Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Blaze

Last Thursday I went with friend and some of her co-workers up to Tarrytown (home to Sleepy Hollow) to see a Pumpkin Blaze, which is 4,000 hand carved pumpkins all lit up on display. I had originally wanted to go to a Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire with Maria and Marky Mark; it had pumpkins, face-painting, cider and fireworks. I'd pretty much do anything to see fireworks in October, including driving four hours to New Hampshire. Unfortunately this plan fell thru, but thankfully my friend Brook mentioned this to me and I jumped at the chance to tag along.

First of all, we rode up there in car. For those of you who ride in a car everyday, this may not seem exciting, but for someone who has to ride around in the subway all day to get places it is very exciting. There were four of us scrunched in the back seat (I would post the pictures, but they're on someone else's camera and she hasn't sent them to me yet; so check back later for picture posts). This is part of the pumpkin archway we drove under to enter the Manor.

Two, it was crazy to see real the country. It's never really dark in the city, there's always lights on. And we could see stars. All of us must've been in the city for too long because we were all amazed by the star, something you can't see in the city with all the lights on.

But it was the most cool for the pumpkins!! They're set up all around Van Cortlandt Manor, which is one of those old, colonial houses you'd see in the movies with wraparound porches, land all around and trees and stone fences. There were pumpkins everywhere! The pictures don't really do it justice, as I had to do it without the flash, which makes the picture sort of fuzzy because my hand isn't exactly steady. But I'll post them anyhow to give you an idea.

This is the manor with pumpkins in every place possible. The color of the manor would change from red to green to blue to orange. Each color change made the pumpkins look so different.

Next was the Dinosaurs. Yes, the Pumpkin Blaze has themes. You might wonder how you can make dinosaurs out of pumpkins. The answer is with lots of them. Again, the pictures don't really convey how totally cool it was. Brook and I spent a lot of time in this area and took a lot of pictures. It was just so cool!

Then there were spiders and a totally cool spider web made out of pumpkins. I don't have a picture of this because my batteries had died, but when I get them from Brook I'll post them. And then there were the snakes.

The next big display was Stonehenge. Again, you think how they can do that with pumpkins. I'm not even sure how they did it (or any of it, really, it was just all so amazing). At the end of the line was an underwater theme followed by a pirate theme with pirates just coming off their ship from the lake.

And then it was time for some hot cider, because it was cold that night. So cold that I couldn't feel my toes for pretty much most of the night. I could see my breath. I had to wear gloves. But man was that cider, and pumpkin spicey thing we ate, so good.

There were no fireworks, but there were pumpkins hanging from the trees, carved as fish, hands, bats, butterflies, skeletons, and even Jack from Nightmare before Christmas. And on the way home we drove through Tarrytown and past the Sleepy Hollow church. No sign of the Headless Horseman, but you could definitely picture him riding through the streets.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Shout-out to the Crew

Yep, a shout-out from fashion forward Michelle Obama herself. The person who could be our next First Lady shops at J Crew. Seeing as how I work at the Crew I found this to be kinda cool. And so did a lot of other people. We were inundated with tons of calls the day after her interview for people looking for the outfit (it helped that her plug came so effortlessly). I can look at her outfit and know exactly where to find every piece she's wearing in our store, except her shirt underneath the cardigan because we sold out of it last month, and the broach because that's not ours. It was an outfit that none of our personal shoppers said they would've put together themselves but they thought it looked great. And I must admit that although I think a lot of our clothes are not exactly ugly but also not exactly my style, they always look a lot better when I actually see them on people. And Michelle Obama looked pretty good.

By the end of the day all of us had just resorted to calling it the Michelle cardigan.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Day Ruled by Murphy

You know what Murphy I'm talking about; the one who Murphy's Law was named after, the law that say "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." That pretty much sums up the first part of my day.

I didn't have to work til 12:30 so I thought I'd run a few errands before going to the Crew--post office and the library. But when I got to the Subway entrance at 137th it was blocked off, apparently closed. This was not upsetting; it was a nice day so I'd just walk to the next station. I could go to either 145th or 125th, but since I needed to go downtown thought I would walk to 125th even though it was farther. I get down there and see a sign that says downtown 1 trains are running express from 145th to 96th. So now I have to ride the train uptown to 145th where I can get out and transfer to the other side for a downtown 1. A little frustrating, but I could handle it.

