January 11, 2013 § 2 Comments
I moved to New York in part for this view on 5th at dusk last night. The sky was an insanely pretty shade of blue and the city seemed ready to light up and do something very, very “smart”.* My choice to move here — at 18, when you know pretty much nothing, which aids the decision-making process — was based a little bit on an impulse and a lot on a vague idea I had of what it would be like: One part Woody Allen, one part Nick and Nora, one part “Who Knows?”. And I knew I wanted to be in that glow. It can be a very hard place to live, but in the end, I don’t know that I would have it any other way. Which brings me to Oprah…
OK, I am not really going to write about Oprah**, but I know that she is all about “lightbulbs going off in one’s head” and I was just reminded one of my biggest moments of that variety today. I was flipping though some photos online (trouble focusing at the office today), and saw one of the designer Cynthia Rowley. No offense to Ms. Rowley, but I pretty much never think about her. Until I saw her photo. Then I remembered that a decade ago, I was on the subway heading to my job at one of the world’s largest media companies where I was completely and utterly miserable. I was deep in thought, contemplating leaving my job to work with Mr. H.
No offense to Mr. H, but this was a tough decision. I had no idea how it would all work out if I left, but was awfully certain that if I played the game right (and learned German…for another post), there was a clear path and it wasn’t shabby.*** The train stopped at West 4th and Cynthia Rowley got on and stood pretty much in front of me. My head still full of “what ifs”, I looked up and realized that someone who took a risk to do her own thing — that worked out! — was literally standing right in front of me. Yes, she looked tired. (If only I knew how tired she probably was!) But she also looked settled in that way that people do when they have accomplished something they weren’t certain they could pull off.
I am not a big risk taker, but I am a big believer in Signs that are Convenient for Me and this one was too good to ignore. Standing right in front of me was the reason to do it. So I resigned, was terrified for a bit and then became quite calm about the whole affair.
Ten years later, Mr. H and I are both still alive, still married to each other and have had some amazing experiences that would have never been possible if I had remained on my previous path. (There were also many more stupid, agonizing and annoying experiences, but I think O would want me to stay positive here.) Which I guess brings me to a point that may seem trite and obvious, but is worth repeating anyway: Life never goes quite how you think it will, so you may as well just try to steer it in the direction of happiness, even if you aren’t sure that you can pull it off. The odds are more in your favor than you think.
xx & one major “O”
* Sadly, I was headed back to the office after a doctor’s appointment, but still, just catching a little of that buzz was enough for the moment.
** Love her in the Liz Lemon way.
*** Unless you think Well-Paid Total Misery is a bad thing.
(Grainy photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
Do you like Mr. H’s Christmas Stockings? I certainly did. And the toasty fire made our Christmas morning quite cozy, which was a great start to a lovely holiday. I hope you had a good one, too.
And now that it is all over, we are in the midst of winding down for the year. Mostly I hope to sleep, read, sleep, go to the gym without “squeezing it in”, eat and did I mention sleeping? Well, that is the plan.
I also plan to continue enjoying one of my favorite holiday treats: Panettone
How did I ever find this unappealing as a child? Maybe because it had “fruit cake” connotations? Or perhaps I was just stubborn. Whatever. A friend brought one to our place a few years ago and I am completely addicted to them now. Lovely with a cup of tea or as an indulgent breakfast. And you can get them this time of year in many places. My go-tos are BKLYN Larder (http://bklynlarder.com) and Zingerman’s (https://www.zingermans.com…and no, I do not work for them). Yum.
I see that I have gotten off the topic, which is Winding Down…whoops!
Part of Winding Down for me is actually getting rested and relaxed enough to wind back up again. Another part always involves some thinking about a goal or two for a coming year. You know I dislike “resolutions”, but having a sense of what you would like to incorporate into — or eliminate from — your life isn’t such a bad thing. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. (A Development Area for me, sadly.)
So, goals for the coming year…
My first it to meditate more seriously. I have everything I need to meditate: the floor and myself. And you don’t even need a ton of time to meditate, but I can fill up a day so quickly that it is super easy to skip it. And, like moisturizing at night, I really should not skip it. When I meditate regularly, I find my overall reactions to things are much more measured and I am less easily flustered and overwhelmed, putting this in the Very Worthwhile file. So, I am going to try to spend less time reading mindless headlines on the internet and such, and reallocate it to a decent practice. Fingers crossed.
