Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Good Old Days

Well, it seems to be New Year's eve.... again. Somehow the older we get, the faster time goes... I can't believe we're on the eve of 2007... weren't we all just going nutso about Y2K?!? (well, not me... I didn't heed the advice and stock up on canned goods and water, and look where that got me... oh, right).

Auld Lang Syne-- a Scottish tune written in the 1700's is roughly translated to mean "the good old days," which confuses me a little. The tried and true New Year's anthem, looking back at the past? Yes, yes... the whole, those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it mantra. I get it. And I understand having an appreciation for it and being able to accept where you've been to understand where you are... but New Year's, it seems, should be a celebration of fresh starts and the excited anticipation of what's to come.

But everyone seems to get a little too nostalgic (yes, even for me) on this day... and some tend to wax poetic about how they've done this and that in the past and boy, come January, they're going to make every effort to be a better person, and so on and so forth. You know what I say to that? There's no time like the present, people. Why wait for something in the future when you can do something right now? It's those people who will never actually do anything... they're either too hung up in the past or not big enough people to realize that it's what you do that's important... not what you say you will do.

So, rather than drivel on about what I've learned and what my resolutions will be (I'll leave that for the silent monologue that's constantly running in my head), I instead leave you with my own version of self-righteousness on this eve:

Be thoughtful of yourself and of others in the new year. There are bigger things in this world than any one of us. You can really only have expectations of yourself and your own actions... and everything else is incidental; but it doesn't give free license to be unkind. Be aware of who you are, your limitations and your gifts. And be honest about them. What little things that make the world go 'round, indeed.

Happy, happy new year, everyone. May it be merry and bright.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas in NYC

Those regular lurkers to this blog are very familiar with my waxing nostalgic about NYC and my great love for it. It seems that I will always miss the city that never sleeps and even today, two years after leaving, it still feels like home. But nothing so far has made me miss NYC as much as Christmas-- because the Big Apple truly knows how to do it up. I'm convinced not living there has been why I've had to kick start my Christmas, sputtering and never exactly gaining momentum, for the last couple of years. All things aside, New York magazine has just published their "Reasons to Love New York" issue. My favorite reason?

"Because We Can Be Defiantly Deluded"- by Jonathan S. Paul
New Yorkers consider it axiomatic that our tap water tastes better than anyone else's. The notion is up there with walking-and-talking speed as a point of civic pride. Here's the catch: IT appears not to be true. Recently, we assembled a panel of experts for an unscientific blind tasting of water from here and five other major cities: Paris; LA; Seattle; Golden, CO (blogger's note: since when is "Golden, CO" considered a major city?); and Newark. According to our aficionados, not only does New York not have the best water, but we have the worst. A shock? Sure. An embarrassment? Nah. Screw the evidence. The very fact that we're wrong only serves to prove that we're proud.
You gotta love it.

Sadly, that means both LA-LA-Land AND Newark (?!?) have better tap water. Huh. I still don't believe it. Anyone have any guesses as to which of the five aforementioned cities was #1?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmastime Is Here

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Heading to La-La Land to spend the holidays with the fam tomorrow. It's been a while since I've been "home" (as much as it can be home considering I've now officially lived away from CA longer than I actually lived there...). Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing them (minus one A, who will not be gracing us with her presence...) and catching up with old friends.

Speaking of old friends, myspace is my new favorite thing. In the last year or so, I have found some of my favorite people. Found, quite literally, because they were indeed lost-- or perhaps I was... but either way, now we've all found each other and it's been quite nice getting to know them again. It's a strange thing this myspace world, because it connects you with old friends but really, you're meeting new people because you haven't actually talked to these people for half of your life. In my case, most of the friends are from junior high (we were split up when we went to different high schools), bonds of friendship formed in mutual commiseration over acne, puberty, and a slew of firsts: crushes, kisses, heartbreaks, dances, best friends, no friends and really, really bad fashion (it was the 80s, after all).

Reminiscing with the old crew has brought back a lot of buried memories, and even prompted me to peruse old journals and, unfortunately, relive some of that angst--a surprisingly semi-humiliating, provocative and eye-opening experience that I seriously plan not to relive anytime soon (as G so aptly pointed out, the past is past for a reason...). It's humorous, though, to read how heart-achingly important everything was... and actually, a little disturbing. But at the same time, it's so nice to connect with these people who were such a big part of my formative years and contributors to who I am today (whether they know it or not).