I make it to 66th street and decide that even though I'm a little strapped for time I'll still try to get the post office and library done. I walk to the post office first. All I need to buy is two stamps. I have exactly 84 cents in my pocket ready for the stamp vending machine. There's a long line and I think Suckers! as I make my way to the vending machines. They're closed behind those accordion-like doors they have for overflow in the chapel. I definitely don't have the time to stand in line, and the people at the Automated Postal Centers all seem to be not in a hurry.

I leave, thinking I'll just go the Post Office close to work on my lunch break. I can still at least make it to the library a few blocks away and pick up True Romance (not a love story, but a Tarantino-esque film that a friend has been after me to see for like two years now). After accidentally turning down the wrong street and getting caught in some construction detours, I make it to the library...and realize that it doesn't open til 12:00. It is 11:50. I don't have time to wait as I'll be late for work. Now I'm carrying around the books I had meant to return in my purse all day...and it's heavy.

Lunch finally came and I was excited to get some fruit from the deli down the street. I go up to pay and realize that I don't have my wallet. I part of me was secretly hoping that the guy would tell me I could still have it, that I looked nice enough and hungry enough that this one would be on the house. He didn't say that. I left with nothing.

At least my time at work wasn't awful, too, or that would've been unbearable. It was boring and slow, but that's better than having rude customers or mean bosses. And the day was saved by a celebrity sighting. Felicity herself, Keri Russell, was in the Crew today. I'm a big Felicity fan so I was pretty excited when I was told she was there. I tried to play it cool, purposely putting myself in the area she was browsing in. I stood behind her for a second as she was looking at some socks. I wanted so badly to say something to her, even just ask if I could help her with a size, something I'd do for any customer, but was pretty sure I'd turn into a giddy school girl. So I just watched her from the register, hoping I'd be there when she was ready to check out. She ended up going upstairs and paying for her things there, but it was still a very cool day. Imagine what I'd do if Buffy ever came into the Crew?!

Birthday Wishes times 2!

My two favorite people in the world--my sister Emily and my best friend Lindsay--just happen to share the same birthday. And that day is today. So Happy Birthday to both of them!

Lindsay is my movie buddy, Oscar-watching' buddy (someday we'll be in the same city again for it!), the one who listens to what I yap on about and gives great advice, she always believes in me and is a great motivator. We totally understand each other, I know what her "popcorn purse" is, know every boy she's had a crush on (and she knows all mine, too), we could quote "Friends" all night long, we stood in line together for all three Star Wars prequels. I know that I could live with her and never get sick of her. I was Maid of Honor at her wedding and would give her a kidney (or a womb). She's my best friend, and even though we seem to always be far apart from each other for the past few years now, I know there'll be a time when we're close geographically again.

Having a good time at my Going Away Party and us looking totally hot as Maid of Honor and Bride.

And Emily, well, I've already told you how awesome I think she is. Last year for her Birthday I secretly purchased a plane ticket home, only telling our friend Paula about it so she could make a cake to take to work. I'll never forget the look on Em's face when I walked through the break room door at Wal-mart and surprised her and everyone else (I love surprises!). This year wasn't nearly as cool, as all she got was a phone call, a sweater from the Crew and two sugar cookies I made and decorated just for her.

This is Em in New York and in the Penske truck we drove cross-country to New York.

It really is true that absence makes the heart grow stronger. I miss you two and love ya lots!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bilingual Singin'

Today my church building had two baptisms. One was a young boy, Shamir, that I assume was eight, and the other, Jesus, was a young man probably around my age. We had the program right after church in the chapel, as it needed to be big enough to accommodate the Inwood Third ward (mine) and the Inwood First ward (the family ward). Now, for those of you who haven't been to New York, and all you're familiar with is what you see on tv and movies, it doesn't really look like that. For one, it's dirty and smelly and busy and crazy, and for two, there are more than just white people that live here.

