Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Thing #189: Getting Medieval

In high school and college, all the theatre and choir I did meant I knew a lot of people who spent their weekends dressing up as wizards, wenches and whatevers and traveling around California attending Ren Faires. All the other stuff I had going on in my life meant I never joined them. The closest I came to attending anything of the sort was getting seranaded in the living room by my mom's colleague's madrigal choir students. Today though, history came to my hood and I attended the Fort Tryon Medieval Faire. As we walked in and started looking at all the stuff for sale in the peaked tents, I sort of started wishing I'd gone the extra mile and found some sort of semi-authentic garb to walk around in. About ten minutes after we arrived, I found a tent selling wench wear in my size, and I bought an enhancing blue-and-cream gown and white chamoise. I put the dress on over my jeans and tank top, and spent the rest of the afternoon like that, enjoying the extra curves the dress allowed. Curves are fun. So are devil sticks, jousting tournaments, crystal ball jugglers, dudes on stilts, octogenarian royalty, turkey legs and minstrels.
My circle as a high school theatre nerd now seems complete.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Thing #188: Art Impudent

My dad took up oil painting when he retired from law, and was so instantly good at it that he convinced the rest of us that it was easy. Today I painted the landscape in Fort Tryon Park on a canvas mounted on an easel. I bought two canvas boards, a plastic palate, a set of oil paints, three brushes and an easel, and set out to become one of those people in the park who paints. I'm always in awe of those people, but limit the time I spend hovering over their shoulder. I always thought that seemed annoying. And you know what? It is. Particularly when the artist is fully aware that she has absolutely no idea what she's doing, as well as no training or instant talent. I set the easel up at a bench where my back was facing a wall, and I still managed to draw a crowd.
Initially, I gave the view from that raised platform in the park an earnest attempt:

But then I started to get really uncomfortable with all the people who thought I didn't mind having them hover and make comments they seemed to think I couldn't hear. So while I looked like this:
I was painting this:

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Thing #187: A model of decorum

It's fitting that tonight's New Thing corresponds with the police code for murder. I played Chess, and Kevin pretty much slaughtered me. But unlike the time when I was 10 and stormed out of the room when I could take anymore of my spectator brother's taunts while I played my dad, I played a full game of Chess, meaning that this time I made it past three moves. Since Kevin doesn't have one of those neato counters, I don't how many moves it did take. For at least the first quarter of the game my rallying cry was "I have no idea what I'm doing!" But then things started to sink in and I began to understand why what I do in a given move can affect what I'll need to do in another five moves. It ended up with my king running scared (and away from all protection) until there was nothing more I could do. At one point, my personal objective became "get pieces," even if it meant sacrificing my rook to capture a pawn. I even got Kevin's queen at one point, not that it mattered in the end.
I never stay anguished for long.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Thing #186: Barackin Out

In my passive political past, I have gone out of my way very few times to support a candidate in any race in any year. This is mostly because I've never really felt impassioned about any candidate in any race in any year. Until now. I've known since the 2004 DNC that if Senator Barack Obama ever ran for President, he'd have my vote. I just never thought he'd run so soon. He fits what I'm looking for in a candidate more than anyone who's ever run before, and I've taken more action this year on his behalf than I ever did in the past. Tonight I went to a rally in Washington Square Park and saw to Obama speak. Well, "saw" is debatable, since my naked eyes couldn't really verify that the dot on the other side of the fountain was actually him. (But the zoom on Kevin's camera would confirm that it was.) Obama didn't say anything I didn't already know about him from my weekly emails, but it was such a great experience to actually hear him say out loud all the things that are making me want to vote for him.

Crowds. Later, Obama would enthrall them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Thing #185: Something Fishy

A few months ago, Kirk sent a list of suggestions, among which was "cook a seabass (or any type of fish you've never cooked) without practicing and serve it to people." I re-read the list today hours after lunch, and that item made me hungry, so I decided to go for it. I made broiled salmon with a butter-lemon-basil pinenut sauce and served it on a bed of sauteed Swiss chard mixed with mild herbs and to Kevin. It was a lot of firsts wrapped up in one; I'd never broiled anything, never cooked with Swiss chard and never cooked salmon because i am a lox-and-bagel junkie and usually eat it raw unless a cooked one strikes my fancy in a restaurant at dinner. Everything turned out really well- I particularly liked the light flavor of the sauce and the texture of the chard (it doesn't make your teeth feel slick like spinach, and it also doesn't contain oxalates, which leach calcium from your body). Next time I do this particular combo, I may use smaller steaks and add a third serving of something, like rice or risotto or potatoes au gratin. Everybody likes to say "au gratin."
In the midst of all the labor intensity, I didn't take any 'before' pics, so we'll all have to settle with the 'after, and there was so much food we couldn't finish it' pics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Thing #184: Moonlighting

