Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Thing #220: Regrouping

I've been performing for almost two years as a tube talker for Blue Man Group (short explanation: I sing, converse, monologize, or whatever I want within reason into a series of tubes, to which BMG audience members have access for listening and responding). I'm constantly in awe of that show; it's a well-oiled, super detailed machine run by and featuring the most wonderful, crazy, dedicated people. Tonight I got a glimpse into the most prominent side of the show when Kevin and I dressed up as Blue Men. It was easy to find the stuff we'd need: head-to-toe black clothes, bald caps, blue makeup, blue gloves. It was not easy to apply it, and definitely not easy to take it all off. But it was easy to thoroughly enjoy our temporary new roles, and to fully commit to them at the Magnet Theatre's fantastic party (as well as on the subway rides there and back).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Thing #219: Snack o' lanterns

Pumpkins are awesome. This is the time of year we celebrate the pumpkin- we cut them up and light them at Halloween, and we make them into Thanksgiving pies a couple of weeks later (which sort of makes me think "celebrate" isn't the right word, but that's not the point). I have to wonder, what about other vegetables? And fruit? Why have none of them been considered as viable jack o' lanterns or seasonal pie fillings in fall? Tonight I gave the other fruits a chance and made jack o' lanterns out of an apple, an orange, a banana, a kiwi and a yellow pepper. They seemed happy to get the chance to make a rare autumn appearance, so I don't have the heart to tell them that the world will probably stick to pumpkins.

Later we had fruit salad with dinner.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Thing #218: Fudge!*

There are a lot of surprisingly dirty mouths where I work. Perhaps it's not that surprising: we do live in New York, and we are often under a lot of pressure. We're heading into Deadline Time, so I've noticed a lot more sweary conversations than usual. Some of them even involve me. I don't think I cuss a lot, but I would like to cuss none, so I needed to come up with a plan to curb my occasionally naughty mouthedness. So today I made a swear jar. It used to be a cookie jar, then I ate all the cookies and became a regular ceramic penguin named Bill. Now it's Bill, the cookie-jar-turned-regular-ceramic-penguin-turned-swear-jar. And he's going to be the recipient of coins every time someone swears. Minor words, ones that are legal on television but that you wouldn't say in front of your grandmother, run $.05-$.10 while bigger words, including those starting with S and F, can cost you a whole quarter. I contributed a quarter right away, when Bill's head fell off and I thought I'd broken it. Luckily it's still in tact- Bill's got some swear-monitoring to do!

*Oh how I wish this post were really about fudge.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Thing #217: Sanjena

It's been a pretty mellow weekend, which has been nice. Today I slept late, ate croissants and strawberries, and then Kevin and I went for a walk. We still need to find gloves for the costumes we plan on wearing on Wednesday, so we went to a couple of small costume stores in the area. Then we went shopping for oranges and waited for a bus. We also went to Duane Reade and bought gumballs nearby, then came back to the neighborhood, where I sat on a ping pong table and meditated. Pretty standard, relaxing Sunday.
Oh. I should mention that I was wearing a ponyhawk for the couple of hours it took to do all that.

(Thanks to American Idol and Sanjaya for opening my eyes to this easy-to-do yet headturning style!)

My new headshot?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Thing #216: Ram Sam Sam

To round off a week of paying it forward and repaying favors, I stepped in to sit for my cousin's toddler son while he and his wife went to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Before the parents left, I learned a Moroccan folk song that 2 1/2-year-old R taught me, which is apparently the rage of the Manhattan baby scene. It's called Ram-Sam-Sam and it's got hand motions and everything! Even in his under-the-weather state, R deftly crooned that one, as well as a getting-to-know-you ditty with similar moves and tune. I don't have any of this on video, but I may upload a solo rendition later. I promise it will be stirring. (Oh, and the evening, as well as R's mild bug, afforded another New Thing: I comforted a toddler while he got sick to his poor little stomach in a bathroom.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Thing #215: Wait, wait!

