30 April 2008

Big night at the Carlyle

This past Saturday night was the big party for my mother's 65th birthday. After my wonderful preview I had no doubt that the Cafe Carlyle would be a great place to celebrate and it did not disappoint -- not one little bit. The entire night was fun-filled from start to finish.

As a last minute impulse we decided to rent a limo for a bunch of us who were planning to caravan into NYC so the evening started off in style with a ride in a somewhat gaudy, but still comfortable for 9 white, stretch limo.
Here's a view from inside the limo:

(That's my Mom with the big smile and gorgeous sparkly dress. More pictures here.)

And because no one had to drive we had a little pre-party at home with champagne and presents for the birthday girl.

We were 18 in all at the Cafe. The service was impeccable and the cheesecake was truly divine. After all the toasting and talking and stuffing ourselves we were all happy to shut up and listen to Christopher Cross perform. He was really good! The set was a nice mix of the old hits and some new songs. I did bring my camera this time so I took some grainy video of him performing. Here's a montage of some of the old hits.

Incidentally, Christopher Cross did not look like what I thought he looked like. I think because I first heard of him back in the early 80s when I was a General Hospital fan and they used his song "Think of Laura" as part of the Luke and Laura storyline. (OMG, yes, there is wikipedia entry just for Luke and Laura!) I think my mental image of Christopher Cross got morphed with Tony Geary (Luke). For the record Christopher Cross looks absolutely nothing like Tony Geary and never did.

Speaking of looking good --
Mom, like I said, I hope 65 years looks so good on me.

27 April 2008

Ecojustice 08

Emily has started a great new blog which is centered around challenges to become more environmentally friendly.

I have signed up for the challenge, but so far I've only committed to one of the 6 items on the list -- probably the easiest one which is reading a challenging book about the environment. I have already begun researching some options.

All of the challenges listed are good ones, but they are a little harder to adopt with a child involved so in addition to the book I have chosen one more item from the list that I am going to make a bit more family-friendly, but which I still think will be in the same spirit. The original challenge is to:
Buy only those things sold in recyclable packaging and make sure you recycle that packaging.

My version of this is to try and find acceptable substitutes for all the regular food items I buy for the whole family that don't currently come in recyclable packaging. In addition, I will only send Zoë's snacks and lunches to school in re-usable containers. We already have a lunch box and lots of little tupperware containers, but I tend to use ziplock bags a lot too.

It's not a lot, but it is my commitment for the quarter and hopefully every little bit counts.

So, if you're at all curious about the challenge you should check out the Ecojustice blog. I think this will be a really interesting year of challenges.

22 April 2008

Passover faux pas

On Saturday night we celebrated the first night of Passover at my father's house. He and his girlfriend, Laura, made a seder geared towards the grandchildren. There were 6 kids all age 6 and under. It was a loud evening to say the least. Part of the seder includes reading the Haggadah which tells the story of Passover. The children's Haggadah we were using was very brief and simply written. When we got to the part where Pharaoh's daughter finds the baby in the basket floating down the river I was reading and it said something like "Pharaoh's daughter pulled the baby from the river and that baby..."

Suddenly Zoë burst in with, "I know who that baby was -- JESUS!"

Every adult in the room burst out laughing. It was completely hysterical. However, poor Zoë was completely mortified. She had no idea what she said that was funny, but she knew everyone was laughing at what she said. She put her head down on the table and would not look up until Rob held her for about 10 minutes.

I know it is one of those moments that will live on to her continued embarrassment. We all have those moments from our childhoods -- I know my own still haunt me. And I will try not to laugh at it every time, but it was truly one of those priceless moments.

21 April 2008

You know it is Monday when...

  • you oversleep (of course)
  • a book mysteriously falls off the bookshelf knocking down other things in its wake including a small vase which shatters
  • at the ATM and there is a notice that it is temporarily out of service
  • hot coffee from the overfilled Starbucks spills on your white t-shirt before even making in the door of the office
  • you realize you forgot to include a key person in an important meeting -- even though they were invited you didn't call the conference line
  • out for a little peace at lunch time and run into 2 people you know from work
  • you spill diet coke on the desk
  • time stops at around 3:30 in the afternoon
  • your husband buys exactly everything he was told we didn't need for dinner and nothing we did need
Luckily a glass of wine and what eventually turned into a decent dinner has rescued Monday night.

17 April 2008

The advantages I've had

I saw this meme over at Noble Savage. The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

Bold the true statements. You can explain further if you wish.

