Monday, April 30, 2007

New Thing #36: Shop Signs

I like to shop. I'm a girl, it's a given. But somehow, despite having lived in both New York and Los Angeles, I never became one of those self-spoiled shoppers who bit off more than she, her credit cards or her closets could chew. I have a wonderful sense of self-control and I rarely pay full price for anything, so I've never been in debt as a result of not being able to resist $400 dresses and $600 handbags. But there are people like that. A couple of weeks ago, when the venerable Kristina came over to let me cut her hair, she and Kevin and I watched one of those entertaining 'cautionary' shows on TLC, sandwiched beween design shows, about a woman whose crippling shopping habits had totalled over $600,000. It made me wonder if even the stuff I've wanted but never bought could total that much. As an experiment, I put together an online shopping cart worth $100,000. Picking the store was easy: Anthropologie. If I had any less financial sense than I do, I would probably have found a way by now to get my hands on their carved-wood armoires, silk duvets, upholstered Antwerp chairs and this-side-of-garish chandeliers. Not to mention their (obscenely overpriced) dresses, shoes and jewelry. Lucky for many of us, I'm neither insane nor addicted to shopping, so these fantasy finds will remain just that and will never see their way into my real life.
Actually doing this was a lot harder than I thought. Even by ordering multiple chairs exceeding $1G each and ordering multiples of chadeliers, shoes and rugs (for whom, I wonder? Some girly cult with outrageous taste in color?) I had to scramble to top $100,000. The upside? I have no desire to order anything on the internet, and the feeling could last a while. Aversion therapy, score!




Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Thing #35: Shhh

Today I am doing my part of a 24-hour test for my nephrologist. Neither you nor I want me to elaborate. (They've figured out what's up with my liver, but my kidneys aren't out of the woods yet.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Thing #34: Cat to Ow

I'm sore as I type this, because I had three back-to-back performances of Blue Man Group, and ran uptown to catch a friend's one-woman show in between the second two BMG shows. But mostly I'm sore because I went to a yoga class. Classy dame Robyn took me to her favorite studio in Brooklyn, and we went to the Saturday morning basics class. It was only basic in the sense that it moved at a a moderate pace (compared with more advanced classes). Physically, it was still pretty intense. I had a couple of moments during a pattern of downward-dog-into-plank-position where I was trying to fight back the brightness and sweatiness I usually experience before I pass out. Luckily, the wonderful instructor was very mindful of when people might forget to breathe. Later, as Robyn effortlessly sprang into a backbend, I tried to do the same but couldn't even get my head off the ground. One step at a time. Especially for the next day or so, until my legs stop feeling like (awesome and toned) jelly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Thing #33: ...and I don't know it

Today is New York State Department of Education’s Poem in Your Pocket Day. A friend of a friend needed to get 25 people to sign up to read poems in schools, so I signed up the second I heard about it and got two coworkers to do the same. Armed with a Lewis Carroll poem I memorized as a song when I was 13, I recited a poem during an assembly at a public school in Brooklyn. Deep Brooklyn. The school was a fun, loud, friendly public school, with a fun, loud, friendly principal and fun, loud, friendly kids. In accordance with the theme of the day, every one of the 200 or so kids at the assembly had a poem in their pocket that had been written by another student. Several kids were randomly chosen to read their own poetry, perform raps or recite original limericks and haikus. Aside from the principal, who recited a Langston Hughes piece, I was the only person reading something someone else wrote. I had fun getting into the “will you won’t you will you won’t you” rhythms of The Mock Turtle Song, and the kids were very appreciative and receptive. My favorite part of everything was the applause alternative that the administrators use to cut down on noise and to save time: jazz hands! After every act, the kids held their palms at ear height and shook them. I think I’m going to start doing that at improv shows!

I don’t have a photo of me at the mic, as taking a picture in a school and putting it online would have been inappropriate, so enjoy this snap of the gift bag they gave me!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Thing #32: Viva!

