Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thank you

I'm the type of person who looks for signs. Signs that what I'm about to do is the right thing; signs that I did the right thing; signs that I missed an opportunity. Sometimes they appear; more often than not, they don't. But when they do appear, I feel a confidence that no person or words can otherwise give me. Whether these signs come from God, fate, the universe, or are just mere idiotic coincidence, I don't know, but they are nonetheless comforting.

Yesterday, I turned down a promotion and quit my job. Honestly, I had sort of expected to panic the second I left my boss' office, much like I had when I plunked down the hefty deposit for my own apartment in New York. I'd be lying if I said I didn't experience a little anxiety over the move--especially after the guttural "What?!" my usually laid-back father uttered when I told him--but in general, I felt calm. Still, on the subway ride home, I asked for a sign. A sign that I had done the right thing in quitting my job--and not just in quitting my job, but in uprooting everything I know and truly testing the strength of mine and Jay's relationship by moving to Spain.

This morning, in yoga class (of all the places this may be completely apropos or incredibly cheesy), my instructor read the following quote from Anais Nin at the end of a particularly challenging hour and a half:

"It takes courage to push yourself to places you've never been before, to test your limits, to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain inside the bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom."

I got my answer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The suite life

Jay said it best upon our arrival at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland: People don't even honeymoon this good. Below, a video of our suite (forgive our giddiness, we had just arrived) and here, photos.

video

Now the run down:

Day 1
Despite its royal reputation, Gleneagles is anything but stuffy. (In 2005, the G8 Summit was held there, and in 2014, the hotel will host the Ryders Cup on its famed golf courses.) In fact, the only thing I found stiff about this hotel was my starchy napkin during breakfast. We arrived at Gleneagles just in time for breakfast, a stroke of luck, as we’ve heard wonderful things about its buffet from dear Corrie, who visited earlier this year. It certainly does not disappoint, offering up tailor-made omelets, classic Scottish haggis and an array of delicious pastries, which we had no problem devouring every morning.

After breakfast, we were escorted to Gleneagles’ hunting school, where Ian schools us in the craft of clay pigeon shooting. Given that the only hunting Jay and I have ever taken part in was through Nintendo’s “Duck Hunt,” we need some work. We each hit a few, but I'm told I have a quick trigger finger. Guns are heavy things, so afterwards we head for massages, natch. Every day should be so difficult.

Day 2
The day we venture to Edinburgh happens to be the coldest day of the year so far for Scotland, as my occasionally forced smile in the photos will show you.

Day 3
When I told people I was going to Scotland, those who know I haven’t eaten meat in six years scoffed, “Good luck!” Surely there’s more rabbit, lamb, and haggis on every menu here than I’ve likely seen in my entire life, but that doesn’t mean the country has turned a cold shoulder on its herbivore residents and visitors. In fact, they’ve even managed to come up with a vegetarian version of haggis (a Scottish dish similar to sausage), made of lentils and other beans.

But it's no doubt that Scotland tested my animal-loving limits. First was falconry lessons at Gleneagles Hotel; followed by gun dog training. When William first introduced us to his collection of hawks and eagles, I thought I’d feed the birds some seeds and watch them do some tricks; I had no idea we’d actually take them into the surrounding fields of farmland to hunt rabbits.

On the three-hour trek, our birds of prey, Saunders and Victor, were 50/50, netting two kills out of four attempts. Watching the kills weren't as heart wrenching as I thought they would be—after all, I wasn’t the one killing the rabbit, merely following the bird that did. (Although one rabbit did manage to let out a heartbreaking scream during one kill, which slowed my enthusiasm a little.) William was careful to make sure the animal didn’t suffer; discreetly ensuring the rabbit was dead (i.e. breaking its neck) and not just in shock before he disposed of it. (The deceased are later taken to a nearby rehabilitation center to serve as food for wounded wild animals, so at least it's not all for sport.) In truth, it’s the chase that’s thrilling; but you’d be mistaken if you thought I looked hard to spot rabbits for these hawks to swoop down and kill.

Next, gun dog training. Having grown up with dogs and now being residents of New York with small apartments and no yards, Jay and I were in terrible dog withdrawal, and may have been more excited to be out playing with dogs more so than they were to be out of the kennel and playing with us. Here too, the animals are well cared after and the trainer was delicate yet stern with the more rambunctious animals. The trainer also tells me that once the 11 dogs, which are between three and four years old, become too old or are injured, and therefore no longer are as spry, they will be found good homes, rather than dispensed to a shelter. I’ve already signed up to have Debbie, a three-year-old black lab who nuzzles your leg for attention, to be shipped to me when the time comes.

Day 4
Back to reality in coach on Continental. Oh well. Being nouveau rich was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Doppelganger Strikes Again

I've already gotten my second congratulations-but-sad-to-see-you-go e-mail about this news from BizWeek:

"The Wall Street Journal hires Jennifer Merritt (jennifer.merritt@wsj.com) as 'CareerJournal' editor."

Sadly, it's a success of JM 1.0, not my own. Truth be told, it's slightly annoying having to deflect these e-mails, as it only reminds me of how stunted I am in my current position. For sure, when I vacate my current post, no one will give a hoot--and not just the folks at BizWeek; even more likely, my own boss.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More reason to move to Europe

On Yahoo!:

Tourists, theatergoers, shoppers and pub patrons in London's West End can now text the word "toilet" — and receive a text back with the address of the nearest public facility.

Leave it to our friends across the pond--where public toilets abound (albeit for a small fee)--to come up with loo-finding technology.

If you've ever spent more than an hour with me, you know how small my bladder is. The absence of public restrooms across cities in the U.S. always shocks me, especially in New York, which is such a heavily traffiked tourist destination. Goodness knows I've been driven to desperation. I'm surprised we don't see more people pissing in alleyways and on subway tracks.

Though apparently here in the U.S., a company called Vindigo offers a service similar to that of SatLav, but coupled with mapping, shopping, movie times and other info, because, you know, Americans are such tight wads no one except me would ever admit to using a service that solely exists to meet excreting needs.

Image: Peters

Monday, November 26, 2007

Signs of Aging

Driving in the slow lane, five miles under the speed limit, on a highway you used to do 85 mph on just a few years ago; cringing the entirety of the hour’s drive, not just because it’s been a few months since you’ve driven—let alone on a major highway filled with raging New Jerseyians—but also because your driving skills now resemble that of your mother.