1. Father went to college -- first in his family
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college -- and then some. She has more degrees than your average thermometer.
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 -- ice skating, swimming and ballet
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp -- day camp and then sleep away camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Not all of it, but most. I had some hand-me-downs from older brother and cousins
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them -- I helped pay for it though -- an '82 VW Rabitt which I loved.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child -- I'm guessing mine doesn't count here.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Clearly I have been quite lucky. What about you?

16 April 2008

Gossip Girl

In a March issue of The New Yorker there was a review of the YA Gossip Girl novels by Cecily von Ziegesar. I haven't read a YA book since I was a young adult myself -- I think it must have been one of the Sweet Valley High series -- so I was intrigued by this review because it made the books sound really good.

A few weeks later I happened to be at Border's with Zoë and while she was browsing the children's section I wandered over to the YA section and found book #1 in the Gossip Girl series. What the heck, I thought to myself, why not give it a try. The New Yorker piece really made it sound as if it were really written for adults at least on some level. The article says, "Her designated reader is an adolescent girl, but the reader she seems to have firmly in mind as she writes is a literate, even literary, adult."

So, I bought the book and I read it. It was a quick read. It was even an entertaining read. However, ultimately it did not transcend its YA status for me. Certainly it was a lot more racy than anything I had read as a teen, but it wasn't any deeper than Sweet Valley High. I didn't at all see what the author of The New Yorker piece saw even though I was primed to see it. Now I can't decide if I am just not a "literary adult" or if the review was reaching.

15 April 2008

7 Weird Facts About Me

I was tagged by Emily for this one. I often feel like the weirdest person in the room so this shouldn't be too hard.

1. I'll start with an easy one. A lot of people who know me already know this about me. I studied costume design in college and grad school. I desinged costumes for several plays and musicals and I loved it until grad school where two things happened to derail me. First grad school was incredibly hard. I was working 20 hours a day and I still wasn't as good as most of the people I went to school with. There were some amazingly talented people in my school. Second I realized what an incredibly difficult career I had picked for myself and I took that advice that is often given to actors -- if there is anything else you want to do, do that.

2. Continuing the theme...while I was in graduate school at SMU in Dallas, TX I worked a short stint as a shopper for the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. That was a really fun job. I never shopped for Chuck Norris -- just the extras, but it was still great. I wish it paid better because I probably still would be working as a shopper.

3. Before going to someone else's house for dinner I will often eat at home first. I am a pathetically, child-like picky eater and I hate feeling like I am being held hostage and forced to eat something I don't like. If I am not hungry it is much easier to deal with. Sometimes this has really saved my night.

4. I have to have the bed made. I cannot leave the house with the bed left unmade. I cannot get into an unmade bed. I can barely stand to be in a room with an unmade bed. Interestingly, I don't feel that way in hotel rooms at all.

5. When I shower I always wash in the same order. I never realized it until a few years ago, but I know that if I do something out of order, I get all messed up and end up getting out of the shower with conditioner in my hair or soap still on me. I think it was born out of necessity because I am often only half-awake in the shower so the routine helps me get through it efficiently.

6. I talk to myself in this weird whispering under my breath way when I am alone. I drive myself crazy when I do it, but I can't help it. It especially happens when I am working at home and I haven't really spoken to anyone all day or in hotel rooms when traveling on business.

7. I hate Bruce Springsteen. I know it is like I am missing some kind of gene or something, but I have never, ever liked his music and I don't think I ever will. There are a couple of songs I can tolerate, but overall I just cannot understand the phenomenon that is Bruce Springsteen. And please don't try to explain -- I still won't get it. Really.

13 April 2008

Mom, you need [insert product name]!

The other day I was fishing around in my bag for something. I can't remember what it was, but I do know that it was my swell new Coach bag that I was fishing through. It is a bigger bag, but the inside zipper compartment is smaller than I am used to so things fall out of it easily (my one small complaint about this otherwise wonderful bag). As I was looking Zoë turned to me and said, "Mom you need the Buxton Organizer."

"The what?"

"You know, the Buxton Organizer. You'd never lose anything in your bag if you had that. You should order it."

And just then I could hear the commercial in my head. "Order Now!"

"Plus you could get the message reminder and you won't have to write out lists you could just play it back at the supermarket."

The "Digital Message Reminder" is your free gift with purchase of the Buxton Organizer.