Okay, I have officially devolved into a post-adolescent video-making YouTuber. What fun! If I were 13, I'd be the hit of junior high. Or, people would still hide my gym shorts and call me Starvin Marvin. Whatever. At the suggestion of my birthdaying friend LeMar, I decided to learn and sing a national anthem I don't know. He suggested Denmark's, but I'm completely unfamiliar with the language, and couldn't find a phonetic pronunciation guide to help me not butcher it. So I learned and sang the Italian national anthem. It's fun! I can see why Italians love soccer so much! I did try to memorize it, but that would have resulted in my butchering the language more than I probably did (but less than I would have destroyed Danish). So my space-stare in this vid is directed at the words. My voluntary twitch is directed at my too-long bangs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Thing #31: Liver Dye

This isn't so much an active New Thing, but I'm counting it because it's definitely something new, and getting there was not without some mild distress, in the form of a dungload of tests and doctor's visits (gee, thanks routine physical tests that came back weird!). I was diagnosed with a liver condition called Gilbert's Syndrome. Wow, that sounded really dramatic! It sounds more dramatic when you say it out loud, because it's not pronounced like annoying comic Godfrey (though that is how I remembered it), it's pronounced the French way, and with a soft J. And it's 100% not dramatic. It's a completely benign inherited condition where the liver overproduces an enzyme called bilirubin. The print-out the doctor gave me said that most people who have this find out about it during routine tests, when their kidney and liver tests come back weird. The worst thing it causes is a jaundice appearance in 40% of patients when they have a cold. Well, I just had a cold, and I never appeared jaundice, so I guess I'm a slightly above-average Gil Syn patient. Also, having this condition actually protects you against developing certain kinds of cancer, so you could say it's a beneficial disease (and not even a disease, my wry and completely likeable nephrologist said). I was relieved to hear all of this, because Googling 'bilirubin' led my overactive and slightly paranoid little mind to draw all sorts of disastrous conclusions. "Benign, symptomless condition that doctors don't even bother to treat" wasn't one of them, but I'm glad it ended up being the right one.

Likeable Nephrologist gives out cool bags.

This is the refrigerator at work.
It's totally still in there. My boss helped me arrange it for maximum readability. Hee.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Thing #30: CAN I Do This?

Wow, I'm already on Thing 30! That's as many things as the age I'll be when this project is over. That's about as intelligent as I'm able to be right now, because just now I crushed a soda can on my forehead. I think I did it wrong- I crushed the can in my hand horizontally before I was able to make it collapse. That made it jagged and holey, and when I did try to push it in, it sort of folded to the side and wouldn't telescope. I kind of think it's perfectly okay for me not to know how to do this properly.


Ow.
Five hours later, there is still a mark:

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Thing #29: Foot Ball

We finally had good weather in New York! It was springy and beautiful and warm. And it won't last. So I had to make the most of it by girling out in a new dress and heels.
I wore this:
I felt like a million bucks, except that I was also wearing these:

These made me feel less like a million bucks and more like my feet were going to fall off. So I did what any girl would do. I came home and watched Pretty in Pink. But I did that after I made organic foot lotion out of fruit, essential oils and yogurt. Since we're running the recipe in the magazine later in the summer, I can't print it yet. We'll consider this an editorial test run. But my feet are currently chilling in a bag of yummy-smelling goop that, without the addition of the essential oils (grapefruit and mint), I would totally eat. Even though it looks like this:


Here's the view from the couch:
I just took off the bags and rinsed off, and WOW if my feet don't feel awesome and tingly and cool and refreshed. Almost as if I haven't been wearing 3-inch pink heels all day.

And please, keep suggesting things!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Thing #28: Fortunes for a Quarter


About a year and a half ago, I had a palm reading sort of forced on me by a lovely transvestite. It seemed pretty basic: "You will know money." "You will travel." Well, I have a job, so I know money because I earn it, and I had a trip to Paris planned at the time, so I was going to travel. She was right, but about pretty benign things. Nevertheless, I was intrigued. So today, starting and ending by doing some research on palmistry, I read Louie's palm. I'd read up on the meanings of the love, life and head lines, as well as the meanings of flat versus raised mounts (the squishy parts under the bases of the fingers and at the thumb). Louie, a wonderful improvisor and musician, was kind enough to let me quickly scan and then photograph his ukelele-loving hands.
Here's what I found:
We'll start with the mounts. Louie's raised Mercury mount (pinkie finger base) means that he is quick-witted with a great sense of humor and is easily adaptable. His raised Apollo mount (ring finger base) suggests that he is a lover of the arts and all that is creative and that he has the sign of luck. His curiosity and appreciation of the imagination gives him a complex personality. Raised Saturn and Jupiter (middle and pointer finger bases) mean that he is ambitious and possesses good social skills. Anyone who knows Louie knows you don't need to read the guy's hand to know all this!