A few weeks ago, Kristina and I were talking about wanting to create some sort of mini-network among the bloggers we know, so that if someone wanted to write a post about something that didn't fit the theme/tone/subject of her or his blog, that person could guest-post in someone else's blog where those thoughts might be a better fit.
Without knowing that this conversation ever took place, Robyn today offered to let me write a guest post for her blog about the Vera Wang line that just became available at Kohls. So I wrote a post in somebody else's personal blog. It's one thing to write a freelance review on a non-personal site, but to write for someone else's personal blog is more like wearing that skirt she just wrote about.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Thing #183: A Fool and Her Money...

This is a big day in New Things! It's the exact half-way mark in this project. 183 down, 183 to go! I decided to celebrate not only by doing something somewhat grand, but by showing my appreciation to total strangers. So I threw money off a roof. Friend Mo graciously let me use her roof, and joined Amanda and me in literally tossing some $1 bills to the wind. The first attempt got stuck in a tree. But after that we learned quickly about the aerodynamics of irresponsibly spent money, and the rest of it landed on the sidewalk. And dumpster covers. And Mo's neighbors' fire escapes. And more trees. We only actually saw a couple of people pick them up, but after I was done arranging artful wads that wouldn't get carried away by the wind, I did notice that some of the more spottable bills were gone. You're welcome, New York!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Thing #182: De goede herinnering

I learned how to say "Happy Birthday" in 7 languages (as well as one more birthday-appropriate phrase, in German). I already knew 'feliz cumpleanos,' so I didn't count that, and I didn't realize that I knew 'bon anniversaire," so I did count that. For those skipping the video, the languages are Italian, German, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

New Thing #181: Rise up With Fun

As I whittle away at my list of (New) Things in New York I've Somehow Never Done, I was today able to tick one more Awesome Legendary Concert Venue off my list:I saw a show at Webster Hall. I went with Glennis, Liz and Jeff to see Rilo Kiley, thereby also giving myself another chance to learn to like concerts. This zen, friendly band that plays well-written, sensitive songs is one of my new favorites and the giant silver balloons full of glitter that they sent through the audience is one of my new favorite accessory ideas.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Thing #180: Arcana get a witness?

Ok, so this *looks* a lot like The Great Dalmuti, but it's nothing like it, other than that both activities use cards. Today I had a tarot card reading. I consulted the wise, knowing Rosie, an interfaith minister who wears a necklace of skulls and has been giving tarot card readings since she was a teenager. She instructed me to shuffle the deck and cut it, and to ask a question either out loud or silently (I opted for silent). The results were extremely enlightening, but I don't want to share much about them because the whole thing was deeply personal. There were a few times where I felt close to tears at how spot-on she was about certain things. Other times the interpretation was a bit too general to apply to anything specific, but still more or less accurate in a larger sense. I've always been very open to religion and belief and faith, so I'm willing to learn from what Rosie told me, without hinging my entire life on all of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Thing #179: Do or dye

This is a work-in-progress, and weird. This has been a nerdy week in New Things, so I wanted to branch out a little. I am dyeing my foot purple. I used nearly half of the Kool-Aid I had left over from the pickles, mixed it with water in a large pot and am currently soaking my left foot while watching The Sixth Sense. I figure I'll give it another hour or so, but here's what it looks like so far:
I was going to do my hand, but that's limiting, and what if it didn't wash off in time to leave for work tomorrow? My foot I can at least hide. But I might wear flip-flops tomorrow even if it doesn't wash off, because I do like to freak normal people out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Thing #178: Hrothgar Girl

For some reason, my academically uptight, sociopathically competitive high school was dead-set against assigning Beowulf, even in AP Honors English 12. I graduated during the height of the right-wing conspiratorial book ban, but I'm not sure that even that had anything to do with it. A couple of people I knew read Beowulf on their own, just because they knew they would get to college and everyone else would have read it. Sort of like American Pie for nerds. I thought that was a good idea, but never got around to reading it. So today (and probably a little bit tomorrow) I read Beowulf*. Maybe after I've wrapped my brain around it, I'll write a belated book report for my Grendel-phobic English teacher.

