Friday, August 31, 2007

New Thing #159: Pure of Heart

I carved a heart out of soap! There will be pics and updates later, once my camera and writing-brain both decide to stop malfunctioning.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Thing #158: A flash of light

In several cultures (though it's most commonly known as being a Jewish ritual), wedding ceremonies are concluded with the breaking of a glass. It's symbolically saying, "may this be the only thing that every breaks between you." Plus, it's fun to break things. It was that last reason, and completely absent of any ritualistic context, for which I broke a lightbulb by stepping on it. My desk lamp at work blazes for eight hours a day, so I go through lightbulbs pretty quickly. But why just place a potentially hazardous glass orb in a common trash can when I can give it a more exciting sendoff?
Glass-breaking wardrobe courtesy of Andrew Lloyd Webber's ego:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Thing #157: Second Flouride

It's been a tough week. So of course I brushed my teeth in an elevator, at Kevin's suggestion. I rode from floor 2 to 6 to 2 to 1 and back to 2 while nearly choking on Crest Superior Clean in cinnamon. I started to get a little lock-jawy toward the end. I was disappointed that nobody else needed the elevator while we were in it, but it did get captured on the security camera. I am nothing if not a source of amusement for building personnel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Thing #156: Make it Work

Today's inspiration came from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Sound of Music and from the only reality show I've ever been able to pay attention to for more than half a second, Project Runway. In a move that was half whimsical Austrian former nun, half stressed out fashion genius in the making, I created a fashion line out of my living room and kitchen curtains. My collection is a sophisticated, classic one of mostly evening wear, with one beach outfit thrown in. The two-tone blue palate is a reference to Van Gogh, and the poses are a tribute to impatience.

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Thing #155: Ready-eyed

For every weird theatrey thing in New York that I have done or seen, there are probably a hundred weird things that I will never see. That's just how it works. It's all about the math (and you know how good we theatre geeks are at math). But tonight I lowered the odds and I went to a reading of a movie. Granted, it's not that weird. But it is new, considering that the only reading I ever attended that I wasn't cast in was of a musical, not a movie, and was so heavily staged (complete with costumes, sound cues, choreography and a skeletal set) that it was pretty much just an incarnation of a show where the actors happened to have scripts in their hands. Tonight's reading was a bare bones, actors-in-a-circle reading where the only blocking was that the actors stood when they spoke. It was a charming rom-com set in New York, and the stage directions (read out loud by a stage manager) were more filmy and detailed than stage directions. I've been in readings before, but to be in the audience of one means you really have to use your imagination, forgive the sparseness, and cast it in your head with 20-something celebrities.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Thing #154: November Echo Whiskey

Tonight I memorized the Military Alphabet. I meant to memorize it some time ago, and just never did.
Before I gave it some time and actually sat down and committed it to memory, I wrote down what I did know and what I guessed some other letters stood for:

Here, a couple of hours later (time alotted for letting it marinate and reciting it while switching my laundry):

Zulu? Who knew. And I'm really disappointed that Oprah is indeed not part of the Military Alphabet.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Thing #153: Take 2

A couple of weeks ago, sort of as a last resort on a day when I was traveling and New Things were surprisingly hard to come by, I ended up seeing the entire stretch of 125th street. But since I saw it through the window of a cab, it seemed less real and more like a movie. Well tonight, on the way home from Blue Man, I lived it. I took a walking tour through west Harlem, due mostly to my curiosity and desire to see the Apollo Theatre up close instead of whizzing by it in a cab (and a little bit due to spacing out on the train and not switching from the 3 to the 1 in time). It was a pretty long walk, and I mixed it up by walking up or down town in different directions a couple of times. I saw th Apollo, the MCC campus, Riverside Church, the Methodist church and a staggeringly huge H&M. I opted to remove my semi-permanent iPod headphones in favor of the nostop music on the street, blasted from nealry every vendor table and open-front business. You could hear everything- jazz, hip-hop, standards, classical.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Thing #152: Le eau du awesome

