Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stewardesses and scribes

This year J and I decided we're going to be a Pan Am airline pilot and stewardess from the 1960s for Halloween. Very Catch Me If You Can. At first I was going to buy my costume, but after doing some research I balked at the prices I saw online -- 50 bones for a shiny and ill-fitting polyester sheath?! Please. I'd rather spend that $50 on something I've wanted forever but couldn't justify the purchase of, say this.

Anyway, I went to the fabric store, spent a whopping $13 total on materials and set to work making my costume. I used some artistic license in terms of the costume's conception (i.e., though the Pan Am stewardess of yore were much more stylish than today's flight attendants, they still wore conservative electric blue pencil suits).

Cute, but such is life in Technicolor. Unfortunately we have to deal with modern-day lighting here, people.

So I decided my kind of Pan Am stewardess would wear a white cap-sleeved blouse tucked into a high-waisted electric blue mini skirt, complete with blue pillbox hat, neckerchief, and signature logo patch pinned to chest. Here are my finished pieces:

I can't take credit for the belt (from an old shirt I bought at Forever 21), but the skirt (above) turned out better than I expected.

This is the best I could do with the patch. Kept super-gluing my fingers together by accident so finally just stopped fussing over it.

I'm most happy about the pillbox hat I made from felt (above).Yes, the last time I worked with felt was 1st grade when I ended up eating half my film roll container of paste. But that was another time. I followed Humble Bumble B's video tutorial on ThreadBanger for this design, then added the three white buttons as a detail to tie the whole costume together.

For J's costume he'll be wearing his navy blue suit that he already owns (tricky, tricky, we know), and pilot's hat and pin that we bought for about $10 total at the Halloween store.

We're going up to Manhattan for the weekend to visit one of my good friends and her husband. They just moved into a new apartment very near Central Park and we can't wait to see them. Apparently I've been told we'll be attending a "Liquor Treat" party on Saturday night (costumes required), which already sounds fun. Revelry will undoubtedly ensue. J's never been to NYC, so let's also hope he doesn't get any ideas about finding a legal job there after our weekend jaunt up north.

In other news the animals will be staying here, but I couldn't resist taking hilarious pictures of them in costume:

A disgruntled Lola.

An oblivious Moneypenny.


And finally, NaNoWriMo is almost upon us! Are any of you kiddies going to partake in November's thirty days and nights of literary abandon? If you have no clue what I'm talking about go here, but if you're a participant you can find me under the username "TildonKatz". (As a Mad Men fan you should get that reference. Period.)

I'm pretty much done with the outline for the book I plan to write in November. It's about an ex-Nazi doctor who flees to Buenos Aires after WWII to start a new life as a cab driver under an assumed identity. Riveting, isn't it? Will he overcome his prejudices? Find redemption? Be caught and extradited? Can we ever really "start all over" in our lives, or do our pasts eternally haunt us? All will come to fruition in November in what I've tentatively titled "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Obviously I'll probably be blogging less next month (50,000 words in 30 days scares even me), but I'll keep you updated. The nearly finished manuscript for my first book will be going into a drawer and not looked at till Dec. 1st.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The hookah smoking caterpillar

Hope you kiddies had a delightful weekend. Mine kicked off Friday at a hookah party with a bunch of ostentatious windbags and ended Sunday night swathed in scraps of cerulean blue, reading one of Thomas Friedman's latest articles.

Perhaps we should back up.

J's friend "Sam" invited us over to his place on Friday night for a fun-filled few hours of cocktails and social smoking through a shared tube. Yummy.

"Hey guys, I just ordered Mojito-flavored tobacco, are you in?" he asked giggling over the phone, a remix of Britney's "Circus" blaring in the background from his pink iPod. Love this guy to death, but there is no way in hell he is straight. We've all discussed in depth and think the only person who doesn't know is his girlfriend who's currently living with him. Poor little lamb. It's quite obvious, we're all just waiting for her to some day find out.

Anyway, I'm not one to turn down mojito-flavored anything, so we trotted over and got to meet all of Sam's friends who also, as it turned out, delighted in tropical tastes as much as I did. After the martinis were poured and the hookah was lit, we began ruminating on our college years, current jobs and everything in between.