No offense to anyone who owns this bag, it may be practical and wonderful at keeping one organized, but it does not meet a major handbag requirement for me. That is I do not like the way it looks AT ALL. Not to mention the fact that the words "As Seen on TV" are an instantaneous turn off.

"I don't think I need the that, honey," I said to Zoë. "I really like this bag."

"But you could be more organized. I really think you should get it," she implored.

"I'll think about it." Which everyone over age 10 knows is parent-speak for "that's never going to happen."

The commercial for the Buxton Organizer shows on the Disney Channel occasionally. It is eerie to hear the words of the commercial coming directly out of Zoë's mouth. Some marketer's dream is coming true as my own daughter tries to sell me on stuff I don't really need by insisting that I do need it. It is such an obnoxious commercial (as you can see if you follow the link above) and yet it sinks right into the brain.

I am already the proud(?) owner of the Betty Crocker Cake Decorating kit which my mother helped Zoë order for me for Christmas and rarely does a week go by when she doesn't find a reason why we also need Mighty Putty.

09 April 2008

Meme time!

I haven't done a meme in awhile and since I really should be working this seems like a perfect time to get started on one. Got this from Emily & Becky -- thanks to you both!

The Extremely Random Meme

What is your occupation?
I am Associate Project Director for the electronic media department of a small publishing company.

What color are your socks right now?
I am without socks. I hate socks and only wear them when absolutely necessary. I would rather have cold feet than wear socks.

What are you listening to right now?
R.E.M. All last week Sirius satellite radio channel 18 was playing all R.E.M. all the time to promote the release of their new album (are they still called albums?). It was great and I have been continuing the binge via my iPod.

What is the last thing you ate?
A slice of pizza from Planet Pizza. It was just Zoë and I for dinner tonight so I let her pick.

Can you drive stick shift?
Nope. I believe I've blogged about that fact that before.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Red Violet. Not quite one thing or the other.

Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My husband who called from his latest job to say he would be (surprise, surprise) working even later than expected. However, my Mom is out tonight as well and Zoe is already in bed so it is nice to have some quiet, alone time at home.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?
The only one I know -- the plank.

How old are you today?
37 years, 2 months, 24 days

Favorite drinks?
Diet Coke, wine in it's many available forms including red, white and sparkling, vodka.

What is your favorite sport to watch?
Tennis. I have been watching it since I was little. Live or on TV, but preferably as part of a major tournament.

Have you ever dyed your hair?
Yes. Pink, black and blue as a teenager. Light brown highlights a few years ago. I am too lazy/busy about going back to the hair salon to maintain any kind of hair color.

Yes. I still have a dog named Spanky.

Favorite cake?
Yellow cake with white buttercream frosting from Ambrosia bakery in Stratford. It is sweet enough to make your teeth chatter. Yum!

Last movie you saw?
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with Becky.

Favorite day of the year?
Zoe's birthday. The first one changed me forever. Every one since has been a happy celebration.

How do you vent anger?
It depends on what I am angry about/who I am angry at. I guess I either shout or grumble.

What was your favorite toy as a child?
My Snoopy. I loved him so much. I bought him clothes and other accessories and I brought him everywhere until the incredibly sad day when his head fell off.

Autumn or spring?
Autumn. Spring around these parts is just cruel.

Hugs or kisses?

Cherry or blueberry?
Neither -- unless you mean as candy flavors and then I would choose cherry.

Do you want your friends to respond?

Who is most likely to respond?
I got this from the two most likely to respond. So, maybe Tracie?

Living arrangements?
House in Fairfield with one husband, one daughter, one mother and one dog.

Last time you cried?
Saturday night, but in general I am not a big crier. I can't remember the time before that.

What is on the floor of your closet?
Hangers, boots, and my black Le Sport Sac overnight bag.

Who is the friend you’ve had the longest?
Heather. We've been friends since Mr. Corica's 6th grade Social Studies class.

Favorite smell?
Citrus or peppermint.

Who or what inspires you?

What are you afraid of?

Yes. Yum!

Favorite car?
VW Carmengia in red, please.

Number of keys on your key ring?
2. One for the car, one for the house.

How many years at your current job?
2 years, 363 days.

Favorite day of the week?
Thursday. The week is just about over, the weekend is near, but still being anticipated.

How many countries have you lived in?
Just 1 unless you count Texas as a country which many people do.

Dream job
I can't decide between running a film festival or creating photo/story books. Both would be good.

08 April 2008

Wild Man Blues

I didn't get to bed until after 1AM, but it was worth every moment of missed sleep.