The second goal is a really tough one for me: Ask for help more often. I am a terribly independent person so I find it very hard to ask for help — or even accept it when offered. Since this is so not in my nature, I am going slow. But today, when Mr. H said that he would sweep up some dirt I had tracked inside, it took a moment, but I put down the dustpan and said “sure…thank you”. And to my knowledge, the said dirt has been swept up. Baby Steps, my friends…
But Baby Steps are sometimes all it takes to make big changes in life. So, I am stepping and shall see where I wind up.
(Photos: Mr. H and Some Cozy Night)
December 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
We finally made it! And I am so happy to be out of the city for a spell and to have nothing to do but cook Christmas dinner and open presents.* On the way out to the beach, Mr. H had the radio tuned into a station that was playing nothing but Christmas Carols.**I have a number of favorite ones — “Away in a Manger” and “What Child is This” are two — but had completely forgotten that one of my all-time favorites is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. (No, I do not know how I could have forgotten this carol. I really don’t.) Naturally it was in the rotation and the phrase “Comfort and Joy” has been swirling around my head ever since.
What lovely things to wish for someone and to have for yourself. So, I am wishing that for you, in whatever form it may take.
*Less happy that our neighbors by the beach seem to have the only construction crew willing to work on Saturdays and in the rain and cold, but whatever. I think I am earning some good Remodeling Karma on that one. We shall see.
** Not to be confused with Christmas Songs, which tend to drive me nuts.
(Photo of the 2012 mantle at the beach: Some Cozy Night)
December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Hopefully you are nearing the end of all the prep work and almost ready to settle in for a little Holiday R&R. And if you aren’t, you probably need a break. So here are some movies that I can’t help but watch this time of year, often by myself, as they range from weird to sappy…
Desk Set, 1957
I love this movie. LOVE IT! Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and The Electronic Brain (also known as EMERAC). It isn’t about the holidays, but enough of it takes place during that time of year so that it feels right. My favorite scene is the dinner at Hepburn’s apartment, which is completely cozy and strangely chic. And without this film, I would never be able to ask Mr. H “How do you like your chicken fried?” when we obviously can’t understand a word either of us are saying. (Just watch it and that will all make sense.) Adorable and fun. And you can refer to your computer as “The Electronic Brain” for at least 24 hours after viewing before people get annoyed with you.
Little Women, 1994 (A.K.A. “The One with Winona Ryder”)
What can I say? This one reeks of Christmas and Simpler Times and The Goodness of People — an explosion of horse-drawn coaches, kittens, quilts, snow and flowers. And Marmee is played by Susan Sarandon, who was pretty much The Best Marmee Ever. Have I mentioned that Christian Bale is in it? Yes, he is, which provides a decent enough distraction from Winona Ryder, who, let’s face it, tends to be flat. Then there is the Beth Death Scene, which is wonderfully sappy and leads perfectly into the happy ending. For the ladies, only, I think. And make sure you have a nice, soft hankie.
White Christmas, 1954
True, it makes no sense but it is cheery and has “Christmas” in the title. And I really love singing along when the girls do their “Sisters” number. I really do.
Rosemary’s Baby, 1968
I know what you are thinking: What?? Well, all I can say is that I love this movie and will take any excuse to watch it. Aside from the insanity of it all, I love the amazing apartment, every single Rosemary Woodhouse outfit and the fact that this appears to have been made in a serious manner without anyone thinking that the plot is completely nuts. Campy good fun.
When Harry Met Sally, 1989
You know why. And I believe it to be an American Classic.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Well, we are nearing the Finish Line for The Holidays. And while I wish I would have actually made some latkes and jelly donuts this week, I think that I may just buy some and enjoy them before the week is out.* That was a little bit of Holiday Wisdom that has served me well these last few weeks: Do it up, but be reasonable and don’t cut out the fun.
As such, even though it has been super busy, I have managed to go ice skating in Central Park with Mr. H and two good friends, have seen or plan to see other friends for a number of pre-holiday dinners and will be decorating a (pre-assembled) gingerbread house with my God Daughter this weekend. Even our company Holiday Party is something I am looking forward to this year. (Many thanks to my So On It, It Hurts colleague who has arranged a fabulous one.)
More Holiday Wisdom: Planning is next to Godliness. My gift spreadsheet worked like a charm and now all but one gift is ready for giving or have already been shipped out. I must say, this year’s Paper Mojo crop was my favorite to date:
For the record, I am now dying to do a powder room in prints like these…we’ll save that for 2013, I suppose.
