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    Downsizing

    December 4th, 2011

    Call it American, call it gluttonous, call it greedy… but I’ve always been one to supersize.

    I’m the one who opts for an XL morning iced coffee no matter how overpriced or how already-wide awake I already am. When the cashier tells me that I can get an XXL fountain drink for just a dime more, I’m the one that chooses to lug around a Coke Zero bigger than my head.

    My friend was teasing me the other day, because she noticed I had four of the same candles, five of the same lotions, and four of the same tinted moisturizers. None were opened yet. “Why do you need so many of the same thing?” she asked.

    When I like something, I need a lot of it. Not because I intend to burn four candles in a week… because I’m scared it will get discontinued. vanilla

    And that threat of something ending or something no longer existing drives me to supersize. No, I don’t think iced coffee is going to be eliminated from the world.

    …But I must admit, I do dread when I slurp, and my fountain drink is empty.

    Whenever I see portion recommendations- you know what I’m talking about…. where your entrée should be the size of your fist- the shock factor doesn’t exist for me. I’ve seen the recommendation countless times. I must admit though- I can’t imagine feeling satisfied with a fist of an entrée. I can’t help it. Although I lead a healthy lifestyle, I want my entrée to be the size of my foot. And I wear a size 6.5.

    Ironically, when I started packing up my Chicago apartment to move to New York, I felt this overwhelming need to downsize. As someone who had lived alone for four years, I had not only acquired several renditions of everything I adored, but I had it all catalogued, stored, and put away in the most organized fashion. Some would assume the organization would make the move less overwhelming. But it didn’t. Instead, it overly-emphasized (and beautifully displayed) just how much unnecessary “stuff” I owned. And how expensive it would be to ship it all to New York.

    Countless baskets (all white wicker or light wood, florally lined) contained gift-wrapping, pen and stationary collections that matched their baskets; a wardrobe full of all black clothing, black accessories, and black shoes that definitely all looked the same to an outsider; and drawers full of every Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk and Vanilla product ever made… the list goes on.

    It was excessive, it was surprising, it was embarrassing, and frankly, it was all the same of one thing.

    And it didn’t stop there. Vases. Candles. Stickers. Scarves. Baskets. Cosmetic Bags. Lotions. Four years of “stuff” I’ve accrued either because it was on sale, beautiful, or Shabby Chic was not going to fit in an apartment shared with another person… let alone a boy.

    So I did what I like to call “Editing.” Closets, baskets, drawers, everything was edited. Mumbling phrases such as “don’t love anything that can’t love you back” and “it’s just stuff,” I ended up donating and giving away more black clothes, floral home goods, and pink tissue paper, gift bags and ribbon than you could ever imagine.

    Then I moved to New York and was head-on confronted with limited closet space and a male roommate who was startled by all my “stuff.” Helping me open boxes labeled “Gift Wrapping,” his facial expressions alone made me feel the need to edit more.

    Consequently, Round II of editing took place. Now, a few months later, I have a new outlook of simplifying.  I aim to have as little “stuff” as possible. Consistency cleaning out my closet and refusing to buy any home good or stationary item unless I absolutely need it, I’ve been shocked by how satisfying downsizing is. Apparently- according to The Today Show- when you empty out your closet, you gain a new wardrobe. That really hasn’t happened to me, but it has re-aqquainted me with clothing I’ve forgotten about. It’s the most rewarding feeling to shop- in your closet- without spending a dime. This new embracing of downsizing has helped me remain organized, budgeted and focused. Someone like myself- who values of all that- can’t believe I haven’t started downsizing sooner! some pens

    Looking at all the black sweaters I never wear that I only bought because they were on sale or purchased from an inexpensive store, I feel silly. How wasteful.  Just because the sweater cost $15.00, it’s not a deal once you buy three.

    I must admit though… the vanilla-scented lotions and beautifully packaged candles were- and still are- the most excessive. When I was in first grade, a dermatologist told me I had dry skin. Ever since then, I have enough moisture- in vanilla flavor- to never achieve dry skin, even if I wanted it. Candles and lotions- all in vanilla scents or in pink, white or brown packaging took over my Chicago apartment and still overwhelm the drawers and counters of my New York apartment.  I can’t help it. I’m working on it, and I’ve vowed not to purchase any more of that, but it comes down to this: I just had a birthday. Friends don’t let friends drink and drive… but they do let you, your apartment, and anyone who walks in… smell like vanilla.

    As you can see, I’m not claiming to be a perfect downsizer.  It’s something I’m working on, and a new mentality of prioritizing and figuring out what I really want a lot of. I still will buy an excess of something I love if it’s on sale significantly; I still own too many black dresses and colored pens; and I definitely ordered the largest Tasti D Light yogurt size last evening.

    I do know this though: there is a difference between indulging, over-doing it, and downright wasting. I still indulge; I just try not to lose my mind and over-do it to the point where I’m wasting. The point is, in a world where we have so much at our fingertips and so much is overcomplicated, it’s refreshing to sometimes enjoy the simplicity of all life’s simple pleasures.

    For me, that’s sitting outside on a sunny day, drinking an XXL fountain drink… that only cost a dime more than the XL.

    12D

    November 27th, 2011

    From a young age, I was overly-aware of germs. From a young age, I was aware that I was overly-aware of germs. But I didn’t change my ways. And I still haven’t. And I don’t plan to.

    Constant hand-washing  (while singing the entire Happy Birthday song to ensure it was an adequate wash), refusal to touch bare-hands to door knobs and other public areas,  and daily Clorox wipe-downs of my entire apartment…. I understand that I’m neurotic. That’s why I try to conceal it and tone it down in the company of others.  I’m aware that a germ-a-phobe is really annoying. However, for me, someone who is a bit too tolerant of germs, is just as annoying.