Lines: Louie's life line suggests outstanding resistance to negative events. His line of Venus means he is open, generous and a great listener. His heart line indicates that he will go into business with his love interest. His strong head line shows that he is independent and not afraid of taking risks. His fate line says that he will be surprised constantly in life, and his health line is strong meaning he won't be hampered by health problems.

I have no idea how much more or less nebulous these predictions were than the bold transvestite's, but it was interesting to read about all the interplanetary line interpretations. Also, palm reading is adorable.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New Thing #27: A Cut Above

Most of the things I've tried so far have been new and awesome and fun, but not particularly risky (except for that "let's dart in front of the bus!" moment in the pedicab). Especially not for somebody else. But today, good sport and awesome friend Kristina risked her gorgeous wavy brown mane for me when I cut somebody else's hair. It was still new and awesome and fun, but this made me more nervous than the pedicab! Kristina has a show tonight, and I was worried that even by just giving her a trim, I'd mess it up. But apparently I was better at this than I thought I would be because even K, the daughter of a New York salon owner, thought it was fine and didn't end up needing the back-up haircut appointment I'd thought she should make.

Friday, April 20, 2007

New Thing #26: Picture Perfect

This one made its way into my planner a while ago, when coworker Sharon invited me to an art show of work by the stunningly talented Otto Franz Krone, a portrait artist who passed away in 2005. The opening was tonight, so I went to an opening in an art gallery. It was a wonderful affair, full of people who had known Otto, as well as friends of Sharon and several of my coworkers.
Otto's specialty was faces. And he went beyond just drawing them or painting them; his gift was for capturing the depth and detail of the soul of the subject, so deftly that you can almost see what the person is feeling. It was the the collages which struck me the deepest: one piece, which took up almost an entire wall, was comprised of thousands of faces, some detailed so perfectly I thought they were photographs. And Otto's self-portrait was lively and evocative, but at the same time very intimate.




Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Thing #25: Need for Speed Read

Today's Thing was the first one I wouldn't recommend (even the pedicab wasn't without merit, especially for you thrillseekers). Curious about just how fast is fast when it comes to reading, I read a 799-page book in an hour. And when I say read, I mean I touched and turned every individual page of George Eliot's Middlemarch, retained some things, missed a great deal more things, attempted to keep up with plot and managed to get the gist of the stories of the main characters. I even took notes and pictures, which was extremely difficult.
I figured out before getting into this that at 800 pages (we'll round up) to get done in an hour, I would need to read each page in 4.5 seconds. To do that and retain anything at all would have been a feat, hence the note taking. I tried so many techniques for speed and methods of counting, all without stopping turning pages (except for when I took pictures) that I actually came in at 49 minutes.
Here's what I figured out:
-Middlemarch is a town
-Dorothea and Celia are sisters
-Dorothea marries Mr. Casoubon, who later dies and she gets his money
-Mary is smart and no one wants to marry her
-Except for someone referred to in my notes as "F" who eventually does
-There are two last names in this book shared by Harry Potter characters: Bulstrode (major character) and Grainger (spelled differently, not a major character)
-Bullstrode dies, and there is a trial
-There is a stranger named Raffles
-There is class differentiation and snobbery

Time-stamped photos and more details to come. I gotta run to a show.
Don't try this!





My messy notes:


(Note/inside joke to Mom: You can expect a book report about this on the Mother's Day after I read it for reals.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Thing #24: Pedi Differences

We New Yorkers are so boring when it comes to transportation. Cabs, subways, buses... yawn. So today I decided to spice things up a bit. And by "spice things up a bit," I mean "CHEAT DEATH," so after getting out of work tonight, I rode in a pedicab for eight blocks. (And I'm kidding- it wasn't that scary. Except for when it was. )
I got the p-cab in front of the Empire State Building, where the driver was probably hoping to get some risk-loving tourist. Instead, he got me, a local New Yorker who decided to put her jadedness on hold for ten minutes for the sake of a blog. The guy was very Brooklynny and friendly, and also apparently above traffic laws. But he ensured me that he's "never had an incident," meaning that I was supposed to trust him with my life even as he weaved in and out of the paths of buses and cabs and cut diagonally across three lanes of rush-hour traffic.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Thing #23: Corporate accounts payable Nina speaking, just a moment!

