana, who I'll admit, I have a little bit of a girl crush on myself. Phew. I'll be seeing it opening night, next Friday, August 27th, even if its just to oogle the goods.

Aaannd on the list of actors I'm not excited to see in the movie:

  • Chris Brown: Remind me. Why does he still have a career? Woman beater.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Donate blood, Save a Life

Today I received my blood donor card in the mail. I donated blood once in college, and then again a few weeks ago. In college my main motivation to donate blood was for a free t-shirt. This time it was because I figured by my age I should really know what my blood type is, and it’s a good way to figure it out.

By principle, I totally support donating blood. I figure why not? I’ve got plenty of it, it doesn’t harm me to give it, and it helps people in need since there always appears to be a blood shortage. Each time I’ve donated blood, though, there has been a few hiccups along the way. One of my friend’s veins collapsed while she was donating, and she had a bloody bruised arm that I’m sure raised some suspicious eye brows around campus for several weeks. Another friend fainted afterwards. This time, when I donated, I nearly passed out myself, mainly because the nurse draped the tube over my arm and hand while I was donating, and the warm heavy tube got me thinking about the blood draining from my body. In the end I got a little extra pampering from my little woozy spell, and a few more rounds of cookies and juice boxes than everyone else. Not a bad trade off.

I’m a little squeamish about blood. I’m fine as long as I don’t have to watch them put the needle in, or see the tube full of blood. Needles don’t really bother me. I’ve had some piercings, I can handle the little thing the put in your arm. I’ve seen the worst possible cases of donating blood, yet I continue to give.

Why? Because I think it’s the right thing to do. You can donate blood every three months and donate platelets every 3 days. Just don’t go out drinking after you donate. That blood they take out of your body? Yea, it makes you quite a bit less able to process alcohol for a day or so. That could be a risky game.

And now I know. I have B+ blood, which as it turns out is pretty rare. Where do you stack up? On average, 45% of the population is Type O, 40% Type A, 10% Type B and 5% Type AB. To learn more about where and when you can donate blood, check out this website.

Money Money Money and how you can keep from losing it to overdraft fees

Over the weekend, a new regulation (Regulation E) went into effect that prohibits banks from automatically allowing you to overdraw your accounts using ATM withdrawls, and swiping your debit card for a purchase. Instead, if you try to take out money that is not in your account, or pay for a purchase that puts you over the limit of your funds your card is simply denied. Paper checks and automatic bill payments will still be pushed through even if it takes your balance below zero for a fee. But as of Monday, August 16th, banks can no longer include overdraft fees as an automatic feature of new accounts.

If you check your online banking regularly, or have taken out money from an ATM recently, you probably already know this, since banks have been trying to recruit members to keep overdraft protection, or sign up for it before the new regulation went into place. Overdraft fees are a huge source of income for banks, and they don’t want to take out the automatic card approval feature where you can have a negative balance from a purchase and not even realize it until you check your statements. Yippee!

I, for one, hate over draft fees (who doesn’t?), and would much rather be warned if I don’t have the money there immediately by a declined card on the spot. Once I ran up over a hundred bucks in fees from accidentally swiping a card for an account I don’t use often and dropping only 35 cents into negative territory. The decline of the card would have made me stop and realize that I took out the wrong debit, and switch to another, saving me a ton of money.

But, for those of you who want to avoid embarrassing declined cards, or have a habit of not tracking your finances closely, banks will still offer overdraft protection if you read a document and agree to the terms. Check out this article to read all about it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Motherhood gets Trendy

I was reading an article  in the September issue of Marie Claire magazine yesterday about one woman’s quest to remain childless, and the current glorification of mothers (especially of the single variety) in America. This particular woman is childless by choice. She just doesn’t want to have kids, and would rather live a life focused on her career and her husband. In the 21st century, this should be a totally acceptable choice for a woman. Yet, she continuously encounters people who think she has “Peter Pan” syndrome, or will suddenly want children once her biological clock kicks in, or will regret it if she doesn’t have children once she is too old. The author, Polly Vernon attributes this partially to deeply ingrained gender norms, and partially to the ultimate mother figure that has become so idolized in pop culture. She raises some good points, and I have to say, that I completely agree with her stance in the article.