    Or, in more choice words, just downright gross.

    planeThat’s why when I flew to Michigan for Thanksgiving on a Monday, I was repulsed by 12D…the woman next to me who was coughing, wheezing and sneezing…. All while not covering her mouth.  Feeling her congested breath hitting me as she wheezed and roared, I furiously instant messaged anyone who was online to let them know that I was sitting next to the most selfish, disgusting sick person I’ve ever encountered.

    She was a mess, and didn’t care that she was getting our entire row messy. The guy across the aisle from me flashed her a death stare. I was too busy furiously typing to stare at her.

    Yes, I was on my laptop, connected to wireless 10,000 feet in the air tattling to people who certainly didn’t care.  Yes, I was badmouthing someone who was an inch away from me.  Yes, I was overreacting.

    Once I got off the plane, 12D was completely out of my head. That is, until I woke up Wednesday morning with a familiar cough/wheeze/congestion. I had caught 12D’s cold. And despite the previous moments up to the plane ride of hand washing, Clorox wiping and door knob avoidance… I had no control over catching her cold.

    I was outraged. As someone who looks forward to Thanksgiving and visiting my home state of Michigan, I couldn’t believe that a reckless slob like this woman could ruin it all.  I spent Wednesday congested,  frustrated, but most of all… raged. Just ask my mom. She heard about 12D all day and night.

    Then, an antibiotic, too much Sudafed, a abundance of Aquafor under my nose, and three  boxes of tissue later, I woke up Thursday morning ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and see friends and family who were also in town. I refused to let 12D ruin my week.

    After all, I had too much to be thankful for.

    I continued to wash my hands obsessively. Because I wasn’t at my own home, I didn’t Clorox wipe all day. That obsession was replaced with constant repeating to my family members and friends of  “I don’t want to get you sick” and “don’t get too close to me.”

    There were also a few threats that I’d wear a mask on the flight back to New York. No one felt threatened though. In fact, my mom gave me a few masks.  It was probably her strategy to shut me up.

    My boyfriend and I arrived at the airport. We were at sitting at the gate about to board the airplane. Everyone was coughing. Finally, after a few sneezes a few seats near me, I got out the mask.

    “Should I put it on?” I asked.

    “I don’t care,” he replied. “Do what you want.” He said as he inched away from me.

    I put it on. A woman sitting in a seat across from me raised her brow.  I didn’t care though. I’d rather everyone think I’m contagious or flatout neurotic rather than catching another cold.  It didn’t feel comfortable on my face though. So I took it off.

    We got on the plane, and I immediately put it back on. I was sitting next to an elderly man who looked genuinely scared for his life. I felt terrible. I didn’t want him to think he was about to catch a rare disease.  “I’m wearing this solely  to avoid germs,” I rationalized to him through the mask.

    I knew he heard me, because now he looked more horrified.  I guess he’d rather sit next to someone with the Swine Flu than someone scared of contracting it.

    We were back in our apartment in New York. I Clorox wiped everything I could get my hands on. It felt good to be back.

    “What do you want for dinner?” my boyfriend asked me.

    I told him I wanted to order in form the sushi place across the street. His friend- who was eating dinner with us- winced.  “That place has a B rating- it’s filthy!” He explained in disgust.

    Thinking of their delicious ginger dressing, I couldn’t have cared less about the B rating.

    This excited me. Maybe I’m loosening up, and starting to relax! I thought to myself optimistically.  Then 12D popped into my head. No, it’s just really good ginger dressing.

     

    The Race

    November 20th, 2011

    I move really fast. But not in the athletic, agile, graceful way. In the multi-tasking, high-anxiety, get-the-todo-list-checked-off kind of way. The kind of way where there’s room for error.

    My former boss- yes, she comes up a lot- once told me to slow down. Yes, it’s great to accomplish a lot in one day, but what’s the point if you’re going to make mistakes and have to go back and fix all the mistakes? It’s not a race.

    Although I knew better, I’ve moved a bit too quickly the past two weeks. And as a result, mistakes were made.

    The scary part is, I’m not quite sure where the story starts.  I guess it starts a few days before my birthday. I’d love to say that I was so excited for my birthday that I couldn’t think straight. But that was not the case.

    I had a long list of errands that really weren’t so important. However, if you know me, once something goes on the list, no matter how trivial or unimportant the action item is, it must get completed…quickly.  One of my errands was to pick up clothes I had bought on a Pre-Sale Friends and Family Discount at Bloomingdales. Those of you who are anything like my mom, just read that line and thought to yourself, “Tough life, she has.” But I’m not complaining.  I was excited, and rushing to get home.

    Picking up my purchases along with my boyfriend’s sister’s purchases, I figured I’d drop her bag of purchases at her apartment to save her the hassle of having to pick up the bag from my apartment. My intention was to convenience her. Unfortunately for both of us, when I’m on the phone with my Grandma, I sometimes lose focus.  And as a result, she was everything but convenienced.  “Hold on Grandma- I’m dropping something off”, I said into the receiver as I quickly handed the doorman her bag. I gave him her name and unit number. Then, in a rush, I raced out of the lobby, continuing to yap to my grandma, running home to get work done.

    That evening she told me that the doorman never received a  Bloomingdales bag. “I dropped it off at 2:00, so whoever worked then should have it.” She assured me she would get it the next day, and that was that.