Somehow, even though I live in New York, am in my 20s and once thought I wanted to be an actress, I have never had the opportunity to work as a receptionist. I have been a bookseller, a tubetalker, a writer about pants, a potential nanny and even a 6-foot mouse, but never a receptionist. So today, with permission from everyone at work who needed to give it, I took over for my company's receptionist. It was just for part of the day, but even in that short amount of time I took phone calls, sorted the mail, watched the security video and wrote something on a Post-It (the address of this blog, for one of the many people who were confused about why I was filling in for our receptionist). It was actually quite pleasant, and a welcome change of pace. Regular receptionist Iris listens to classical music, so I left the radio on that station, rather than Sufjan Stevensing on my iPod. I only had to field a couple of phone calls, one of which was a hang-up. I was a little slow at mail-sorting, as I've never had a reason to memorize where everyone's mail cubbies are.

I believe in service with a smile, even when the customer can't see you. Or when there is no customer, and you are simply posing for your camera timer.

My view (if it were after 5, I would totally have control over those doors).
My other, more standard, view.
Hi, mail!


Alos: Please keep suggesting things I should do! People have been awesome with the emails, and I can always use more suggestions! I'm particularly in need of quick things I can do on days when I'm pressed for time. The more the better! You can email me, or click on "make a suggestion" to your right. Thanks!

Monday, April 16, 2007

New Thing #22: Mac Stack

This is going to seem a lot more random than it actually is. Even people who know me really well have no idea that this is something I've always wanted to do, because I've never actually said it out loud. I'm not sure why that is. But I did realize today, while refining old lists and compiling a new one, that I first had the idea to do this when I was about five. In what could be considered an ode my whimsical nature, my life as a writer and my tender attachment to books, I made a stack of books as tall as I am. It's a good thing I didn't do this when I was five, because it wouldn't have been all that impressive then. I was all of what, 3 feet tall? At 5'9", this was much more of a challenge, made easier by books sent to me last year by a fabulous aunt. The stack ended up being a total of 91 books high, and included two high school yearbooks, a jr. high yearbook, biographies of Katharine Graham and Gilda Radner, a dictionary, Louis Sachar's Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 12 Jules Verne hardcovers, and a copy of Nancy Pearl's Booklust. Things got a little precarious toward the end, as the stack started to tip and I had to hold onto it. I took about half the books off and stacked them on the window ledge, then added them bit by bit so I could stack them and prevent spillage at the same time. I forgot my camera today, so coworker Grace, in addition to helping with the final stages of the stacking, took the photos.


Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.



Update on the Peeps: the one in the cup of water lost its color and both of its little chocolate eyes (both of which floated off and stuck to the side of the cup), but never fully disintegrated. It simply became a bloated, foamy floating blob. The ones in the freezer never froze solid, so I ate them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New Thing #21: I like to movie movie

I knew going into this project that there would be "lazy New Thing" days when I would have to lay low and not do some totally New Thing, but rather merely eat or watch something new. With today's Nor'Easter and my cold still lingering on (complete with productive cough and exploding sinuses, yum!), I decided that today would have to be one of those days. Ready with my remote, some chips and salsa and Movies OnDemand, I watched Babel. That is one intense movie! I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but this Best Picture Oscar nominee features four intertwining stories, revolving around two Moroccan boys who accidentally wound an American tourist. It took a lot of concentration- what with it being both "heavy" and presented in several languages, this couldn't just be one of those background movies I usually watch on Sundays (I figure I'll live if I don't pick up on every detail of American Dreamz or Talladega Nights). I absolutely do not plan to make a habit of watching new movies in place of actively doing New Things; when Babel was over, I did a bit of preparation for a New Thing I'll be doing in June, and I signed up for something I'll tell you about after I've done it.



Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Thing #20: Magnetic Field

This week marks the two-year anniversary of The Magnet Theatre, and co-owner Alex Marino wanted to celebrate by inviting the theatre's students, performers, teachers and friends to Washington Square Park, where we played a giant outdoor game of Pass the Face. PtF is exactly what it sounds like: somebody makes a face (usually associated with a movement and a sound), and one by one the players pass it around a circle. With over 100 participants (and even more confused onlookers), it could have gotten extremely complicated and crazy. Luckily, we held it together so well we not only rocked the 20-minute long PtF, but managed to get in some other wonderfully nerdy improv warmups, like Dagger, Yes and Red Ball.