I mean really, pick up Star magazine, or US weekly, even People, and I guarantee you will see at least one celebrity placed on “bump watch” for the possibility of being pregnant. Then once the lady in question has actually confirmed she is indeed with child, the stages of her maternity wear, and weight loss after baby are meticulously tracked. Watching celebrities become pregnant, be pregnant, and then become fabulous again after babies has become something of a national pastime. And then there are the extreme examples like the Octomom, and Kate Plus 8, that reveal a strange fascination with normal women who are only known to the public because of their multitude of children. We must not forget the celebs like Madonna, and Angelina Jolie who make adopting, having a couple babes of your own, and still exuding sexy femininity the ultimate ideal of motherhood. All of this is well and fine. There’s something that makes you a little warm and fuzzy inside at witnessing a loving, doting mother with her children.

However, there are a few things that are left out of these fairy tale pictures. Namely that these women have the resources to hire help with their many children, support the huge amounts of food and clothing they go through, and the power to create freedom of schedule so that they can work enough to give all of their children a good life, while still spending time with them. Those resources are something that most women simply don’t have access to, and especially single mothers.

In addition to promoting this ideal of motherhood, there has been a trend towards turning unexpected pregnancy into comedy (we've all seen Juno and Knocked up), and even encouraging women to take their reproduction into their own hands, and have babies without having husbands (or wives) first. Movies such as The Back-up Plan and the most recently The Switch with Jennifer Aniston create perfect endings for women who decided to become mothers without a steady beau in their lives. Even without seeing the movies, I would predict that by the end of it each leading lady has locked down her man, and made her household whole with a wonderful twist of fate. Reality just isn’t like that. If you are knocked up with another man’s child, I’m sure there are not a ton of men out there who are dying to jump on board and be a father to that child (especially if you just met).

The truth of it is that single motherhood is hard work. Even in situations where a father was present, and the parents split up, it is difficult for the parents and difficult for the child to negotiate having different family roles and for the parents to find the time for work, family bonding, and come up with the resources to fit both in. Raising children as one solitary person is extremely difficult, and I think it is time that Hollywood stops promoting it as easy, even trendy.

I am all for reproductive freedom in women. I think if a lady wants a baby, then by all means she should have it, if she has the resources to create a good life for that child. I think that it is fantastic that women can have children without being married without being publicly scorned, and that the ideal of the traditional family has expanded to include more roles (see this article, also from Marie Claire—how cute!!). And I believe the single mothers are some of the best mothers out there because they work twice as hard and love their children twice as much.

But really people, should it be glorified as the best thing to do? The women in Hollywood make it work, because they have a huge monetary and social network to rely on. Single mothers who become single after becoming pregnant make it work because they have to, and because they love their children. The thing that bothers me is that Hollywood goes around making it look easy, even ideal to have a baby without a family first. And that, my friends, is just about as realistic as all those romantic comedies out there where just by being in the right place at the right time the heroine gets her guy, gets her dream job, and becomes famous and wealthy right before your eyes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Central Park Movie Series

Attention all you outdoor movie lovers (read: everyone). The Central Park film festival kicks off a week from tomorrow. They'll be showing a total of 5 movies, all picked to highlight "Iconic New York" between Tuesday and Saturday. For everyone who loves outdoor movies, but hasn't been able to make the time to see enough of them this summer now is your chance to get in a bunch before summer ends. The movies start at 8, though gates open to the public at 6:30pm. I recommend bringing some wine, snacks, and a blanket and getting there early to score a good spot. They are showing just north of sheeps meadow at mid-park and 69th street. You can find more info on this website.

  • Tuesday 8/24: Fame
  • Wednesday 8/25: The Taking of Pelham 1,2, 3 (The new version with Denzel)
  • Thursday 8/26: Saturday Night Fever (this would have been a better choice for a Saturday NYC...)
  • Friday 8/27: King Kong (the old version, not the stupid Naomi Watts version)
  • Saturday 8/28: Manhattan (Woddy Allen and Diane Keaton, how can you go wrong?)