My camera ran out of batteries right before this happened, so I'm at the mercy of other people for documentation. For now, y'all are just going to have to take my word for it (update: Yay Friends!). And now I've gone and built this up a little too much. I served drinks in a restaurant. This is a biggie for me, because I somehow made it through my (thankfully brief) I Wanna Be In the Movies phase without ever bartending or waiting tables. And when I took that bartending class, there was nobody to serve. Tonight though, I had a pizza dinner with Sean Taylor, a fellow thing-a-dayer who eats a slice of pizza every day in October, every year. His dinners (or lunches) must include at least one slice and at least one other person, and he can't repeat a restaurant in a given year. So I was happy to take the tray from a waiter and serve wine and water to him, Kevin, Maddy, Tony and Terry. The watchful waiter did at one point take the tray from me, as it was clear that I hadn't mastered the art of balancing the weight on the tray. It's better that he did that; otherwise, my friends might have all ended up wearing their wine.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Thing #214: Cruciverbalism

I wanted to wait until I'd finished this to post about it, but "it" might take me right up to midnight. So we'll consider this a work in progress. I am making my own crossword puzzle. It's hard! Much harder than I thought it would be- it's so much more than just making words intersect. I found a couple of tutorials, one of which pointed out that your grid should be plotted out before you even start picking words. Your black spaces have to be horizontally symmetrical, even if the words themselves aren't. Then there's the matter of getting your words to complement each other, and coming up with enough creative two- and three-letter words to avoid having too many black spaces. I have a feeling my puzzle's going to include a lot of airport initials and postal codes. It's a little like playing Scrabble, but blindfolded and backwards. My puzzle's theme is "stuff you'd find in my office." Words that have made it onto the grid so far include "pink flamingos," "snowball," "family" (as in portait, not a bunch of relatives hanging out in my file cabinet). I'm trying to find a way to work in "bag of candy," "hula hoop" and "eight pairs of shoes for no reason."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Thing #213: Telepatheatre

Today I made one more connection with high-techedness: I tele-conferenced! I did a Q&A as part of an expo in Orlando for 2,000 CEOs, business leaders, company Presidents and managers called Learning Changes. The host and I chatted about this blog, and how it's facilitated a new personal way of learning. Tele-conferencing is fun! It's so comfortable and convenient that I almost wish I'd been wearing pajama pants with my presentable sweater, just because I could have and nobody would have known. It was almost like being there; it was more like having an out-of-body experience. I could see the host on the stage, and I know that my visage was splashed across two giant monitors on either side, but from the vantage point that the camera provided, it was like I was floating over this audience of 2,000 that I couldn't see. That's sort of awesome. And reassuring; now I know that when I have my first real out-of-body experience, it won't be so jarring.
My view of the conference room before all the invisible people got there
Oh yeah, and after work I ate good in the neighborhood at Applebees, where I met up with some lovely ladies and promised them I would include that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Thing #212: Flawsome

Last November, I taped an episode of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.' My cousin Jim served as my lifeline, and got me to the $50,000 question. Today I had the opportunity to pay the favor forward, and I was somebody's lifeline on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Friend Val was slated to tape last week but got bumped to today, by which time all but one of her lifelines got busy with other stuff and weren't able to help her. So I stepped up, and she called, and I got her the right answer, and she won at least a certain amount, which I won't reveal. I will reveal that what with all the panic over the wildfires that are eating my parents' neighborhood right now, I mistook Meredith for a family friend and told her I would have to call her back. She thought it was a joke. I'm unintentionally hilarious.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Thing #211: Happy Fun Ball