"I never knew mojito-flavor of this existed," I said in a cottony tone as the smoke poured from my lips. I passed the hookah tube to J and sipped my third glass of wine. The others around me nodded, inebriated grins on their faces.

"Oh I have strawberry daiquiri flavor too!!!" Sam squealed, getting up to find his little store-bought baggie of paradise. I squealed along with him, as did two of the guys to my right, and as he got the new flavor ready I turned to the boys who'd just shared in my strawberry daiquiri excitement.

"Soooo...." I said, "How do you two lovelies know Sam and his girlfriend?"

"Oh, he used to live with them in college," the fatter one said, pointing to his thinner boyfriend.

"Really?" My interest was piqued. The tone of his voice was a little ... off. Perhaps some ill-fated love-triangle had transpired back then?

"Yeah," the thin one said, sitting cross-legged across the table from Sam, his girlfriend, and their fourth cocktails. "I knew [Sam's girlfriend], and that's how I got to know Sam. It was ...," he paused, "Interesting." He sat picking at the table leg, avoiding eye contact with Sam, a weird look on his face. Tension. Drama. Something obvi went down betwixt these boys in college and it was so juicy you might as well have ordered it tar-tar. The others -- minus Sam's girlfriend, of course -- picked up on the subtly, but I wasn't going to prod. Not with her there.

"How very Three's Company..." was all I could think to say, inhaling the strawberry daiquiri goodness and trying to think of a way to change the subject. "Wow, this is like a tropical paradise in my mouth," I said blowing the smoke aside. We couldn't stop laughing, though now without being five glasses of red deep, it's not as funny anymore. Strange how that happens. ;)

Then they all started on about their jobs. Let me preface what I'm about to say with one thing: There's a fine line between speaking about yourself modestly and sounding like a pretentious snob. I can't stand the latter. So, after listening to them try to "out-job" and "out-cool" one another this is all I wanted to say:

"Look, it's one thing to have a job. That's awesome, we get it, you all have jobs when most qualified people your age (22-28) can't even get an interview, much less a job offer. I guess this in someway gives you the right to smugly point out that you're a star for even having one ... or something. But just because you have a job doesn't validate your existence. Congratulations. You've rescinded yourself to accepting your mediocre mid-tier position which you complain about hating but use anyway as a fragile tent pole in your superiority complex . But here's the thing: None of you are doing anything that's really that important. Most of us don't, so really, you've got nothing to feel so goddamn pretentious about. You're not saving lives, or changing laws or finding cures or educating those who need to learn or anything even remotely close to making any sort of difference. The fact is you're all replaceable, and you don't even see it. Or maybe you do, and that's why you feel the need to be so self-aggrandizing. To make up for that bleak realization you have hidden somewhere that it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Phonies."

Whew. Someone get me another drink. "Ok, Holden Caulfield," J would call me later during the car ride home. But at the party I just sat smiling, nodding at them. "Really," I said, listening to Sam's girlfriend talk about her love affair with her inbox. At least the girl was getting action somewhere. "You don't say."

I know, you're probably thinking "Get over yourself Crystal, like you're doing anything that amazing or important." Never said I was, and that's why I don't chatter on at parties like an insipid fool who's accomplished something incredible. Working on it. Most of us are. Thomas Jefferson once said "Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do." Basically, just do it. Actions speak louder than words.

So last night I was working on my Pan Am stewardess costume for Halloween (hence the cerulean blue), when I took a break and read one of Thomas Friedman's latest columns. In it he discussed how "just having a job" these days doesn't cut it anymore, it doesn't set you ahead of the pack. You need to be a thinker, be entrepreneurial, bring something extra to your job.

"In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore," he wrote. "It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top."

I guess that's my point. What chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry did they bring to their jobs? None. Going through the daily motions alone was enough to inflate their egos and in someway be brag-worthy. If this had been Alice in Wonderland I would have puffed my mojito smoke and asked in a breathy voice "Whooo ... are ... you?" Instead I simply listened quietly and smiled along from my mushroom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My faith in humanity has been restored

Something completely miraculous happened to me about three weeks ago. I call it miraculous because I haven't viewed that many random acts of kindness in my lifetime and therefore had begun to believe that people are generally self-interested. Until three weeks ago.