I'd like to see all of them, but I'm guessing I'll definitely try to fit in Saturday Night Fever. I think I'll pass on The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3. Riding the subway this time of year is scary enough with all the smelly people. I don't need to have nightmares of train hijackings too. Thank-you-very-much. Get out there and enjoy!

Romance novels vs. "Serious" Lit

I have a weakness for Nora Roberts books. Cringe all you like. It’s probably linked to my obsession with bad reality tv, is it a little smutty? Then I like it. I was traveling this weekend, and managed to read all of the magazines I had brought with me. There happened to by a Nora Roberts novel, Tears of the Moon laying around. So, I picked it up and brought it with me. I had read her book The Reef one summer, and was totally sucked into the story immediately. It made me want to run off on a boat trip, start treasure hunting and live permanently in the Caribbean.

I figured the book would at the very least give me some entertainment on what turned out to be an absurdly long bus ride back to the city from Upstate NY (I hate you summer Sunday night traffic!). And I was right. I’m already 183 pages in since last night, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It has me itching to run off to Ireland and marry a pub owner. Yet, on the subway to work this morning I found myself a little ashamed to be pulling it out of my bag with it’s flowery purple and green cover, and title, it just screams romance novel.

It got me to thinking, why is romance such a scorned literary genre? According to Wikepedia, romance novels are the most popular genre, and made up 55% of all novel sales a few years back. Yet romance is condemned as silly, trivial, and even dirty lit. But the truth is in the numbers, it’s popular.

In academia, however, it is not taken seriously. I can vouch for the fact that in all of the courses I took leading to the completion of my major in English, I was never assigned a single piece of literature that even closely resembled a romance novel. Shakespeare’s romances, and some scandalous poetry were the closest we came. Madame Bovary edged toward the arena of detailing women’s love affairs, but was quite frankly too brutally boring to make it through.

As a case in point, a professor at Fordham University, my alma matter was secretly a romance writer for many years before she felt confident enough to reveal her true identity to her colleagues. Her real professor name is Mary Bly, her NY Times best selling pen name is Eloisa James.

Her writing is extremely popular, has been translated into 9 languages, and topped best seller lists. Yet she only “came out” as a romance writer in 2005 for fear that academia would not take her seriously if they knew of her extracurricular writing. Why do people discredit romance so much?

Romance novels are real page turners. They suck you in, and keep you in the story until the end, isn’t that what all writing is trying to accomplish? They sell TONS of books. Are other authors jealous? And they are just plain fun. Can more “serious” novelists claim that?

Today's Words of Wisdom

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.
If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

OPI Fall Preview

I just got my hands on the sampler of OPI's new 2010 Autumn colors, the Swiss collection. My mom, knowing my obsession with new nail polish colors, saw it at the salon and picked it up for me. Obviously, I was thrilled and painted my nails right away. True to OPI, it went on smooth without clumping, and dried extremely quickly. One minute I was painting my nails. 5 minutes later, I was helping grill some steaks without a smudge. I did "Color So Hot it Berns" on my tootsies, and it's a pleasing shiny cherry red. I chose "Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous," a sparkly silver for my fingers. It's really the best glitter metallic I've come across in a while. It only took one coat for full coverage, and isn't chunky like many glitter polishes tend to be. It has a slightly purplish tint to it which will go great with fall wardrobes, but still works for the last bits of summer. It would make a perfect pairing with "Color So Hot it Berns" as the tips of the twist on a French manicure I detailed in this post. The quick dry top coat is to die for, and the little sampler bottles are too cute. I agree, OPI, it is irresistible. Though you could have used some proof reading on the box, since irresistible is spelled with an "i" not the pun on irre-"swiss"-ables on the box. I almost can't wait to chip a nail so I can try out the last remaining bottle, a bluish teal, "Yodel me on my cell." 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Botox decreases wrinkles AND emotional experiences?