Today's New Thing came from one of my favorite suggesters: My mom. In what I consider an ode to her particular brand of joy and nostalgia, I played jacks. It was hard to find a set that actually had plan, old-timey metal jacks instead of neon or light-up or noise-making, but I finally found an authentic, antique-looking set at a place called Penny Whistle Toys on the Upper West Side (I cold-called and essentially told them that they carry regular, old-fashioned jacks. With a name like that, how can you not?) Then Kevin and I had to look up instructions on WikiHow. It's simple in theory: You toss the ball up with one hand, let it bounce, and catch it in the same hand. Meanwhile, depending on the progressive round, you're picking up anywhere from one to all the jacks with that same hand. It's not simple in practice: The ball goes every which way, the jacks bounce out of your hand when you catch it, or you panic and pick up the wrong number of jacks. Then you get really good at it and get a little cocky. Then you beat the game, start beaning each other with the ball, and trying to see how long you can keep all the jacks spinning like tops at the same time. (Kevin is still doing that as I write this.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Thing #210: High and Mighty

Along the west side of New York runs the High Line, an abandoned section of elevated train track that is now being revamped and turned into what developers hope will soon be the cultural center of New York (more so, somehow, than the rest of the city). To bring people to the area, local companies and organizations host concerts, festivals and other cultural events. Today I went to the Chelsea High Line Art Walk, held in one of the buildings that will eventually become part of the rail. The studios that were open to the public are ordinarily the work places for the exhibiting artists, but for one day were turned into mini galleries. It reminded me of open houses in college, when each room on the floor of my dorm was cleaned and made dramatically cooler, to try to entice the prospective freshman into picking our school.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Thing #209: Back to Blue

Yesterday marked one of the first times I have been interviewed by the media. But as a journalist (and before that, an aspiring journalist), I've been interviewing people for 12 years. Celebrities, family friends, strangers with cool stories, kids, everything. Well, almost everything. My interviews seem to have been limited to humans. Humans are great, but there stories are so... human. Wanting to find out more about the species with which we share our planet, I interviewed a dog. The dog was silent, but that doesn't mean he hasn't got some fantastic stories.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Thing #208: Live from New York

The cool thing that happened earlier this week came to an awesome peak today, and I gave a live interview for CNN, via satellite. Nicole Lapin, the adorable, spunky anchor who spearheads the Young People Who Rock section, interviewed me from Atlanta while I was in a production studio at the CNN offices in New York. I've always thought the term "via satellite" sounded so cool- like when an artist can't be at the Oscars to perform their nominated song, so they perform it from Prague or something "via satellite."

Thanks to one awesome comedy lady for her pre-interview advice, and another for being featured in this piece and awesome man for having his feet talked about on telly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Thing #207: Toeing the line

Me: Hold still.
Kevin: What are you doing?
Me: Giving you a pedicure. Keep watching the game.

It really was that easy. Armed with my Sephora pro-quality mani/pedi pack, I gave a man a pedicure. It's the first time I'd given anyone a pedi, so I sort of had no idea what I was doing- just because I get them on a regular basis doesn't mean I'm particularly adept at, say, cleaning toenails with a scraping tool or buffing away calluses. The soaking part, the toe-separating part and the painting part were all a cinch, and aside from having no idea what I was doing to him, Kevin was an extremely good sport, even when I started putting (clear) polish on his newly spotless tootsies. Next time, I might splurge for the exfoliating aromatherapy lotion. I forgot about that until it was too late.

Oh, and a little note to today's commenter Susan: The name of my HS rhymes with Shmorrey Shmines. Et tu?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Thing #206: 'Wichy woman

Remember in the movie Mermaids how Cher's character, Rachel Flax, would only serve food that was cold and made with a cookie cutter? I always thought that was sort of funny, but in the house I grew up in, such whimsical dinners were not to be. But now I'm on my own, and if I want star-shaped peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, I'm going to have them! So tonight I made sandwiches shaped like stars, hearts and gingerbread people and served them for dinner. I surprised Kevin with it, and included a plate of scraps so we wouldn't waste any food (and because, let's face it, two grownups are not going to get full on sandwiches shaped like Lucky Charms). I made two each of organic herb turkey and swiss on whole wheat, one peanut butter on sourdough, one peanut butter on wheat, one smoked salmon and cream cheese on toasted sourdough, and one hummus on toasted whole wheat. There was also a salad, but it's really hard to get salad to hold a shape.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Thing #205: Armed and charmed