*Seamus Heaney translation, just in case there was another one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Thing #177: Late Night

My evening has been sort of sucked up by something not particularly fun tonight, but it's something I've never done, so it counts as a New Thing, whether I wanted it to or not! I content-edited an interview with the Pres!dent of Finl@nd as part of a freelance project. I can't go into a lot of detail about it, but it's interesting and challenging to try to decipher the words of an extremely intelligent woman who is generally well-spoken but not completely fluent in English, not particularly adept at translating what she thinks are popular colloquialisms. Ah journalism!

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Thing #176: Ben Frozen

Every time there's been a disaster in New York that's kept me out of my apartment for at least a night (count so far: three), I've found myself woefully underprepared, and often low on cash and unable to get any because the ATMs are out of commission, or have armed national guardsmen standing in front of them. I am, however, generally good with money and recently have managed to keep enough cash on me at all times for at least a cab and a couple of meals. I also keep emergency cash at work. Until tonight, though, I never really thought to keep a substantial amount on hand in the house (it sort of seems like if I'm already here, what do I need money for?). So at the suggestion of Tony P, I put $100 in the freezer. (Actually, he had said to put $90,000 in the freezer, but that would take up too much room- where would I keep my everything bagels and organic saag matar paneer?)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Thing #175: Napkin-Headed Host

If in the near future I were going to be hosting a fancy event, moonlighting as a caterer or trying to impress restaurant staff, I am now totally prepared because tonight I learned how to fold napkins fancy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Thing #174: Symphoneato

I planned this a couple of months ago, and it was every bit as cool a s I thought it would be. I went to Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to see Oscar-winning composer John Williams conduct the Philharmonic in his own works, and some of the movie scenes were shown on a screen behind the orchestra. Including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Jaws and E.T. They also played stuff from Harry Potter, Hook and Fiddler on the Roof (the film version of which Williams reorchestrated and musically directed). He also shared the stage with movie director Stanley Donen, who introduced clips from his films Singing in the Rain, A Royal Wedding and Anchors Aweigh. Kevin and I remarked on how cool it was to be sharing the same air as a guy as legendary as Williams. If I were to round out my own personal Movie Composer Trifecta, I would also have to see Rachel Portman and Danny Elfman conduct stuff before I die.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Thing #173: Smooth Copywriter

On Wednesday, I went to Jamba Juice at lunch and on a whim, dropped my business card in a blender that promised a chance to win a smoothie party for my office. Yesterday, a nice lady from Jamba called and said I'd won! So today I threw a Jamba Juice party in my office and went around the building passing out the leftovers. Coworker R and I gave them to the doorwoman, the maintenance guys, and some random people in the elevator. The rest are in the freezer. If you want one and you work near 34th, come and get one!
(The donuts were bought independently by the supervisors of a lovely freelance researcher who leaves us today.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Thing #172: Lucky Me?

Based on something that happened today to facilitate tomorrow's New Thing, my big boss, E, has decided I'm lucky. So lucky that he gave me some cash today and told me to buy a Lotto ticket. If it wins, as he's sure it will, we split the money. We shook on it, then he had to draw a diagram of what a Lotto ticket looks like and show me what to do because I'd never played Lotto before. I've never purchased a Lottery ticket, scratcher or any bodega-dispensed gambling docket of any kind. I've played in them, but always had a proxy do the buying. So tonight I bought a Lotto ticket. The diagram helped.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Thing #171: Simply Batty

As an unathletic child (save for noncompetitive running and solo improvised karate), I was never inclined to go out of my way to participate in sports. My dad would take my sporty brother to driving ranges, batting cages and tennis clinics while I was in voice lessons or rehearsals, but that was as close as I got to any of that. But tonight, thanks to some planning on the part of Miss Michelle, I hit balls in the batting cages at Chelsea Piers. It was slow-pitch loveliness under bad lighting, and such a rush! I got four at-bats with 10 balls pitched at each go, and my third time up, I didn't miss a single pitch. I am, like, so ready for the majors. Or at the very least, a dinner-theatre production of Damn Yankees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Thing #170: The Old Man and the old man