Also; buying eye cream.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Because Susan Miller says so

It appears the planets are aligning for mine and Jay's plans to temporarily move abroad next year. Like, for real:

Scorpio (aka me): From now on, Mars will be in your long-distance travel/foreign people and places sector, so something big seems to be brewing for you in this area. You may travel abroad in coming months (very likely) [Ed note: Given the job, duh] or you may get special help from people who are based in foreign countries. Sometimes it works out that a foreign person that you meet or know from your city, and not abroad, will be the one who is lucky for you. The point is that there will be a strong and positive international influence entering your life, one that will be sustained for quite a long time, taking you at least to May, if not longer.

Sagittarius (aka Jay): If attached, there's a good chance you will travel to an exotic country together soon, either now or sometime prior to early May. This would be a worthy goal, for you'd enjoy this particular trip very much. It would not be a trip to take alone, if possible, and not one meant to take with your Mom, sister, brother, child, or friend. This trip needs to be with your partner for the most fun.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Needless live blogging: Gossip Girl


(From L-R: Blair, Dan, Serena, Nate, Chuck and Jenny)

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love a deliciously cheesy teen drama. It all started with 90210, moved on to Dawson’s Creek (Jen Lindley being the only blond temptress I’ve ever sympathized with), graduated to Felicity, then, after a too-long dry spell, the gloriously witty O.C. (the first season, anyway) and lately, during my second dry spell and albeit a little late to the game, One Tree Hill.

Now, I have Gossip Girl. Let’s just hope it’s not Josh Schwartz’s answer to Hidden Palms. (Shame on you for that one, Kevin Williamson.)

So, here we go. My first impressions of what I hope will encompass my Wednesday nights for the foreseeable future.

9:06 p.m.: Our first look at Serena: She looks old—are those frown lines that I see? Update: IMDB tells me the actress is just shy of being old enough to drink. Unfortunate. (Also, a side note: These actors all have names as ridiculously upper-class and white-bred as their fictional counterparts: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Taylor MomsenChace Crawford?)

9:08: Peter Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” plays in the background at Grand Central. I’m not sure how I feel about this, especially since it’s followed by an extremely outdated Justin Timberlake song (by a high schooler’s standards, anyway. I mean, it was JT's musical diatribe to Britney’s alleged cheating—so circa 2002).

9:13: As for Blair—wtf is up with that bow on her head?

9:20: At least Jenny’s cute. I love how after everyone introduces themselves to her, she says, “I know.”

9: 26: Ooh, first secret rendezvous between Serena and Nate. Hmm… uneventful. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a duller supposed-to-be heartthrob.

9:30: Blair is deliciously bitchy. I already feel myself sympathizing with her á la Brenda Walsh over that blond bubbleheaded and oft-coveted Kelly—er, I mean Serena.

9:37: So far, I have yet to hear any of Schwartz’s characteristic Seth Cohen-Summer Roberts banter. Sigh.

9:41: B’s mom: “You will never be more beautiful or thin or happy than you are right now. I just want you to enjoy it.” There it is.

9:45: Dan Humphrey is so quickly becoming Serena’s Noel Crane.

9:51: I think I’ve heard this music playing in the background of the fight scene on an episode of Melrose Place.

10:00 p.m. I may be hooked, but something within me remains skeptical. What Gossip Girl lacks in wit, it certainly makes up for with dra-ma. However, Schwartz needs to amp up the music choices. There was not one song in the entire episode that I felt compelled to immediately download and put on a playlist for my boyfriend. Even the network is hinting at something. The CW didn’t even do its standard, “Tonight’s episode featured music by…”

Until next Wednesday—you know you love it. Ha!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Syanara summer



The last time I was in Hilton Head, SC, I officially entered womanhood, receiving my first-ever visit from the now much-loathed Aunt Flo. I was 12. So it somehow is fitting then, that on my second visit, 15 years later, my biological clock starts ticking.

It's Jay's own fault, really. First, on Friday, there was his friends' wedding. These things inexplicably get to me, making me think "Oh, I want this!" for the preceeding four hours. Then, over the weekend in Hilton Head, I was exposed to baby fever brought on by his four adorable nieces. To wit: Maggie is still working on prounouncing her J's, so she called me me "Zen." Which I kind of like. I hope Maggie never learns how to properly say my name.

Then there's Libby, who is the most encouraging toddler I've ever met in my life. Stuck inside on a rainy day and working on a 550-piece puzzle of the Little Mermaid, Libby popped in every so often to tell Jay and I what a good job we were doing.

So, once I start conspicuously leaving Tiffany's pamphlets (does Tiffany even make pamphlets? Probably not.) and stop taking my birth control pills, Jay has no one to blame but himself.

Pics here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Budapest for the rest of us


So clearly my recent trip to Budapest is not something I would have been able to accomplish on my own meager salary, even though my boss continually likes to position her staff as “experts in the luxury market,” when in reality, on particularly bad days, my coworker and I go in on lunch together, splitting a slice of pizza and meticulously dividing up a can of Diet Coke from the vending machine. But I digress…

I took a few notes when away from the high-thread count of the hotel and here’s what I came up with, so that Budapest seems less like the London of Hungary.

First, I should say that now is the time to go to Budapest, before it turns into a shiny, reconstructed European city. Budapest was battered during World War II, and a few gritty remnants of this period remain. There is anti-Communism graffiti everywhere, which the city is in the process of cleaning up. This, I understand, but what makes me sad is the refurbishment that is ridding various buildings of fascinating bullet holes from the war. If you’re at all a history buff, you’ll want to experience this city in the next two years, before all of these time stamps are erased by new construction.

Hungary’s currency is the forint, which when I was there, roughly equaled 192 forint for every American dollar. This rate fluctuates a lot and its instability is one of the reasons why Hungary hasn’t yet converted to the euro. If I cared and/or was smarter, I could better explain the reasoning behind this, but I don’t and I’m not, so if you’re that interested, contact one of those finances types for an explanation.

Anywho, though the exchange rate ain’t great, Hungarian goods are cheap, especially the wine, which is next to impossible to get in America, simply because the wineries don’t have the capacity to meet the demand. For $20 each, I essentially got “ripped off” buying two bottles of red wine I had sampled during dinner at the Four Seasons the previous night, from a wine shop in Budapest’s fashionable Castle District.