When I first started this project, I was pretty adamant about one thing: I would never get a tattoo. The litmus test that proves I would regret it is this: As a young teenager, I thought about what I might want if I got one, and forgot about it. Ten years later, I asked myself if I still would have wanted it ("it" being something silly, like a treble clef or a faerie). The answer was Hell. No. If my tastes change every ten years, I'm not going to put something on my skin that can't change. But I can put something on my skin that will fade after a couple of weeks. So today I got a Henna tattoo. I missed out on getting celebratory wedding Henna at a culturally Indian wedding in 2004, so this was my chance. Coworker Sharon joined me at Saloni in Union Square, and I got a spiral arm band and my massive bicep and she got a pretty floral design on her forearm. I like it, but I'm glad the weather finally got cold, because when this baby starts to fade on my shiny white skin, it is going to look mighty funky.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Thing #204: The feet goes on

I'm extremely picky about my bananas; I like them almost green, but not too sappy, and definitely not mushy. And these are just my specifications when I eat a banana a normal way. Luckily, all my requirements were met (and then some) when I peeled and ate a banana with my feet. I bought two bananas, in case I mangled the first one so badly I couldn't eat it. But I didn't mangle it at all, and though it took a while, I was totally able to do it on the first try! (Which is good, because getting a practice round, even by accident. might have defeated its Newness.) I did bite into the skin a couple of times, and the temptation to use my hands was great; I never touched the banana, but I did have to steady myself every now and again.
Enjoy! (or, skip forward to the last ten seconds, when I really get on a roll, then enjoy.)

Also, something really cool happened today. I'll be able to New-ify it on Friday!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Thing #203: Bugland

Today's New Thing sounds small, but is actually quite a big deal to me: I pet a grasshopper. My somewhat irrational fear of bugs always prevented that in the past, and often presented itself in nightmares. (I have no idea why this is. That's what makes it irrational.) Grasshoppers are harmless and actually sort of adorable, but they are also sort of large, and strong enough to move faster than I expected. The one that landed at my feet outside Kevin's parents' front door was kind enough to let me pet it and try to hold it before it bounded into the bushes. Next time I may ask it to lunch. You never know; it might actually say yes!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Thing #202: Band on the fun

At my high school in San Diego, sports came first and everything else tied for second. A solid, old-school marching band wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye, and I always felt like I'd missed out on that particular brand of tradition and pageantry. Tonight, I got the dose of pride I felt like I'd missed out on when I walked the field during the Music in Motion Marching Band competition at Kevin's high school. As a real alum, Kevin was invited to join other grads in taking to the field before his alma mater's band performed. As a fake alumna, I got to join him. Listening to talented high schoolers (and one exhibition team from Sacred Heart University) rock songs like "Copa Cabana," the score from Frieda and some Earth, Wind and Fire made me wish that I'd not only been good at a wind instrument, but that I'd gone to a high school that had a supply of them.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Thing #201: Ball for one

In keeping with this week's accidental theme of well-being and self-improvement, today I sat on a yoga ball for several hours at work. I borrowed it from a well-postured coworker who's not in on Fridays, and perched on it to check messages and drink my coffee, as well as to check the layout on the wall and edit some hard copy (it's a pretty tall ball, so doing everything I usually do at the computer was a bit hard on my back).

Have a lovely weekend! I'll be out of town and might not be able to post until Monday, but I will of course be doing one New Thing every day that I'm gone!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Thing #200: Just like my abs!