Earlier this year J and I flew out to San Diego for my sister's graduation. It was a packed flight and we were seated at complete opposite ends of the plane, he in the back near the toilets and screaming babies (haha), me up nearer to first-class where I belong. As I took my seat I made some joke about packing into these planes like sardines to the guy next to me. He laughed, and for the next four and half hours we had one long, uninterrupted conversation about, well, everything. Let's call him Jude, for privacy's sake.

Jude looked to be in his 30s and couldn't have avoided me even if he wanted to since he had the window seat (muwahaha). We talked nonstop about our spouses, lives, careers and dreams. I told him I'd just quit my job to pursue writing books and he was so enthusiastic. It was an amazing, deep conversation and a refreshing reminder that the stranger sitting next to you could very well be a great friend if you just lean over and start asking questions (which I do because I'm nosy and like hearing other people's stories). In the midst of our conversation we lost track of time and were both startled when the pilot came on the intercom announcing we were already descending into San Diego. It felt like only 30 minutes had gone by.

Needless to say we exchanged LinkedIn information (how very 2009 of us), but after introducing Jude to J near the baggage carousel and saying goodbye I sadly thought that would be the last I'd hear from him. Such is the usual way of life. Until I received an email from him three weeks ago. Apparently he'd read the last few posts of my blog, saw the bad news about J's no-offer with the Newport Beach firm and our subsequent tightening of the money belt and offered help ... in the form of two round-trip tickets back to California for the holidays using all the extra airline miles he had.

Wow. At first I thought he was just being nice, and politely said I couldn't take them, but after a few emails back and forth he insisted and said his miles would expire unused anyway if I didn't (he travels a ton for business so had a stockpile of them). How could I refuse? I said okay, sent him the exact travel dates we wanted and the next day we had confirmation of two round-trip tickets to the Bay Area for December/January sitting in my inbox.

I was and still am floored, and continuously thanking God that this happened when it did. No one outside of my family has ever offered me such a generous gift before, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude. How do you repay someone you've known for all of 5 hours for going out of their way to make your life easier? Especially at a time when J and I were nauseous about having to put the nearly $2,000 worth of holiday travels onto our credit card in an effort to conserve cash. Yes, Jude essentially gave us a $2,ooo present.
Christmas has come early to Crystal and J's household.

At any other point in my life I'd overnight Jude a bottle of Dom or Veuve Clicquot and profusely thank him in an annoying accompanied note, but right now all I can do is thank him through email and it just doesn't cut it. Sigh. More than the monetary gift I'm thankful because I feel like my faith in humanity has been restored, you know? Like people CAN actually be genuinely kind without being self-interested. It's refreshing and humbling and I'll never forget this. I've already promised myself to someday do something similar when I have the means of doing so. N
ot to get all "Delilah after Dark" on you, but kindness is contagious.

So as a joke I told him I'd send him a personally signed copy of my book when it's official and he replied "absolutely."

"Happy to help... looking forward to you two accomplishing great things... for some reason I just feel it. Never stop dreaming," he wrote.

With this gesture, I don't think I ever will.

Monday, October 19, 2009

WIP Update

Update: I'm about 2/3 of the way finished with my book. *raises power fist in camaraderie-like gesture to fighter jet gliding by as I speed down tarmac on motorcycle with "Danger Zone" playing in background.* I'm temporarily calling it Untitled -- snazzy, no? -- as I've been unimpressed with the titles I've thought of so far (and probably will be till I'm completely finished and can study it as a whole). Nevertheless Untitled is going well.

When I talk to friends and family on the phone, they inevitably ask me how many pages I've written so far. An answer to that is as easy as cherry pie. Second inevitable question is "how long will it be?" I wish I knew. Projected word count eludes me like a George Clooney con Vespa sighting in Como. (Apparently he vacations there or some tripe like that, but whenever I'm there I see no such evidence. Sigh.)