And planning isn’t just for Gift Management. Getting the Christmas Day Menu in place and ordering as much of the food that is required for said meal ahead of time is extremely important. For the menu, I turn to new and old faithfuls:
I know people have funny feelings about Joy, but I find it to be very handy, especially for Straight Up things. And as I have said before, there is nothing in an Ina Garten cookbook that doesn’t turn out perfectly, and Alice Waters is Alice Waters. So, with the help of these three books, I have planned a festive meal that has tons to make ahead and very little that you can mess up. Festive but Foolproof: another key to Happier Holidays.
And to make sure things stay festive throughout our week off, I’ve also ordered all the goodies needed for New Year’s Eve and the days in between. Reservations at our favorite places by the beach have been secured and I have a rather massive reading and watching list to get through. I am also hoping to get to the new and undisputed massive new Parrish Museum. (http://www.parrishart.org) The building alone is should make it intriguing enough, but the exhibitions could be promising as well…we shall see.
And that is probably the final bit of Holiday Wisdom I have for this evening: Plans should go with the flow. This isn’t a military operation, it is meant to be fun, so if things get a little off course, no biggie. You’ve done the work, now is the time to just enjoy.
* In fact, I just ordered the latkes with the fixings from Russ & Daughters…now we just need the donuts. And yes, I am not actually Jewish, but I still like Chanukah and any reason to celebrate.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Mr. H and I got to the beach early this morning and were able to get ourselves in decent shape for cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. As I write this, I’ve got some squash roasting and we should have the stuffing and cranberry relish complete before our bedtime tonight. So I seem to have a little extra time tonight to reflect on the year so far and the notion of being “thankful”.
It isn’t hard to get down these days, which is why I like Thanksgiving. If you give it a moment, you can fill up on memories of happy times and the people — and dogs — that you love, and the world doesn’t seem so bad after all. Definitely a reason to be thankful. (Plus, you can eat stuffing!)
And then there are the Little Things, which you are probably sick to death of my going on about. But I am doing it anyway: One of my favorites is the view outside my bedroom window…
It is a small view, but I find it extremely comforting on account of it being constant yet always changing. When I remember to pay attention, it is a perfect reminder of what has past, what is here and what is to come. And yes — for this I am thankful.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was recently looking at my customized Seamless* homepage trying to decide which recent order I was going to reorder for lunch. As I scrolled down, I was kind of shocked to see that I use them almost every day. While it is a great service, I couldn’t help but put together that fact that ordering from them that frequently means that I almost never leave my office once I arrive there. I live in one of the greatest cities on earth and I spend most of my days in my (nicely appointed, but still) office. Dislike!
I also noticed that there are many nights when I have plans with girlfriends and find myself a little less than peppy at the set meeting time. While I am not a chronic canceler, I was curious to see if maybe I could make my day more chipper and be better company if I did something that I never thought I’d “do”: Lunch.
I started out with a friend who lives right around the block from my office. In all the years that I have known her, and all the years that she has lived up the block from my office, we have never met for lunch. So a few weeks ago, we went to nearby Lupa and had a lovely, lovely time. While it took more than the fifteen minutes it usually takes me to scarf down some weird vegan thing at my desk, I came back feeling so happy and refreshed that I actually think I may have been more productive overall.
The following week, I randomly called another girlfriend to see if she was free for a quick lunch. The stars aligned and we met at our usual nighttime hangout, Cafe Cluny**. Another fun meeting that didn’t blow my schedule out of the water and left me peppier in the afternoon.
Today, I took this morning’s copy of The Financial Times to lunch with me at Mercer Kitchen. Turns out that lunch with a newspaper leaves a little extra time for a bit of shopping and so I now have a new favorite lipstick to boot! And once again, I found myself able to hammer through some things with my General Counsel that I would never be up for in the latter half of the day.
Are you seeing a trend here? I certainly am.
I think it gets back to that fact that it really does not take a lot of time to have a little fun. And injecting some fun into the workweek is — if you can get past the guilt — a great way to keep yourself from getting The Blahs. So, until further notice, I consider myself not only a Lady Who Works, but also one that Lunches. (Except that I actually eat.) I suggest you try same.
*Seamless (seamless.com) is an online food delivery service that allows you to order from about a zillion places. So, in theory, you never have to leave your desk for lunch. Decide for yourself whether this is a good or bad thing.
**Great for making sure you are inexplicably dining next to a Vogue staffer. This actually keeps you from eating too much of their delicious cavatelli, to which I am thoroughly addicted.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night. And The Crosby is also great for lunch…and drinks…and dinner. So cute!)