Budapest is split down the middle by the Danube River and actually used to be two separate cities—Buda and Pest—before becoming one in 1873. The Buda side is the more fashionable, artsy side of the river, where you’ll find landmarks like the Holy Trinity Square, the Royal Palace and most shopping. It’s also the side where you’ll find the Amigo Hostel, which is oddly Mexican-themed, but offers cheap rooms and, for a little more forint, private rooms and baths. (Mind you, I didn’t stay here, it came on recommendation of the tour guide.)

You can easily walk east across the Chain Bridge to get to the Pest side of the Danube, which is noticeably less trafficked. This is where you’ll find Parliament, the second largest synagogue in the world (second to New York) and St. Peter’s Basilica. (Can anyone tell me why there seems to be a St. Peter’s Basilica in every major European city?). It’s also where the famous Gerbeaud Ház café is located. (I highly recommend the dark chocolate cake and taking home a tin of their coffee, which will run you about $16.)

While the Buda side is all hills, Pest is flat. I found out from a fellow traveler that for as little as $1.50 an hour, you can rent a bike, peddle slowly and see all the sights of the Pest side in about 30 minutes. The metro is also cheap and quite efficient for getting around as well.

If your travel times are flexible, go to Budapest during a festival, when the city is replete with markets showcasing homemade goods like handmade lace, semi-fashionable clothing, pottery and other cheap yet original goods. Admittedly, you could see all there is in Budapest in a day or two, so going during a festival easily tacks on another day to soak in the culture. It didn’t appear to me that you could haggle prices with the proprietors, but I was too shy to try, so I can’t say for sure. For a list of upcoming festivals in Budapest, click here.

Typically, the best time to visit is in the summer months, but that is when airfare will run you about $1,000—coach—roundtrip. My insiders say, however, that by planning your trip between November and March, you could easily score a roundtrip flight for $400. Despite the annoyance of having to lug a winter coat, I think Budapest in the winter could be quite charming. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows, I can only imagine how magical the whole scene of the Danube and the surrounding medieval architecture looks.

The city knows winter is its slow season, so as further incentive for tourists, Budapest is running the same promotion it did last winter, which is its stay three, get one night free campaign. Here you can get a full list of participating hotels that run the gamut from—yes—the Four Seasons to cheaper three-star hotels.

So that’s Budapest for the rest of us. For an overwhelming amount of photos taken over a three-day period, click here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Are you there God? It's me, Hungary.

I'm in Budapest right now, taking part in Hungary's St. Stephen's Day celebrations. Apparently the city is on high alert this year, after what happened in 2006:

"At least three people died and more than 250 were injured when a storm lashed Hungary's captial, Budapest, as huge crowds watched a firework display."

With three hours left to go until 2007's fireworks, Budapest is again currently under seige by heavy rains. Trees are toppling sideways and people have fled screaming for cover. The winds are so strong, I had to throw my body into my balcony door in order to close it. (For once, work has possibly saved my sanity. Earlier, I opted to go back to the hotel to work, instead of remaining on the large ship floating in the Danube that I'm supposed to be on right now.) I have to admit it's a little freaky.


Yesterday, during a guided tour, our guide stopped at the Holy Trinity Column, which was erected near the Royal Palace in 1713 to protect the city from the plague, which Budapest was repeatedly (forgive me) plagued with. "We don't have a lot of good luck here in Hungary," she said.

No kidding.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

An American in Budapest

Of all the things Budapest has to offer, you might be surprised to hear the one thing it has an abundance of—American tourists. Especially these last three days, when Hungary celebrates St. Stephen’s Day, the former Communist country’s equivalent of the Fourth of July. Along the Danube River, mixing well among the locals enjoying the specially commissioned music, events and markets for the occasion, Americans are roaming the streets, taking in the Parliament, shopping in the city’s newly established fashion district and eating at Gerbeaud Ház, the city’s famed pastry and coffee shop. Of all the times I've been to Europe, it's so far the best I've seen Americans blend. I don't think that speaks to Hungarians, I think it says more about the type of American traveler that is coming here.

You could say that being an American has attuned my ears to an utterance of an English word, but in Budapest, you are hard pressed not to find someone who speaks English, making it a very easy city to navigate. The reason I know Americans are beginning to flock here is because Julien Carralero, general manager at the Gresham Palace Four Seasons Hotel here, where I’m staying, tells me that 60 percent of his guests are American leisure travelers.



Though tourists often march in and out to admire the detail-oriented renovation, as well as the hotel’s stunning lobby, the 179-room hotel is rarely at occupancy. The building itself offers a rich history that spans a life as a luxury apartment building, insurance headquarters, even neglect, before the Four Seasons took it over two years ago and renovated it. It is so breathtakingly beautiful that Condé Nast Traveler in 2007 voted it best in design, service and rooms on its Gold List.

Indeed, my room, a standard king that overlooks the Danube and the Chain Bridge, is quite comfortable—a welcome respite from the 10 or so hours it took to get here. (Malev, Hungary’s carrier, flies direct from New York, but flights are so full—further evidence of an American invasion—I instead flew Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines to Zurich and connected there to Budapest on Malev.)

Also helping me to relax is the helpful staff, particularly Magdi, my masseuse at the hotel’s spa, who dutifully worked out the kinks in my shoulders and was so highly trained she said to me as she worked on my left hand, “You must type a lot.” A hazard of the job, I told her. (I'll make sure my boss reads that as evidence of my commitment.)

A delicious dinner and wine pairing at the hotel’s restaurant, Páva—appropriately translated as “peacock”—rounded out my first day. Well done simple pleasures like tomato soup, asparagus risotto with truffles and chocolate molten cake fulfilled me well enough to carry me through three hours of private car sight seeing the next day, graciously arranged by the hotel concierge. Such an extravagance isn’t necessary, however, as the hotel is located well, across from the famous Danube and within walking distance to a good number of the city’s attractions and landmarks.

If it sounds as though I’m being pampered, well—I am. What else would you expect from the Four Seasons? Plenty of non-PR commissioned pictures to follow upon my return later this week.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The New York Times has my number


Although unfortunately, it's not for an interview. This is the second time now that their travel section has graciously prepared one of their "36 Hours" pieces about a place I'm traveling to. First, Scotland, where Jay and I will be off to live in the lap of luxury for four days come December, and now, Budapest, where I'm headed this weekend, quite appropriately, for roughly 36 hours. It's almost like the editors there have a dossier in my head (or more acurately, in my trip log at work).

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's happened again

Another equally boring writer lands a coveted (at least by me) gig at an online media gossip rag. This is a girl who once earnestly blogged about why she joined one bank over another. Seriously.

