Thursday, March 26, 2009

NT 31/31: Mini ME!

Birthday! In honor of turning 31, I decided to combine several of my favorite things: doing new stuff, shopping at Nordstrom, retro-futuristic autos and That Guy, so That Guy and I rented a Mini Cooper and drove to the Nordstrom in White Plains. I absolutely love the design of the Mini- like the Pixar film The Incredibles, the design seems largely based on a vision of the future as conceived in the 1950s. Lots of white, chrome and orange, with curvy knobs and spaceish controls and dials. The radio was so groovily indecipherable that it took almost fifteen minutes for two smart adults with three degrees between us to figure out how to adjust the volume or change the station. For the hour-long ride, I alternated between being baffled by the console and being terrified that we would be crushed like bugs in this stylish little tin can if anyone's vehicle decided to misbehave in the light rain. Obviously, we reached all of our destinations just fine. And my spree at Nordstrom was a hit, thanks to some generous parental financing, light crowds and a boyfriend who doesn't mind watching me try stuff on.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NT 30/31: Places I've got to see

This is something that was on the list last year, and didn't happen, and so I rolled it over to this year's list, and it still almost didn't happen. And it's not because it's so hard to come by or elusive or guarded by dragons. It's perhaps one of the easiest, most prolific things that someone who knows the peple I know could have picked, but it was so easy that I needed to up the ante a bit and only do it under fantastic circumstances. I played Guitar Hero, but I didn't just "play guitar hero," in somebody's living room. I played Freebird, which I'm told is one of the most difficult GH songs, in an art studio while standing in front of a greenscreen, which will later to become any conceivable location where my inner rock star would like to play (I've narrowed it down to a 1950s hat store, the main entrance of the Met, or Dali's Persistence of Memory), thanks to this awesome video project. I've delayed writing this post in hopes that I could turn up a picture (they're either stubbornly ensconced as videos in Kevin's phone, or eluding a card reader), but I'm sure you all have an imagination- just imagine me standing in front of a greenscreen, a fancy video camera pointed at me, and a look of abject terror on my face as I try to learn to be a genius while doing.
In other words, imagine this is a lady and that lady is me and me is much more uncomfortable:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NT 29/31: Watching the dandelions grow

This is one of those long-term new things that will be good for me on several levels, but won't produce any results for a while: I signed up for a softball league. I'm actually pretty excited about this! I'll get exercise, learn some new skills and meet people who can tan. KMD and I both put our names down after a friend mentioned it on his Facebook profile, which makes more sense for both of them than for me. K will probably be really good. I run kind of fast. Now all they have to do is teach me to hit, catch, throw, not duck when being thrown to, and, unless I've matured more since fifth grade P.E. than I think I have, not search the outfield for four-leaf clovers while the other team is at bat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

NT 28/31: Fakenant

Today I walked around wearing a fake pregnancy belly! Friend Stephanie came over and we went to brunch and took a walk around my hood. It's amazing how differently people, even New Yorkers, treat a lady with a bean in her belly! At the diner near my apartment (from which I ordered a hamburger just last week and picked it up while sporting a completely flat tummy), we were seated sooner than a non-childbearing couple, offered water faster and allowed to move to a bigger booth when the kids near us (there with their super pregnant mom) started driving us nuts. The couple across the aisle smiled sympathetically as my giant torso and I slid into a new booth. I was absolutely desperate for some coffee, but went without for the sake of authenticity. I caved to the craving on the way home, and ordered some from the bodega guy who sees me almost every day, yet took no visible notice of my suddenly enormous midsection. The lady paying next to me, however, baldly gawked at me, perhaps shocked that I was ordering coffee, or in disbelief that I was skinny everywhere else and freakin' huge in the belly. (I later told Stephanie that had anyone asked, I would have said I was at 36 weeks. She said I looked more like 47 weeks.)
In the days leading up to this, I poked around costume shops and theatre message boards to see if anyone knew where I could buy or borrow a good PG belly, and came up with nothing. As of this morning, I still had no idea what I was going to use, and a trip to Duane Reade for something "round, but flexible, and with maybe a flat part?" was a bust. BUT when I headed over to Gristedes, the first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a box these vile, gelatinous inflatable spiky ball things (there is no graceful way to describe them) thrown in amongst other garish Easter gift miscellany. I grabbed one, jetted back home, wrapped it in a pillowcase to flatten the undulating spikes and used a Butter sash to secure it underneath my loose-fitting Butter shirt.