Reconnecting and re-living some of the memories of, oh, more than 15 years ago (?!) has also made me appreciate where I am and how far I've come. Although the last 15+ years have been a giant jumble of confusion at times, I'm in a better place than I have ever been. I'm happy with where I am and, even more importantly, who I am. Who knew that awkward 13 year old could come so far?

This Boy's Letter To Santa Claus

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

He Said Hey, I Said What...

The truth had to come out sooner or later... and I can't hide it any longer. I was a fan of New Kids on the Block.

And when I say fan, I mean that in every sense of the origin of the word: fanatic. My sister and I (sorry to out you, sister-dear) went to four-- yes, FOUR concerts. We videotaped every television appearance, and even wrote down the top 10 songs on KIIS FM every night and cheered when more than one NKOTB song graced the countdown (which I'm sure some of you will be surprised to learn was often). And my most humiliating confession related to the original boy band? I actually pulled a muscle in my throat from screaming so loud (and rather enthusiastically) at a concert at Dodger's Stadium in 1991. Yeah.

But even if I'm a little embarrassed by memories of my over-zealousness and vehement defense of all things New Kids (I specifically remember some biting retorts of "you're just jealous" to certain boys who would tease me about it...), in retrospect, I actually think it's all a little funny... okay; a LOT funny. But, *sigh*. I did love that bad boy (as bad as a New Kid could be, that is...), Donnie Wahlberg (who, by the way, does happen to be a critically acclaimed actor now...).

And while I'm a tad bit discomfited by my reaction to the 'Kids, I actually have never been embarrassed about liking them... until I saw this little reminder (that I actually remember watching live...) of a Christmas-time performance on the Arsenio Hall Show. I watched it today with a mixture of morbid fascination... and then I had to watch it a second time, during which I laughed my ass off. I can't believe my mother let us watch these guys; I haven't seen so many hip thrusts and butt shaking since... well, ever (and I think that I actually spied a little Roger Rabbit thrown in there...).

Pseudo-pornographic dancing aside, I think that you'll agree that there's nothing better than watching a bunch of white boys attempting to rap... the problem is that Arsenio decides to sit in and offer a little rap as well which unfortunately, further demonstrates that with the exception of Eminem and the Beastie Boys, white boys shouldn't rap. But all in all, a little piece of the late 80s/early 90s ripped from the cultural archives (I mean, come on, people-- Arsenio!! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!).

So without further ado, may I present, "Have a Funky, Funky Christmas":

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

I grew up in Los Angeles where the majority of my friends were Jewish. By the time I was 13, I had attended as many bar and bat mitzvahs and was able to recite, "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam," with surprising accuracy. I also integrated Yiddish into my everyday speech without so much as blinking (oy vey!). My dearest friends' parents affectionately called me "Mik-a-lah," and my sister and I were familiar faces at Hebrew school and later, Hebrew High.

I always dated Jewish boys, and they always broke my heart-- but I was convinced I would marry one, maybe because I didn't know any different (and my first real boyfriend, who was half Jewish, is still the nicest boy that I've ever dated). I knew which friends couldn't go out on Friday because they were orthodox and we always knew when the high holidays were based on who was fasting and/or eating peanut butter and jelly matzoh sandwiches.

When I went to college in the Northeast, I went from being submerged in Jewish culture to having virtually no Jewish friends. But my Aunt Anne [Levin], who lived in NJ, is Jewish, so holidays were infused with Jewish tradition-- and my Yiddish got even better.