I didn't get a lot of photos (Kevin did; they're forthcoming), but I did get a short video clip, in which I remain so focused on the game that I forget to raise the camera after making the pass, and shoot the ground for a few seconds:




Alex Marino, King of The Magnet

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Thing #19: Hanging With my Peeps

Part of the beauty of this whole project is the flexibility; with so many Things I have yet to do, there is always something waiting in the wings if something else doesn't work out. So when an awesome (and brave, you'll see why later) friend needed to postpone something, no problem! In fact, what I really needed to do tonight was take NyQuil and pass out (I got better then I got sicker). Future me does exactly that, but not before I performed science experiments on Peeps. We've all seen evidence of these things, but how often to we put our science caps on and actually do them? One thing I've already learned: Peeps take a long time to freeze. When they're solid, I'll do weird things to them, like hit them with hammers, chew on them, and throw them through glass. But there's plenty of things you can do to non-frozen Peeps, like:

Stick them to the side of the refrigerator:

It fell off almost immediately. Scientific conclusion: Peeps don't stick to refrigerators, even if you lick them.


Burn them:

It didn't catch fire, or even smoke at all. Scientific conclusion: Peeps are apparently fire-retardant. The top photo is me holding a match up to the Peep's tail; the bottom photo is the unharmed Peep and the burnt match.


Soak them:

Nothing really happened, except that the Peep dyed the water a violent shade of yellow. Scientific conclusion: Peeps are cool with water. But I'm going to leave it there overnight and see if anything happens. Hypothesis: The Peep will multiply and take over my kitchen. Which is cool, as long as they make me breakfast.

And, of course, microwave them:



Keep your eye on the yellow blob, which doesn't photograph well through my microwave door. (This part is a New Thing two-fer: this is my first Youtube video!) Scientific conclusion: Peeps are expandable, but not combustible, and they deflate quickly, and making videos is fun!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New Thing #18: Punky Power!

Today’s Thing is sort of ongoing, in the sense that I’ve been generating ideas and making notes throughout the day, but can’t actually sit down and do it until my nether-time between work and Blue Man, during which I usually clean my office or delete old voicemails. It’s yet to be completed, and when it is I will post a link. Today I am writing fanfic. I’ve signed up for the site (fanfiction.com) and picked the subject (Punky Brewster, my favorite childhood show, the DVDs of which I re-watched in order last year). I’ve also realized that there is no such thing as “cool” fanfiction (which would be like a “cool” trekkie convention), so I’m excited about being able to just let my nerd flag fly!
Now all I have to do is do it!


I did it! I wrote fanfic!
Ok, so apparently, fanfiction.com is having internal errors; it won't let me upload my story.
I'll just post the thing here. What I didn't realize until I started reading other fanfic is that these things aren't written in script format. They're written like short stories, but basically adhere to the format of the show (or movie, video game or whatever). I stay true to the conventions, fallacies, inconsistencies and irritating characteristics of PB while still penning a loving tribute. I am SO glad I didn't know about this stuff when I was younger. I never would have gone outside. Not that I'm planning on taking up a new hobby now. So here it is, in all its manufactured nerdy glory. And now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy a wig for my boyfriend.

PUNKY GOES TO NEW YORK
Punky Brewster rolled out of her flower-cart bed, letting the foot of it hit the ground with a loud “BANG!” Her golden retriever, Brandon, woke immediately and barked twice.
“I know, Brandon,” exclaimed Punky, lowering her voice so she wouldn’t wake up Henry, her foster father. “Today’s the day we go to New York! I can’t wait either!”
Punky grabbed her rainbow-colored duffle bag and led Brandon into the living room. Just as Brandon was settling onto his pillow next to the kitchen door, the doorbell rang. Punky ran to answer it, and found her upstairs neighbor and best friend, Cherie, wearing an acid-wash denim jacket over her pink one-piece and a blue leather belt around her head.
“Hi, Cherie!”
“Hi Punky!”
Cherie stepped into the living room. She was carrying her own duffle bag, and behind her was her grandmother, Betty Johnson.
“ Spring vacation in New York!” She exclaimed, shaking her head. “What’s next, Spring vacation in a minefield?” The studio audience laughed sycophantically. Brandon barked twice.
“Mrs. Johnson, New York is safe!” Punky laughed as she sat down on the couch with Cherie and Mrs. Johnson. “Ever since Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer got elected as mayor!”
Cherie giggled and snorted. “Hee, yeah!” she said. The studio audience laughed sycophantically.
“Honey,” said Mrs. Johnson, loosening the pink nurse’s jacket she was wearing even though she was going to be off duty for five days, “I think you mean Rudolph Giuliani!” Brandon barked twice.
Henry came into the living room, from a hall that seemed to lead only to Punky’s room, but apparently didn’t.
“Pepper spray, check!” he said. “Attack whistle, check! Brandon, I hope you’ve been sharpening your teeth!” Brandon barked twice.
“HenREE,” whined Punky, “There’s nothing to be worried about! New York’s a lot safer now that Rudolph Jellohoney is mayor!”
“Honey…” began Mrs. Johnson, “we’ll work on it.” The studio audience laughed sycophantically.
“Well,” said Henry, “We better get going if we want to beat all that airport traffic.” He put on his pork-pie hat and buttoned his brown-and-tan sweater vest as Punky and Cherie grabbed their duffle bags.
“Look out New York,” shouted Punky, “Here comes Punky Brewster!”
Cherie giggled and snorted. “Hee, yeah!” she said.
Brandon barked twice. Henry opened the door and held it open as Punky, Cherie and Mrs. Johnson exited. The he stepped out into the hall and closed the door. After a second, he opened the door again and Brandon ran out into the hall, barking twice. The studio audience laughed sycophantically.

