Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Are You?

My newest obsession is "Mad Men".  I've seen almost the entire first two seasons in less than two weeks.  I have no idea how I've missed it until now.  In an episode I just watched Don Draper goes to California.  He meets a paradox of a girl - she's mysterious yet open, simply clothed yet extremely complex, and her origins/background really don't matter at all to her purpose.

Don says to her, "Who are you?"
She responds, "I'm Joy.  I think that says it all."

I like that.  I hope I can live up to my name.

Look at Joan (Christina Hendricks in the green dress).  Would that I had a fraction of "that"
And John Slattery?  Wowza.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene, Irene, Irene, Ireeeeeeene (as sung to the tune of "Jolene")

I love NYC.  This is nothing new.  But in times of potential crisis, I somehow love it all the more.

New Yorkers bond together.  We don't freak out.  We do what we have to do.  We help our friends and neighbors.  And then we make the best of the situations that are out of our control.

Also... we're fun.  While the note below isn't exactly how I roll, I love my friends who do.

My experience today has been people smiling, people helping neighbors carry up water and groceries, even people patiently chatting with one another while waiting for the Muslim bodega owner to finish his prayers before checking us out.  I love this.

I also love Mayor Bloomberg's recent press conference.  In reminding the less than 1% in low-lying areas to evacuate, he also reminded the rest of to stay inside from 2am to 2pm Sunday "even if the thought of walking around in a hurricane sounds cool and tempting" - where else would that be an issue?!  I love it.  When asked if there were concerns about looting, he responded "This is New York.  That doesn't happen here."  Arrogant, but kinda true.

My day (for those of you who'd like an update) has consisted of a run in an oddly non-windy yet extremely humid Astoria Park, last minute ATM and bodega runs, laundry, washing and braiding my hair, playing with Indy, and watching a press conference or two.  I think I'm bunkered down for the rest of the weekend.  Fingers crossed my power and cell service remains intact.  "Mad Men" Season 2 to commence momentarily...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love, Loss, and What I Want

What I love most about life is that every single moment presents an opportunity for learning.  This past week had some ups and downs, as most do, but for some reason they hit harder... and I'm seizing the opportunity now to put down what I've learned.

I don't love the word "love".  I feel like no two people have the same definition of it, so to say it seems fruitless a lot of the time.  To me it's often an obligatory word - one filled with "ok, it's your turn next" kind of sentimentality.  This week, however, the word has come up a lot.  I love Indy more this week than I can remember loving her in a long time.  Some of that is due to us nearing our 10-year anniversary of being in NYC.  She's the one who's been there for every single moment - every boy, every job, every set-back in my ongoing negative relationship with food, every friend, every insomniac night, every Sunday blah.  She makes me laugh, she makes me feel needed, and she makes me exhibit unconditional love because that is what she gives to me.

My Little Indy-Girl (as sung to the tune of "My Little Buttercup")

My best friend is out of town this week.  We don't see each other every day.  We don't rely on each other for very much.  And we don't even always agree on things.  But he is my constant, and when we're not in the same city, things just feel slightly off.  The only time I think we really drop l-bombs to each other is when one of us goes out of town - especially on a plane.  That may be strange, but that's how we do.

The best friend a gal could have

This leads me to loss.  I can honestly say I love my family.  I am one of the fortunate ones to have an amazing, beautiful, hilarious, talented, and loving family.  We can laugh better than many, and we can love better than most.  Yesterday evening my great uncle passed.  This may not seem like much to some of you, but to my family it's the end of an era.  I didn't get to see my Uncle Fred as much as I'd like, but every time I did it was as if no time had elapsed.  He was the leader of the "Memphis Gang" and never was without a smile.  My parents were the first divorce my family had seen so how to handle the situation was foreign to everyone.  When my dad remarried, it was often an awkward whispered question in the corner when I was asked how my mother was doing.  Not with Uncle Fred.  He made it clear that whatever areas my mother and my dad differed had absolutely no bearing on the fact that she was part of the family if for no other reason than the fact that she was my mother.  This was one of the kindest things anyone could have done for me during such a difficult time, and I never forgot it.  Rest in peace, Uncle Fred, I hope you're smoking a stogie right now :)

These are the smiles heaven has right now...

Facebook seems to be blowing up with loss this week, too, and that has affected me somewhat.  The dog of a close relative, the suicide of a dear friend's brother from my hometown, the fatal heart attack of the 19-year-old boyfriend of my friend's stepdaughter, and other unexpected deaths have had me thinking a lot about how short life really is.

Pretty Daisy.  You will be missed.

Which leads me to what I want.  I had a friend ask me this week what I want in a man/relationship.  I had someone else ask me what I want out of life.  Even my horoscope asked what sounds and scents I need around me.  What's funny about that?  I had no idea how to answer these.  I'm clear with what I DON'T want.  I know I don't want someone who disregards or ignores me.  I know I don't want to settle for things that make me unhappy.  And I know I don't like the sound of smacking or the smell of dryer sheets.  But what DO I want?  Stay tuned... There's a post in progress to answer these questions coming your way.