I later gave birth to a beautiful, healthy Whatthecrap!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NT 27/31: Send out the clowns

If you're one of those people who hates clowns, you'll like this. I punched a clown. It wasn't as violent or angry as it sounds; this particular clown, Bozo 2, has gone willingly into the punch-me-I'm-a-clown profession, so we can only assume that he wanted me to punch him. I was happy to help fulfill his destiny, and happy to have been connected, if ever so slightly, to this. Take that, you crazy-faced nightmare-inducing bag of air owned by really awesome people!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

NT 26/31: I got rhythm!

I've been a singer my whole life—I've done classical, musical theatre, opera, rock and standards. And my significant other is a jazz musician, so I've learned a little about the sounds and rhythms therein, but it's still a totally different beast. I can't play any of its associated instruments (yet), but today I learned to make a 3:4 rhythm. In layman's (and my) terms it means that one hand (or drumstick, or bag of flour) is going 1-2-3, while the other hand is going 1-2-3-4. Your hands fall at the same time on certain beats, but otherwise are hitting at different times. It's tricky and I haven't mastered it yet, but I'm close:

Friday, March 20, 2009

NT 25/31: Do you believe in Magic?

Last year, Yes-Man Kirk suggested that I pull a rabbit out of a hat as a new thing. I thought it was a completely amazing idea and knew I had to do it. But circumstances being what they are, me not living in a woodland, the country or my ten-year-old self's vision of Paradise, I never located a rabbit so it never happened. And while that is still sort of true, creativity trumped reality and today, thanks to lovely friend Rosie, her coworker Erica, some quick planning and an improvisational spirit, I pulled a Bunny out of a hat.
Enjoy (with a grain of salt):

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NT 24/31: Astaire Case

I love movie musicals. I love the songs, the spontaneous dancing and the talent, especially the dance talent. I can sing, but I've always been a clunky dancer. But I've noticed that inanimate objects don't really care about that. So because of that, and also as a tribute to those musicals I love, I danced with my hat rack. I wouldn't even pretend to do this the way Fred Astaire did it. And I don't just mean the astounding dancing. I mean the keeping the hat rack in tact, not annoying his downstairs neighbors, not having to worry about tripping over fallen pegs, having music that's loud enough— nitpicky stuff like that. I should mention that I try to keep all the media in this blog, especially videos, as raw as possible to make sure the Newness is authentic. I don't edit the videos, and I don't do more than one take unless something distracting happened during the first one, like I fell off the windowsill, or the dog started attacking my shoe. Both of those actually happened. This video certainly isn't free of mistakes, but it is one of the funnest New Thing videos I've ever had the pleasure of making. Enjoy!

(oh, and about the foot pads.... don't buy them. The pads were green and grungy when I took them off the next day, but this apparently is the result of metals in the pads that are designed to do that, and not from any poison exorcism that the pads claim to perform.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NT 23/31: Would Not, Could Not

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I made green eggs and ham. In honor of Dr. Seuss, I could not eat them and KMD would not eat them. I could not because I have never been able to stomach the taste of egg, and the smell of them, combined with the violent shade of green they turned thanks to my over-coloring, gave me dry heaves. Kevin would not eat them because he didn't want to get cancer from the veritable tidal wave of food coloring I accidentally dumped in there. So we had burritos and leftover Greek chicken for dinner instead. But I still did what I set out to do, and that's all that matters! I also scrambled eggs for the first time ever, something I should learn to do in preparation for possibly having to make them for small people one day. Any chance I can train them to want scrambled apples for breakfast?