    ***

    Since a very young age, I’ve been told the dangers of the sun. Although I knew just how bad it was for health and aging, I haven’t put an end to my excessive sun exposure until now. There are too many consequences.  That’s why when I was home alone on Monday night, and discovered a scary black freckle in the middle of my forehead, I was beyond upset.  I had just washed my face, and couldn’t believe that a freckle-of that color and size- could appear over night.

    Frightened, jumpy, and outraged at myself for my overexposure to the sun, I started moving… quickly. Frantically texting friends for dermatologist recommendations, Googling exactly what the ominous freckle looked like, researching the online reviews of the doctors recommended ….all while rubbing  my boyfriend’s labradoodle’s stomach, I finally realized that at 10:00 pm at night, I absolutely needed an appointment booked for tomorrow if I was going to get any sleep. I was moving quickly.

    So- I resorted to ZocDoc- just like I do every time I realize I MUST see a specialist and it’s passed business hours to book and secure an appointment over the phone.  At 11:00 am, I’d see a dermatologist, get the freckle removed, and have it biopsied.  I was relieved that in 12hours I would have found a dermatologist, booked an appointment, gotten an ample amount of sleep, and went to my appointment.

    Oh yeah- I was also contemplating if I should have a plastic surgeon remove it. Let’s wait until the doctor tells me just how urgent the removal is. I thought to myself. When a friend insisted I consult with a plastic surgeon, I snapped, “my health is more important than my looks.”

    ***

    I jumped out of bed, looked in the mirror, and winced at my freckle. Then, I saw a text message from my boyfriend’s sister. Not only were the bags of clothes still not found, a week later, but her building does not have a doorman that looks like the one I described.

    “Are you sure it was my building?” she texted me.

    “Yes. Of course I’m sure!”

    But apparently, I wasn’t sure enough. Because before going to the dermatologist, I ran to her intersection, deliberately went to the apartment complex across the street, and to my dismay, her Bloomingdales bag was still in the lobby. Big. Brown. Bag.  The doorman looked at me sheepishly. “She never came,” he declared.  After a quick apology, I grabbed the bag, dropped it off at my apartment, and reminded myself to never engage in a gossip-packed conversation with my grandma while holding someone else’s possessions. It’s just not fair. To anyone.

    Embarrassed, angry at myself, and disgusted by the what-seemed-to-be growing black freckle on my forehead, I made my way to the dermatologist.  Of course- not learning form my previous mistake- I spent the whole commute on a gossip-packed conversation with my friend Ali. We had a few quick exchanges of plastic surgery vs. instant removal. At least I wasn’t holding anyone else’s property.

    I was sitting in the doctor’s office, wearing my gown, emailing with my boss, and texting my mom. I was moving at a rapid pace.  I had told the nurse I was there for a body skin examination, and I was particularly concerned about the freckle on my forehead. She gave a grimace of pain, and assured me the doctor would be in immediately. When he came into the room- immediately- my anxiety rose. Even she knows how urgent this matter is.

    The doctor was warm, friendly, and stern. “I hear you’re concerned about a freckle. Don’t tell me which one. Let’s see if I find it on my own.” He said as he started scanning my arms and neck.

    “Ok. I agreed.

    Then he turned to the nurse. “Before we get started, can you hand me a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol?” He turned to me, “It looks like you have some dried blood on your forehead that I’ll wipe off for you.”

    And within seconds, my ominous black freckle was gone.

    “That was the freckle I was concerned about,” I said half-embarrassed, half-relieved.

    “Oh! Well, look at the bright side,….you’re fine!”

    I was fine.  And I’m sure of it, because I made him give me my money’s worth, and complete a body skin check. I was healthy; I didn’t need to debate plastic surgery or not; and more importantly, I got a handful of face moisturizer samples for travel. Like every stressful scenario- or stressful morning- there was good news and bad news. The good news: The freckle wasn’t life-threatening or scar-worthy and my boyfriend’s sister’s clothes were found. The bad news: Before I even got out of the dermatologist’s office elevator, I was on the phone with my boyfriend telling him the story, engaging in a gossip-packed text conversation with my friend, and running to the grocery store for a few items on my to-do list.

     

     

     

    Lucky Numbers

    November 13th, 2011

    If I really think about it, the story begins with my dad’s number superstition.  From as far back as I can remember, he would count in his head and explain why addresses, phone numbers, and any other variations of digits were lucky. As someone who found the number 18 lucky, he would set his alarm to 5:58 am. Sure, it was two minutes less of sleep he would get than waking up at 6:00 am. But it was well worth it.  Why? Because 5+5+8=18.

    Equations like this, and sometimes more complicated ones, came naturally to my dad.

    So I’m sure he was pleased when my sister was born on May 5. A double five was definitely lucky. But then, when his second daughter (I) was born on November 11, his luck doubled. His two children were born on 5/5 and 11/11.

    So you can imagine the build up for my 27th birthday, which would fall on 11/11/11. We’ve been talking about this date, since I made the mistake of telling my pharmacist that my birthday was 11/11/11 when I was nine years old.

    “Dear,” he said softly. “There is no way you were born then. That would make you 83 years old.” The nice pharmacist explained.

    “Trust me. I was born on eleven eleven eleven” I insisted, with the stubbornness of a 83 year old.

    My mom explained to me that I had an eleven eleven birthday; not an eleven eleven eleven birthday. But one day I would have an eleven eleven eleven birthday. I thought to myself.  And then- doing basic arithmetic- we realized it would be my 27th birthday. I had a long time until that.

    Don’t worry though. We had our fix. When I turned eleven years old, you better believe the party was thrown at 11:00 am, and all eleven friends of mine – and however many more I invited- met at Plaster Playhouse to paint plaster masterpieces with everything under the sun glue-gunned on to them. There was pizza. There were rhinestones. And, I definitely lied to all my friends, saying I was born at 11:11 pm. I don’t remember saying it, but it sounds like something I’d make up.