On a lighter side note, I'm now obsessed with "Mad Men" thanks to Katie Mohr, I love Spotify, and I designed and ordered some kickin' new runners (my current ones are on the verge of killing my back).  I wish they would come in tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Thank You For Saying Yes"

Dearest Jonathan,

1) Hang out with me because you're hilarious.
2) I hope Jessica doesn't run too hard from your inquisition.
3) Please grow out of this so girls like me won't run from you.
4) Please don't grow out of it too much to keep girls like me on their toes.
5) Never stop asking girls if you're at the "honey point" yet.  It's hilarious.  And it will give them stuff to tell their friends.


And Time... Goes By

20 years ago today I applied some mascara and lip gloss for the first time out of the house.  I used Salon Selectives hairspray to tame the too-big hair that recent puberty plagued me with and inexperience hadn't shown me how to properly manage yet.  I put contacts in my much too-wide eyes peering from my much too-skinny face.  I wore an outfit that should placed in a Fashion Hall of Fame early 90's shame-fest exhibit - it included high-waisted dress shorts, a matching jacket, and purple/green lace-up loafers (which I believe are gonna actually be huge this fall... go figure).  I carried my first Jansport backpack and entered the hallways of Cabot Jr. High.

Terrified.  Excited.  Nervous.  Worried about my height.  Worried about my body.  Worried about my impending popularity, or lack thereof.

I walked into Room 406 to see a group of fellow 7th graders - some I knew, most I didn't - sitting in silence at various desks.  I took my place in one... and waited.  This was a Gifted and Talented class that I begrudgingly took at the request of my mother and Donna Whiting.  In the back of my mind, I knew I was going to drop it for something music or art related.

The bell rang and in walked this eccentric yet beautiful lady with big hair, dress shorts (a common theme in 1991 perhaps?), colorful tights, and a tie.  "Mrs. Oldham," she wrote on the board.  Old ham?  Was she an Easter dinner gone awry?  My 12-year-old wit was almost as amazing as my 32-year-old wit...

She began by talking about how she didn't know too much about Gifted and Talented in the way of Quiz Bowl and Knowledge Masters.  She didn't care anything about doing logics puzzles or strategy games.  But she did know gifts and talents.  She did know about an artform I wasn't too familiar with - theatre.  Acting.  Public speaking.  She knew how to take the kids who weren't sure where their places were and find a niche for them.

Needless to say, I didn't drop the class.

Donna Whiting had found this gem hanging ceiling fans in Factory First and snatched her up.  That Donna Whiting... I wonder if she has any idea how many lives she has changed by walking into that lighting store and acting on her gut.  I will be forever indebted to her for that... and well, she wears a cloak.  A red one.  She's so classy...

Over the next few weeks we learned that this eccentric beauty, Jane, had great plans for us.  She introduced us to The Bubble Theory and Reader's Theatre.  She brought competitive speech and debate into our vernacular.  She was always a friendly and comforting face in the midst of junior high hell.  And then she even wrote a piece of theatre for us to perform entitled "Junior High Hail."  In it, she hilariously and eloquently was able to put down the things we were going through just by listening to us.  Always having felt like I'd rarely been listened to, this was the first time I genuinely thought that my opinions and problems were valid.  In fact, valid enough to be written about and shared.

Some of us at our first tournament with Jane - October 1991

Little did we know she was going through quite a hell of her own.  She was only assigned to the position temporarily for a teacher on sick leave.  She had just gone through a terrible divorce.  She had a new baby at home, and she wasn't 100% sure how long she'd have funds to even feed him.  Somehow it never deterred her.  She was always there for us.

I spent the next six years basking in her knowledge.  I cut the cake at her wedding to quite possibly one of the best men to walk the planet and the one to make her "Mrs. Balgavy" or "Mrs. B".  I went to her with things I couldn't talk about to anyone else.  She was a non-family adult who I felt comfortable with, which every teenager needs.  She listened.  She never judged.  She steered me away from teenage angst by making me think it was my idea.  She refused to let me go down the road of unhealthy rebellion (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc).  And she even made me feel needed, yet never obligated.

Throughout high school she was supportive yet wise in her advice regarding grades, boys, friends, parents, bad attitudes, work, and the future.  She taught us how to play the un-game which created trustworthy friendships that are among the most important I have to this day.

In the 12th grade, I auditioned for "Guys and Dolls" KNOWING that as one of her darlings, one of her cherubs, one of the lice of her life, I would absolutely get a lead.  I could dance, I'd been taking voice lessons, and I'd been around for six freaking years.  I drove up to the M Building and parked in the forbidden Work-Study parking lot.  As I walked down the hall to M110 I was filled with excitement!  I was about to see how I'd be spending my final semester of high school!  Here's what I found...

Joy's inner dialogue...
Sky Masterson....Christopher Brown (yay! my best friend)
Sister Sarah.....Andrea Alford (that's curious, but Andrea CAN sing.  I'm sure I got Adelaide)
Nathan Detroit...Cory Whitfield (another yay! my oldest friend!)
Miss Adelaide....Kim Forsyth (what the... wait, no way.  huh?  so where am I?)
(all the way to the bottom.. scrolling through the names, not characters.. the LAST name on the page)
Havana Seductress...Joy Sims (WHAT?!?! A made up role?!)