Meanwhile, I can’t score a call back no matter how much I tailor my cover letter, and am left to languish at a job that values plagiarism over original reporting. Not that I’m the next big thing, but I like to think I can at least construct a few interesting sentences. I guess I just need to follow my 21-year-old, still-in-college sister’s arrogant advice and just “put [myself] out there.”

As I told Corrie, who relayed this latest news, I’m either going to kill myself or quit journalism altogether. I’ll decide later. It's all just too much right now.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Are you a travel agent? Because you're taking me on a guilt trip." --Homer Simpson

It's not everyday you get asked this question:

Would economy flights work for you based on these dates or do you only fly business?

I struggled with my response for a while--"Of course I only fly business class! I don't mingle with the hoi polloi!" or "It's a pity you even have to ask"--but ultimately, my strong sense of morality mixed with a dash of guilt over taking advantage of a PR person who didn't just go ahead and book me economy class tickets on an eight-hour flight prevailed, and I replied, "Economy is fine."

And I'm not even Catholic, so I have no idea where this "do right by others" thing comes from.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting reacquainted


It’s hard for me to get excited about a trip down the to the Jersey shore. My first thoughts are: traffic, sand in my bum and having to tell people I’m spending a weekend at the Jersey shore. (They invariably always reply, “Oh, going to break out the Trans Am and pick up some guidos, eh?”)

But my last trip, in honor of Mariel’s 27th birthday, was different, and mostly because Jay, who hadn’t visited Jersey’s beaches since the tender age of eight, came with me. I don’t mean it to as sound as saccharine as it does—even if we ever break up he will be my travel companion of choice because he gets so excited about the littlest things—like skee ball, for instance—and it’s hard to not get caught up in his enthusiasm. (Another example: When we drove from Chicago to visit that other tri-state area of Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana last summer, the rental car company gave us a mini van. I could not have been more embarrassed; Jay however, could not get over what a smooth ride it was.)

We stayed at The Blue Water Inn, which is not nearly as nice as it appears in the photos, but it’s not a bad deal for a cheesy weekend down the shore. Because it had been so long since his last visit, Jay was eager to do it all in the small amount of time that we had. By the time we got to Ocean City, the boardwalk was closed, save for a few pizza places and arcades, which we obligingly hit up after first downing a few alcoholic beverages in our room, just like the glory days of prom weekend in high school. We played skee ball, a few games of air hockey and managed to avoid the temptation of Dance Dance Revolution, mostly because there were a couple of kids hanging around who we thought might kick our asses if we did. We also took part in the requisite black-and-white photo booth.

The following day we spent at the beach, followed by an evening barbeque at Mariel’s, where there were rounds of flip cups to be played after the gourmet food was cleared from the table. On our last day, we proceeded to eat our way down the boardwalk. (Pork roll for him, French fries for me; then fudge and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Mack & Manco's pizza came highly recommend, but we both passed, as it also looked highly greasy.) The only item on the checklist we missed was mini golf.

On the way home, Jay made sure to tell me what a great time he had, but it wasn’t until I reflected on the trip later, by myself, that I realized I had a great time, too. I have been down the shore so many times I forgot how charming it could be if you treat each visit as if it were your first. I’m sure this concept can be applied to any place you visit regularly. Try it and you’ll be amazed at the fresh perspective it provides.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The self-pity of summer

What you see there is a picture of my computer screen. As Dashboard helpfully tells you, it was a gorgeous evening: 78 degrees and sunny, no humidity and--at only ten 'til eight--the night was still young; no doubt the perfect evening to round up some friends for an outdoor happy hour at Luna Park or Bull McCabes--which is exactly what everyone was doing--except me--who, for the last two weeks has been/continues to be chained to my desk because I'm so miserly that I'm incapable of saying no when someone waves a freelance check in my face, which accounts for why I was the sole person on IM that balmy evening last Thursday, July 12, at 7:50 p.m., a.k.a., the most depressing moment of my life in the last two weeks.*

(*Quite possibly the longest run-on sentence ever written.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

See Jane fold


The reason I do what I do is no more: Condé Nast is shuttering Jane magazine. Unlike other fallen mags, Jane won’t even see a life online.

The writers at Jane are the reason I got myself into this underpaid mess known as journalism. (Although granted, it's a far cry from where I am now--and now I'll never be able to recoup that loss. Sniff.) I wanted to possess their wit, frankness and penchant for snark (which, yes, actually existed before Gawker).

Even as a youngin' completely unknowledgeable of media dynamics, I was well aware of Jane's digressions the from mainstream: I subscribed to Jane because rather than badgering my impressionable teenage mind with 10 Ways To Lose Weight Fast!, Jane hosted columns called “Eat” and, unlike other women’s magazines, didn’t spew the usual drivel in their celebrity profiles (I particularly recall the Britney interview as a killer). You just can’t find that today—even in the magazine’s reincarnation under Brandon Holley, who replaced founding editor Jane Pratt after she left in 2005. (In fact, during my last mani/pedi, I read the issue with Zooey Deschenal on the cover, and while I appreciated the effort, the overall feeling was bleh.)

Which is why I’m ambivalent about Jane folding. Its glory days were over a long time ago, having succumbed to that wily devil otherwise known as Corporate America. I’m just a little sad at having lost the one magazine I once aspired to, as well as having one less semi-decent non-Cosmo-ish magazine on the rack to read. (Nylon, here I come.)

Once I win the lottery, I’ll be sure to restore Jane—and maybe even Sassy—to all its former radness. Until then, RIP.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Duh


I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but one of the web sites I occasionally freelance for comes up with some of the most ridiculously obvious articles:

How to make salad in a snap (What, like it’s hard?)
10 Surprisingly Sexy Dates: Play hooky, see R-rated art, try tapas (Why, it’s as if they tracked mine and Jay’s last three outings!)
Anti-American Sentiment: Residents of the rest of the world are taking an increasingly dim view of the U.S., its foreign policy and its president in particular, a new poll shows. (Hasn’t everyone been saying this for the last three years?)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ho-hum and twiddle-dee-dee

It's the day after a holiday and because I spent said holiday working in front my computer for eight hours straight doing self-inflicted freelance work, I refuse to actually accomplish anything at the day job today, which led me to scouring my e-mail for All The Fun Things I've Missed Because I've Been Too Busy. To wit, my writer-crush Larry Dobrow's Magazine Rack column. My friends and I in the "biz" regularly find ourselves debating the enduring strength of print versus this new-age Internets stuff. I think Larry sums it up quite well. A reader asks and Mr. Dobrow responds.