    After my eleventh birthday, I focused on the fact that my birthday was on Veteran’s Day. As a patriotic citizen, I loved celebrating those who fought for my country on my special day. And I’m pretty sure I lied to my naïve and gullible friends that the banks were closed, because it was my birthday.

    ***

    For those of you who have met my Grandma Rita, you know that she’s a young soul.  Grandma Rita is fun, upbeat, and has outstanding style. She’d frequently visit me in Chicago. By the end of a day spent with her, I’d be worn out, while she – on the other hand- was just getting started.  She looks young, she feels young, she acts young… she’s a young soul.  I couldn’t adore her more.

    When people find out she’s my grandma, they almost always follow with a “How old are you?!” because they’re visibly confused.  Their faces scream: “either she had a teen pregnancy or she’s pretending she’s older than she is.” And, from as long as I can recall, she always proudly shared her age.

    At first- this came as a shocker to me. Accustomed to the rule that you never ask a lady her age, I was surprised at people’s manners and simultaneously shocked at her eagerness to share her age. She didn’t have to. I had been in the company of many women who politely responded that their age is irrelevant. Or that a lady never discloses her age.

    My grandma was different. “It’s just a number,” she’d say. And she’s right. Your chronological age is irrelevant to what’s in your heart, to how you feel, and to who you are.

    ***

    I gotta admit.  I was pretty annoyed- at nine years-old- when I realized that I would turn 27 on 11/11/11. Not only was it not going to fall on – what I had hoped- my eleventh birthday, but 27 is such a non-relevant number. 2+7 is 9… I’d think to myself, the same way my dad would. Eh, forget it. Meanwhile, 22 years later, my dad called me the other day with some arithmetic and justification as to why 27 works on 11/11/11, but it was a bit too complicated for me. 2+7 = 9 and that’s that.

    I’m still not crazy about 27. It’s a strange age. Sometimes I feel old. And then other times, I feel like I’m a kid. Yes, I realize this is some rendition of Britney Spears lyrics circa 1999.

    My former boss once told me to never share my age in a professional setting. Not for the reason that a lady never shares her age; but because, it’s irrelevant. It’s just a number. And I saw first-handedly that she was correct. Whenever clients or colleagues found out my age, they would comment on how young I was. And that definitely wasn’t going to help my career.

    For that reason, it makes me happy to be 2 years passed the quarter century age.

    However, just planning my birthday alone makes me feel young. Last Monday, with determination and excitement, I set out to run some important errands.  Running to different stores to buy a handle of cheap vodka, chopped pineapple, and massive pitchers, I went to each store with a mischievous smile. “What are you making?” The liquor store clerk asked as he eyed the pitchers.

    “Pure vodka marinated with pineapple. By the time Friday comes around, it will have marinated for so long, that it will taste like pineapple juice. My guests will be wasted!” I declared.

    He asked if he could be invited to my party. He probably thought it was my 21st birthday.

    Then, my boyfriend’s sister walked in a dressing room to find me in a small room full of sequined apparel to wear to my birthday. I thought it was festive; anyone else who stepped foot in this dressing room would think the apparel looked like what I glue-gunned to my art work on my eleventh birthday.

    And her friend- who was with her- made sure to reiterate that to me in a nicer way.

    If you ask my grandma what I did for my birthday, she’d say I had cocktails and appetizers in my Manhattan apartment followed by the bar.

    Let’s be honest. My boyfriend and I hosted a predrink with pigs and a blanket, Scoops, and sushi. We drank out of nose cups before heading to a bar. Actually- come to think of it- it was pretty similar to my 11th birthday party. There was pizza. There were rhinestones.  And- a few pineapple drinks later- I probably told at least one sucker I was born at 11:11 pm.

    My friend and her husband slept on an air mattress in my living room. That sentence alone reflects the mixed emotions of my age.

    This weekend, I was surrounded by people I love. College friends, childhood friends, my boyfriend and a labradoodle.  I have a great family, good health, and the kind of grandma that causes me to believe I also have great genes

    So maybe it doesn’t matter if I were born on Veteran’s day or at 11:11 pm or why the banks are really closed on my birthday.

    No matter what age I am, what my birthday digits are, what year it is…  and how you can add, subtract, multiply, slice and dice them… I know I am lucky.  It’s just a number. When you’re lucky, you know it.

    And when I’m really 83, there better still be pizza and rhinestones.

    I’ll be celebrating my Grandma Rita and all she taught me.  Let’s face it- I’ll also be celebrating that 8+3 equals 11.

    Breaks

    November 6th, 2011

    For those of you- all four of you- who have been wondering why I haven’t been posting for the past few weeks, I should probably provide an explanation. I wish I had a grand story about how I was swept off my feet to an exotic destination or that I spontaneously decided to treat myself to a getaway (let’s face it: I’d choose a week in Michigan running errands with my mom and grandma), but what it comes down to is as simple as this:

    I needed a break.

    I didn’t intend for the break to be so long though. It all started four weeks ago when I sat down to write my post on a Sunday night. I don’t know what it was. It could have been wine, maybe it was the overwhelming amount of rice and hummus from the Mediterranean place Brandon and I ordered in from, actually- come to think about it, as embarrassing as this is… it was probably the fact that Part 1 of the Kardashian wedding was airing. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t get myself to write the post, and I decided it was time for a break.

    Had I known they were getting divorced 72 days later, I still would have watched it.