I originally thought my book would be about 65k words. Once I started writing I realized that projection was ludicrously inadequate, so I upped it to 70k, then 75k, and now I'm projecting 85,000 words total ... but that'll likely go up to 95k to 100k. Which is fine. From what I've found an official novel is between 60,000 and 100,000 words.

I know that it's easy to get lost in word counts and page numbers and at this stage these things aren't so important, but for me it's the only way to track my progress and keep good pace. I find pacing is key. Here's why:

When I was forced to take freshman PE in high school, running track was my least favorite activity. (All I wanted was to stroll languidly with my girlfriends and discuss important issues like boys and what where we were going to sit for lunch. "Rachel saw Cody kissing Summer next to the art room lockers. Pass it on." Things of that nature.) I wasn't nor will I ever be a runner, but back then I was more of an idealist than I am today. This would result in me sprinting the first lap like a sprightly racehorse, then staggering through the last three laps as I hyperventilated and finally lurched toward that Godforsaken finish line. I didn't want that to happen as I worked on my book. Neither did I want to casually amble the track four times, absentmindedly eating CornNuts and showing my friends how to moonwalk on the gravel, clocking in a 25-minute mile in the end. (I earned no "A" for effort on those particular days.) Let's just say I've come to recognize that pacing is important.

Where I currently stand: 65,000 words written, about 200 pages complete. When I first began writing Untitled I thought something insanely groovy would happen when I finally hit page 200. Like maybe I'd defy the laws of quantum physics and be hurled into an alternate universe where God would speak to me without the use of any psychotropic substances ... orrrr that I would simply hit 200 pages. J teases me lately with "Has God spoken to you yet?" No, no he hasn't, but the farther I get along in my manuscript the more enlightened I become. Why? Because, as Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is shit." (FYI: Hemingway also said "Write drunk; edit sober." Something to consider...)

Writing is the easy part, it's in the editing when the real work begins. True enlightenment will come when I press print, get my red pen "Jorge" (pronounced "Hor-hay") ready and start blasting out whole sections, rewriting chapters and fleshing out the vague ... and then have those around me critique it all. I'm happy at how far I've come (I've written a lot in my life but never this many words in one consecutive project) and it feels good to have an actual workable manuscript nearing completion, but the yellow brick road that lays ahead is fraught with months of editing that I can't wait to undertake. John Irving once said that "Half my life is an act of revision." I think the saucy minx had a point.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Your weekly cup of Zoe

"It's so weird to be back in LA." Rachel looks over at Brad (above). "I feel like you literally forgot your pants. I mean, and you have a linen tote bag ..."

Brad: "Hopefully this shoot is a Xanadu and not a Xanadon't."
Rachel, straight-faced and after a long pause: "Do you lie awake at night thinking of the worst jokes in the entire world?"
Brad: "No, they just come to me just before I say them. It's part of my gift."

"Perfume is the final step in getting dressed everyday. It's that perfect finishing touch." - Rachel, on the merits of perfume

"This smells too citrus-ey. I'd like a note of it, but not a whole song."
- Rachel on a potential fragrance

"I used to dunk myself in patchouli oil when I was in college." - Rachel being Rachel

A voicemail Brad leaves Rachel while she's in New York: "Hiiiii Rachel, it's Brad. I hope you're having a good time in New York with Taylor. I know you're probably super busy but I just wanted to let you know that my legs look really, really good in short shorts. Byeeee!"

"This shoot is a Xanadu story taking place in a gym and what we need is a big, hunky beefcake." - Brad, after he and Rachel are disappointed with the effeminate male models they've seen so far

"I really need to find the male equivalent of Jessica Stam."
- Rachel, frustrated

"You could've worn that in Paris, but you didn't get invited."
- Brad to Taylor

"Multi-colored, multi-fabric tranny heel. God knows what. It's absolutely all about the thigh high." - Rachel's final fashion advice for the season

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Suddenly, a dark cloud settled over first period...

"The goddamn pen is bluuuue."

A week ago J had a preliminary interview with the Bronx district attorney's office to be a DA. Yes, I just said the Bronx. After the interview (which he said went really well), J surprised me and said he wasn't going to send them his letters of rec like they'd requested.

Me: "What? You're nearly giving yourself an ulcer finding a job. Why wouldn't you pursue this?"