"Please tell me how long it will be before the Internet kills magazines completely. The reason I'm asking is because I have about ten years left of my working life, and I want to know if I should switch careers now or if I'll be good to go at my magazine job until 2017?

Are you sure it's just ten? Aren't we all going to have to work into our 90s after Social Security bites it within the next decade or so? You could always dodge this by dying young, I suppose.

Magazines will always be around, because we need something to read in the airport terminal and on the toilet. And let's not fall in with conventional wisdom and portray the Internet as the publishing world's hobgoblin. Why, just yesterday I saw "Live Free Or Die Hard," which depicted an ever-realistic scenario where the Internet could be taken down with the snap of some baddie's fingers. Believe everything you see on the big screen, and viva la print."

Amen.

P.S. All three of you who read this blog regularly can expect more pointless and self-serving blogs such as this for the next two months, as my travel schedule has lightened considerably until September. That is, unless the Jersey Shore and Schaumburg, IL count. Hurrah!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back to my blogging roots

Quite possibly the most depressing article ever, mostly because it statistically confirms what I've always suspected. Were I not so delirously happy in my current relationship (apparently we've still got a good two years left in us), this would certainly be the article to resurrect The Dish.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm about to get all Anderson Cooper on yo' asses


Here's a secret: Geographically, New York is not my first love. It's New Orleans, and if it wasn't so damn humid there the majority of the year, I would move tomorrow, taking up residence in some cute apartment on Decatur with those shuttered French windows that open to a tiny balcony that I'd fill with ferns and flowers and windchimes and voodoo dolls...

Anywho, I visited once in 2003 and on my recent trip back, I was determined to take a Katrina tour because I wanted to see the hurricane devastation for myself. The running consensus seems to be that the tourist areas are fine (which they largely are) and that the Ninth Ward was completely wiped out (which it was), but that's where all the poor people lived anyway, so who cares?! Get over it New Orleans! Mother Nature did you a favor! (At least this is what my republican cousins say.)

What I don't think many people realize is that most of the places you saw on the news--people climbing to rooftops for safety, doors with morbid X markings on them--were largely in the suburban upper and middle class areas of Gentilly and Lakeside--places kids like you and me grew up in. So imagine your parents' house when you look through these photos, because the areas of Gentilly and Lakeside are where I took the majority of these pictures. (FYI, I was confined to a bus, so apologies for the less-than-stellar photography. Not that I'm usually Annie Leibovitz or anything.)

According to Joe Genduse, a tour guide with Grayline and native New Orleanian (he said things like "ageen" instead of "again"), 80 percent of the city was destroyed, with the French Quarter suffering mostly wind damage and with Gentilly, where Joe lived, losing the most people. "I stayed because I couldn't get out," he said. "Imagine trying to evacuate 1.5 million people. People who tried to evacuate sat in traffic for 24 hours to go 12 miles." So, he batted down the hatches.


Today, there are areas of Lakeview where there still is no electricity or water pressure. You can tell the areas where these utilities exist, Joe says, because handfuls of trailers will start popping up there. "It's the infrastructure of the city that is the most damaged," he said. Police, firemen and banks all operate out of trailers, some without bathrooms, forcing the use of portable toilets. (Check out The New York Times recent story, the first of a three-part series, about how residents are trying to re-establish areas like Gentilly.)

Looting still happens, so much so that people who can still live in their homes are forced to either hire security or spray paint "beware" signs on the side of their houses. As you can imagine, some houses are so damaged the owners don't even bother to drop a dollar on a "for sale" sign. Instead, they simply spray paint their phone number across the front of the house.

It's a completely eye-opening experience to take a tour like this and if you come to New Orleans--and I recommend you do--you absolutely should take one. It's been two years since the hurricane and people still talk about it like it happened yesterday. I think that's largely because the majority of the city is still in such dire straits. Visitors coming to New Orleans can only help speed the progression.

So enough with the doom and gloom--why do I love New Orleans so much? Well, at the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, there is just something so magical about it. I'm fascinated by the architecture, the cemeteries, the insanely friendly people who will still say hi to you even when you blatantly avoid looking them in the eye. My first night on my last visit there I was having dinner at an outside cafe when a man crossing the street got hit by a car (that's no small feat on the French Quarter's tiny streets, mind you). Everyone ran to him--not to gawk, but to make sure he was OK (he was). Now, I've also seen this happen in New York, and while people did stop to help, a good number kept right on walking.

But the thing I love most about New Orleans, was best summed up by the guy dining at the table next to me at dinner that same night, after his waiter placed his po'boy in front of him: "My god, I think they fry everything here but the Coca-Cola!"

Friday, June 22, 2007

Breaking: Cabo's Airport to Be Less Scary


If you want a true test of friendship, take a vacation to Cabo San Lucas with a flight that departs from San Jose Del Cabo Airport.

I specify “departing” because upon arrival at the airport, you might be inclined to think it’s quite quaint. For instance, instead of disembarking into a tunnel that leads you into the airport, you instead step off the plane and onto a flight of stairs that leads you directly to the tarmac. Not only do get to feel like a celebrity disembarking a private jet, you’re also automatically greeted by Cabo’s fresh, warm air, a welcome respite from the freezing and likely germ-infested airplane air you’ve been inhaling for the last six hours.

That cuteness fades when you arrive for your departure, as Ilyse and I found on our trip back in March. Ready to get the fuck out of Mexico, our eager spirit was dampened when we saw the long—and I mean wrap-around-the-block loooooong—lines at check in. Turns out, the wait was due to the fact that the electronic check in systems were down, so employees had to name-check passengers on computer paper I swear was printed by a Commodore 64 and then hand-write tickets for boarding and baggage claim.

Well, stuff happens, we calmly told ourselves. Ilyse even went out of her way to joke with Ricardo at check in, “So, when was the last time you had to hand write a ticket—1982?” “Nope,” Ricardo somberly replied. “Just last week. This happens a lot.” Oh.

Handwritten tickets in hand, we passed through security and into the claustrophobia inducing waiting area, where 600 or so passengers were crammed in, waiting to board their long-delayed flights, which were seemingly delayed just for fun, as the weather in Cabo only gets as bad as partly cloudy. Food choices were limited to Burger King, nachos or personal pizzas; we opted for the latter, which I later discovered was an egregious mistake of which I’ll spare you the details.