    I intended it to be a one-week break. As someone who is constantly on the go, someone who values a routine, and someone who easily gets addicted to stuff be it a tv series or a brand of coffee, I find it healthy to take some time off every now and then.

    Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, study breaks, slamming on the brakes….  I’m a huge proponent of breaks. If you don’t take a breather from something habitual, you end up getting exhausted or sick of it… and trust me, you don’t want to hear me complain about it.

    So then after a healthy week, when I was definitely ready to proceed writing, a last minute business trip followed by a sudden trip for a family event occurred, and before I knew it, I was back in New York and missed a second week of blogging.  I didn’t stress about it too much; although I’m committed to my blog, I told myself You need a break.

    But then- from all the flying and traveling and lack of sleep- I caught a nasty cold. For those of you who know me personally, you know I am not a good patient. Or a pretty one. Coughing, sneezing, weezing, grossing out my boyfriend, and complaining of severe sinus pressure, I stayed cooped up in my apartment. I think even the dog judged me. I was a hot mess.

    This cold took me out big time. It wasn’t that I was so uncomfortable; I just had very little energy. Sleeping, and laying, and basically spending 8 days horizontal, I too easily skipped another week or two. So sue me! I’m sick. I can barely work, and I’m paid to do that! I’m taking a break. I justified to myself.

    Now, four weeks later, I sit here writing this post apologetic to those of you that actually do look forward to my Monday posts. While I am still a proponent of a break, there is a big difference between a break and downright procrastination and laziness.

    The past few weeks, I have justified laziness with my need for a break, which some perceived as a break-up.  And that’s the last thing I intended.  Rest assured- it was just a break, and we’re back and business. I feel rested, relaxed, and my cold is long gone. I’d Clorox wipe my entire apartment right now, but it’s been 19 years of that. I think I’m overdue for a break.  Let’s just hope I get swept off my feet and simply won’t be around to do it for four weeks.

    Resolutions

    October 2nd, 2011

    In light of the Jewish New Year, I couldn’t help but think of what I’d like to improve on for the upcoming year. Then, to my dismay, it became a little too easy for me to think of what I needed to improve. Procrastination I wrote down, thinking of the unnecessary time I often waste before completing stuff at work.  Workout I jotted down quickly thinking of people’s shocked – and sometimes disgusted- reactions to news that I don’t go to the gym.  Live on the edge I scribbled as I thought of all the adventures and travel I should embark on. Nah, scratched that one out. Who am I kidding?

    Then, in typical procrastination fashion, I stopped listing to go on facebook and was confronted with a recently-uploaded photo of me in a black dress.  Oh! I know! Wear clothes that doesn’t look like everything else you own I quickly scribbled before going back to photos of me in a variety of black dresses, v-necks, heather gray shirts, and printed cardigans that all looked the same to most, but were different in actuality.

    As the day went on, and I sat at my desk working, I kept thinking of more and more resolutions. Be more patient. Pause a few seconds before you respond with an answer. Learn how to type correctly. Stop drinking soda.  Focus better. Go to bed earlier.

    It didn’t stop. My notebook was filled with pages of what some would view as flaws, and what more optimistic people would view as hope. But- no matter how you slice or dice it, I was stressed by my bad habits.

    Monday evening I set my alarm to wake up early, with the intention to workout the next day. You idiot I thought to myself. You bought a membership to the gym, and you don’t even use it. What’s the matter with you? You work from home, you have a gym in your building, and you STILL can’t fit it into your schedule?? How lazy can you be? In a self-deprecating yet enthusiastic manner, I went to bed ready to improve.

    I woke up Tuesday feeling nauseous. After remembering that I absolutely must eat right when I wake up, and then realizing that I can’t jump on the treadmill with a full stomach, I decided to wait until later in the day.  But then I got crazy busy with meetings and work and next thing I knew, it was 6:00 pm, and I had to get ready to go out to dinner with a girlfriend.

    Resolutions in mind, I put on a teal silk blouse with chunky jewelry.  Feeling unlike myself, I quickly changed into a heather gray v-neck tucked into a tight black skirt. Frustrated, I rushed out of the house without looking in the mirror. As I raced to dinner, I sighed. What’s the point of looking in the mirror when you know exactly what you look like in that outfit! You buy all this clothes, and you always end up wearing stuff that all looks the same. How boring!

    The next day, I woke up with a list full of items I needed to conqueror for work.  Traveling on Friday with little access to a computer, I knew it was going to be a short workweek, and I needed to be productive. But my head was pounding. I couldn’t focus. Every time I tried to start something, I’d get distracted. And then, just like the day before, 7:00 pm hit and I had to get ready for a dinner plan. What a wasted day! I thought to myself. You were so busy procrastinating, that you got nothing accomplished and now you’re going to have to rush through everything for the rest of the week. How foolish!

    I went to bed disappointed in myself. I had something in mind to do tomorrow when I woke- and it was important.

    So on Wednesday, for the first time that week, I accomplished what I sought out to do. I opened my notebook to my resolutions and added Respect yourself to the top of list. Yes, I do need to work on everything else on the list. But this came first.

     

    Jumping Off Bridges

    September 18th, 2011

    Everyone lost their minds last Monday when Target launched its reasonably-priced Missoni collection. But the mania started way before last Monday.

    It all started with a fitted Missoni dress my mom purchased a few years ago.  Under the zig zags’ spell, she’d browse the sales racks at department stores, and rocking her zig zags frequently, we teased her that she was regularly dressed like a fiesta.

    That brand is just so expensive. I’d think to myself. I wasn’t under the spell yet. To me, it was overpriced, dry-clean only sand art.