I've notices a disturbing trend in my Fall magazines. As some of you may know from this post, I subscribe to about 11 monthly magazines, which means that when the fall fashion issues hit, I'm overloaded with reading material. I've been making my way though the stack fairly quickly, thanks to lots of travel and train rides, and whenever I read a number of magazines consecutively, I always begin to notice some overlap in the stories. The common thread this month? Botox and Restalyne injections. For real, and the magazines have been treating these injections as something common place, if not typical that people are doing to fight aging. It's almost like they are promoting these treatments, not as a drastic measure, but a way to perk up, look less tired, and have a subtle change in your looks. I've always been a little freaked out by the idea of Botox, mostly whole the injecting poison into your face to cause controlled paralysis part of it. But, there's never really been any proof besides comedic spoofs that it may be bad for you. In fact, it's promoted as safe by this fall's magazines.

Now there is some proof. Studies have shown that when people who have used Botox in facial muscles watched an emotional movie, they had a decreased emotional response when compared to people watching the same movie who had no Botox, or who had Restalyne fillers. Simply put, the Botox users did not feel as much. Scientists think that this is because the brain reacts to signals from facial muscles. In the same way as when you smile when you are sad, it makes you slightly less unhappy, when you can't smile or cry with certain muscles, the feelings you experience are decreased. Now Botox doesn't just make you look creepily emotionless, it makes you feel that way too. I think I'll skip being wrinkle free, if it means I don't have to turn into a robot.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's makeover season

I just received InStyle’s fall Makeover edition, and Jennifer Hudson is the cover girl. And let me just say that girlfriend deserves it. She looks super fab. And talk about a makeover. She went from a size 16 to a size 6. Though it is taking me some getting used to her being so little (she was so pretty before losing the weight!), I am sure it is better for her health and her happiness in the long run. 

Jennifer dishes about how she lost the weight through normal healthy eating (weight watchers). Her motivation to drop some pounds came on when she realized she was wearing the same clothes when she was pregnant as before she became pregnant and knew it was time to make a change. Her upcoming wedding probably didn’t hurt either. There is nothing like the fear of being immortalized in millions of pictures to get you in the best shape of your life. She realized that dropping the baby weight would be a chance to start over with a new body.

It’s so funny the things that make you stop and think and have a realization that something has got to be different. Maybe you see a photo, and realize that the dryer wasn’t shrinking you jeans after all.Or maybe summer's ending and you're just looking to shake up your life a bit. 

I know I am always looking for ways to transform myself whether it's a different hair color (I've done red, pink, many shades of blond, and au natural), fun outfit that is a totally different style than you normally wear, or a daring nail polish shade. A little tweak, or a big change, like Jennifer's can totally change the way you feel about yourself, and the way you present yourself to the world.

Recently I decided that I'm a grown lady, so I should learn how to wear lipstick instead of lip gloss. I've been trying out various shades in the privacy of my own home, but it just looks so weird to me because I'm not used to it that I have yet to make it out of the house. Baby steps. What life transformation have you been working on lately?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mantra for the month of August

Apartment hunting is slowly taking over my life, and with a ratio of tons of apartments viewed to zero being awesome, I'm just trying to convince myself that if we keep looking something great will pop up. Now all I need is a little luck.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Home sweet home? Not if NYC can help it

Why is it so hard to find apartments in NYC? Well, I have a few ideas. Welcome to the top 5 reasons finding a place to live sucks.

1. Broker=Liar
I think first and foremost is that the word broker seems to be synonymous with liar. Did they list a 3 bedroom? Certainly. Does that imply that there are actually 3 bedrooms? And a living room? Not on your life. It actually might be a loft. Did you make at appointment at 12pm? Don’t plan on being back to within your lunch hour. Did they say it was $3595 a month? Well, they meant $3800, oh, and even though it was listed as no-fee. Surprise! There is one.

Brokers bend the truth, outright lie, and use bait and switch techniques to get you to see an apartment then have that apartment not exist, but another more expensive or less alluring one nearby up their sleeve to show you. I’m not really sure what they think this technique works, all that happens is a big waste of time for everyone involved. I’m sick of it. Can we get some ethics in this industry? People?

2. You can only start looking the month you want to move.
Which means that it is super stressful because you know that in 30 days or less when your lease is up, you become homeless if you don’t lock one of these bad boys down, ASAP. Welcome to devoting your entire life to hunting for listings and going to see places that there is a 90% chance will be a total mess. It is like a full time job. Other cities seem to have places available to rent a couple months in advance, I’m not sure why we can’t do that too.