If I were a truck driver I apparently would have done this before. I read/heard/remembered semi-correctly somewhere that truckdrivers are surprisingly well-versed in literature, because they listen to books on tape on the long haul. While they're killing two birds with one stone, the rest of us chumps are actually picking up the book. So today I listened to a book on tape, because I wanted to see what the big deal was. Well, it sort of is a big deal! I can read a lot on the subway anyway, what with my express train, long commute, and almost constant ability to nab a seat in the morning. But I can't read on the way to or from the station, and I can't read while transferring or throwing annoyed glances at people with leaky headphones. I can do all that while listening to a book! So today's choice was The Old Man and the Sea, which I meant to read during the ill-fated book blitz of 2006, and never did. I know the story, but it is so. much. better. when read to me by Donald Sutherland as I walk down 34th street, as the Empire State Building and throngs of tourists melt away and become the Gulf Stream and Santiago's fishing boat.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Thing #169: Clothestime

This is the fourth of four post-dated entries to reflect my activities during my annual vacation to Fire Island. I may be posting them late, but I really did do one New Thing every day I was there. I have witnesses.

Despite all its modern amenities, the Fire Island beach house did contain a number of charming, old-timey features, like a red wagon for toting luggage, a fleet of no-frills Huffy bicycles, an outdoor shower, and an actual clothesline. Not a makeshift clothesline like the one I rigged in my dorm in Dublin out of microfiber tights and hairclips, but a real pulley system on a rope that stretched out along the side of the house. So before leaving the island this morning, I hung up laundry on an old-fashioned clothesline. This is hardly practical in New York, but it's always nice to figure out a different way of doing something.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

New Thing #168: Go-Go to Heck

This is the third of four post-dated entries to reflect my activities during my annual vacation to Fire Island. I may be posting them late, but I really did do one New Thing every day I was there. I have witnesses.

As soon as I got to the beach house on Friday night, I took note of the rafters running through the very New Englandy beach house, and vowed that I would hang from them. On Sunday, I stood on top of a bookcase to test their durability. They shook at the slightest touch, and a room full of people determined that it would be best not to put all my weight onto it. While I was still standing on the bookcase, Jeff S. put on some very danceable go-go music and I started dancing to it. Rachael M. asked if I had ever go-go danced on top of a bookshelf, and indeed I had not! She said, "then that's a new thing!" and grabbed my camera while I go-go danced on a bookshelf. Turn your head or your monitor to the side.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

New Thing #167: Burying my fear

This is the second of four post-dated entries to reflect my activities during my annual vacation to Fire Island. I may be posting them late, but I really did do one New Thing every day I was there. I have witnesses.

I remember getting my first-ever yearbook when I was in kindergarten, and being fascinated by all the pictures of the big kids. One thing that terrified me, though, was a photo taken during a sixth-grade trip to the beach. I remember seeing a girl buried up to her neck in sand, and I immediately thought hat's it! I am NEVER gonna go to sixth grade if they do THAT to you. Well, hence my advanced degrees, I eventually did make it to sixth grade, and beyond. And I did it all without ever getting buried in the sand up to my neck. I realized recently that I may have missed out, so at Fire Island, I got buried in sand up to my neck. Friends Alan and Caton gamely did the digging and burying. It was oddly cool and pleasant, but it is extremely odd to look down and not see your body, as well as to have the point of view of a foot.

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Thing #166: The Great What Now?

This is the first of four post-dated entries to reflect my activities during my annual vacation to Fire Island. I may be posting them late, but I really did do one New Thing every day I was there. I have witnesses.