    About two years ago, one summer evening, while browsing the sale racks at Neiman Marcus, I spotted a Missoni hot pink cardigan. The combination of the discounted price coupled with the fact that my mom approved was just too much fun. I was under the spell.  But then two accessories and a second cardigan later, I had my fix. I was done.

    And I was still done when I heard that Target was launching a Missoni by Target line. A huge Target shopper, a Missoni fan, and a proponent for a discount, you’d think I’d be jumping for joy. But I wasn’t. I had my fix, and I was fulfilled. To be honest, I was more curious and excited to know what Target paid the Italian designer for his line. And you better believe I was too busy googling that question than caring what Target would sell.

    Missoni for Target

    Like everyone else, I saw previews on blogs, TV commercials, print ads, the spread in Vogue, and the massive pop up store on 42nd St. and 6th Ave. Instead of jumping for joy that I could now get my paws on all the zig zags in the world, I was kinda pissed. Great, all my heard-earned cardigans and accessories will now be perceived as $29.99.

    ***

    Then, on Tuesday- the day of the launch- I woke up eager to take a walk and go to the eye doctor.  There was calmness in the air. Looking back at it, this was definitely the calm before a wild hurricane. Yes, a wild, messy Hurricane of mania was about to zig zag by.

    Then, laying in bed, I thought to myself “It’s 7:00 am. Everyone’s getting ready for work or en route. No one’s on Target.com.” So I jumped out of bed to grab my laptop, and see if the collection was available.

    And it was. All of it. Everything from home, to clothes, to swimwear to accessories, to kitchenware… you name it. So, feeling fortunate and ahead of the game, I started filling my cart. It was every marketers’ dream. I was helping Target’s marketing team accomplish the digital velvet rope they definitely intended to create. I was under the spell.

    And after spending way too much money on way too many zig zags, I called my mom, emailed a few friends, and shared the news in a rather frantic tone that translated to IT’S ALL AVAILABLE NOW.

    And then the site crashed. And my mom called me outraged. “Emily, my cart was full, and it’s all gone. It’s all gone. I can’t believe it. It’s all gone.”

    You would think something valuable was gone.

    And it didn’t stop there. She was on hold with Customer Service the whole car ride to work.  My one friend skipped work all together, because she was too busy going to three different Target locations. Another friend spent the whole day dwelling that she should have acted more quickly on the site when I sent her an email notifying her it was available. “If I would have known this was going to happen,” she said softly. “I wouldn’t have browsed so slowly,” she continued in an even softer melancholy song.

    I was sitting at the eye doctor, eyes dilated, unable to read texts. They didn’t stop. My phone was rockin and rollin and ziggin and zaggin. I couldn’t read the emails and texts, but I knew what they were all about.  As my phone buzzed, I wondered if the eye doctor had any idea of the mania going on outside her office and on my phone.

    I laughed to myself imagining my friends’ melancholy and outraged messages about Target’s underestimation of store merchandise and online traffic.  But then it occurred to me. This woman can probably relate! Those five minutes of waiting for the dilation drops to work, she most definitely spent refreshing the Target site to get the frustrating error message the rest of the world was receiving.

    Woof is right.

    Walking home everything was blurry. I was on hold with Customer Service trying to retrieve my mom’s order. I was feeling anxious. I should have been concerned that I could barely see, but my focus was on the fact that I was the only person I knew who got my paws on the discounted zags. Why was I the only one? For goodness sake- I didn’t even care! I had the real Missoni. How many zags can one have?

    Instead of continuing to feel guilty, I returned home, unable to see my computer screen, yet consistently refreshing my browser. And then I was back in. I ordered my mom what was originally in her cart and then fell a victim to the mania. Because everyone else was losing their marbles, and because the demand was so high, I started ordering plates, platters, and other home goods; not because I’d ever decorate my house with vibrant zig zags, but because the mania and the demand was contagious.

    Because everyone else was losing their marbles, I apparently decided to lose mine too. Because everyone else was jumping off a bridge, it only seemed right to take a plunge. I knew it was reckless. Get off this page and go to Simply Shabby Chic where you belong. Shabby Chic- another high-end brand Target made more affordable- is a line that I’d actually buy full price; a line I actually adore; a line where my hard-earned money should go. These zags were a fiesta I should not attend.

    But I didn’t care. I had taken the plunge. Eyes dilated, vision blurred, I frantically online shopped, begging my boyfriend to enter my credit card information.

    The next day, I saw things a little more clearly. The eye drops had worn off, and I couldn’t stop thinking How could a major giant like Target not anticipate this kind of response? How did their top- notch marketing and retailer sales executives underestimate online traffic and in-store merchandise to such a degree?

    And then I watched Target’s V.P. of Communications on the Today Show urge viewers that “There is much, much more Missoni to come” with an I-know-something-you-don’t –know smile.

    Ah. PR. Going back to the site, and seeing the message that had been there loud and clear: better shop fast, I cringed. I sure did shop fast. I jumped off a bridge.

    Later that night, I was getting dressed to go out to dinner. I grabbed my beloved and vibrant Missoni cardigan and winced. I’ll go for the Black J Crew one.

     

    Hunting in the Wild

    September 11th, 2011

    It all started when I moved to Chicago and couldn’t easily find frozen yogurt.

    Growing up, I liked frozen yogurt. But then, after moving to Chicago and realizing it was almost impossible to get my hands on, I developed an obsession with it. In other words, I never knew how much I couldn’t live without frozen yogurt, until I didn’t have a choice.

    iced coffee

    The deficit came up frequently, in all different ways. Often, I’d whine about it to my boyfriend. At parties, I’d talk to other guests about it, because it was on my mind, but mainly because I was hoping to find a “secret spot” I hadn’t discovered yet. The topic of Chicago’s lack of frozen yogurt was commonly used as small talk, ice breakers, complaints and what we all long for, especially on a particularly cranky day: something to bitch about.