All this to say, Happy Hanukkah to friends of old, present and hopefully, future.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rock Like a Jingle Bell

I like to keep it real. Even though at this point I can no longer deny that I am indeed a full-fledged adult, there are still some things I can't shake:
  • I still say "dude" all the time, as in "Dude! Did you see that nutso driver?"
  • I crack myself up (which in turn makes people laugh, so it's pretty rewarding)
  • I still rent instead of own
  • I can stay in my pjs all day and watch tv and not feel guilty
  • My refridgerator is always empty
  • I don't make my bed
  • My guilty pleasure is watching really, really bad t.v. and reading celebrity gossip rags
  • I say "YOU ROCK!" when I'm particularly excited about something-- be it personally or professionally
So, today I wrote in an e-mail to a co-worker, "You rock like a jingle bell" and accomplished two of my not quite an adult goals: 1) using "you rock" in all relevant circumstances and 2) cracking myself up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Greatest Christmas Gift

I'm in gift-wrapping hell.

The good news, though, is that the actual shopping hell is over and done with. Yes folks, it's December 13, and this intrepid wayfarer has actually finished her holiday shopping... with nary a stuffing stocker-- err, stocking stuffer to buy (and truthfully, I officially finished shopping yesterday...).

You might not be all that impressed-- I'm sure there are those of you who shop all year round and have things like gift closets that you faithfully stock. But I'm that girl who is still running around on Christmas Eve, trying to remember what store the thing that I wanted to buy for my Dad was from... and never remembers, resulting in a much more expensive gift than intended.

And not only is the shopping done-- I've actually started shipping. This new-fangled invention called the Internet is doing me some even bigger props this year-- it's called "
Click-n-Ship." Apparently the USPS was tired of getting pistol-whipped and they figured out a genius way to compete-- print at home postage that your friendly neighborhood postman picks up with his/her regular delivery. They'll even give you free boxes and shipping labels (that are, of course, mailed to your home). And besides the fact that I never have to brave a Post Office line again (avoid it like the plague this time of year, people), it's so cheap! It's called Flat Rate boxes-- stuff it with as much crap as you want, and it's a flat rate (hence the name...)-- no matter how heavy it is. Talk about necessity being the mother of invention. There's nothing like a little friendly competition.

Now... if only I could wrap all of this stuff and get it in my boxes so I could actually get it in the mail...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Baby It's Cold Outside

When I decided to move to Chicago, the one thing my East Coast friends always said was, "But it's so cold in Chicago." Me being me, tried to reassure them that it was a great idea... "I've only lived in one city as an adult; I want to try out other places before I decide on a place to 'settle down.'" or, "I'm not sure if I will like not living in New York, but Chicago isn't so far West that I can't move back if I want to..." or, "It will be so much easier to get to the West Coast/Hawai'i to visit my fam from Chicago;" and, my favorite, "Cold is cold. Anything under 30 degrees is pretty much the same thing."

Ummm... I was wrong.

This morning, as I walked the four very, very, very long blocks to the bus stop (I'll save the worst-public-transportation-in-a-major-city rant for another time), I was actually muttering expletives. Four letter word expletives. Outloud. You see, it was a negative temperature... again... for the third freakin' day in a row. And an extra bonus, there was a very swift wind, blowing right into my face. And I thought, for the third straight day in a row, that it is absolutely inhuman that people can actually live in this god-forsaken place.

Because, what I've realized? Cold is not just cold. It can get a hell of a lot colder.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Christmas Time

Originally formed in 1984 to raise money to aid famine in Africa, top Brits and Irish recording artists have continued to record and re-record the now classic "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I was able to find three different versions (the 2004 version, "Band Aid 20"-- as in, "20 years later," I hadn't heard) from the actual "Band Aid" (as opposed to versions covered by other pop stars, e.g. Barenaked Ladies). Each definitely has its set of winners... I have to say, I'm partial to the original (yes, yes, mostly because Sting's on it)... but there's a bevy of famous faces long passed (not literally, but they're pop stars of old and no longer recording) such as George Michael, Boy George and Jodi Watley. But there's also a pre-sunglasses, bushy-haired Bono and Phil Collins grooving on the drums (still in his Genesis days). Classic, classic, classic.

Version two has less star power, but I have to say, I like this version if only because the Brit twin pop phenom "Bros" performs... Matt (Goss) on vocals (and showing off some stellar 80s dance moves-- sweet!) and Luke on drums (and note that pre-sex goddess Kylie Minogue, then riding the Loco-Motion, is actually from Oz).