3. Leases end on the 31st and Start on the 1st
This is what I don’t get. If my lease starts on September first of 2009, why can’t it end on September first of 2010? Instead, management companies seem to finagle it so that you have to either move in early to your next place, or make everyone else mad by squatting in your apartment for an extra day until your new lease starts. Why can’t leases just start the day you see the apartment? It would avoid the whole crush of everyone moving on certain days that makes it difficult to secure movers, and the elevator of your new building.

4. High pressure tactics
Brokers and real estate management companies capitalize on the stress they know you are feeling. They try to pressure you to sign immediately since the apartment may be gone a half hour later when they show it to someone else. Do you like it? Do you want to commit to spending the next year of your life there? Can you decide in the next five minutes?

And last but not lease. I mean least.

5. The ridiculous paperwork
Is it really necessary to make 40x the monthly rent? Well, for 90% of places yes. And if you need a guarantor (read: can pressure your parents into cosigning with you to get that awesome place) it’s 80x the annual rent. I mean really? Do most people have that kind of money? Then while you fill out the paperwork, prepare to fear that your identity may be stolen as they require bank statements, tax returns and verification from your employer in addition to a credit check, and yes. You have to give it all (and possibly your first born) to the sketchy guy who was not on time to meet you and lied about the apartment. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, how about you?

Follow me?

It's Monday, you don't really feel like doing work after the glorious summer weekend you had. Right? Right. Instead, why don't you click this link, or the cute flashing Eiffel Tower icon in the side bar to the right, and start following me on bloglovin'. It's really a handy website--it let's you follow all your favorite blogs in one reading list. Then when a post piques your interest, you click on it and it takes you right to the blog. No more having to remember a ton of different URLs, it's all in one spot. And it's a great way to browse and find new blogs you might be interested in. Check it out!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hurt feelings? Take a tylenol

I've read in two places now, one being Women's Health magazine, the pain reliever acetaminophen has been shown to relieve more than aches and pains from injuries and sinus pain. Now popping a Tylenol can decrease the negative impact of emotional pain (read: hurt feelings). Studies have shown that it targets the pain center of the brain, where emotions such as social rejection, hurt feelings, and emotional suffering live, and blunts the heart ache just like it stops your twisted ankle from throbbing.  Bad break up? Missing your mom? Take a tylenol.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Shake Shack in Madison Square Park= Joy

I went to Shake Shack for the first time ever today. I know. I have been living in NYC for nearly 7 years now, and I have never made it to this city institution. And I have no excuse. I work oh, about a 5 minute walk, if I’m meandering from one of their locations. It was the perfect afternoon for it. In case you don’t know what it is, it’s essentially just what the name says. It’s a little place that only serves burgers and fries, hot dogs, ice cream, and shakes, but everyone is obsessed with it because it is so good.

I had the Shack burger, and a black and white milkshake. Both were just divine. I don’t really know how to describe it. The burger was really just a burger, but it was hot and juicy and delicious on a tasty bun. The milkshake was the perfect blend of chocolately and vanillay.

Now I understand why there is ALWAYS a line around the park to get at this yumminess. I think that the wait even made it better. You are just standing there getting hungrier and hungrier, thinking about how good it is going to be once you get it. The anticipation adds to the flavor. My only regret is that I didn’t get two milkshakes: one to go along with my meal, and one for the walk back to the office, oh, and a side of cheese fries. Yes, they were that good.

Today's Free Event

Tonight on Pier 84, NYC is sponsoring a free amateur boxing match. The event is called Rumble on the River. Apparently it is part of a Friday Night fights series that has been going down on the river all summer long, but they decided to throw a free fight night in. Probably to lure in people who are curious about boxing, but not curious enough to drop any cash to go see a fight (like myself). The fight is set to start at 7pm, but the event description suggests that it might not start until the sun sets. Feeling blood thirsty? Or just in it for the riverside views (or the hot boxer bodies)? It's on my agenda of free summer events to attend. I'll be there, possibly with a stop at this bar for some cheap pitchers and free hot dogs beforehand.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If you want something done, do it yourself

Mom was right on this one. It seems the only way to get anything accomplished is to do it myself. Lately I have been sheerly amazed at the lack of initiative that the general populace seems to have. I feel a little like my Gram saying this, but where is your motivation people? It’s your life, take control of it. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it (as my fortune cookie told me the other night)! Get moving.