Monday, March 16, 2009

NT 22/31: Foot Ball

Today's New Thing is an overnighter; I'll add an update tomorrow to tell you how it turned out. As I write this, I am sort of immobilized for the night, unless I want to walk on my heels to the kitchen for a glass of juice. I'm trying detoxifying foot pads. The Kinoki brand claims to *Aid Natural Cleansing, *Absorb Impurities and *Work While I Sleep. I'm not completely confident that when I wake up tomorrow I'll be met with a scummy brown pad and a squeaky-clean system, but don't knock it till you tried it, right? As a non-smoker and a once-every-two-months wine drinker, I'm not expecting that my body really has so many toxins to expunge, but who knows? I still breathe in sludgy New York air every day, and I do love me some steak pretty regularly. So there's gotta be something in there. But I'm going to be very disappointed if these things end up sucking out my soul. Oh wait, no- that's cat on your face, not pads on your feet. I am forever messing those two up.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

NT 21/31: Olive New York

Reason #5,784 to love New York: I can walk into a newsstand in midtown and buy a newspaper from virtually any country, in any language, geared toward people of any nationality. But since I'm straight-up American, and have no close ancestral ties to any non English-speaking country, I never have. But I have ample opportunity to read a newspaper from Anywhere, so today I read a Greek newspaper (fittingly, on the birthday of my favorite Greek high school friend). With the exception of certain advertisements and un-Greekable section headers, the entire thing was in Greek. And it was tough to tell what the stories were about- I'm thinking mostly Greek politics, Greek news and Greek sports, since I didn't see much in the way of Greek gossip or Greek celebrity scandals. Mostly it was pictures of imposing olive-complected men and crowds of people in sunny places. In college, that would have just been a fraternity, but in a Greek newspaper purchased in New York, it's culture! Hopa!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NT 20/31: Jokers to the right, here I am

Growing up in San Diego, I always had this fascination with flat states, Midwestern towns and general non-coastal American Middleness. I remember hearing about the town of Centreville, Ohio and being curious about the people, the look and the strange mystique about a place whose name basically meant "right smack in the middle of a bunch of other stuff." And though it's not in the middle of America, or quite as centrally located as its name suggests, I went to Downtown Middletown. There are Middletowns in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Rhode Island, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Vermont and Indiana. And I'm not going to tell you which one I went to. KMD and I remarked, while standing on Main Street in Downtown Middletown, that we really could have been anywhere in America, and the scenery here could have passed for almost any of those states.

Friday, March 13, 2009

NT 19/31: Dear Sir or Madam

I didn't think I'd get around to doing this until I had my own book to do it with, but I'm glad that the opportunity came early. I autographed a book, and I don't mean that I just wrote an inscription on the inside cover of a book in the graphic novel series that Lynn and I exchange on birthdays, or that I pretended to be John Adams reaching out from the grave to wish my dad a Merry Christmas in the pages of his biography. No, this was my own handwriting on a page filled with my own words. The book I contributed an essay to last year is out, coinciding with the 30th b-days of many friends and two relatives. What better way to help them ring in the decade than with a little loving self-promotion?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NT 18/31: I found my thrill

I'm not a terribly materialistic person. I have a meat-and-potatoes DVD player, an old iPod and rarely pay full price for clothes. But for the last two years, I've been toting around this silly little Samsung phone that looks like a toy and runs like it's powered by a hamster wheel. Now that I'm almost 31, I decided it's high time for a grown-up phone. So as an early birthday present to myself, I got a Blackberry! I'm still setting it up, and will transfer the SIM card from the caveman phone as soon as leg one of my weekend trip is completed, and I don't have to worry about risking missed trains and pickups because of a phone I don't know how to use. But when I do set it up- oh the internet! The on-the-go email! The crazy games! The pretty shiny phone! Which, really, is the important part.