    Like an animal in the wild, I was crazed and focused. I was predacious, tenacious, and a bit beastly.

    And then I moved to New York, and found myself surrounded by a plethora of frozen yogurt shops. And next thing I knew, although I do get a frozen yogurt once a day upon moving here, something crazy happened.

    I stopped talking about it. My craving was fixed. My hunt was over. My shortage was replaced with a surpluss, and as luck would have it for all my friends, family, and loved ones: the small talk, the large talk, and everything in between…. was silenced.

    If you know me personally or if you follow this blog, you know that I get quite addicted to the things I like. Luckily for me (and anyone who has to listen to me), most things I’m crazy about, I can easily get my paws on.

    Iced coffees, an oversized fountain beverage, a solid blow-out, Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk lotion, Sprayway Glass Cleaner vanilla scents for the body and for the home, roses, NARS Casino (yeah- I said it. Casino.), and much, much more.

    Most of these little luxuries are at my finger tips, available at almost every single block, of New York City. And interestingly enough, no matter where I am in the world, and how marked up and over-priced these little trinkets and goodies are, they can take a frugal, financially-structured woman, and make her spend like an animal.

    “Do you want a diet coke? “ I recently asked a friend as the cashier registered my XL Diet Coke.

    “No! We had one earlier at lunch. Plus, $4 is a lot for a coke. I don’t need it.” She replied, passing judgment.

    Funny how I’d choose to walk in heals over taking a $4 cab, but I’ll eagerly purchase a $4 diet coke with no qualms.

    When I first moved to New York, I gotta admit. I kinda lost my mind. I was satisfied with the abundance of all my favorite things, and it overwhelmed me. In fact, I was so satisfied with the abundance of all I loved that I actually felt a void.

    A void to hunt.

    Because when you’re thrown in the wild, looking for the things you fiend, you become resourceful, instinctual, and empowered by finding your prey.

    And that’s when I went on a quest to find the best fat-free muffins in the city.  Asking all the same questions (replacing “frozen yogurt” with “fat-free muffins”) and feeling the same frustration I felt in Chicago, I hunted, I rummaged, I hounded…I scouted the island of Manhattan as my boyfriend probably contemplated jumping off of it. I didn’t even know how much I wanted or needed fat-free muffins until I started my quest.

    And then I tracked them down… 6 blocks away from my apartment. And the place that sells them happens to be a well-known bagel joint with multiple locations across the city. So that took care of that. Nothing to hunt for.

    But then I remembered that although I’ve stumbled upon some decent salons and received economical yet below satisfactory blow-outs I still haven’t received a stellar, top-knotch, first-rate blow-out that fits my criteria.

    And because I haven’t found this, like any crazed animal, I am hungry and a bit too focused. So the small talk, the large talk, and the complaints have started. The journey, the hunt, the treks, and in this case, the trial and error has begun. The obsession exists. The craving is strong.

    I come home from different salons appalled that sometimes parts of my hair are still wet, sometimes they charged extra for flat ironing, sometimes they admitted that they “can’t handle my thick hair” and sometimes all of the above occur.

    Always conscious of my hair and somewhat reliant on a great blow-dry, I’m not surprised how adamant I am to catch my prey.  This is not a fat-free muffin situation. This is something I do absolutely need to find.

    But if I know me (my persistence, resourcefulness, and tenacity) and if I know Manhattan (and how it has everything under the sun), I’m confident that this animal will catch her prey soon.

    But then what will this blown-out, vanilla-scented, fulfilled creature hunt for? Only time will tell.

    Grade Pending

    September 1st, 2011

    The New York Health Department conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants at least once a year. The restaurant inspection information is all available online for customers to see, and it’s mandatory that the restaurant post their letter grade (A,B, or C) on the window.

    As someone overly aware of germs, hygiene and every kind of sanitation regulation possible, I find this grade system thrilling, productive and way overdue.

    However, as much as this system reinforces my appreciation for cleanliness- what it especially reinforces is my appreciation for labels.

    There, I said it.

    Labels. They’re everywhere.  They’re screamed from our mouths, spotted on our clothing, splattered all over accessories, billboards, television… some people even tattoo them all over their bodies.  If you’re like me, and you brand stuff for a living, you can spot a label from a mile away, and you’re super aware of their existence or lack of them.

    I’m constantly labeling everything I can. In fact, someone was shocked the other day upon discovering that I don’t own a labeler machine. But it’s not just my drawers, boxes and trinkets that are labeled. It’s everything. Certain foods are “off-limits,” specific neighborhoods are “safe,” upon meeting someone for a few minutes they can already be labeled nice, funny, slob, snob, your friend’s friend’s boyfriend’s cousin… plop the label on and it sticks. For the most part.

    And, in circumstances where I don’t have the opportunity to learn someone’s name- you absolutely must label to communicate.”Brandon! You know that guy. That’s Ali’s cousin’s best friend’s brother!”

    I hate to say it, but even some of my favorite fashion accessories have labels splattered all over them. An orange wallet without a tiny gold emblem is just an orange wallet. Throw on a label, and as much as we all hate to accept it… it’s a completely different wallet… valued a lot higher or lower depending on what you think of the label.

    My dad once gasped in horror when he thought a gold logo in the middle of my flip flops’ thongs was a racial symbol. That gasp was the best thing that ever happened to my savings, because I haven’t bought anything with that logo since.