Now, I understand, I’m somewhat of a go-getter. I always have been. I’m a fairly energetic, and frankly I’m just too impatient to sit around and wait for people to do things for me when I can probably do it faster and better. This has gotten me into some trouble in the past, like when I decided to take the door off my apartment to move a desk in rather than waiting for help, and then could not get it back on. I’m not stuck up, but a little skeptical. I just don’t necessarily believe that if you say you are going to do something, that it translates into it actually getting done.

Take real estate agents for example. You call them, they are with a client, and say they will call you in an hour. Do they? Not typically, it is more like a couple hours. Take office meetings. They are set to start at 2pm. Do they? Not usually, people are still filtering in from their desks at the start time. It doesn’t mean be there by then, it means be in your chair, your materials prepared, ready to go at commencement time. I don’t mind if people run late. It happens. The problem is when people consistently do not meet time lines that they have set for themselves, it creates the impression of well, simply, unreliability. Now I no longer believe you when you set a time estimate or personal goal.

Here’s a prime example. For the past month or so there has been no cold water in my building. It is in fact, hot. And it smells/tastes metallic, and is leaving iron stains in my tub and sinks. Generally I would consider it a HUGE health hazard because 1. you can’t drink hot water, and 2. during this heat wave, how have we been surviving without cold showers is mystifying. I, of course reported it to my super immediately. He, in his typical fashion did not call me back, even after several messages. So then I called my management company. They informed me that a couple other people in the building had complained, and that they escalated the issue to NYC.

Yet, there was no initiative from the super or from the building’s management to let tenants know that the problem was being looked into. A couple weeks go by, the problem still isn’t fixed. The building says it is not their problem. The city says it is Con-Ed’s problem. Con-Ed does nothing. The problem is still not fixed. A sign in my building appears that the management has reported the problem to 311, and gives a reference complaint number with the recommendation that tenants stop calling the management company because they can’t do anything further, and follow up with 311. I have an idea of what the management could do. Follow up on the problem themselves? Is that so ridiculous?

I call 311 to report that the problem is still not fixed, and check the status of the complaint oh, about 5 times (the squeaky wheel gets the oil right?). Each representative informs me that the complaint has been “transferred to other agencies” and that they have no more information. One representative even deigned to give me a lecture on being patient, because NYC receives thousands of complaints like this daily. Hello?! This has been going on almost a month. I’ve been patient, and I’m sorry, I thought clean drinking water was kind of a big deal, and a legal requirement of the city.

Finally two days ago I reached a woman who seemed to understand the magnitude of my concern. She investigated a little and determined that the original complaint had hit a wall (read: was not being looked in to after all of the buck passing between the building, NYC, con-ed, and unnamed other agencies). No one else even looked into it enough to realize that. So, she took about 10 minutes and filed a new complaint for me. The next morning a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called me (4 times) and apologized that this has gone on so long and assured me I will have a water test and full report by Thursday morning at the latest. Finally someone who knows how to do their job. He went on to say that all water problems are supposed to be directed to his desk immediately. If anyone had actually done their jobs properly, or even investigated the complaint’s status when I called, this might have been figured out sooner.

The thing that gets me is that there are 10 apartments in my building. Each has at least 2 bedrooms. And for some reason, the responsibility fell to me to get this problem fixed. Really?? I fail to comprehend how no one else that lives there has been interested in picking up the phone to follow up on a real problem, or that the management company did not follow up a single time. It just drives the point home once again. Clearly the management of my building, and no one else that lives there was planning to do anything about the water issue that has been bugging me for so long. They did the minimum they had to by reporting the issue. If I want something done about it to fix it, I apparently have to do it myself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to cure your hiccups

Today I was craving soda, so I picked up a wild cherry Pepsi on my way back from lunch in the park to enjoy at my desk while I worked on my afternoon tasks. As soon as I took the first sip, I started hiccuping. It seems to run in my family. Whenever my mom, sister, and I go to the movies together, they take one drink of the fountain beverage and then we're that annoying group of women who can't stop hiccuping through the previews. Right now, I'm that annoying girl disrupting the quiet of my office oh, every 2 seconds or so with a muffled hiccup.