My church building (and where I live!) is in a large Hispanic neighborhood, and the First ward is a spanish-speaking ward. Our singles ward is fairly homogeneous, with lots of Utah implants and BYU interns/graduates. So it was great to look around during the meeting and see our two wards combined for these two great events. It was so cool to be part of something as life-changing as baptism in another language, where the talk was given in Spanish then English, the musical number was sung in Spanish by the missionaries, the closing prayer was in Spanish, and one of the baptisms was said in Spanish. The opening song was sung in English and Spanish and it was so amazing! We were singing the same song but in different languages and we were in sync with one another. I don't mean it as in "Wow, our songs are the same, just the words are different" but that no matter what language the message is the same, and the feeling and meaning behind it. I had never experienced that before, but there we all were, people who speak English and Spanish, some who are white and some who are Hispanic, and we were all combined in our worship and praise. It was such a powerful moment. And it was only topped by the baptisms themselves, two moments that were so amazing that it's hard to describe it.

I'm just glad that I get the chance to experience so much diversity and differences, and yet still feel so connected.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mmmm, that bagel's good

I'm sitting here eating a bagel slathered with cream cheese (and some fruit on the side for good measure) and loving it.  And that reminded me of when I first fell in love with cream cheese and bagels.  It was during my ninth grade American History tour.  One of my friends offered me hers from the hotel's buffet breakfast.  She had loaded it with cream cheese and for some reason didn't want it anymore. I suspect it was probably because we had piled up our plates with tons of stuff from the buffet and there was a point when you had to stop eating. I gladly accepted, and it was the beginning a beautiful friendship.  Not just with my friend Kelli, but with that bagel and cream cheese.

So as I eat this onion bagel with cream cheese that I got from Tribeca Bagel down the street from the Tribeca Film Institute, I say thank you to my friend who introduced us ten years ago!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All Lit Up

One of the great things about working where I do--right on Fifth Avenue--is that every night when I leave the Crew I get to see the Empire State Building lit up in all its glory. There was a time, not long ago, when I had actually gotten over the thrill of seeing the Empire State Building; I guess I had become a hardened Noo Yawker. But recently, with it getting darker earlier, I've once again become enamored with the World's Once Tallest Building.

The Building has been lit up a different color every night this week. Last night it was orange, the night before it was purple, before that it was white. When it was election day in February it was lit up red and blue. It was lit up in yellow when The Simpson's DVD was released. And of course for Christmas it's lit up in green and red. But with further investigation, I learned that the colors actually stand for something and usually coincide with some sort of cause or event. You can read about the lighting schedule here. It really is quite amazing.

This is what it looked like last night when it was lit up in orange (not for Halloween, but for the NYC Food Bank). I know it doesn't quite look like it's orange, but the photo doesn't do it justice--it always looks amazing.

I stood in the middle of the street to take this picture.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Heart NYPL

That would be the New York Public Library. I've come to realize it's one of the greatest things for a poor New Yorker who likes to read. My bookshelf is full, and I can't really afford to buy every book I want to read anyway. So discovering this has been quite beneficial to the wallet.

I first discovered the library, or, I should say, one of the libraries, as New York City has many libraries not just in Manhattan but in all five boroughs, when I first moved here and needed a place to get internet access on my laptop. It was at the branch at Lincoln Center that I sent many a resume, e-mail and bill. Now, this library sits conveniently across the street from my favorite Barnes and Noble in the city (and the temple). I often go to that Barnes and Noble if I'm looking to waste time, just want to look around, and one time I even read an entire book (in a couple of visits).

But the library lets me get all the books--and movies--that I want for free! It really is quite fantastic. And there's a branch pretty much in any neighborhood. I can browse for books and movies on line, put them on hold, and then when they become available I go pick them up at the branch of my choosing. Wow, convenient. Let me remind you, though, that there are two million people in Manhattan alone, so sometimes the wait can be kind of long, especially for the most popular books. One movie that I have on hold I'm number 516 out of 600. But I also just picked up two on Thursday that I only had to wait a week for.