Tonight I washed clothes using an old-timey washboard. I decided that I really, really wanted to do this after I used an old-timey clothesline in Fire Island. The process just hadn't seemed complete at the time. I had some delicates on hand, as well as a shirt I want to wear again before I do laundry, so I filled up a tub with soapy water and went to town. The board, made by Columbia Wash, boasts having two sides "for different fabrics," but the sides appear to be identical in width and sharpness of the metal ridges, so I'm not really sure what they mean. I'm also not sure whether the washboard gets my clothes cleaner than if I'd just dunked them up and down in the water, but it definitely lent a homey, elbow-greasy feel to an otherwise mundane chore. Now who wants to join my jug band?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Thing #199: Vegan be heroes

Today's suggestion comes from one of my magazine's readers, and it's definitely something that I, as a steak, ice cream, cheese and Buffalo wing lover have never done. I ate like a vegan for an entire day. Well, it's still in progress, but I'm doing a good job so far. The Asian goodies I got for lunch were pretty tasty, and I barely noticed that the milk in my coffee wasn't the gooey, fatty half & half I usually go for. The only downside is that just knowing that I can't have a roast beef sandwich makes me want one SO BAD. I'll be able to determine later whether my somewhat fragile, meat-dependent consitution has suffered any from 24 hours of plant-based sustenance.

Tropicana organic apple and pear juice
Green Mountain fair-trade coffee with sugar and rice milk
Odwalla Berries GoMega bar

Vegan/Macro Shanghai Dumplings
Brown rice with mixed veggies and tofu

Soy Protein Berry smoothie

Takeout from Zen Palette (I think- or perhaps whole grain rotini with olive oil, sundried tomatoes and soy cheese)

Key lime Tofutti Cuties (if I can't find them, I'll stick with the vanilla ones in my freezer)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

New Thing #198: Step in Time

Today's New Thing was inspired by several people and things, most recently Kevin noting that it's only 183 steps from my apartment to the grocery store in my new neighborhood. That made me wonder about the number of steps it takes to get other places, so today I counted the number of steps I have to take to get to work, then, for fun, the number of steps I take, once I'm here, to select destinations. And I did it completely in my head, without using a pedometer or that fancy iPod Nike thing. Luckily, I didn't run into anyone from work on the way here. But I did wish our morning door lady a "good ..91 morning."
From the front door of my apartment to my seat on the A train: 671 steps.
From my seat on the A train to my seat on the D train: 37 steps
From my seat on the D train to my desk chair: 859 steps
From my desk chair to the ladies room: 32 steps
From my desk to the coffee maker: 38 steps
From my desk to coworker Alina's office: 13 steps
From Alina's office to the deli place next door: 107 steps
My office is on the 21st floor and we don't have access to the stairwell, otherwise I might have been tempted to do part of this without using the elevator. Then I would have counted how many steps it is from a stretcher to an ER triage area.

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Thing #197: eBaby!

Today's suggestion came in a while ago from my BFF, fellow skinny and all-around fantastic lady Angela. I put something up for sale on eBay. Specifically, I'm auctioning off some lovely inanimate pets first given to me by a coworker, but which I also got a duplicate copy of at Reminiscence. See the listing! Every word is true, especially the part about the love. These babies will never let you down.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

New Thing #196: She scores!

Ah, post-season baseball. The passion, the fervor, the (almost) undue stress it causes my artsy little heart. Particularly when I kept a scorecard for a baseball game. Specifically, the division series-winning game in which the Red Sox swept the Angels. Kevin found a scorecard on this site, and I tracked (to the best of my ability) the Red Sox side of things, using this site to decipher and implement the code for each play, and to tally the at-bats, runs, hits and RBIs for each player. It's tough to do when you have no idea what code to write for, say, a base hit that brings someone home, so it was a bit harrowing. But seriously, there are few better games to score than a 9-1 bout that's featured two back-to-back home runs and a single inning with seven runs. It was nice that the Angels got to have a run in the ninth, but that's not what we're focusing on.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Thing #195: Contain myself

My knowledge of geography outside of Manhattan is extremely limited- I'm pretty sure it goes, "Manhattan, Bronx, Kevin's parents' house." But apparently, there's more to the state than that, as I found out today when I went to White Plains. Kevin wanted to go to the Container Store there, which is better stocked than the one here in the shelves he wanted. The trip up there too a little under an hour, and when we got off the highway, I had an almost holy vision- turns out the Container Store is right next door to one of my favorite places on the planet. Nordstrom. Since N has a bathroom and the CS doesn't, we even got to go in (I saw nothing I liked and we left in about ten minutes, but that's not really the point). I did get a trashcan at the Container Store, though. So basically, White Plains (which is also the most I've seen of Westchester County ever) completely rocks. But only if those two stores are all there is to it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

New Thing #194: Won't you be my neighbor?

