Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


October 2007

A Few Random Thoughts…

  • I just left a party downtown.  The party was at a friend’s apartment.  The apartment’s living (party) area is about 1000 sq ft. The party attendees were about 150 people and three dogs.  The host served a full dinner.  Everyone ate.  Nobody sat.  There were cocktails and cigarettes and cheese, OH MY!  Candles everywhere, dogs running about.  It’s a wonder the place did not go up in flames.  Apparently Brazilian dancers are making an appearance later in the evening.  They appeared at his last soiree.  Quite an evening.  I love NY.
  • Times Square smelled like BBQ this morning.
  • Maternity wear can be hot.  Not the temperature, hot, but HOT!
  • Blueprint magazine, a Martha Stewart publication, needs more direction and is too hit or miss.
  • Never has grapefruit juice tasted so good to me.  That said, I have now become a Jamba Juice addict.  I hate chains, but even I am not immune to a tart, delicious smoothy.
  • These fires in SoCal are horrifying.  I have a colleague who has had to evacuate his house in San Diego.  I cannot imagine what that must be like.  Stop and think about what you would take.
  • My cat Stella seems to know I am pregnant.  She gets into bed with me and puts her paws on the belly.  Weird.  But cool.  Animal instincts, you know.
  • I cannot figure out if Facebook is cool or a waste.  I may have mentioned this before.  In either case, it’s huge and only getting bigger.  And more of my friends are on it than I had expected.
  • I am already craving turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce.
  • Have you seen that Hasbro has come out with Monopoly for girls?  It’s pink and girls can buy malls and go shopping!  Because that is all girls do, wear pink, dream of owning malls and shop all the time.  To make matters worse, the same company (run by the man pictured here…I am sure there is no correlation…)Hasbro_6 has been progressive enough to bring us the Rose Petal Cottage!  I saw a commercial for it the other day, and immediately looked around for the time machine.  Had I been propelled back to 1950, perhaps?  The commercial, here, is a MUST see.  A place where little girls can allow their imagination to grow…as they take care of the baby, bake muffins and do laundry!  I was a tad disappointed to see that there was not a boy in sight in the commercial, but perhaps the next version will have him coming in through the door, donning his blue suit, home from a hard day’s work so that the little girl will learn how to greet him "Leave It To Beaver" style with a cocktail in hand…for him.  Am I overreacting?  I mean, I am all for women choosing to stay home but let’s not pretend that laundry is fun and full of imagination and confidence building opportunities for girls.  Seriously.  If that is the case, why doesn’t Hasbro suggest little boys check out washing and folding, or how to turn an oven on and off. 
  • And while I am on my feminist tangent, can someone explain to me why so many women on TV start off intelligent and then become ditzy idiots?  I am talking mostly about the women of Grey’s Anatomy.  I mean, Izzy is darn near intolerable to watch these days, and that other show, Private Practice…since when did Addison become the Ally McBeal of medicine?  She trips and falls, acts just plain silly.  Was it so bad to show her as tough, confident and smart?
  • On a lighter note, did you know that October 26th (TODAY!) is Frankenstein Friday? It’s true, so go paint your face silver and look it up.  And scare a neighbor.  It’s also National Mincemeat Day (I will not be celebrating) and Workaholic Stop and Smell Something Day.  I will be celebrating that last bit.  Have a good one 🙂

Doing Good For Others While Being Annoyed

I have written before on this blog about people who inspire me.  I have a new person to add to that mix…The Big H!  Yes, the husband has made the list.  So many reasons why this is true, but I would like to highlight one trait in particular.  My husband, God bless him, is a believer.  He believes he can make a difference in almost any situation, and this is a wonderful thing.

He picked me up from work yesterday, and as I got into the car he "shhhh’d" me since he was on the phone.  It appeared he was waiting for someone to pick up.  When that certain someone did pick up, my husband said:

"Hi, I am calling to report a pothole on 47th and Park."

Now, we live in New York City.  Reporting a pothole in NYC is like reporting a prostitute in Bangkok.  Sorry, Bangkok, but our potholes are EVERYWHERE.  Driving a car in this city makes one wonder where DO our tax dollars go?  When faced with such a vast problem as one little person, my inclination is often to throw my hands in the air.  MY husband?  Oh no.  That is the time to jump in.  He was thrilled (THRILLED!) when Mayor Bloomberg introduced 311.  311 is New York City’s phone number for government information and non-emergency services.  Their website says "Whether you’re a resident, business owner, or a visitor, all the resources of New York City are just a phone call away… "

Whatever to all that, is my attitude.  I mean, who really listens to what is reported on 311?  I am sure thousands of calls are made everyday, and do they really make a difference?  Yeah, right.