And the most recent version has a kicking rock ending... plus cutie Chris Martin singing the opening (and while I would have liked to see Sting make a return 20 years later, Bono does make an appearance, singing the same part he performed in the original, allegedly at his demand).

Yes, yes... I'm enjoying the Christmas songs this month (and my love of comparing different performances of the same song...).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

Have you seen the photo of JT (below)? Doesn't it just make you smile?

Grown Up Christmas List

Soooo, yesterday was my first day back at work after a nice little 2 month hiatus (seriously-- why don't American companies have sebatacles? I'm all for hard work, but it's a sad, sad world when one must have major surgery to get a break).

It seems that, despite the brief reprieve, and my trying to come back with a new attitude (can't change the world, conform, conform, conform, stop fighting a losing battle, let people bury themselves since they're so determined to do so, I can only control my actions and I'm going to be one of those shiny happy people [cue R.E.M.] from now on...), people are fighting me to discard my newfound laissez faire attitude. I must have spent 50% of the last two days listening to people complain about their jobs, the people they work with and the company in general. Shaggadaggy. Just drag me back down, why don't you.

Two months off... you'd think that I'd be refreshed, ready to tackle anything. Instead, it really made me re-evaluate what the heck I'm doing working in corporate U.S. of A. What happened to being happy to get out of bed in the morning? Blast. Two days and I'm already over it. Because, at the top of the list of why I need to get a new job, I'm faced with an egomaniac who decided to comandeer my department and deprioritize my projects that I left the team and create his own-- despite 1) my telling him that we were set and he didn't need to "check in" with my team and 2) my telling the team to ignore new project requests while I was out. Dude-- there's no way that I could do your job (sales)-- I'm not arrogant enough; so keep your mitts off of mine (you're not smart enough).

So- my grown up Christmas list? Life of leisure, if you please. I figure that I either have to win the lottery (so I should start playing) or find myself a sugar daddy. Any bets on which will happen first? I'm thinking neither... shaggadaggy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Singing Songs of Joy and Peace

JT vs. Sarah: Thoughts?

Click here for the JT version.

It's the Most Wonderful Time...

Yes, the holiday season is in full swing. As such, I've commenced my annual updating of the Christmas music library, and I have to say-- there are some good ones this year. In a single iTunes raid, I've added James Taylor, Bette Midler and Sarah McLachlan's latest forays into the Christmas merchandising madness. But I have to say, very impressive.

JT (of old school, not to be confused with the SexxyBack version) is the perfect combination of bluesy and jazzy and wonderful James Taylor-ish, wrapped into one. For me, it doesn't matter what he sings, his voice makes me melt... and believe that there are better things in this world for all of us.

Bette is a gas, as always. Lots of horns, classic big band with elements of jazz thrown in, she pumps up the traditional carol like no other. A tap-your-feet, sing-a-long.

Sarah doesn't disappoint (does she have a killer range, or what? Just when you think she's going to crack on that upper C, it floats effortlessly and melts into the next transition). I actually prefer her cover of Joni Mitchell's "River" to JT's (gasp!), and the carols are in true Sarah style.

Whomever the artist, hope if you're celebrating the season, you're doing it with music... and milking it the entire month. If you're in Hawai'i or Chicago-- or likely, anywhere that has a radio station, you have the benefit of 24/7 Christmas music. Or, short of spending lots of money on iTunes, you can also contact me to burn you some CD's. Oh-- and if you don't have the "Singers Unlimited" Christmas album, that's a must-have. Jazz a cappella at its finest.

Winter Wonderland

If only to appease my dear friend, K, I've decided to add a little post (I know, I know... I've been severely slacking as of late, but I've been very, very busy, living my life of leisure, soon to be destroyed when the reality of work reconvenes on Monday after a blissful two month reprieve). She was getting bored of my last post (although, I must say, still feeling a little sucker punched, but still my own fault), so I took her suggestion of adding a new title and subject-- a fitting one at that, given we had the first blizzard of the forthcoming loooong winter season. Eight whole inches of spankin' white snow. Whoohoo. And people who don't shovel their sidewalks creating great chasms of ice to slip and slide on (read: lawsuit). Well, no one to blame except myself for choosing to live anywhere east of California... ugh. Why don't I live in Hawaii, indeed?