In what seemed like a montage set to synthesized fife music, Punky, Cherie, Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Brandon arrived at the airport and got in the ticket line. Punky started looking around at everything and wandered behind a ticket desk. A stern-looking ticket agent grabbed her by the shoulders and marched her back to Henry. The long line moved a tiny bit and Henry rolled his eyes and scooted everyone’s luggage forward with his feet. Brandon, inexplicably wearing a ball cap, jumped up on a luggage claim conveyer belt and started jogging on it like it was a treadmill. Cherie found her way into a bathroom and started turning the faucets on and off. The long line moved a tiny bit and Henry rolled his eyes and scooted everyone’s luggage forward with his feet. Mrs. Johnson suddenly noticed Cherie was missing, and immediately left the ticket line to go find her, turning her back the very second that Cherie rejoined the group. The long line moved a tiny bit and Henry rolled his eyes and scooted everyone’s luggage forward with his feet. Punky pulled Brandon off the conveyor belt, then got on it herself and walked through the fringed luggage opening. A stern-looking baggage handler grabbed her by the shoulders and marched her back to Henry. Mrs. Johnson returned to the group and pressed her hand over her heart to express relief that Cherie had returned. The group finally reached the front of the ticket line, where Henry had a silent but animated argument with the ticket agent. He nodded his head definitively, and the ticket agent reached down and removed from Brandon’s back a “LUGGAGE” sticker that nobody saw her put there.
On board the plane, and still in what seemed like a montage set to synthesized fife music, Henry put his bags in the overhead compartment. They fell out. Mrs. Johnson tried to squeeze into a seat. Punky wandered into the cockpit. A stern-looking pilot grabbed her by the shoulders and marched her back to Henry. Brandon, inexplicably wearing a flight-attendant’s uniform, stood on his hind legs with his front paws on a food cart. Cherie found her way into a bathroom and started flushing the toilet over and over. Henry put his bags in the overhead compartment. They fell out. Mrs. Johnson tried to squeeze into a seat. Then she suddenly realized that Cherie was missing, and left her seat to go find her, turning her back the very second that Cherie sat down again. Henry put his bags in the overhead compartment. They fell out. Punky pulled Brandon off the food cart, then she climbed into it. A stern-looking flight attendant grabbed her by the shoulders and marched her back to Henry. Mrs. Johnson returned to the group and pressed her hand over her heart to express relief that Cherie had returned. The plane finally took off and Henry, Mrs. Johnson, Punky and Cherie all slept, while Brandon, inexplicably wearing headphones, watched the movie and ate peanuts.
The plane landed in New York, after flying past the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Eiffel Tower and the Chrysler Building, all of which are apparently situated in the same square mile.
“Here we are,” said Punky triumphantly as the group arrived in the terminal. “New York City!”
Cherie giggled and snorted. “Hee, yeah!” she said.
“Oh my Lord,” said Mrs. Johnson, for no apparent reason.
Henry kept glancing around nervously, as they made their way to baggage claim. “Watch out, Betty,’ he said to Mrs. Johnson. “There are thieves everywhere!”
“HenREE,” whined Punky, “I TOLD you, Mayor Jellyfunky sent all the bad guys to jail.”
Mrs. Johnson started to correct her, but threw her hands up in the air instead. The studio audience laughed sycophantically.
After what seemed like a very brief cab ride set to synthesized car honks, the group was standing on a generic-looking city corner.
Henry held a map. “Well girls, I guess we head north if we want to go to FAA Shorts, the biggest toy store in the world!”
“All RIGHT,” shouted Punky.
Cherie giggled and snorted. “Hee, yeah!” she said.
Brandon barked twice.
They set off, Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Cherie walking a few paces ahead of Punky and Brandon.