I've chosen to really embrace this library discovery of mine because the headphones for my i-pod broke, and instead of buying new ones I've decided to use my time on the subway to do something useful. I don't read when I'm home, usually, and what better time to do it than when I have nothing else really to do. It's amazing how much faster the subway ride seems when I'm reading as opposed to just listening to music; it seems that in no time I've reached my destination and am bummed because not only do I have to go work now but I also have to stop reading! I read To Kill a Mockingbird in just five days of subway riding, and was time well spent. Now I just need to get a bigger bag to hold my lunch, change of shoes, lip gloss, camera, and BOOKS!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A real New Yorker

While I was walking to work this morning I was stopped not once but twice by people asking me directions. The first girl had a map in her hand, and thought that since she was on 16th street she was in the right direction. She was actually heading west when she needed to go east, so I kindly pointed her in the other direction. Then, not ten steps later, another lady turned around and asked me how to get to 16 E. 12th street. I told her she just needed to walk down four blocks on Fifth Avenue and turn left on 12th as Fifth is the east/west demarcation street.

I must say that I felt pretty cool being able to tell them the correct way to go. I have very clear memories of having job interviews in places that I was not yet familiar with and getting out of the subway and not knowing which way was which. Everything looked the same and I had no idea how to tell which way was uptown and what was east. One time I was at Grand Central station and decided to walk to Times Square instead of taking the shuttle. This seemed pretty simple to me; both were on 42nd street so all I had to do was keep walking and I'd get there. It was a nice night and this seemed preferable to riding the dirty subway. You think I would've noticed that I was walking to a less congested area instead of more that I was walking the wrong way, but I didn't actually notice til I saw the water of the East River.

Even though it was not cool and oh so touristy to walk around with a map, there were times in the beginning when I would walk around with my subway map or google directions, trying to find something. It all seems so funny now when I look back on it. So thanks to those two people who made me feel l like a New Yorker.

Also, today in Union Square I saw them taping an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay". I don't really know much about Bobby Flay, except that he's married to that blond chick who used to be on Law and Order: SVU, and I don't watch his show, but some people were really excited about seeing him and getting their picture taken with him. I was pretty much indifferent. Now that made me feel like a New Yorker.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Love my sister

As I trudge away here in the Big Apple, my sister is in Salt Lake workin' hard. She recently got promoted and is learning more and getting lots more responsibility. I think she's amazing, her bosses think she's amazing, and so does everyone else. She rocks and works harder than anyone I know. I just want her to know that I'm proud of her and, for how much she hates things changing, she's doing really great so far. And that I miss living with her.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October Weather Perfection..for now

With it snowing in Utah, I thought I would tell everyone how beautiful it's been here in the Big Apple the past couple of days. I would dare say it's even been perfect. I mean, it's the beginning of October and it's so nice outside that I don't even need a jacket or a light sweater. It's just so nice to walk around in the city when the weather is perfect like this. It almost makes me forget how miserable the summer was with the heat and humidity and constant moistness and wetness of my clothes. I want it to be this way forever. But before long it will be cold and miserable. And I'll be longing for summer again. How is it that my memory can be so forgetful and selective? I've probably just jinxed it now by talking about it, so if you all could knock on some wood after reading this, that would be great.

Take the Cannoli: Part II

I'm just gonna put it out there: I didn't like Part II, and it was not better than the first. Maybe the expectations were too high, but when everyone from critics to regular ol' movie lovers say it's better than the first one, I had reason to have high expectations. And yes, I've suffered from the too-much-expectation-that-can-never-be-lived-up-to before, but let's not forget that I went into The Godfather with those sames expectations and came out of it being amazed and wowed beyond what I even thought possible. How could this one have fared so miserably beside its counterpart? How could I have been waiting for it to end, shuffled in my seat numerous times, almost fell asleep, let my mind drift to thoughts of my lost barrette?

First off, it was excruciatingly long. It started at 8:40, had a fifteen minute intermission (at which point I was told the first half was just set up for the amazing second half and I said, "Two and a half hours of set-up?! It better be a darn good pay off!" It wasn't.), and ended at 12:20. I can handle long movies, as long as I'm not feeling every minute of it. I felt every second of Part II.