J: "Because though it'd be nice, I think I can do better. That and," he said with mild sarcasm, "I don't think it'd work if we became a bi-coastal couple. I'd miss you too much." (Note: I've told J that if he decides to reside on the East Coast post-graduation, I'll split my time between the East and West coast. Maybe throw in a little extended time in Italy for good measure. No biggie, but apparently it is.)

He looked at peace with his decision (well, as much as one can be who's job hunting with $200,000 in school debt looming over his head) until two nights ago, when we were working on our laptops at Starbucks and he got a call. It was the DA's office, wanting him for a callback interview. And his immediate response when they asked if he'd want to come up and interview with the panel was ..."Yes." Why, I don't know. He didn't even know himself, and kept wondering out loud why he'd said yes. All I could do was shake my head...."this is SO not something Don Draper would do," I thought to myself. J immediately regretted his snap response and said he'd call and cancel, but I told him no.

"Just do the call back. You don't know if you've got the job. Think hard about whether you want it when you get the actual job offer. Until then don't say no," I said, espousing my oft-sage advice. He agreed ... and promptly began looking for possible apartments in the Bronx, emailing me the listings. I couldn't help but laugh out loud across the table from him when I saw the damned things in my inbox.

"No, kemosabe, I won't be living in the Bronx. You'll be," I reminded him. (Insert sad J face here.) "I'm a freebird, I don't do the Bronx...or anything that's even remotely close to Yonkers."

Now I've never actually been to Yonkers or the Bronx, but they both remind me of a particularly vile DMX song I used to "bump" in my car during my high school years as I cruised through senior parking thinking I was cool long before I actually was. (It was very Michael Bolton listening to Tupac in Office Space). Anyway before the song starts there's a crass repartee between DMX and his "honey," in which he accuses her over the phone of feigning interesting in other males' appendages and philandering with some unnamed man in Yonkers (in so many words). It will forever be burned on my brain and is now what I associate Yonkers, the Bronx ... heck most of the NYC boroughs with.

After hearing my story and laughing in my face, J thought I was being "ridiculous," and so began sending me Manhattan apartment listings instead.

"I could take the train and commute," he reasoned.

I shook my head. "Did I not just tell you I was a freebird?! Freebirds don't live in Vuh-jin-ya, like we are now, and they don't live in Manhattan either." (Confession: I so wanted to live in Manhattan when I was 21 and still overly obsessed with Sex and the City. Not so much anymore, as my new obsession is all-things Easy Rider.)

"Take me back out West, honey child. I'll even live in LA or Reno if it means we're inching our way closer." Yes, you read that correctly. I'll admit the Reno comment was desperation speaking, but it didn't seem to matter since calling J "honey child" seemed to distract him from the imminent issue.

So J has come to one of the great crossroads in life (that is if he goes through with the second interview and gets the offer): Does he settle and get paid minor ducats at a thankless job, or does he take the risk of holding out and wait for a better opportunity? Too often I think we choose the first option because it's safer and more secure, but does it lend itself favorably in long-term career advancement, or is it simply sufficing as "a job"? Personally there have been times in my career where out of sheer impatience I began blindly applying to anything I was qualified for (within the journalism realm, of course), and jumped at the first offer that came my way. It worked out okay in the first year, but my happiness began to wane the second year -- even with a 15% raise and myriad perks.

I vote he waits for something better. Not just because of my fond memories of DMX and the Bronx, but for his overall happiness and well-being.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm over the top

Nicole over at My Life with a Crazy Puppy recently passed on this frabjous "Over the Top" award to me and a few other bloggers.

Thanks Nicole!! I'm supposed to answer the following questions and pass on to 6 other people, but I love you all and want to hear your answers, so if you've got the time answer whichever questions you want as a comment.