My husband is quite possibly 311’s most frequent caller.  He reports potholes, broken lights, car alarms that go off in the middle of the night, broken parking meters, you name it.  My husband, you see, is a believer.

I listened in awe last night as he maintained a 10 minute conversation with the 311 operator, explaining to her that said pothole was a car eater, and a major road hazard.  I think he actually said it was just shy of a crater and a smaller car may very well fall completely into it. 

And as I listened, I realized how cynical, apathetic and horrible I can be.  On something like that, I might bitch and moan but keep on going.  He stops to make a difference.  I see myself as an agent of change and an influencer in my immediate circle of existence, but I am thinking too small.  The Big H sees himself as an agent of change regardless of the size of the pond.  Small pond (a workplace, for example) or big pond (NYC, for example) he is confident that his voice can and will be heard.  And cheers to that.  I can learn from that.  What a wonderful way to be – not cynical but optimistic; not apathetic but active and positive you can make a difference in just about any situation.  It’s in his DNA, and I hope that rubs off on me.  If more people were like that, perhaps there would be fewer potholes, more peace on the streets, more flowers planted in the urban jungle, more citizen uprisings about issues that affect our country and the world.  Something to think about.

A New Reality Show?

"Worlds Biggest Losers Eating America’s Top Models on a Road Trip to Kid Nation’!!

Yin and Yang Karma

Do you ever get the sense that there is something weird going on in the universe and it’s affecting many aspects of your life?  My husband and I were talking about this the other day – we are noticing a trend of unresponsiveness.  I can at this very moment point to many elements of unresponsiveness in life:

  • Again, the apartment.  Still no update.  And no response to our last inquiry.  Two days ago.
  • The woman coordinating our mortgage.  I sent her the last bit of info.  Asked please confirm receipt.  Called to confirm receipt.  No response.
  • A friend of mine has been unresponsive.  Something I said?  Or let me not be self-centered…good chance it’s not something I said.  Maybe it’s just her.
  • Our wedding photographer from whom we are trying to get the negatives which we bought as part of our package.  Inquiries out – no response.
  • Our tax person was unresponsive.  Then we fired her.  And she immediately replied and claimed she was responsive.  Well, to getting fired, YES she was responsive!

So there we have it – just a few examples.  And if he were to add his list, it would be an officially depressing list of doom. 

I am boring myself with all of this negative karma.  Universe be damned!  I will not allow these trends to dominate my life, attitude, outlook and thinking.  I spent some time today counting my blessings, of which there are many.  Here are a few things I came up with, current and recent blessings:

  • This summer I spend a lot of time floating in ocean and fresh water.  That is a marvelous blessing.
  • Thus far, I have not had a cold this season.
  • In the past few months, I have eaten many lobsters.
  • I have embraced my new belly as an accessory – and have found rather chic maternity clothes.  Trust me, if you have ever had to buy clothes to accommodate a figure that is blowing up Hindenburg-size, you would understand how much of a blessing this is.
  • I spent time – though not enough – with my parents recently.
  • I found myself lost in several good books.
  • I am really liking my job.
  • I determined that I like believing that magic and mystery exists in our world, and for that, I now don’t feel a need to dig into Dawkins or Hitchens.
  • I have good friends, some of whom I have seen recently.
  • I found a voice where I said "you did this and it bugged me" and it felt honest and good and addressed an issue that otherwise may have festered.
  • I have felt very cared for by my extended family – in-laws, etc.  An wonderful benefit of marriage.

So there we go.  I shall be blessings focused and see if that has any impact on the other negative karma that seems to be permeating many of the things that need to get done in life.  Keep my fingers crossed.  Good energy.

Rules and Truisms

A few things I believe, especially those that are master of the obvious comments:

  • The best way to get to bed earlier is to turn off the light.
  • Saving money is not a mystery.  Spend less than you earn.
  • Losing weight is about math – burn more calories than you consume.
  • What people do, is what they prefer.  Their reasons may be buried and fucked up, but it’s true.  What they choose to do, is what they prefer to do.  If they tell you otherwise, they are lying to themselves and you.
  • People make less money than they let on.  They have sex less often than they let on as well.
  • If you live by the rule "it will all work out" it’s generally because someone somewhere is making it work out.
  • The first two minutes of every task are the hardest part.
  • There is an direct relationship, generally, between how busy someone is and how much they can get done.
  • Life is all about choices and trade-offs.
  • Nothing substitutes for face to face.  Not phone, email or video conferencing. 
  • Being aggressive on the road does nobody any real good.
  • All organizations are screwed up somehow.
  • People are generally good.
  • If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.  (My personal favorite – almost always true.)