My old baloney phone, my digital thermometer and my new phone, in order of awesomeness:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NT 17/31: This woman took the 1 train

I got this suggestion last year form several people, but being saddled with a day job and all its implications meant I never really made the time for it. But now, being all laid-off and freelancery, I was able to do this at my leisure, without taking an abnormally long lunch or pretending I had to leave early to pick up my poodle from the groomer's. I rode an entire subway line. I picked the 1 train because it's not obscenely long, like the A, or cop-out short, like the J. It took an hour and four minutes from the start, at the South Ferry station in Lower Manhattan, to the finish, at 242nd Street in the Bronx. I like this line because parts of it, like the stretch from 116th and 135th, and from Dyckman on, go above ground and I can actually see something besides graffiti and dark. I didn't really bring anything to do; I realized early on that one of the pads on my Bose headphones was missing, rendering them useless, and I didn't go out of my way to find a magazine or remember to bring a book. But I don't really mind just sitting there with my thoughts, because sometimes there are a lot of them.
The start:

The finish:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NT 16/31: Idle Hands

My new "career" as a freelancer has also yielded a "career" as a compulsive TV watcher which, for me, simply means that I keep up with stuff and use my DVR like an IV drip that feeds me all the pop culture I missed out on as a working stiff. In the months since "transitioning" out of my day job, I have made the acquaintance of a handful of shows that never would have turned my head before, when I had no time for or interest in Appointment Television. My newest "friend" has been American Idol. I've been mildly interested in the overall phenomenon since season 4, but I don't really get invested until there are fewer than 10 people. This year, thanks to both the DVR and the extra time on my hands, I have been all over it since episode 1. And tonight I voted for someone in American Idol. And I got through on the first call! I guess the trick is to wait about ten minutes after it ends, then slip your vote in before they close the lines. The Robot Man who "answered" said my vote had been counted, so I have officially made a difference in the life of a future pop star.

American Idol logo registered trademark by the people who made it, except for the part where I wrote my name.

Monday, March 9, 2009

NT 15/31: My Only Sunshine

I wish this more instant than it actually is, for both immediate gratification and cartoon-like adorableness. I planted a sunflower! And thanks to a thoughtful gift from someone nice, I don't have to till a field somewhere or clear out a corner of the garden I don't have or illegally plant one in the lobby and hope the landlord never notices. No, a mini Sunflower garden has apparently been designed with the New York apartment in mind. All I do is assemble the kit, stick it on my sunny windowsill (which I actually have) until this:

turns into this:

Bugs Bunny could have done it in four seconds. Not that I'm complaining.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

NT 14/31: Compared to the clouds as they roll by

Some of my favorite New Things are the ones that combine things I've done before, thereby creating a totally new experience. Today I rollerbladed with a dog! I haven't worn a pair of roller blades since 1989, and the dog I had then was a half-blind, terribly unbright (albeit gentle and lovable) Cocker Spaniel. Friend Heather has a bigger, smarter, more athletic (and just as gentle and lovable, but with good eyesight) Shepard mix named Sebastian, whom she was happy to loan out for a short ride in Central Park. My twenty years of rust didn't just fall right off; Heather had to remind me how to break, and she was all ready with a full set of Hey-Jen-don't-die safety gear. I'm happy to say I did not die, though I did get a little nervous when Sebastian began to run full-speed at his mommy, who was holding the camera:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

NT 12/31: Stack in Business

I don't know how long this sport has been around, why it's such a phenomenon, or how people get really good at it. But I decided to try my hand at Cup Stacking, because you never know when you might turn out to be a genius at something. And GUESS WHAT? I... am totally not a genius at Cup Stacking. I am fairly talented at Cup Knocking Down, Cup Looking At, and I mastered Cup Drinking at the tender age of 18 months. But this Stacking thing is going to take some practice (as well as the proper cups and some instruction on how to do it correctly) if I want to get this good.
Instead, I am this good:

Friday, March 6, 2009

NT 11/31: Dream Maker

This is something I've had in mind since the day after the annual project ended, partly because I'd done something with the same theme. And also? I do love the Audrey. I like taking fashion cues from her in the summer—capri pants, ballet flats, circle skirts, shirtdresses—since in the winter I tend to look like I take my fashion cues from Nanook of the North. Today wasn't quite warm enough to bust out the Roman Holiday regalia, but it was warm enough to open the window, so I sat in my open window with my guitar and played "Moon River" onto the fire escape. If the lady in one of the backyards below noticed, she was kind enough not to make any noise. She's the one I keep looking at.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