Last night, thanks to my generous mother, I had the good fortune to go to the Cafe Carlyle for an evening of dinner and live music. The Cafe Carlyle is a New York landmark. It might not be as widely known as the Village Vanguard or the Rainbow Room, but it is a wonderfully unique and very New York kind of spot. Monday nights are especially famous at the Carlyle because the usual act is Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band.

I was excited to go just because I had never been and it is such a famous place. I thought it would be entertaining to see Woody Allen perform live and had no doubt it would be a singular experience. We were there as guests of the maitre d' because my Mom is giving herself a 65th birthday party there later this month and he was good enough to offer her this opportunity to taste the food and experience the Carlyle. My mother was good enough to invite me to join her.

We arrived right on time for our 7PM reservations and Tony, the maitre d', showed us to our table right in front of the stage. We were immediately offered cocktails by the wait captain. "Champagne, Cosmopolitan, Kir Royale?" he suggested. Kir Royale was my choice and my mother opted for straight champagne. The drinks definitely fit the setting and got us in the right mood. Champagne has a way of doing that. We ordered dinner and started to relax into the night.

Woody Allen and band were slated to start at 8:45PM. "What do you think Woody Allen's version of 8:45 is?" my Mom asked.

"Probably 8:40," I joked. Woody Allen strikes me as someone who is compulsively punctual. I can imagine him standing outside a door waiting for the clock to strike precisely the invited hour before he knocks.

I was not disappointed. At 8:40, after polishing off our excellent dinners and just as we were being served dessert by the incredible wait staff, members of the band who had been readying their instruments on stage began to play and Woody Allen entered. He unceremoniously took his place, removed his clarinet from its case and settled down. He was dressed in tan corduroy pants, a yellow oxford shirt, a brown sweater . I got the feeling he wears the same outfit every time he performs. (A quick Google of the band this morning proved me right, too.) After assembling his clarinet, or licorice stick to use the New Orleans lingo, he removed his sweater, took the briefest look around and then cast his eyes down and began to play. He barely looked anywhere but down the entire time and that was probably the strangest part of the performance. Strange, but about what I expected.

Once I got over the fact that I was seeing the Woody Allen on stage just an arm's length from me, I started to really get into the music. The music took me by surprise actually. I am not the biggest music aficionado and I know next to nothing about New Orleans style Jazz, but I completely loved it. The musicians performing with Woody Allen were incredibly talented and the music was transporting.

Given that Woody Allen is so private I assumed that photos wouldn't be allowed. I was wrong. Even so, I wasn't going to do it, but ultimately I couldn't resist snapping a few photos with my phone.

The hour and a half performance flew by. The final number had Woody Allen singing as he cleaned and put away his clarinet. Still barely looking up and not ever looking directly out into the audience. It was a great conclusion to the performance. In the taxi to Grand Central both my mother and I were rubbing our faces which were sore from smiling for 90 minutes straight.

04 April 2008

Can God forget stuff?

The following conversation occurred this morning in the bathroom:

Me: Brush your teeth.

Zoë: (leaning over sink with face close to the mirror and fingers on teeth) I think this tooth is getting loose.

Me: Let me see!

Zoë: Here. (Presenting open mouth with finger on one of her bottom front teeth.)

Me: (Feeling tooth) I don't feel it moving, honey.

Zoë: You have to do it hard.

Me: Oh, OK. Brush your teeth now.

Zoë: Mom? Can God forget stuff?

Me: I don't think so.

Zoë: I think God forgot to give me big girl teeth.

Me: I think they're just not ready yet. They will come and you will get a loose tooth. I promise you. You just have to wait for your body to be ready.

Zoë: I think God forgot. Katie lost a tooth. Kyra has a loose tooth. Everyone but me.

Me: I promise your teeth will get loose just as soon as the big girl teeth are ready now please brush your teeth or we are going to be late.

Zoë: (Big sigh) OK.

01 April 2008

April Fool's Day

I am not much for April Fool's Day gags -- although I did once pulled a very successful one on Rob for which I don't think he has forgiven me for to this day.

However, this morning I did find my self wondering what gags would be going around today -- especially on Google. They always come up with something clever and this year is no exception. I admit, I fell right into it. I was looking at my work Google calendar and there was a new link at the top for the Google Wake up kit! I especially like the results of the "Learn more" link. Nice touch.

It is nice to know that even though Google is getting scary, conglomeration big, they still have a sense of humor.