1. Where is your cell phone:
Hmm, not sure. I don't use my phone that much. I think it may be in my car right now.
2. Your hair: wants to go blonde. Just to see how it looks. But my wallet isn't having it.
3. Your favorite food: fondue
4. Your dream from last night: that I was taking breakdancing lessons from Britney Spears. It was amazing. Especially when I got to put on a helmet and twirl on my head as I watched her cheer for me upside down.
5. Your favorite drink: mojito
6. Your dream/goal: to become a published author. In the great words of Rachel Zoe: "Literally."
7. What room are you in: my bedroom. It doubles as my office when the couch is looking a bit sad around the edges.
8. What is your hobby: does writing count? Also traveling, dancing, and trying my hand at cooking international dishes when I have no money to travel. Sushi, anyone?
9. What is your fear: never being published and failing at my career. Oh and childbirth scares the crap out of me. I don't know how women do it. Sometimes I watch A Baby Story on TLC and it's all I can do not to hurl all over myself at the sight of the pain.
10. Where do you want to be in 6 years: hopefully in my first owned home (or mansion, I'm flexible here) in the Bay Area, preferably in Palo Alto near Stanford University.
11. Where were you last night: in my apartment watching Bridget Jones with my husband on the couch.
12. Something you are not: shy
13. Muffins: I can dig them. Just no muffin top.
14. Wish List items.: Over-the-knee Christian Louboutin suede boots *cries in anguish*
15. Where did you grow up: Santa Cruz, CA, where 420 is celebrated with the same gusto as Christmas.
16. Last thing you did: had coffee and ruminated
17. What are you wearing: my pajamas, specifically a pair of pajama pants with silhouettes of french chandeliers printed all over them. Don't be jealous.
18. Your TV: plasma flat screen
19. Your friends: are scattered across "this here" great continent. Someday, to quote Lester Bangs, we'll all meet again on our long journey to the middle.
20. Your life: pensive yet carefree
21. Missing someone: my friends and family
22. Your favorite store: Nordstroms
23. Your favorite color: pink
24. When's the last time you laughed: this morning, when J and I got into a tickling war
25. When's the last time you cried: watching Grey's Anatomy last week
26. Your best friend: J
27. Favorite place to eat?: any authentic Mexican taqueria

Monday, October 12, 2009

Law passed, hate eradicated

And so they marched. Here's what I think ...

I get that as a member of the LGBT community, you want the country, the world even, to see that you're a force to be reckoned with and that you want equal rights and no hate. It is not too much to ask for equal rights. Every human being deserves equal rights regardless of the color of your skin, religious belief, disability, sexual preference, foreign-sounding last name, whether you choose to wear a veil, etc. The list goes on and on.

But hate exists and will exist in the future regardless of how many miles are picketed down and speeches are given. It pains me to see that ugly issues like racism, sexism and other kinds of prejudices (including homophobia) are still woven into the tapestry of society. It sucks, it's not fair and I don't agree with it. But unfortunately a government can only legislate over these issues to a point. And though they are pending Senate passage to be made into federal law, anti-hate laws already do exist in many states. The problem is that they only govern so much, because people aren't robots. They can't be told what to feel. (Oh how peaceful our world would quickly become if this were true.) Just because the government says something is officially illegal does not mean people who harbor hate will automatically change their minds. And that's the crux of the problem.

Also, I don't think it's fair or right to repeatedly compare the plight of gays in America today to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It does not take away from the importance of the equality cause in the slightest, but comparing it to the trials and tribulations of African Americans in the Civil Rights era is laughable. The widespread segregation, discrimination and overall oppression that occurred for hundreds of years against blacks doesn't even come close to the injustices members of the LGBT community complain of enduring today. Last time I checked there are no "gays only" schools, "gays only" water fountains, "gays only" sections in diners or "gays only" stores that refuse service to any homosexual who even thinks of walking through the front door. Gays weren't brought to this country under horrific conditions and forced to serve in brutally oppressive slavery for centuries, denied basic rights like saying "no" when being raped by their owners and, bottom line, gays never endured stringent and unfair voting barriers like reading tests or special "voting taxes" designed to keep them from voting. So enough with the African American comparison. The two situations are like apples and oranges.

It's terrible when a tragic hate crime occurs, but it happens. After the passage of many laws in recent history, hate crimes still happen to African Americans, they still happen to women and they still happen to many, many immigrants right here in the U.S. There should be dire consequences to these kinds of attacks.