“Brandon, look!” said Punky, pointing. “There’s the Empire State Building! I bet Henry and Cherie and Mrs. Johnson wouldn’t notice if we went up to the top real quick!”
Brandon barked twice, and off they went.
Meanwhile, Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Cherie had walked all the way from nondescript city corner to FAA Shorts, the world’s largest toy store.
“Here we are,” said Henry, gesticulating grandly. “FAA Shorts, the world’s largest toystore!”
Cherie giggled and snorted. “Hee, yeah!” she said.
“Henry-‘ Mrs. Johnson began.
“Ahh, ,” said Henry, completely oblivious to her panicked tone, “I remember coming here as a little boy, playing with miles of rocking horses, sampling the best playthings the world has to offer.”
“Henry,” Mrs. Johnson said again.
“I doubt much has changed,” Henry continued. “The wonder of the imagination, the joy on a child’s face-“
“HENRY!” Mrs. Johnson shook him. “Punky and Brandon are gone!”
Henry looked at her, confused. Then his eyes widened. “Punky and Brandon are gone!” Then the two of them set off.
At the top of the Empire State Building, which they seemed to have reached in record time, Punky and Brandon, inexplicably wearing a Statue of Liberty headband, gazed out over the city.
“It sure is a big city, Brandon,” said Punky. “Even bigger than Chicago, where my mom abandoned me.”
Brandon barked twice.
“Well, come on Brandon,” said Punky, turning away from the ledge, “Let’s go catch up with Henry and Cherie and Mrs. Johnson. I bet they’re almost at FAA Shorts.”
Brandon barked twice.
Down on the street, in what seemed to be a montage set to synthesized trumpet music and sped up by six times the normal speed, Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Cherie stood at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. Seconds later, they were standing in Central Park, talking to a cop on horseback who was shaking his head. Then they were in Times Square, silently calling for Punky. Then they were in the aisle of a Broadway theatre, talking to an usher, who was shaking her head.
Punky and Brandon arrived at the door to FAA Shorts, just as the sun was setting.
“It sure did take a long time to get here,” said Punky. Brandon barked twice.
“Hey,” said Punky, looking around. “Where are Henry, Cherie and Mrs. Johnson?” She sat down on the steps.
“Well, Brandon,” she said, “It finally happened. Henry doesn’t want me anymore and he’s abandoned me, just like my mom.” Brandon didn’t bark.
Seconds later, it was dark.
Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Cherie were in the back of a taxi cab.
“Can’t you go any faster?” Bellowed Henry. “My foster daughter, whose mother abandoned her, could be anywhere! She could be hurt, or kidnapped, or lying in a gutter!”
The cab driver, a European-American with a white moustache and jaunty cap, looked at them in his rearview mirror.
“You got it!” He yelled in a thick Brooklyn accent, and drove the cab onto the sidewalk. People screamed and scattered. The studio audience, who had been quiet for a while, laughed sycophantically.
Punky and Brandon were walking along Central Park on a completely empty sidewalk. Suddenly, a boy of about 12, with blonde hair sticking out from under a green bandana, jumped in front of them.
“Gimme all your money!” He yelled. Brandon barked once. “Gimme your dog, too!”
As Punky froze in fear, a pair of headlights sped toward them on the sidewalk. The thug fled. The cab screeched to a halt, and Henry, Mrs. Johnson and Cherie jumped out and ran toward Punky and Brandon.
“Punky!” cried Henry.
“Henry!” Punky ran toward him and jumped into his arms. “You didn’t abandon me after all!”
Henry looked perplexed. “Why would I abandon you? You mean more to me than anything in the world!”
Behind them, Mrs. Johnson began to cry. “This is beautiful,” she sobbed, as Cherie rubbed her arm and adjusted the belt on her own head.
“Well Henry, you were right. New York is a pretty scary place,” said Punky.
“But Punky,” said Henry, “I thought you said Mayor Jellyfunky took care of all the crime!”
“Henry,” said Punky, “I think you mean GIULIANI!” They both giggled, Brandon barked, Cherie snorted, and the audience laughed syncophantically as Punky, Henry, Cherie, Mrs. Johnson and Brandon froze indefinitely, set to what seemed like synthesized xylophone music.