To round off this week's birthday festivities, I arranged an evening in the pool at Le Parker Meridien, a swank midtown high-rise hotel that's so chic half the signs are in French and nearly everything is covered in mirrors. If you think you've swam in a pool before, you might need to reevaluate just what that means, as I needed to after Kevin, some of his friends and I swam in the 41st floor pool at Le Parker Meridien, with panoramic views of midtown and uptown Manhattan, including Central Park (and Heaven, since there's a skylight). Most of the fancy hotels I've stayed in have been stopping points on important trips, with no time for frivolities like pool time. But when such a wonder is in your backyard and you can take part in the perks without necessarily having to shell out to stay there? I say do.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Thing #151: Balloonatic

Tonight I made balloon animals! This was so much fun! But it was a bit frustrating- I had to put it off for a couple of days because I nearly passed out the day I had planned to do it. The long, animally balloons are NOT easy to inflate with breath, so I had to buy a basketball pump. That worked like a charm, and I think I got a bit carried away with just inflating single balloons:
But rather than cop out and make a bunch of slugs or snakes or hot dogs or unnaturally straight tree branches, I found instructions on how to actually make something multi-dimensional, and I made a dog!

When I was done, I realized that the rest of the slugs were too underinflated to make more dogs, so I made up my own hat pattern.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Thing #150: You hikari up my life

Today is Kevin's birthday, and in addition to doling out the customary DVDs and small tokens and somewhat jokey trinkets (Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans! Revoltingly awesome!) I built a Japanese Shoji lamp and gave it to Kevin for his birthday. The soft, glowy effect is just what he'll want in his living room after hours of work, and probably has some mystic quality to it as well. How could it not?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Thing #149: What Will Be Revealed?

I'm not a big concert goer. I think I go to an actual rock concert, where I don't know the band and am not in it, maybe once every four years. I don't like standing or crowds or the smell of beer, so that sort of rules out anything that isn't Avery Fisher Hall, a small jazz joint or me in the mirror with a hairbrush. Nevertheless, I do like to pretend to be hip, so tonight I went to see the New Pornographers at Bowery Ballroom. I'd never seen this band (one of the few groups I like whose members are still alive and not the cast of a Broadway show) or been to the Bowery Ballroom, so when improv pal MJC offered up some extra tickets, I jumped at the chance. And though we got separated from them, several other improvisers, including an adorable joint venture known as Warthermore, were in attendance as well. The band is releasing a new album this week, so some of the tunes were new, but they did play some of my NP faves, like "The Laws Have Changed," "Jackie Dressed in Cobras" and "Testament to Youth in Verse." I ducked out before the second encore because I didn't know it and was adamant about being able to get a cab right away. That has nothing to do with the awesome factor of the band- that's just me being an old lady who still doesn't love concerts but is willing to give something a second chance.

Oh, and I got this reply to my letter to Slime Gorner:
Hello Jen,

Thank you for your inquiry.

[Slime Gorner]'s ongoing commitment is to excellence in customer service
and the latest in products and technology for customers in all our
service areas. Customer input such as yours is valuable in future
service provisions and we appreciate your taking the time to let us know
about your experience with our representative, Anthony. I will be happy
to forward your comments to the appropriate persons in your local
(Notice they offer no apology for/explanations to my having to talk to three different people just to get to someone who knew what they were doing.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Thing #148: TWic

When I recovered from the paranoia of retribution one faces after messing with a large company's phone system, I needed to call back for real and actually confirm the appointment I really do have for an equipment upgrade. So I called the company (which rhymes with Slime Gorner) tonight to do just that. Well, of course it's never that simple, and I had to get put on hold (with terrible music) twice before reaching the person who could actually answer my questions. The guy I got was so nice and patient and helpful, not to mention well-spoken and polite, that I felt compelled to sing his praises to a manager. So when I got off the phone I wrote a letter that I hope will eventually get to whoever manages a customer service rep named Anthony. I've had some great customer service, both phone-based and in-person, but I can't think of one time when I did anything more than thank the person who helped me. In hindsight, there have been times when I really should have gone the extra step and written a nice note to the manager. I think I'll start doing that from now on, but here's my first one:

Dear Customer Service Phone Staff Manager of Whatever Department it is Which Handles Service Calls From [my zip code],
I would like to take a moment to praise the professionalism and courtesy I experienced while speaking with customer service representative Anthony. After getting transferred twice by people who were not as readily able to meet my needs, I finally reached Anthony, who not only took care of my request in a matter of seconds, but was extremely patient and informative. I realize that [Slime Gorner] does not have any control over the wait period that its customers are faced with, but you can understand how sitting on a phone line for nearly an hour might make people upset. Anthony seemed to understand that to, and did everything in his power to make sure I didn't have to sit on hold again, and that my problem was taken care of.
Thank you,

Just between you and me, I mostly did this to even out my karma after the singing thing. Maybe.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Thing #147: Groovy

No trip to the country is complete without a little woodswoman action. There were trees to be chopped and I was the one who had to do it. So after Joe, doer of tough-guy things, chopped a tree down, I cut up the end of the tree with a chainsaw. Until this I think the badassest thing I've ever used to chop anything was a really nice steak knife at Ruth's Chris. I had protection for my ears but not my eyes, so my grimaces in the pictures below are more from trying to avoid scratching my corneas than to feign toughness. At one point I tried to sever part of a branch, but the chainsaw was pretty heavy and I couldn't get it to turn the right way. Even after I'd shut it off, I could feel the power in my arms, like some of it had been transferred. Now I understand why the guy in Evil Dead 2 attached a chainsaw to his arm stump instead of, like, a puppy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Thing #146: Bee Good

Ah, the country! I was so inspired by rural living after last week's cow adventure that I had to do more non-city New Things. I had a private lesson about beekeeping, then cut the honeycombs out of frames from the apiary and filled 10 jars with raw, un messed-with honey. The pile of bees made me a bit nervous (even after learning that most of the bees on this particular frame were drones and have no stingers) but the part where I got to actually cultivate the honey was awesome. It's a process I could totally spend hours on. You pull the frame apart, cut the comb out of it, slice the comb into jar-size chunks, then fill the rest of it with filtered honey drained from previous combs. It tastes deLISH and several jars of it are now happily sitting in my kitchen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Thing #145: Press 1 for fun!

Inspired by something Kirk suggested that I'd already done, I serenaded a customer service rep. I called my cable provider to verify an appointment for equipment upgrade, and when I finally got a person on the phone, I put them on hold and made them listen to my hold music.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Thing #144: We be jammin

I've been making an effort this week to reconnect with my ladies; with my trip to CA, and then two busy weekends, I haven't seen much of them. Tonight was my third night this week of quality lady time, when Amanda and I took Maddy out to make up for missing her birthday last week. Then we met up with Kristina for Amanda's show and Maddy disappeared into a vortex.
Oh, and I went to dinner at a moderate Italian place, then to an improv show, wearing pajamas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Thing #143: Weight a second

I'm going to debunk a myth: Not all skinny people are in shape. I may wear a small jeans size, but I get winded walking up stairs and taking out the garbage as easily as some of my bigger boned sisters. I have a pair of three-pound free weights in my office at work, and sometimes I lift them. Then I sort of want to go to sleep. But no pain no gain, right? Tonight I lifted a set of 15-pound free weights, at 9 reps on each arm. I thought I had done ten, but after watching the video, I do believe it was just 9. I guess spontaneous, unplanned, ill-advised excercise makes me a little math-dumb.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Thing #142: I Shall Never See