But unfortunately the reality of the situation is that you're not going to change the mind of someone who hates and wants to attack you just because you pass legislation saying it's not right. Yes, it probably will and SHOULD win you more equal and deserved rights (i.e., the right to marry, come out in the military, etc.), but it won't solve hate and that's the main problem. A law passing should not be confused with hate diminishing. Change has to happen within each individual, and not just on a federal level.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your weekly cup of Zoe

Rachel & Co. in Paris. I should be in this picture. Sigh.

"Look. Black and White. Coco. Chanel. Everywhere. Ugh. Dying."
- Rachel, passing the Chanel store with Brad

"... And those diamante leggings? I hope they're a trend everywhere."
- Brad, during the Ungaro show

"I think I'm going to pass out. I have on Coco Chanel's glasses."
- Rachel wearing Chanel's original glasses as she stares at Brad

"I am obsessed with the Beatles. I did my senior thesis on John Lennon. And I. Literally. Die. for Paul McCartney." - Rachel seeing Paul at the Stella McCartney show

"And all of a sudden," she says at Stella's show, "out comes electric silver dresses and like nubby purple mohair jackets and chunky knits that I just want to put on my body. Right now."

"This is beyond. This is OOC. Out. Of. Control." - Rachel admiring an 800 euro vintage Dior leather trench coat on Brad

"Rachel gets a little aggressive when it comes down to your purchases. She's like a vintage designer couture pusher. Buy it Brad. Get it. (in high pitch voice: 'Cause then I can distract Roger when I buy my coat!')" - Brad, in response

“How about I give you a raise?” - Rachel asks Brad, so he can buy said Dior trench coat and absolve her of shopper's guilt

"Backstage at Galliano is like a cattle herd. Literally, I feel like a cow about to moo." - Rachel

“I would eat this shoe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” - Rachel drooling over 12-inch platforms backstage at Galliano

"Platforms are here to stay. Get yourself some stilts, girls." - Brad to the general public

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Living Like an Artist, Part 1

Today I stumbled out of bed, practiced some favorite dance moves in my pjs to get the ol' blood flowing, then plodded over to my beloved coffee maker. Typical weekday morning for me. Except this time when I reached in my cupboard I realized I was out of coffee filters ... then I realized we're on this "budget" thing and we swore we wouldn't go to the grocery store for another week ... Damn. It. No coffee is never an option. Especially on a Thursday morning.

I had to get creative. Toilet paper filter? No, not robust enough -- coffee would end up with squishy lumps of butt-wipe throughout. Pass. Paper towel? Ding ding!

Coffee? Check!

I know I'm not the first to discover this gem, but I was quite proud of myself. "So this is what you get when you're living on a budget," I thought, smugly sipping my piping hot beverage. "Linty coffee. I kind of dig it ..."

Suddenly Elvis' "In the Ghetto" began to fade in. Startled I looked around, but the radio and turntable were off. The music got louder, echoing like some symphonic harmony in an unrecognizable dream. Moneypenny, Lola ... they watched me with baited breath, either because of the music or the fact that I was standing next to a tub of Trader Joe's ginger snaps, I don't know. Confused I leaned in closer to the coffeemaker. Ah, there it was. That's where it was coming from -- my soiled and stained paper towel filter.

(Ed. Note Update: J said "enough with this nonsense, we're not poor" and bought me a mesh coffee filter. No more linty goodness for me -- and just when I was getting used to it.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Quick note to say I just found out that I was mentioned in Mediabistro last week! (Does a little Irish jig next to the couch, aka my "office.") I've been reading Mediabistro for years now so it -- in the vein of Dirty Harry -- made my day to see one of my posts alluded to. Some people get their kicks skydiving or smoking crack; I get mine seeing my writing noticed:

Even though this doesn't really do anything for me in the grand scheme of things, it's still fun to see. When I showed J, he said he was "glad to see the world recognizes the sagacity of [his] advice." Usually I negate 75.3% of everything he says, so I'll let him feel smug for a day or two about this. ;)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hell called, they're expanding their guest list

My brother called on Friday after speaking to me not more than 20 minutes prior.

"Yeah?" I answered, thinking he'd forgotten to tell me some detail about his many adventures in love we analyze on a regular basis.