Feeling ill makes me very cranky and poor Ilyse, already at the end of her rapidly fraying rope, had to put up with my whininess. Because of the mysterious delay, we missed our connection (although we only found this out after running the marathon through DFW), forcing us to spend the night in Dallas and thus swear off Mexico for the rest of our lives.

Thankfully, I’ve just got word that the Los Cabos Tourism Board has planned to upgrade its shotty airport, adding a new terminal and parallel landing strips for quicker departures, among other things (hopefully larger bathrooms with toilets that actually flush are also part of the plan). The hope is that these enhancements will “ensure visitors’ comfort and ease of safe travel upon arrival and/or departure in keeping with the destination’s upscale appeal.”

All I can say is, Los Cabos Tourism Board, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My favorite airline becomes my Fear Factor

Ew, ew, ew, dear God, ew:

Reports the AP: "Continental Airlines Inc. is apologizing to its customers for 'poor conditions' aboard a transatlantic flight where one passenger described sewage spilling down the aisle from a lavatory."

Apparently, the flight crew still served meals in the dutch-ovened cabin during the seven-hour transatlantic (aka, no-where-to-land-because-we're-flying-over-water) flight from Amsterdam to Newark, NJ, advising customers "not to eat too much." All these poor people got in return for their extended bout of nausea were $500 flight vouchers.

Meanwhile, over at Continental, the top press release reads, "For the second consecutive year, Continental Airlines has ranked the highest in customer satisfaction among traditional network carriers in North America in the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 North America Airline Satisfaction Study."

If I were Continental, I'd expect 2008 results to be a teensy bit different.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Enough already

Lots to catch up on here, people. Get ready.

I've always likened myself a deep person, but considering my understanding of the philosophical meaning of "deep" came from "Pump Up the Volume" (thanks to a severe pre-teen crush on Christian Slater), I'm not so sure that's the case. Further evidence to wit: The following rambling post about Death and What It Means To Me. Sort of like, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation: The Morbid Version."

Right before I left for my trip to Opio, the Grim Reaper decided to level a few blows (four in the last two weeks; with one more impending; thankfully some have been peripheral). Oftentimes, these things make sense (my great uncle: in his eighties; suffering from throat cancer) and sometimes, they don't (as in my 21-year-old sister's friend). The obvious point here is that you never know when your minute's up; so carpe diem, as the cliché saying goes. But never has death been so much on my mind than when I was in France, trying my damnedest to relax. I'm not sure whether it's due to dramatics or a result of the mindful awareness I've been trying to practice lately.

"The present is the only time we have to perceive; to learn; to act; to change; to heal."

So lately I've urged myself to do things I'd otherwise let segue into laziness: apologize when bumping into someone on the subway; spend 30 euros on a cab to a tiny, medieval village; occasionally stop what I'm doing and remember to breathe. It's this new mindset that's helping me learn that I am largely responsible for what happens to me (it sounds so simple, but its taken me 27 years to grasp this concept) and also what I think is causing death to bother me so much (probably because I'm not necessarily in control of it).

As much as I enjoy the slightly more relaxed and "present" me, I sometimes wish for the old gal to appear who can't manage to see two feet in front of her face. At least she was ignorant of such things as time. This more mindful version is only more aware of it, which means there is still more work to do. Any of this making sense? No? Good. Moving on...

In order to end on a happier note, here are some photos of me practicing the art of carpe diem that resulted in my abdominals being sore for days:




Normally I wouldn't seek out a trapeze (trapezing?), but while in France the opportunity presented itself and off I went. Wrapping your legs around that bar is harder than it looks and I've thus realized I need to step up the abdominal core work in my yoga practice. It only took two minutes to swing, but my abs ached for a full two days afterward. Cie la vie.

More Opio photos here, which tell the full tale of the trip quite well. You can also check out an awesome video from a fellow journalist on the trip here. I make the occasional appearance (usually eating), including an inadvertently bitchy send off at the end.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is how we live now (maybe)


I'm currently on a press trip in the small village of Opio in the Provence region of France (yeah, yeah, tough life, I get it) and, as often happens on press trips, I've bonded--usually temporarily--with my colleagues. Most of them are older than me and have lived lives I can currently only dream of, such as say, spending a year abroad in a small provincial European town, with your equally travel-loving boyfriend. To hear them talk about it, it sounds amazingly easy: save money, rent a house for a month--or a year--while yours is subleased, freelance for extra income and witness your life change. Not a bad gig.

Usually in these situations, I feel as though I need to humor these people, as in, yes, yes, contact me in six months and I'll be in France, jetting around town on my Vespa with a just-baked baguette and freshly picked lavender jutting out of my basket. Given they never follow up, I never feel like I have to follow through. But this time is different. Not only do I feel as though not fulfilling this premonition will severely disappoint these people who seem to believe I'm destined to live this life, I also suddenly feel my life will be somewhat incomplete if I don't take advantage of this opportunity so seemingly readily available to me. We may just be witnessing a life change here. Or an evening filled with too much rosé. TBD.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sometimes God has a strange sense of humor

I'm a bit of a closeted hypochondriac. It's not something I readily admit, but I've been known to cancel plans if a friend is coughing heavily or avoid them altogether should they have contracted the flu in the last six months. Now that the weather is too warm for gloves—meaning I actually have to touch things like door handles and subway poles—my hands are cracked and dry from using too much Purell. So naturally, I've been fascinated by this honeymooning jerk off with a deadly strain of TB who eschewed his doctor's advice against flying and jetsetted around the world, thanking the powers that be that I did not fly Air France on my recent trip to Marseilles.

Fast forward to this morning, where I'm avoiding work by running out for a bagel and then eating said bagel while reading Gridskipper, which tells me that Patient X spent an undisclosed 72 hours in Manhattan. Intrigued, I click on the link where Chris Mohney helpfully tells me, "So if you stood in line at Essa Bagel in Murray Hill on May 25 with some other guy who was coughing a lot, you might want to, you know, get yourself checked out."

I'll give you one guess where my freakin' bagel came from this morning.

UPDATE: Patient X now has an identity and CNN has a good roundup of all the infuriating details, including insight into this dude's sense-of-entitlement douchebaggery.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

France-y pants



Some highlights of my cruise from Savona to Marseilles: being surrounded by skinny French women eating carb-laden, buttery breakfasts, which meant it was OK for me to do the same; getting mistaken for an actual Italian (somehow it makes me feel so sophisticated--a rare occurance); free massages; spending QT with Ma Merritt; and surviving my first cruise without contracting norovirus. In all, a success! More exciting pictures here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oof


So I’m at work today, bored out of my mind because I am the one person on staff who doesn’t have a trazillion fazillion things to do. Either I’m very efficient, or such a horrible writer that the ad people have trouble selling my section. It’s probably both.