I arrived at Fire Island on Friday night, bringing the number of beach housians to an even 10. It was dark and past beaching time, so we decided to play games instead. Tony C. busted out something called The Great Dalmuti, a status-based game where rank matters and value goes backwards. It's highly addictive, and when my friends and I played The Great Dalmuti on Friday night, it was definitely not the last time we'd play it all weekend. I won't go into all the complicated rules, but I will says that if you win, you have every right to get drunk on all that power.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Thing #165: W for Weird

(I'm off for my annual island beach vacation! This is my last post before Monday!)
This is another one of those things I've wanted to do for quite some time, but never got around to. I fit myself into one of my metal file shelves at work. I've often wondered if they would be a good hiding place in case of some bizarre emergency. Or in the case bizarre urgency. The latter, definitely. The former? I don't think it will ever happen. But if the building does get stormed by aliens who can't see through metal... I'm good.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New Thing #164: Skirt Issues

A few months ago, my sister sent me a list of New Things to try, including "wear a shirt as pants." I put that on the "maybe" list and sort of forgot about it. Until today. When I got to work, I realized that the beautiful, gauzy blue crepe ballet-style skirt I was wearing was entirely too sheer to wear without a slip and regretted having shared that with half of Manhattan on my way to the office. Knowing that I wouldn't have time to buy an emergency slip at lunch (or a flash-less way of getting to a store), I fashioned a slip out of that Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat t-shirt I used to break the lightbulb. I cut off the arms to reduce bulk, and cut the tag off the neck, which became the waist band. In all my years of being weird, this really is the first time I've had to use a top as bottoms. The black was nice and opaque against the dark blue skirt, and unless one were to ask, there's no way anyone would have known that Andrew Lloyd Webber's schmaltziest show was lurking underneath.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

New Thing #163: Top Design?

Anyone with a small New York City apartment knows how bored one can get with one's living space. Even if you're just reading a book or playing checkers, you might yearn for something a bit more exotic than your hand-me-down couch or dingy bedspread. When I lived in my first apartment here, a tiny studio I shared with a (albeit awesome) roommate, I constantly sought out reading and study spaces with a bit more character and flair. But who says you have to leave the apartment to get character and flair? Not me! I made a cozy reading space in my bathtub. I added pillows, candles, flowers, towels, draperies, a framed photo and a snack to my otherwise mundane (albeit recently glazed and gorgeous) bathtub. The shape of it isn't quite conducive to sitting for too long, especially with my prematurely bad back, but it was definitely a step up from the sticky leather couch.



Monday, September 3, 2007

New Thing #162: I Be Ivy

One of my few regrets in life (and mind you, they're all tiny) is that I didn't apply to the master's in journalism program at Columbia. I was perfectly happy at NYU, but always wondered what the Ivy League would have been like. I think the main reason I wanted to go there, even in hindsight, was to fulfill the vision of myself working outside on a laptop on their lush lawns or sweeping stone steps. Well, you don't have to actually be a student at a school to work outside there on a laptop, especially if you live only a few subway stops from it (and it's an open campus with free wifi). Today, along with Kevin, I worked outside at Columbia on my laptop on one of their lush lawns. Sure, it would have felt that much more authentic if, say, I knew which window belonged to my favorite professor, or if I'd gotten my coffee with a swipe of a student ID card, but it was good enough to fulfill just the most basic part of my ivy league dream.

A smart squirrel:

Sunday, September 2, 2007

New Thing #161: Trivialists

A few weeks ago, Krisitna mentioned off the cuff that she had been playing trivia in bars. I knew one could do that, but it seemed like some sort of obscure, romantic magic. So I asked how one actually becomes part of something like that- is there a password? a league? a membership fee? No, no and no. It's totally free and open and MAN if it isn't the funnest nerdiest thing ever. So today I played NTN trivia in a bar (and won two rounds)! The game connects a vast network of bars and restaurants all over the country, but I don't think any of us were trying to register on a national level; we were just trying to good-naturedly kick each other's butts. The group included Kristina, EthanK, Kevin, Amanda, Caton, and several lovelies I hadn't met before. At the peak, there were 10 of us and Ethan usually hovered near the top (if he didn't win the whole game) along with Kristina. But a few others of us did manage to swoop in there and do a little whomping.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Thing #160: Space Cadet

Today, in a backyard is suburban Philadelphia full of about 30 people (many of them kids), I launched a rocket. That sounds a bit more impressive than it might actually be- they were foam rockets and you launch them with your foot (or both your feet, if you're three and irascible). The toy was the hit of the party, and the source of many a tussle between cousins. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in a couple of turns. Seems that one stomp of my left foot packs about as much punch as an entire three-year-old. I'm not sure if that's cool or sad.