"Are you online? Sophia just sent an email," he blurted out breathlessly. (Ed. Note: My sister is an email queen, so getting an email from her does not usually necessitate a special call.)

"Um, no," I replied, somewhat annoyed. I was, after all, right in the middle of my DVR-ed episode of Grey's Anatomy.

"Go check it. She just emailed us. Papa got mugged down in Santiago and he got hurt. I'm on my way home right now, she says she'll be on Skype," he said, before hanging up.

First thought that came to mind: Shit.

So I dashed over to my laptop, read the email and sat there in utter shock. What else could I do? My dad is not "old" by any measure (he'll be 60 in a few months) ... but he's ol-der. And the thought of someone taking advantage of a situation to steal a few dollars from an old man pisses me off to no end. I chatted with Sophia via Skype and learned that she was with my dad when it happened.

According to her:
"We went to the store to buy groceries for the long bus ride and were walking back to the hotel in the middle of the day. Everyone was around. A guy reached into his pocket and took a wad of money, Papa turned around, yelled and started running after him. At this point three guys blocked his way, tripped him and pushed him into the ground. I was so confused because then they started helping us with our groceries. He got up and had blood running down his face. We started walking, and you know him, he was so embarrassed already not being able to catch the guy. That's when I saw that his pinky had been dislocated and pushed the wrong way, so he popped it back into position. It looked like he'd gone into shock, and he thought he'd broken his nose. I knew he'd need stitches because the gash was so deep in his forehead and I knew he'd broken his finger so I made him go to the hospital. He'd fallen flat on his face; his hands didn't break his fall because the guys that pushed him down were also holding his arms and hands back. He was so helpless. "
Not the type of "wish you were here" sentiment I was expecting from my parents' adventure abroad. After I talked to my sis, my dad then got on Skype a short while later. He told us it wasn't a big deal and true-to-form tried to downplay it all, but I saw his bandaged hand and the stitches on his forehead, and it broke my heart. This was my dad, whom I'd grown up viewing as the protector in our family. He always has been. And I know that no one could have prevented this and he couldn't have stopped it (even if he was 30 and not 60), but it killed me to see him be embarrassed about it, helpless.

I think he chalks it up to gray hair and old age, but I told him that he simply doesn't blend in and that's probably why it happened to him in a giant crowd of people. Luckily, I also pointed out, they didn't pull out a gun or knife on him and that at least he was safe. "I wish I could have caught them, though," he said. "No, you don't," I replied.

I reminded him that I've had handfuls of friends mugged right here in DC either at knife- or gun-point, and it didn't always end so pretty (one person, while being mugged, watched her mugger shoot a guy in the head right in front of her). It's a dangerous world, and no place is really "safe" anymore. My dad's attack, along with the countless other attacks I've heard happen to friends in the last couple years here, reaffirms that fact.

So the thieves ended up stealing $800 in cash from my dad who was carrying it because there were no ATMs where they planned to be. Though there is a special place in hell for people like this, I can't help but feel sorry for them too. Poverty drives people to great lengths, and I can only imagine what kind of daily lives they lead when we take for granted how we have flushable toilets and abundant food. So, $800 sucks to lose, but he'll survive. There's really no price tag for that.

Bottom line: Go invest in some pepper spray, kiddies. I have a pink cartridge I keep on my keychain, which I often hold on to in my jacket pocket if I feel a certain street is sketchy (I know, so Kill Bill, all I need now is a Hattori Hanzo sword). It (the pepper spray, not the sword) only costs about $10 and is better than nothing ... unless, of course, your attacker has a gun. At that point I -- like a mutual friend recently did when faced with the gun scenario -- would start running. Nine times out of 10 they don't actually want to shoot you, they just want to rob you ... unless they're batshit crazy. But that's a whole other story.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Your weekly cup of Zoe

“I don’t have time for this — I don’t have time for vertigo." - Rachel Zoe to doctor, after coming down with a crippling bout of nausea.

"Are you dying? That’s good. We wouldn’t want you to die. I don’t want you to die.” - Tay Tay, sounding quite insincere.

"The thing that I hate most about being the boss is when I actually have to be the boss." - Zoe on office management.
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