I stayed home sick today, and my swollen sinuses and labored breathing weren't conducive to the outdoorsy Thing I had planned for today. But I did have to leave the apartment at some point, because I don't keep coffee in the house and cold or no cold, I gotta have my caffeine. My new neighbor Judy was on her way out at the same time, so I took a walk with my new neighbor Judy. We walked the long way to the nearby grocery store (and she was kind enough to first come with me to the basement so I could look for my keys, which I had left down there) and talked about the neighborhood (she's lived here for years, in different apartments) and how much quieter and mature it is compared to my last hood. I think living in New York has made me sort of guarded and not as open to meeting new people, so it was nice to remind myself of the fact that it can actually be a good thing to open up to one's neighbors. If she ever needs me to watch her cat, or I need to borrow light bulb, or if she and her husband happen to invite me to dinner sometime (the area outside their door always smells amazing around 6:30), it would be nice to be on a friendly basis first.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New Thing #193: L'chaim!

Today I visited the Chabad Loft Sukkah in Union Square. Built to celebrate the festival of Sukkot, a Sukkah, is a roofless structure where observers do all their sleeping, eating and studying (and sleeping, depending on the nature of their faith). The one in Union Square will offer Shabbat services today and Friday, as well as reservations for Yomtov/Shabbat meals. I didn't go in, because I'm a shiksa and wanted to respect the holiness of the structure, but the Orthodox Jews manning the doors were happy to offer information, including to say that the Sukkah is built entirely from organic material, and that it symbolizes a lack of material goods and the idea that anything of true value comes from God.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Thing #192: What a Card

Today's New Thing is actually a trifecta: I got a random Facebook request from reader Sarah after I had learned an easy card trick, so I'm writing about two New Things at once. Which just became three. That's mind-blowing!
The card trick is not so mind-blowing. But I never had learned a card trick before- the only magic trick I've ever performed more than once that didn't come in a Fisher Price Little Magician Kit is lame lame lame and never fools anybody (I still think it's funny). I of course wanted to learn something complicated and impressive, but all the tutorials I found pointed out that the practitioner should have mastered "basic magic skills" like sleight of hand and ability to distract people without them knowing they're being distracted. I don't have those. So I learned one that might impress a five-year-old, but nobody else. Whatever. I take things one step at a time (well, not really, but in this case I should).

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Thing #191: Myspaz

Plagued recently by a nagging sense that I've been missing out on some major cultural zeitgeist, today I joined Facebook. Those of you who were early, on time, or just not as astoundingly late to the party as I know that this program (club? cult?) can merge itself with your Gmail address book, and I was sort of shocked by some of the people who popped up on the list. Counterculturalist officemates, relatives with kids, a doctor, a former castmate with something like 9 law degrees, a casting director who thinks my name is Mindy... wow. I'm surprised I was even able to function before!

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Thing #190: Send in the Clones

Once in a great while (at least within the scope of this project), something I do a lot anyway can be made into a New Thing, due to the pure ingenuity, originality and excitement of the thing. Tonight, I went to see a musical in the New York Musical Theatre Festival. That's not new; I saw one last year, and was in one two years ago. What was new was that I saw JC2K, a musical about a futuristic army made up entirely of cloned Jesuses, one of whom escapes and attempts to live a normal life in a typical American town where he meets a plucky kid and falls in love with the kid's mom, and later there is an incredible fight scene with live special affects. Friend Brian wrote the entire thing, and we were able to catch the second performance tonight. It's completely brilliant, from the songs to the well-thought characters, and especially that fight scene. Man, I am going to have some cool dreams tonight.