NT 10/31: Nobody nose

I've had a cold for almost a week now, and while the General Ick phase is basically over, my throat is clearer and I've stopped sounding so much like Kathleen Turner, the congestion has stubbornly taken up residence in my head. I described this and other lovely illness-related details to friend Amanda, and she mentioned her favorite method of nasal relief, something I'd never really heard of. So I flushed out my nasal passages using a Neti Pot. As I was reading the instructions to KMD before I tried it, I realized that it sounded vaguely like torture: you stick the long part of a plastic teapot up your nose, then pour the contents (warm water mixed with medicated powder) from that side to the other. I imagined much stinging and sputtering, and thought I'd stop if it got too uncomfortable. But really, it feels no worse than getting water up your nose while swimming. It hurt a lot less than the time I snarfed milk through my nose, and had much more medicinal merit.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NT 9/31: The Cover of Rolling Stone

If you're on the FaceBook, you have friends who have been tagged in what appears to not be picture of them, but instead a picture of something completely random with a combination of seemingly nonsensical words, phrases or names overlaid on top. This is the Random Album Cover meme, or viral tagging loop, or whatever you choose to call it. I've been mesmerized by this from afar, not making my own because (embarassingly) I have no art program on my Mac. But I randomly came across a web-based photo editing program which at least let me put words on a picture, if it was a bit stingy with the fonts. So I made a bunch of random album covers, following these rules:
1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random... Read More”
or click
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NT 8/31: Beyond the sea

I'm writing this in an only vaguely coherent, floaty, blissed-out state. No, I didn't do drugs. I had a seaweed body wrap. When lovely cousin Cat emailed last week to ask if I wanted to accompany her on a spa day at Oasis (oh, twist my arm!), I searched their site for some weird treatment I'd never had. Massages, pedicures, manicures, hot-stone treatments—done 'em. But on the list of "Spa Body Therapy" treatments was a "seaweed wrap," an indulgent-sounding but inexpensive skin treatment I'd never even thought to try before.
Oh my goodness, what a wonderfully weird experience! After a brisk rub-down with an exfoliating glove, the therapist piled on the seaweed-lavender body masque (which turned out to be clear, derailing my hopes of being covered in Krakken-from-the-sea colored miracle muck) and wrapped me up to my neck in a giant sheet of mylar. Then she piled on hot towels and left the room. I, dressed like a baked potato, faded in and out of consciousness for about twenty-five minutes while the concoction worked its wonders on my weather-worn skin. At the end, therapist lady hosed me off with a multi-nozzled shower contraption.
I can't say that being covered in mysterious goo, hot mylar, and several layers of thick towels while lying alone in a giant shallow bathtub is for everyone, but it didn't bother me (the therapist asked me a litany of questions before we began, making sure I was free of allergies, pregnancies, and claustrophobia). Plus, I am completely convinced that Sunday's sushi adventure was the driving force behind my decision to try this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

NT 7/31: Snow can wait

I didn't grow up on the East Coast, so I never experienced many wintertime childhood rituals (well, some I did). Drawing inspiration from my beloved Calvin and Hobbes, as well as from the six inches of snow we had this morning, I made a snowball and put it in the freezer. I'm hoping it will keep; I don't have the world's coldest freezer, but as long as it at least keeps some discernible snowball shape, I should be able to accomplish my eventual goal of throwing a snowball in the summer.

Here's where I got the snow:

Here's where the snowball will live until June:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

NT 6/31: Domo arigato

I'm not much of a cook, but I'm getting better. A couple of weeks ago, I made these killer vegetarian tacos and Spanish rice. The next week I burned a bagel. Baby steps. But tonight I found a new culinary skill, and discovered one more thing I actually like making, that doesn't make cooking seem like much of a chore. I made sushi! We unearthed an old sushi mat, and the rest was as easy as hunting down some nori paper in a health food store, modifying a standard rice recipe to make it sticky, and choosing simple ingredients (radish, carrot and salmon). It turned out really well, and we rounded out the meal with some terriyaki chicken and bowls of norki maki and edamame. But I do not think I'm turning Japanese. Not that I wouldn't like to someday.