I'm a writer, but there are certain mediums I haven't had much experience with. Either because I haven't gotten around to them yet (like novels and screenplays) or because I have no interest in them and am pretty sure it's just not my thing (like poetry, poetry and poetry). Seriously. I am a lousy poet. My last attempt at it was senior year of high school, when we had to write a poem based on a painting. I chose some weird piece of art that had adorned the bottom corner of the season ticket-holder brochure for the symphony chorus my mom was in. It had multicolored, melted-looking instruments crawling toward a door. Sort of Dali-meets-Toy Story. I wrote some ridiculous tripe about alienation and escape, but it read like it had been written by a third grader in therapy. Ah well. So today, as a way of facing my dubious past as a poet, I entered a poetry contest. And I didn't sell myself short, either. I entered a poem about death in the Paris Review, where the prize is $1,000 and publication. I can't print the text here because that would automatically disqualify me, and let's face it: A poet of my caliber cannot afford to miss out on this!

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Thing #141: Cast Fabulous

I don't know how I've never done this one. What with my shameless history as a musical theatre lover, I should have done this the day after I moved to New York. Kristina alerted me this wonder's existence a few weeks ago, and tonight she and I went to Musical Monday at gay bar Splash, and sang along with the showtunes as the scenes were blasted across three giant televisions. There were clips from the Tony awards, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Today Show, movies, and various other live performance venues. The evening included songs from The Secret Garden, Funny Girl, Chess, Rent, The Who's Tommy, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Spamalot, West Side Story (note to Maddy: That's what that incoherent phone call was), Grey Gardens, Miss Saigon, Damn Yankees, and dozens of other absolute Broadway gems. The bar, packed full of underwearing bartenders and fellow proud geeks, was abuzz with appreciation and participation, and more than once, people burst into applause in the middle of a number, just because they knew that that's what the audience would do in the theatre.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Thing #139: Good Morning Baltimore!

As a baseball dilettante and adopted Red Sox fan, I’m not quite used to the culture of fervor and devotion that the Boston lifers are willing to demonstrate in the spring, summer and, if the team is really on fire, fall months. It shouldn’t have surprised me that when I went to a Red Sox game at Camden Yards and watched Boston beat Baltimore 6-2, the majority of the fans were wearing red, not orange. I would say it was about 60-40 Red Sox fans to Orioles fans. I totally love that the first group cheer of the game came from the visiting team. I totally love that most of those people drove anywhere between 5 and 10 hours to catch the game. In sports-passive San Diego, we love our Padres and Chargers, but we don’t talk much about it outside the safe little harborside bubble, and we daintily toast their victories with chilled white wine. On the East Coast, however, baseball lovers are in-your-face, teeth-baring fanatics who refuse to even entertain the notion that flooding a home team’s ballpark with visiting colors is anything but awesome.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Thing #138: Baby num nums

In college, some of my friends used to sit on pink overstuffed bean bag chairs wearing men's boxers and tiny tank tops, watching Friends and eating baby food out of a jar. I'd sit on the floor behind them in too-big LMU sweats and a high school theatre t-shirt, eating Doritos. I guess we just had different ideas of what awesome was. I also couldn't get past the baby food part. Didn't they know meal plans were included in their housing fees? Did they have problems chewing? I never did find out what the appeal was, and I stuck with Cool Ranch and overcooked ziti. Now, 10 years later, I'm willing to give the mashed-pea eaters the benefit of the doubt, so I ate organic babyfood with teeth. I had to qualify the "with teeth" part because while I was a baby and so definitely did once eat baby food, I left that behind when my incisors broke through and immediately switched to Cheerios and bananas. As an adult (and by "adult," I mean "older than eight months") I've never had a desire to touch the stuff. And I can see why; I thought the raspberry-pear combo would be pleasant, like an unrefrigerated smoothie. But it's sort of mashed-potatoes-like in consistency, and the flavor is sort of overwhelming, like the feeder is trying to impress upon the child that non-boob food is amazing. I think I'll stick to medium-rare steaks and ravioli, thanks. And this will probably be the only New Thing... that I actually have done before but not as an adult, and under entirely different circumstances. I won't make a habit of it. I also won't be able to post again until Sunday night, at which point I will have done something quite fantastic in another state.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Thing #137: Deathbed