I drove to my mom's office to inform her I would be skipping school due to this grievance.  Then I drove to the junior high.  I stormed into Mrs. Balgavy's room.  The fact that she even allowed me this tantrum shows the level of tolerance and love this woman had for me.  She let me be angry.  She let me cry.  She let me feel sorry for myself... for about 10 minutes.  And then she laid it down.  She told me I wouldn't always get what I wanted in life.  She told me that not every decision made is about me.  As an only-child, I'm not sure I had ever been made aware of this until that instant.  I was speechless.  And as she predicted, I was absolutely fine in the end.

She told me to go back to school or else I'd miss Louisa Lawless's  rendition of No Doubt's "Spiderweb" at the talent show.  Thank God I listened to her... it was truly a glorious cover.  One that got her Saturday School, but SO worth it.

Me with Louisa and Jane at the River Market in May.  Louisa refrained from wearing leather pants and humping the floor at this particular outing.  But that is definitely what got her Saturday school in 1997.

I can honestly say that almost all of my favorite high school memories revolve around Jane or her influence.  I'll list a few here.  I apologize in advance, Gentle Readers, for the inside jokes.  It has to be done:

  • Dead chickens at play practice
  • J-O-L-E... E-L
  • The meth lab down the hall at Harvard... they were much too loud.
  • Hall talks - even when they lead to seizures
  • Being deaf and performing sign language at the Clinton Watch Party
  • 75 cents for orange juice
  • "he was stoned!  like with rocks!"
  • I would pick *pick* more daisies
  • Thank you, Ms. Elskin.  We love you.  And now, Grish.
  • Barbara Benoit
  • Fruit bats eat fruit.  Did you ever wonder about that?

As much fun as I've had with Jane and because of Jane and even sometimes at Jane's expense, she's definitely been a shelter during many storms.  Through deaths, divorce, illness, family matters, and loneliness, she's never failed.  And even when I haven't gone to Jane directly, the people who I've reached out to the most when life seemed to be failing me were all people she had a hand in bringing into my life.

Jane - Thank you for being so wonderful.  Thank you for being a wonderful teacher.  Thank you for your insight and laughter.  Thank you for walking into Room 406 twenty years ago today.  Thank you for sharing your life with so many of us... especially with me.  Thank you for changing my life for the better.  Thank you for just being...  I hope you have a great school year.  And I hope I'm there to celebrate many more.

God gives the moments.  We make the memories.
-Jane Morgan Balgavy.  "Time" 1996.

This is what lifelong friendship looks like.  Here's to 20 more years, my teacher, my mentor, my friend.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Playing It Completely Uncool

As you may or may not know I have a few very specific pet peeves.  Near the top of that list - only behind hearing or seeing anything in your mouth (food, gum, braces, kissing, etc.) - is improper shoe/sock combinations.

This morning on the train a serious infraction entered at Queensboro Plaza.  I sighed internally, pulled out my trusty iPhone, turned the sound off, and oh-so-discreetly made sure the angle was just right so no one around me saw me photograph this poor fellow's feet... I wouldn't want to look like a creeper or anything.  As I snapped the shot, the light of God shot forth from my phone - I forgot to turn the flash off.

I turned my phone off, put it in my bag, affixed my sunglasses back on my face, and feigned sleep.  Just another subway ride in NYC.  But I did get this beauty...

Ridiculous shower sandals with white non-socks embroidered with "Champion" on the grey toe

*Note my purple travel bag in the bottom left corner... I'm heading to Boston for the weekend to hang out with the beautiful Boston Babes - Lauren & Heidi.  Woohoo!!

UPDATE: I spoke with Lauren who is pretty sure this dude is a Bostonite.  I failed to mention his top half - Celtics t-shirt, covered by an open Red Sox jersey = South Bostonite.  She is going to take me there tonight to find my soulmate... and if you believe that's my soulmate, please re-read this blog from the beginning.

And, Gentle Readers, I apologize for my sporadic posting of late.  The ole workplace has had me busy - some with fun stuff, some with work stuff.

And to my lovelies who sit behind me on Intern Row... I can't believe your time here at Disney has come to an end.  You have no idea how much I'm going to miss you young'ns.  Anytime you come to the city I will take you to Vintage, see a show, and discuss one of the following topics just for old times' sake: Cars, Boys, Baby Funerals, Smurfs, Rubber Bands, or... Seafood.

I mean, seriously, how could you NOT love these guys?
And, yes, I totally ganked this pic from Melanie's FB page.  Sue me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dandelion In The Spring

"I have plenty of fire myself.  What I need is the dandelion in the spring.  The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.  The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses."
- Suzanne Collins

Sometimes life is filled with weeds.  Other times it's filled with flowers.  And more often than not we just have to await spring to see which emerges.

Patiently waiting for my dandelion.

*Yes, I just finished The Hunger Games.  It may have been just what the doctor ordered.