    My boyfriend and I rely on the New York Restaurant Grade System when dining out. With so many options and decisions, it really helps filter and weed out some of our local spots. In indecisive moments- which are frequent- when we can’t decide which place we want to try, an A – place will surely help us eliminate the B option.

    There’s a grimey Subway close to my apartment. Right when I moved here, I’d get fountain drinks from the Subway, despite the fact that the place screamed “rodent”- a label that you’d think would have scared me away from the location. But then, a few days later, once “C” was displayed on the Subway’s window, I never returned back to the restaurant. Crazy that I needed the repulsive restaurant to be labeled a C to discourage me from entering.

    Then there’s GRADE PENDING, an obscure label that’s a bit too foggy for my liking. Not sure if that means the grade was countered or that the place hasn’t been assessed yet or what, but the fact that the label leaves me hanging, makes it a label I don’t like to see on a restaurant’s window and more importantly, it doesn’t help me decide if I should eat there or not.Grade pending = label pending = perception delayed = I need to decide for myself, and can’t rely on the label.

    The other day I was wearing a plain black designer t-shirt, and the tag was itching my neck. Insisting that my friend cut off the tag, she teased me. “If I cut off the label that says your size and the designer, what’s the point of buying an overpriced, plain black shirt?” she asked.

    Although she had a point, the answer to her question was that I loved the shirt’s material.

    But then labels- and their affect on our perceptions of what’s labeled- got me thinking. Once we label restaurants, clothing, and people, our perception is affected for the better or for the worse. I was laughing at the thought of a person wearing an A,B, or C to assess their hygiene, mood, personality… anything. What if we had to wear labels using a scale to rate us as employees, spouses, family members, citizens?

    Eh, I’ll take a GRADE PENDING.

    That’s easier.

     

     

     

     

    Six Flights Later

    August 28th, 2011

    In the past two weeks, I’ve taken 6 flights back and fourth to Chicago for business. If you know me- or if you’ve been following my blog- you most likely have heard that I have flight anxiety.

    However- these last couple flights have ran a lot more smoothly than I’d ever suspect. Below is a list of what I have learned in the past six flights.

    landedSix flights later, I’ve learned more about the Kardashians, Jennifer Aniston and Bradgelina than I’d even imagine possible. Six flights worth of magazines can get you $60 worth of nonsense, gossip, and celebrity knowledge that you didn’t even realize you were capable of absorbing. This morning, I called my grandma in the cab to the airport. She mentioned that the Kardashian wedding cost $3 million. Gasping in disbelief, I informed her in a know-it-all tone that no, their wedding cost $6 million. As I hung up the phone, I realized that unlike me, she’s spent the last 2 weeks absorbing real news, and didn’t cram her brain with the six flights worth of knowledge I recently gained.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned just how much happiness a bag of complimentary pita chips or mini pretzels generates. Chomping in the ears of the passengers next to me, I’ve thought to myself every single time, life is good.

    Unfortunately, for the passengers next to me, life wasn’t so good. No one wants to hear- and bump arms with- someone smacking their lips in delight.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned that airplane internet is the best remedy for flight anxiety. Videochatting my mom and boyfriend for the entire duration of the flight while also juggling online Scrabble and still managing to find time to purchase a silk blouse that was 80% off, I was so distracted that I didn’t notice the bumps and jerks that would normally send me in a tizzy, praying and rocking back and fourth.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned – actually, I’ve pretty much memorized- the American Airlines terminals’ food courts at both O’Hare and Laguardia. Sorry LaGuardia, but O’Hare wins. Big time. Flying through Security at O’Hare, I imagine the Starbucks, Wolfgang Puck On-The-Go and Smoothie On-The-Go, and can’t wait to wait for my flight.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned how important it is to avoid striking conversation with your neighbor.  The only place I prefer not to spark conversation with a stranger is up in the air. Always a quiet flyer, I’ve known just how risky it is to engage in small talk, or even exchange a welcoming smile. The last thing I’d ever want is to chit chat with someone you’re stuck with for two hours, and I was reminded of this on Flight #2 when the gentleman next to me asked me what brings me to Chicago, and I answered.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned that although there’s only an hour time difference between Chicago and New York, it is absolutely necessary to bite the bullet and change the time on your watch and your phone. As much as I thought “I could handle it,” I sure didn’t handle it too smoothly when I told my boss he had an hour and six minutes until he filmed, when he really had six minutes. Whoops.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned that a complimentary breakfast buffet makes you realize just how much you enjoy Lucky Charms, an assortment every juice offered, and just how much of a mooch you can be. Refilling my fruit salad a few times, and even taking a yogurt with the intention of taking a bite or two, I realized that buffets really bring out the worst in me: gluttonous, wasteful and moochy.

    Six flight later, I’ve learned how willing I am to compromise a nice hotel for an ideal location. Staying in a hotel located in a parking lot with a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, a Starbucks, my two favorite Chicago chains, and a bookstore, I couldn’t believe how content I was staying in a hotel that didn’t even have a shower curtain.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned just how sick back-and-fourth travel can make me. After enduring exhaustion, a sinus infection, and chronic headaches, I learned that two prescriptions, antibiotics, nose sprays and a sinus rinse can really rejuvenate you after a day.

    My boyfriend learned what I look like sitting in a doctor’s office- in the middle of an earthquake- with a scope up my nose.

    Six flights later, I’ve learned that no matter how much I miss my Chicago life and regardless of how glorious a complimentary buffet is and how ideal a hotel’s location is, at the end of the day, the best feeling in the world is landing.

    Because six flights later, I’ve learned just how lucky I am to have someone at home waiting for me. Texting my boyfriend “I’m coming home,” I’m reminded that yes, I’ve landed.