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with skullmaker Noah, a fellow thing-a-dayer. At the time, I merely allowed myself to be turned into one of his creations. I didn't make a skull myself, because I wasn't quite ready. And after three weeks of checking out Noah's fantastical creations, I'm definitely not any more artistic than I was before, but I do have a better understanding of what a skull created out of found objects should look like. At first I considered trying to make one out of the dishwashing soap bubbles in my frying pan, but that didn't work out. Bubbles do not like to stay still. Then I was putting away laundry, but before I was done, I made a skull out of underwear and accessories. Using my off-white bedsheets as a backdrop, I made the outline, eyes, nose, and mouth out of two pairs of tights, two black socks, two pairs of black underwear, two long satin gloves and one short black cotton glove that belonged to my grandmother in the '50s.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New Thing #136: How to Eat Like a Child

Ethiopian food, hamburgers, fries, lollipops and pickled eggs are among the taste treats that I eat on a semi-regular basis and which one can socially acceptably eat without a utensil in sight. It's cost-efficient, time saving and, in each individual case, polite. But what if you're eating a meal that usually does require utensils-like, say, a plate of piping hot portabello ravioli and a salad doused in Annie's Original Goddess? Well, don't answer that, because I just ate a plate of piping hot portabello ravioli and a salad doused in Annie's Original Goddess using just my hands. My sister was among those who suggested this, by saying "eat a meal with your hands that you normally wouldn't." And while I have eaten steak with a spoon, ice cream with a knife and Ramen with a straw, I have stayed on that side of uncouth and refrained from eating a civilized meal without at least a toothpick. Even as a child, my upbringing was such that I never could have gotten away with it (and was asked to turn my head when Mom would pick up the common salad bowl and drink the last of the dressing).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New Thing #135: Miss Perky

When I worked at Barnes and Noble for six weeks between semesters of grad school in 2002, I used to pass by the mysteriously inviting Town Shop, which I knew to be a haven for chestorially confused women. In the five years I haven't been going there, Robyn has touted it more than once, and yesterday Cat called on her way out to tell me how awesome it was. I am a big fan of recommendations from people I trust, so today I went to Town Shop and got custom-fitted bras that are not made by Victoria's Secret. It's nothing like VS. In addition to carrying a much higher quality of merchanside, TS has caring, attentive saleswomen who work with you one-on-one and help you find the best size. I read somewhere that nearly all women wear the wrong bra size. I had just thought that because I'm skinny but also not anywhere near flat-chested, I was just doomed to a life of ill-fitting bras. That's so not the case. It's just that nobody at VS ever cared what my size was, and I never bothered to get properly measured. Now I can't really see wanting to go back to VS. I'll get my perks at Town Shop!

Monday, August 6, 2007

New Thing #134: Dance if You Want To

I've always been fascinated by dance, even though I've never been the most competent dancer. Enthusiastic? Definitely! Coordinated? Nassomuch. But you can't get better at something without learning more about it, right? Tonight I took a belly-dance class! I got dance-happy ladies Robyn and Maddy to join me, and the three of us, along with what seemed like a billion other ladies under the instruction of a super skilled, super sensual princess-looking lady teacher, wiggled our booties, isolated our rib cages and floated our arms to the beat of Sultan-charming world music. Oddly enough, it did wonders for my back, and though I couldn't quite, um, touch the floor with the top of my head while bending backward in a kneeling position, I did appreciate the training it must take to be able to do that. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go charm some snakes!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

New Thing #133: Mixed nut

A while ago, a friend inspired me to make her a mixed CD. I didn't get around to doing it right away, and I today while listening to something she had expressed interest in, I decided to finally just make it already. I also thought, 'why stop there?' So tonight I am secretly making thematic mixed cds for several friends for whom I have never made a mix, then mailing the CDs as a surprise. I can't write much more without giving too much away; I'm pretty sure all of the recipients read this blog. But what I can say is that one of them told me, perhaps not to her memory, exactly what she wanted and she's going to get just that. The rest of them are just getting what I hope they'll like!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