As I’m lamenting this fact, I check my personal e-mail only to discover that one of the worst writers I’ve ever worked with recently landed a somewhat coveted gig. My first instinct was jealously, as I recalled the thousands of résumés I submitted to said company with not even so much as an acknowledgement rejection letter. That was the sucker punch…

Then, for good measure, came the swift kick to the stomach. My next e-mail was in regards to a freelance article I’m working on. My PR pal thought I might find this interview subject intriguing: “My client, More Successful Than You, is the youngest national news anchor at Major News Outlet You Would Kill to Work For,” she wrote, adding that success is in her blood, as—in addition to MSTY winning her own smattering of highly respected journalism awards—her father also once was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. Oh, and she speaks 16 languages and is only 22.

“Sure, I would love to speak with her,” I replied, “so long as she doesn’t mind me wallowing in a few drinks during our little Q&A session.”

So hooray for all of you who, when you name your place of journalistic employment, someone says, “Hey, I know that!”

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's so hard to say goodbye

I've just been dealt a devastating blow. The time has come for me to depart with one of my closest companions: The Jeep.



My mom just called with the news that someone is interested in buying it. I knew this time would come, but honestly, I didn't think it would happen so soon. No lie, I gasped when she told me.

After the Big Move, it didn't make much sense for me to keep the Jeep in New York. The city annoyingly has alternate side of the street parking weekly, if not daily (I don't know, I never checked), and given my travel schedule, I'd have to hire someone to move it or else match my monthly rent in parking fees. So off to my parents' house it went, along with the other things I've recklessly and not always willingly abandoned over the years.

In order to fully understand the magnitude of this, we need to walk down memory lane. This was my first big purchase--the first thing ever that I bought and paid for all on my own.

Every month for six years, I faithfully wrote checks for $168.51 to Onyx Acceptance Corp. to make that car mine. (Those checks are burned into my brain, because the amount was so big to me at the time. Oh, foolish youth.) It wasn't a fancy car--air conditioning was its only amenity--but it suited me fine.

Together we took mundane trips to the mall, work and the like, although strangely the Jeep didn't seem to enjoy our longer hauls as much as I did. There was the time I got a flat tire in the middle of Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania and mine and Ilyse's boyfriends at the time had to change the tire in the darkness of a Sears parking lot because the employee refused to change the tire unless I bought four news ones.

Then there was the time, about an hour from my destination of visiting Melissa in Providence, Rhode Island, that my car started smoking and eventually stopped working on I-95. Poor Dad had to drive three hours to come get me and tow the truck home. However, on our final and most recent three-hour jaunt for a weekend in Atlantic City, the Jeep gave me no problems. Its almost as if it knew. (That's us on our last trip, above.)

So the Jeep has been at my parents' since March, nosed between the shielded Mustang and my father's 22-foot truck. From what I hear, it hasn't seen all that much action in the last few months, so it's probably best the Jeep moves on to someone new. I'm glad that after 16 years (nine of them in my hands) its in relatively good enough condition that someone else wants to give it new life.

I know its completely ridiculous to sentimentalize something like this, but I can't help it. It's like having to give up a cherished pet because you're suddenly kicked out of your house with no where to go. (Oh, wait.) Also, ridding myself of my car officially cements my status as a New Yorker (that, and the dumpster diving I took part in a few weekends ago) and that's an unnerving feeling.

Now, my mother said I could take time to think about it, but I told her to do what she thinks is best. Some things are just better left unsaid.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Yes indeed-y, its pious vegetarian time...

This is why I don't eat meat:

People have eaten millions of chickens that were given feed tainted with recalled pet food, federal officials said Tuesday...

I have enough to worry about in life without meat, I can't imagine how much more worrisome I would be if I did consume chickens, cows and pigs. (Now, before you freak out, actually click on the link and you'll see the lede finished with: "though they said the threat to human health is minimal." I was going for shock value, there people. Now where do I sign up with PETA?)

People often ask me why I gave up meat and it's always a hard one to answer, because though the explanation is simple, people usually don't get it.

Sure, I like animals, but I also really like bacon (though I can't recall the last time I had it). I read "Fast Food Nation" several years ago and that was partly what pushed me off the purely plant-eating cliff, but it's not as though I'm protesting weekly outside of local slaughterhouses.

No, the reason I gave up meat is because it grosses me out. That's it. There's no "Save Wilbur" or otherwise worthy cause involved, it's simply a matter of taste. This is usually where people cock their head at me with a puzzled expression of "my, what a high-maintenance crack head."

To further complicate matters, I often add that I do sometimes still eat meat, albeit in small portions. My mother's amazing parsley bread contains chopped pepperoni and Jay makes these life-changing risotto balls with shreds of prosciutto. Both are made so rarely, they're hard to pass up and I never do.

People are even more surprised when I say I'd eat red meat again before I eat chicken. I still crave burgers and steak now and then, so I know I'll go back to eating it eventually (maybe), but I think chicken has left my system forever, never to enter again. For starters, I can't stand that it's white, and therefore resembles (to me) human flesh. I also can't stand that under cooking it can cause severe intestinal distress and if you've ever witnessed my skills in the kitchen, this will make sense. In fact, the few times I cooked chicken for myself and my roommates in college, I sat up half the night waiting to hear them all rushing for the bathroom because I didn't cook it thoroughly enough. I find life is much easier not having to worry about such things as poisoning your friends.

So again, we see that I managed to turn something that is supposed to be for the better good of all beings everywhere that are happy and free, into something about myself. Hello again, selfish!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Will the real Jennifer Merritt please stand up?

After catching sight of this article, a friend e-mailed today congratulating me on my burgeoning freelance career. “Thanks!” I replied. Only that Jennifer Merritt isn’t this Jennifer Merritt. Someone else first laid claim to Jennifer Merritt The Writer and fortunately for me, she’s much more successful.


JM 1.0, as she will now be known, used to be managing editor of Business Week. She’s written a few books about business schools and is considered an expert in education, contributing to magazines like Selections and Money on the topic. In fact, I belive she is now on the masthead at Money. (Touché, I say.)

Besides uncannily sharing the same name and occupation, JM 1.0 and I also share a beat: education. (I used to work for CollegeBound Teen Magazine and now freelance for the education components of MSN and AOL, where if you dig through Google deep enough, you’ll find that these articles aren’t always so highly regarded. Again, touché.)