I kept waiting for something to happen. Something as amazing as Don Corleone being gunned down in the street, Michael going to the hospital, Sonny and his curly hair, Michael coming out of the bathroom, Connie and Carlo fighting, Sonny getting gunned down on the road. But nothing but a lot of talking, and more talking, and positioning, and an occasional scene of excitement, followed by more talking. I waited four hours for something to make me as excited, scared, on-edge, nervous, awed as I was by The Godfather. It never happened.

I get what the story's doing in Part II--the whole paralleling of Vito and Michael and how the power corrupts Michael into destroying both his families while Vito kept the family intact--but it just wasn't compelling enough for me. Plus confusing editing and a score that was loud and in-your-face and a distraction. And no emotional core, no great arc. Maybe I just want something more than the subtleties of power corrupting one man. Like some shoot-outs, some blood, some excitement, moments that make me gasp out loud.

But Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone was a revelation. His flashback scenes were beautifully photographed and had depth. Man, was he young!
My, "Eh, Part II, I could take it or leave it," look after the movie.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Take the Cannoli

On Friday night I did the coolest thing I've ever done in the city. I talked Marky Mark and Maria into going to Film Forum with me to see The Godfather. I was a film major, so you can see why this would be such a momentous occasion for me. I've heard the talk about it being a classic, a masterpiece, a must see, and I was a little bit afraid it wouldn't live up to my expectations (as is the case with most every thing that I get super-excited for).

It was amazing! I don't know how I made it thru school as a film major having never seen it! It truly is a classic. The cinematography! The editing! The direction! The acting (Al Pacino, James Caan--I didn't realize it was them til halfway thru the picture, and didn't realize it was Diane Keaton til the credits rolled!)! The music! Everything was perfect.

And to get to experience it for the first time not on a tv by myself sitting on my couch but in a picture-house with a full audience! One of my dreams is to build a time machine (or use someone else's) and get to travel back to experience Star Wars and other great classics for the first time on the big screen. I can't believe that I got to experience that with The Godfather!

Do you know how many classic quotes have come from this picture? "Leave the gun, take the cannolis", "Take it to the mattresses", "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse", "Sleep with the fishes". Plus classic scenes and sequences--the opening wedding sequence, Don Corleone with the cat, Michael coming out of the restaurant bathroom, the horses head in the bed, the christening scene. It's just an amazing picture (back in the day they used to call movies pictures; I think it's kinda cool).

I had a film teacher once who said that a good film is marked by at least three great scenes and no bad ones; this film has not one bad scene. This film was made in 1972 and it's ten times better than a lot of stuff that comes out now with supposedly better technology. I love that it was shot on film, that the scenes don't look perfectly lighted and slick, and that the blood and gore looks tame (and that's a good thing) when compared with The Departed and other recent gangster films. I could go on an on about this film and how amazing it is, but will stop film-nerding out and say that it has changed my entire outlook on movies, and will direct you to Roger Ebert's review, because he has a way of explaining things better than me, especially about the cinematography and actors and is a film critic I truly respect.

I clapped at the end of the movie. It was such an amazing experience that I can't wait to get to see Part II later this week. I hear it's better than the first one...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day Four

And the elevator is fixed!! I got home tonight after seeing The Godfather (which I will write about extensively later when it's not time for me to go to bed) at Film Forum and was pleasantly surprised to not have to walk up the stairs.

Later that day that I took this picture the 2 had been written over with a 3 with a black marker.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day Three

Bad news on Day Three: the elevator's gonna be out of commission for another day. I guess there were more repairs needed than they originally thought. What's that saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day Two

So Day Two really wasn't that bad. In fact, it was a lot like Day One--just one trek up the six flights of stairs. Wednesday's are really busy days for me. I leave the house at 9:30 (or so, it usually ends up being around 9:45) headed downtown to work for the Tribeca Film Institute. From there I leave straight for the Crew around 5:30, where I work until 10:30/11:00, followed by a train ride home. Sometimes that takes an hour and sometimes it takes thirty-five minutes, you just never know. And yeah, it's nice to be able to ride the elevator up, but I guess the stairs aren't that bad. It's not like exercise or using your heart is a bad thing.

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