Dissed by God, and A Note on Feminism

In case you were wondering, I did NOT indeed get the upgrade I asked for last week from God.  In my letter to the big guy (again, gal?  See letter here.) I said this would be a fabulous sign of his/her existence and receipt of my requests.  Well harrumph on all that.  God scoffed in my general direction.  I (that would be Executive Platinum flying more than 100K miles a year on American Airlines ME) sat in steerage in what was without question the most narrow, least legroom seat on the plane.  God is laughing at me and my requests.  And we still have no insight on the apartment, and Britney is still in deep doo doo. 

But let me not be negative.  I will assume that my little letter ended up by accident stuck in a spam folder, and I press on.

Did you know that in Italy the police force its women officers to wear high heels?  It’s true.  I work in the finance industry and wear flats regularly.  Ain’t NOBODY telling me I have to wear heels!  Though I recall an incident in 1994…my first job out of college at a Wall Street investment bank.  I wore a pants suit one day.  I got a talking to.  A full on, sit down, this is not what we wear, talking to.  Not 1974 – 1994.  We’ve come a long way, baby…from not even so long ago.

So how do I know about this Italy thing?  Glad you asked.  Because I occasionally read this blog.   I am pretty liberal, and there are things they post on here that even I don’t always agree with, but for the most part, I find this to be darn enlightening.  There is still work to be done on women/men issues.  And don’t even get me started on race or sexual preference issues.  You may not agree with all of it, but give it a read every once in a while.  Pretty interesting stuff.   

A Letter To The Top

Dear God,

I realize I talk to you just about every night before bed (old habits die hard).  I am not sure, however, that my thoughts are being heard.  No worries on that point – I know you are busy and I too have a hard time remembering to listen to voice mails (for the record, you might want to get a personal assistant.  I am not sure what the Holy Ghost is up to these days, but give him the job.  We don’t ever seem to hear much about that dude).  In that spirit, I thought I would try writing.  I assume you are aware of the Internet, and I further suspect you are a forward thinking kind of guy (gal?) so you probably subscribe to things like RSS feeds.  So I am making this easier for you, here are my current thoughts in writing.

God, can I call you that?  I know I occasionally take your name in vain, so on that, many apologies.  You can feel free to yell my name when damning the heathens.  I won’t be offended.  Where to begin…

Let me start with our living situation.  This may seem trivial since there are many many homeless people in the world, but Lord, I have a kid on the way.  We are now three months behind moving into our new apartment and it’s making me fucking terribly crazy.  I am wondering if you have any sway over the Brooklyn Department of Buildings.  I mean if you don’t, then who does?!??!  It does not seem that anyone can get them to move faster than snail spit, but perhaps you can sway them.  I am sure you can get creative – threaten to turn them into salt, or maybe spontaneously combust if they don’t get to the bottom of the pile where I am sure our applications are awaiting approval.  That would be great. 

I am a little worried about the U.S. economy.  Feels like a bubble to me – the Dow has been cranking, people are making money, Google is bigger than many other established media companies combined.  I am just not sure it’s sustainable.  This country is propped up by consumer spending and that spending is on McMansions and McTVs and McCars all on credit.  I mean, we are a lot like Veruca Salt and we all know what happened to her.  Oh sorry, if you are not into pop culture, check this out.  I liken her to U.S. consumers, which would make you like Willy Wonka. 

Speaking of pop culture, can you give our girl Britney a break?  I know she has more money than God (sorry, but I think it’s true) but darn it that girl has no guidance and people have been tarting her up since she was barely walking.  And she has all these crazy ideals about how family could be but she never really had a good one and now she cannot get a coffee without being mobbed.  And on being a parent, everyone makes mistakes and she is under the worst microscope.  I am sure you know what you are doing but Lord, but what did she really do to deserve all this crap? 

If you can help the Big H and me find a parking spot tonight that would be nice.

The weather has been nuts as well.  80 degrees in NYC in October?  I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but what the hell?  Autumn is the best season in NY and we just might miss it.  And I just don’t believe it’s a political ruse – it’s not like we are going to elect Hillary next year and all of a sudden we will be back to normal.  Are ya bored up there?  I know, I know, this is our fault.  You might want to consider a public service campaign.  The bracelets could be green and rather than saying "Live Strong" they could say "Be Cool.  Stop Global Warming."  Thoughts?

I have been really focused on calamities lately.  So if we can avoid them, do you think maybe we could get through the year without any major earthquakes, tsunamis, or any more school shooting incidents? 

I am flying to CA tomorrow.  Maybe you could think about making sure my upgrade comes through?

Lastly, please bless my husband, sister, and brother-in-law.  And of course mom and dad, though I am sure dad already asked you for your blessing, as a priest himself (and I am sure that my mother did not, but don’t take that the wrong way…it’s not that she does not believe in you – she just has a hard time with the whole Jesus resurrection thing).  Please make sure none of us have any fires, get mugged, incur additional health problems or other such problems.  At least for a bit.  While I am at it, please bless my husband’s family and my friends.  Maybe my co-workers too.  Ah hell, can you maybe just issue a blanket human blessing?  I mean, why not pray for everyone to have a good day, right?