After contacting PR people in reference to these articles, I occasionally get such responses as, “I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to! Little Johnny is five now and…” which is about where I trail off, figuring they’ve mistaken me for JM 1.0 and have hence unwittingly told a total stranger about Little Johnny’s bed-wetting problems.

On even more rare occasions, I’ll score an invite to some swank party for education professionals or be asked to provide insight for an forum on say, surviving business school. Usually I provide a light-hearted reply explaining the mix up, hoping to win over some of JM 1.0’s friends or maybe even an introduction to my predecessor. Turns out, all of JM 1.0’s friends quite rudely never reply.

But honestly, it’s not so bad playing second fiddle to JM 1.0. After all, if an out-of-touch past love or high school friend/nemesis is desperate enough to Google me, they’ll only think I’m some successful writer and editor with a corner office at Time Inc and shelves full of books with my name on them. And I have absolutely no problem with that—or shame, for that matter.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

La dolce vita



As a certain someone likes to remind me, life is pretty damn good right now. I have my own apartment, happy and healthy family and friends, a fabulous boyfriend and a job that lets me travel the world on someone else's dime. Plus, a recent trip to the doctor unveiled a sizable weight loss just in time for my vacation to Cabo. Yippie.

However—you knew that was coming, didn't you?—despite all my recent good fortune, my mind and my body have never been more of a mess. (Hence the doctor's visit.) I've lost weight only because I've also managed to lose my appetite, which happens to me when I'm heavily worried about something. What's the trouble? Having nothing to worry about, apparently.

So thank you to everyone who currently makes life so great.

In essence, you all make me sick.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nostalgia central


Witness above my commute to work. It ain't pretty, I know, but riding home today I started to feel a little sad. Maybe it was the JBJ rockin' on my iPod or maybe it was the drunken Knicks fans, but with seven days left until I move what little I own across the Hudson and East rivers and officially into a one-double-oh zip code, I got to thinking about what I would and wouldn't miss about living in New Jersey. Behold, my list, in no particular order ...

Au revior! to:

1. My 5:30 a.m. wake-up call and subsequent hour and 15-minute commute to work.
2. That pathetic look I get when I say I'm from New Jersey from every Alabama/Connecticut/Idaho native who's lived in New York a total of six months.
3. Living my life by the whim of NJ Transit.
4. Having to share a bathroom. (Nothing to do with living in New York, but it's still a perk.)
5. Spending every waking minute commuting to New York, Hoboken, New Brunswick, Stanhope et al because no one ever wanted to hang out in Bloomfield except for the one time I made them on my birthday.
6. Being associated with AquaNet, acid wash jeans and fringe bangs.
7. A lack of vegetarian options in the frozen food isle of the supermarket.

I may sniffle at:

1. No longer having emergency bathroom access on trains.
2. Feeling like I'm abandoning the homeland.
3. Spending every morning with the NJ Transit staff. Such nice folks, always, every day.
4. My roommate. (Aw.)
5. Parallel parking. It may just be my one talent in life.
6. Leaving behing my waxer and hairstylist, Tonya at Bangz in Montclair and Sam at Vanity in Upper Montclair. Oddly, I'm constantly getting compliments on my eyebrows and everyone just lurves the new chin-length hair cut.
7. New Jersey pizza. I have yet to find a slice in New York that can rival one of my many faves from the Garden State, i.e. New York Pizza in Rutherford, Vinnie's in Bloomfield, Lockwood in Stanhope, Ray's in NB and surprisingly, the pizza joint in the Hoboken train station. (I'm talking true $2 slices here, not ones that are of course delectable because you just paid $10.75 for it.)

That's all there is, folks. Tune in in two weeks when I'm having panic attacks because the toilet won't flush.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In the spirit of Valentine's Day...


Yeah, yeah, I'm a little late on this one as I'm sure you've all heard about the New York City cabbie who returned a Texas woman's suitcase o' diamonds even after she tipped him a miserly 30 cents.

Cute story and all, how it reaffirms one's faith in mankind, blah, blah. But the thing that bugs me is why this detail is at all relevant to the story:

"He said it never occurred to him to keep the diamonds.

'I'm not going to take someone else's money or property to make me rich. I don't want it that way,' said the soft-spoken cabbie, who was a contractor in Bangladesh until he came to the United States 15 years ago.

He does not own a cab but rents one.

'I enjoy my life. I'm satisfied,' said Chowdhury, who is single."
[italics: mine]

When the hell did The Associated Press turn into Match.com?

Friday, January 19, 2007

In a pickle


There’s been a shift in my relationship with Jay and it’s a little disconcerting. (I’m going to get chided for writing about this, but really what fun is blogging if you don’t detail things like your significant other’s bathroom habits? [Don’t worry, that’s not happening here—yet—so keep reading.])

Since our relationship’s inception, I’ve been the healthy eater. I order salad with dressing on the side while he chows on a double cheeseburger with bacon; I blot the grease off my pizza while he laughs at me between strings of melted, cheesy goodness; I coerce him into ordering French fries so I can finish off his leftovers. I’ll never forget the look on his face the first time I ordered my diner staple of a BLT without the B. I could quite clearly see the tears in his eyes as he tried to hold his laughter in.

But lately things have been different. Over Christmas, Jay went to the doctor and discovered that eating cheese steaks for lunch every day will give you high cholesterol. Ever since, he has taken to healthy eating with the fervor of Kristie Alley stumping for Jenny Craig, which now leaves me feeling like a porker every time I want to eat like crap. Witness the following exchange:

Me: Can we please, please break the healthy streak sometime soon and go check this place out? They have fried pickles!!!
Him: I’m down with checking that out sometime. I guess I could really let loose and get the frisee salad or the raw vegetable sandwich…
Me: I’m not feasting on fried pickles while you nibble on frisee. I hear their burgers are good…

Does it get more peer-pressure laden than that? Can’t you sense my desperation? What’s even worse is that it’s not the pressuring him to do something he doesn’t want to do that bothers me—it’s the loss of my healthy eating superiority. It’s not so much about having crappy-eating companionship as it is about bringing him down so I can gain the upper hand again. Boy better watch his back… We’re going to Soho Park for burgers and fried pickles and once he goes to the bar for a drink, I’m switching my order to salad and a water.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fuck, fuck, fuck

It's snowing outside. It only amounted to about a centimeter, but still.

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