Everyone has their favorite technique to get rid of em. Mine happens to be first, drinking more of the bubbly stuff that gave them to me in the first place, and then pressing on my diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle spasming that forces you make that awful sound. It's located right below your breastbone. If you press your fingers to your tummy just below where your left and right rib cages meet, it should be right there. When you are hiccuping, you can feel it bouncing up and down. Gently press in towards your spine, and hold while in-between hiccups. It usually does the trick. But today, it didn't. So I started googling ways to stop hiccups before my conference call later today. We've all heard that you can hold your breath, or have someone scare you, but there a lots of other home remedies out there that aren't quite so common. Here are some of the highlights:

-A spoonful of sugar (especially effective if held on the back of the tongue--the "sour center" of your taste buds)
-Stick your fingers in your ears (this comes in handy to block out annoying coworkers ranting about their personal problems too!)
-Drink water (this works the best when done upside down, or from the far end of the cup)
-Pull on your tongue (stick it out and give it a good yank)
-Be tickled (might be inappropriate while at work)
-Breathe into a paper bag
-Take an antacid (if you can get it down in between hiccuping)
-Swallow a spoonful of peanut butter without chewing (better make it creamy, not chunky)
-Lean back and put a penny on your forehead, hiccups should stop after 3 more hiccups
-Drink pickle juice
-And the most original, Have someone ask you "What swims in the sea?" You answer, "Fish" and your hiccups are gone.

What's your go to way to get rid of hiccups?

Monday, August 2, 2010

De-puff yourself

I’ve used this technique a few times to bring my eyes back to normal size when from a particularly sad movie, or an attack of killer pollens, my lids look more like pillows and less like the eyelids they are supposed to. One morning, I woke up and my eye lids were so swollen from allergies that I could barely open them. I had to give a training session that day. Looking like a monster would hardly do.

People always look to cooling agents, like cucumbers and creams to shrink eyelid puff. While it’s slightly counter intuitive to put something hot on already inflamed skin, this little household item really does the trick. I’ve tested it myself. And, when in a pinch, it’s something you probably already have laying around your kitchen.

Chamomile tea bags. Simply heat a little water, and dip the tea bags in as if you are about to have a cuppa tea. Remove, and let cool until they are at a comfortable heat to place over eyes. Lay down, and place the tea bags onto eyelids for about 5 minutes or until bags become cold. The anti-inflammatory properties of the tea will shrink down the eye puff in minutes. Shazam. You’re ready for work.

The saviors to my sunburn

As some of you may recall from this post, I don't tan easily. I have naturally extremely fair and freckle prone skin. I'm Polish (read: very very white). And yet, I love the beach. What's a girl to do?

Well, over the years and many many sunburns, I have developed a pretty solid burn triage that keeps me from peeling (most of the time) and minimizes pain. Apply and reapply aloe vera (straight from the plant if I'm at my mom's house, 100% fragrance free if not), and follow with lots of cocoa butter in between.

Imagine my surprise when I was shopping for aloe last night, thanks to a particularly vicious back burn I acquired from falling asleep on the beach (damn you, relaxing wave sounds!), and I discovered a new breed of aloe. New to me at least. I had just been thinking that aloe should come with some sort of painkiller infused into the gel (topical analgesic to be technical), and then bam! I spot aloe vera with lidocaine. While it only provides temporary numbing relief, if you reapply every couple hours, it really does the trick quite nicely. Now I'm just trying to decide if it is appropriate professional behavior to slather myself with aloe in the bathroom at work.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday evening pick-me-up

I've been too busy hanging out with my sister this weekend, and being sad that she is moving 8 whole hours away from me. To cheer myself up I've been using one of my favorite techniques, looking at pictures of cute animals.
Look at that cute little tongue!

Snuggle much?

Furry little squeeze toy

There. Don't you feel better? I do. A little bit.


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