I have asked for a lot here (especially the blanket "just bless the whole world" thing).  So what have I done for you lately?  I carried a suitcase down some stairs for an older lady yesterday; I gave up my seat for a child on a subway this morning; I have been VERY good about recycling; I gave a tourist directions the other day and it did not even occur to me to lead them astray for fun; I waited in line patiently to try Pinkberry (overrated); I gave money to a charity promoting early childhood literacy; I have tried really hard to stop saying "like" and "you know"…I am aware this is not huge but do you have any IDEA how annoying that habit is?  The world would be a better place, truly, if that Valley Girl stuff came to an end already.  I fed one of our cat beasts at 5AM the other morning before he could wake up my husband.  I forgave a Times Square tourist for gawking in the middle of the sidewalk. 

So there we have it.  Please let me know if this is a better way to reach you – just send me a sign (like that upgrade on my flight tomorrow…that would be a good sign).  I hope you have a blessed day.  Does anyone ever bless you?  Is it lonely at the top?

Cheers and good sentiments,


P.S. I apologize about the Dawkins thing.  You remember this summer when I read the opening two paragraphs of The God Delusion and determined you must not exist?  I admit, after 35 years of belief that was a bit hasty.  You were mad I did not even make it into the first chapter before denying your existence but think of it this way, he is a darn good writer and I had not had my morning coffee.  I was weak.  Please forgive me.

Think big, start small

I was talking to someone the other day who was overall grumpy.  For the record, I was NOT talking to myself.  Haha.  Anyway, so I was talking to said person and it occurred to me to ask them, "If it’s so bad, what would you change?  Is there anything – even something small in your life, that you can change to make it better?"

And the answer was a quiet "Maybe".  We talked about baby steps, picking just one thing that you can impact and changing it.  She was feeling like her life was a little out of control, nothing was really getting done, she was not going in any direction she liked, and she felt a little lost.  These are big issues.  But I find sometimes the best way to get out of a "Big Issue Funk" is to tackle something small.  Pay the bills.  Organize a closet.  Feeling like you are uninspired?  Go to a museum.  Feel like your career is going nowhere?  Make an effort to meet one new person in your field.  Just one. 

Do something simple.  It’s in all of these simple changes that we make, or simple actions that we take, that we build a life.  So go ahead and think big, but maybe as a first step, it’s ok to start small. 

It was not even 9AM and I had to lecture a stranger…

Scene: 8:30AM Friday September 28th, 2007; 4/5 Subway train from 86th and Lexington to Grand Central

Random Man ("RM"): "So are you anticipating a cold day, I see you are carrying a jacket."

Me: Do I respond?  It’s morning and I am on the subway.  I don’t really like talking to strangers in the morning, but what the hell…"Uhm, no, it’s part of my suit."  I shift positions.  He sees my left hand…

RM: "Oh sorry, I see you are married, what an amateur I am!"  He giggles.  I hate men that giggle.

Me: "Married AND pregnant – you did not pick a sure thing!"  I was nice about this.  Not hostile.  Not yet…

RM: "Oh wow, pregnant!  Wow.  I have a six yr old son.  He lives in FL.  I was SO glad when he came out that he was a boy.  I was terrified I would have a girl.  I really wanted a son.  I am a man’s man, you know."

Me: "Interesting.  I just want a healthy baby with all toes and fingers accounted for.  Why did you want a son so badly?"  I will take the bait.

RM: "Well, you know, I am a guy’s guy.  I believe men should rule the house and I would not know what to do with a girl.  I am old fashioned, you know, I like having a woman at home and think the man should be the one who works out of the home.  I could not raise a girl, and I did not want one."  People are starting to stare now.  A man of this "caliber" has not been seen in NYC in decades!  Many of us women secretly believe they exist, but a chance to see a man like this live and in person!  WOW.  I knew I could not foil this rare opportunity to interact with Neanderthal Man.

Me: "You most certainly could not!  And do you realize you just hit on a woman who is going to WORK and that you are surrounded by such women here on the NYC subway during rush hour?"  Women are looking at him like he has two heads…or maybe less than a full head…one or the other…

RM: "Oh well, if you were with me you would not work.  And you know what, I bet you are having a boy!" 

The train stops at Grand Central and I get ready to leave…everyone is shaking their head at this guy in disbelief.  I am looking around for a candid camera thinking I am being PUNK’D.

I turn and say: "Well, I think I am having a girl and if your son is LUCKY, she just might consider hiring him one day!"


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