THE END

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Thing #17: A pause in "fun"

One of the points of trying something new every day is to face my fear and try something I wouldn't ordinarily be inclined to do. I knew going into this that there would be things on my list that wouldn't be "fun," but that would still fall into the category of "stuff I've never done before." Several people suggested this one, and I thought it sounded like a great idea, if a little daunting and intimidating. Today I attended a meeting of a 12-step program. In keeping with the promise of anonymity, that's the most detail I'm going to give about the actual meeting. I don't have a lot of experience in my life with addiction, but I don't know anybody who hasn't watched helplessly as someone they loved dealt with something difficult. It seems like the last thing you'd do as a way of helping someone would be to spill your guts to a bunch of strangers, but what if those strangers are understanding and completely free of judgement?
I was really nervous about this one- I even told someone yesterday that I wasn't looking forward to it. That might not have been the best way to phrase it; I wasn't excited about it, the way I was excited about things involving dogs and babies. And once I got there, I really didn't know why I had been so worried. The format of the meeting didn't seem to exclude anyone, even people who were just there out of curiosity; it also didn't demand that everyone participate just because they were there. Even though I'm not directly affected by the problem this meeting was addressing, I can think of at least ten lessons I learned from it that I can apply to everyday life. At the very least, it helped me appreciate the relationships and love in my life- and that's a lot.

(Tomorrow's Thing will be something a bit more fun, but contrary to what a super-cute, soon-to-be birthday girl wrote in my planner, I will not be going to Brooklyn to steal a puppy for her.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Thing #16: Breathing Lessons

I've never been to a yoga class. That will eventually be a New Thing, but I figure it's not something that one can just leap into; my pragmatic side tells me I should have some sort of foundation. I've also been sick (though against better judgement, I did go to work today), so doing something so physical, especially when I've never done it before, probably wouldn't be a great idea. Today, with the help and resources of my Buddhist coworker, I practiced Pranayama breathing. I didn't realize how much more to it there is than just taking a deep breath, counting to an arbitrary number, and letting go. Complete yoga breathing consists of abdominal, middle, and upper breathing. Kumbhaka concentrates on the heart; Kapalabhati and Sukh Purvak concentrate on the inside of the nose (and worked wonders on my pounding sinuses); Ujjayi concentrates on the thyroid gland and Bhakstrika (my favorite, for its bellows-like breathing rhythms) is meant to aid the throat and nose and is particularly beneficial to practitioners with a cold, asthma or poor circulation. Armed with these techniques, I tried the "Seven Little Breathing Exercises" as detailed in the "Pranayama Breathing Exercises" chapter of Yoga and Health.

I'm checking the ceiling for candy.


The playlist, belated courtesy of Mr. Claude Debussy

Monday, April 9, 2007

New Thing #15: Gland of the Free

I stayed home sick today, which I thought would put the kibosh on doing something new (or at least result in my doing something random and arbitrary). Luckily, it was adorable sister to the rescue. She called last night and suggested the get-well-fast trick a childhood friend taught her. So today I took a detoxifying sweat nap. The idea is to rid your body of toxins, while at the same time getting the rest you need. I drank some very hot tea (my tongue is still scratchy), then made a coccoon out of my down comforter and some blankets. Wearing sweats, a heavy sweatshirt, chenille socks and a heavy terry robe, I took a 90-minute nap. I tried to keep my face covered, which made me sort of freaked out and claustrophobic, but I did eventually get to sleep. I woke up not drenched, but sufficiently moist, and my searing headache was all but gone. I was also very hungry for cheese.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

New Thing #14: Qats

I'm still sick- I feel worse today than yesterday, yet foolishly exerted energy on brunch and apartment-furnishing (though I thoroughly enjoyed both, sore throat and all). We got home in the late afternoon, and Kevin had to head back to his place to finish some work. So left to my own devices, and while watching old-school episodes of Battlestar Galactica, I played myself in Scrabble. Kevin and I play somewhat regularly, and he somewhat regularly whomps me. But tonight, I had the opportunity to whomp myself. Only I didn't, as is the nature of playing against oneself. I named the players Starbuck and Boomer, and Starbuck took an early lead with a 7-letter word on the first go. It looked like Boomer would end up losing by quite a bit; Starbuck scored the Z and the X, but Boomer came up from behind with an 11th-hour qats with the Q on a double letter score tile, and the word on a triple word score.


The first picks:
The scorecard:
Qat: qat qats \ n pl. -S kat

The final board:
The final score:

Better luck next time, Boomer!