New Thing #132: Washed up

After sitting on various extremely crowded highways and sideroads today, Kevin and I finally arrived at his friends' beach house in Millford, CT, where we got to chill out on a waterfront porch with drinks, burgers, dogs and babies. We also got to play a game that's brand-new to me, but which is perhaps quite the rage on cruise ships and retirement communities. I played a full game of washers, a more challenging take on the classic ring-toss. The game is played with either two players or two teams, and is over when one player or team gets 21 points. But they have to get exactly 21 points; the holes on each board (which is also used as the 'pitcher's mound' when you're tossing your washers) are worth 1, 3, or 5 points. If a player has 20 points and their next toss lands in a 5-point hole, they then lose those 5 points and go back to 15 points. You can also lose points if, in a given inning, the player after you scores the same amount of points on any given toss. That second player doesn't get to keep the points, either; both plays are voided. It's a frustrating game, and I think the game Kevin and I played took close to an hour. I scored a whopping 6 points, and it took him a long time to settle on 21. If I owned this house and this game, I could probably eventually get awesome at it. But not just yet.

Friday, August 3, 2007

New Thing #131: Desk Dressed

Oh, WikiHowTo. You know all too well the weird things I haven't done, made, played with or eaten. You seemed to know that I was having a tougher week than usual doing New Things, and today you randomly selected probably the most adorable "How to make..." item I've seen yet. I made a pencil-and-photo holder out of office supplies. Per the WikiInstructions, I pulled a modest handful of binder clips and rubber bands out of my desk drawers, arranged the clips in a circle with the flat parts in the middle and the prongs pulled out, secured them with rubber bands, then stuck pencils and photos in the appropriate places. I've been saying for over two years that I need cuter deskwear- now that part of my desk is wearing a DIY pencil holder adorned with classic no. 2s and some of my favorites photos, it's that much closer to at least not being boring.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

New Thing #130: Hoop Dreams

Tonight's Thing comes courtesy of the awesome Mark Lee, whose job at Madison Square Garden and mention of my blog to his boss yielded what was perhaps my most hands-on New Thing so far. I worked the game-night marketing staff for a WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the Minnesota Lynx at Madison Square Garden. Under the watchful eye of my awesome college-age sherpas Nicole and Jeff, I got to pass out spirit sticks, organize lines of adorable children, fold tablecloths and help create a general atmosphere of joy. I wish I'd gotten to see a bit more actual game play- the Liberty beat the Lynx in a very tense ending after the Lynx started to close in on what looked like a solid lead. The Liberty had to score a 3-pointer and make a penalty shot in the last 2 minutes just to widen the gap. What impressed me most is how fan-centric the Liberty and its staff are. There were at least 4 contests for the fans, including a slam-dunk contest for adorable short fans. They also showed some awesome support and solidarity for the opponent by taking a moment of silence in honor of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Then adorable Keke "Akeela and the Bee" Palmer came out and rocked the National Anthem. It was all a fun reminder of why I should be more interested in sports!

(I think my favorite thing ever was being all decked out in this uniform, getting asked a complicated question by a fan, and getting to very honestly say, "Oh, I don't work here.")

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New Thing #129: Tongues of Fun

Doing this project has lead me to do/read/seek out some weird things in search of inspiration. I've become a wikiHowTo junkie and have a number of odd group subscriptions that alert me to free events in the city. One of the stranger things I've read, that I thought wouldn't have anything to do with this project, was that if you are able to roll your tongue like a taco, you should be able to triple roll it like a Tostitos Scoop (sorry, that's the most vivid analogy I could come up with). I have always been able to roll my tongue like a taco, but somehow thought that the triple-roll Tostitos thing was a superhero trait I just didn't posses. But after reading whatever weird tongue-related article that was, I decided to give it a try and after a while, I triple-tolled my tongue like a Tostitos Scoop.