Monday, April 26, 2010

Your Point of View

There is a man I see just about every day. He walks along West Broadway between Prince and Spring streets in Soho, but there's no telling how many streets and blocks and miles he walks each day. He walks with an offbeat rhythm: perfectly methodical for him, but markedly out of sync to the other sets of legs clipping briskly on the sidewalk.

The right leg leads, followed by a loping left side, his whole body drooping as the leg slowly drags and then swings forward. His stride is long, direct, but his gait is labored, wobbly. "Has he been like this since birth?" I wonder, "Or did an accident take away his full functioning?"

I watch him continue down the street - step, dip, swing, step, dip, swing, step, dip, swing - and always shake my head with a strange mix of bewilderment and appreciation. The words blazoned across the back of his green uniform, partially covered by the sideways strap of the messenger bag hanging around his shoulder: RDS Delivery Service.


My favorite advertising campaign is for the bank HSBC - its clever and thought-provoking words and images are designed to illustrate the multiple perspectives of any subject - and the ads always make me pause and consider: what is MY point of view? If you aren't familiar with the campaign, one of the easiest ads to describe is the image of a baby laying on its back with arms open, face expectant. The image is repeated side by side three times, with the words "love", "legacy", "expense".

I imagine my RDS deliveryman starring in his own installment of the campaign. A picture of him in uniform, mid-stride, body loping to the side and packages filling his bag, with the words "determined", "inspiring", "futile" describing the scene.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shake it up

I've got to get out of this posting slump - brush off the keyboard, shake it up!

An email last week from my sister got the juices flowing:

She had just seen a drink menu item called "The Razzle Dazzle". A martini of peach schnapps, vodka, orange liquor and fruit juice described as "smooth and spectacular". Well, yes, how very razzle dazzle-ish!

On a never-ending quest to choose a signature drink, this one fits my liking rather nicely. If I can just commit the ingredients to memory, this will cure my stumbling and mumbling response to the "what would you like to drink?" question I never seem able to answer very smoothly or spectacularly.

By adding some razzle dazzle to my drink selection, I must in turn add some selection to my Razzle Dazzle. I'm guaranteeing a Razzle Dazzle New York post each week here on out. If I fail, I'll take the punishment for being a bore. The next cocktail order will be, "Just a tall glass of water, that's all for me." When I know deep down "The Razzle Dazzle" is waiting to be written and enjoyed.

The "Razzle Dazzle Martini" canvas painting Elizabeth surprised me with a few years ago - never did I consider this martini was an actual drink! Please note the similarities: red hair, New York New York-esque top hat and cane...or is that a baton?!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Ten months ago today - last June 13th - the day ended much differently than it began. Most poignantly - for my family, anyway - my older sister Julie started the day a "Miss" and ended the day a "Mrs." Most obviously - for anyone in Birmingham, AL, that is - the morning sky loomed heavy with clouds but the evening stars shown bright and clear. Most personally - for me, of course - I started the day believing I was an "anything is possible" type of person but ended the day shaking my head at my lack of faith.

Though the sky we woke to on Julie's wedding morning was anything but clear, it shouted a message that definitely was: "There will be NO outdoor wedding today. Period!" Gray clouds churned and swirled and thickened so sickeningly in the sky, it perfectly mirrored the nervous anxiousness brewing in my stomach. I stood on my parents' front porch in the quiet of the morning, tilted my head back and turned slowly in a circle to survey the situation. Bleak. No, not even bleak. Bad. Impossible. There was not a single break in the clouds, no light through any tunnel, no way the sky could clear by this evening, if ever. I could see no silver lining to these steel gray clouds.

I looked at my mother, our makeup-less faces pale with dread. "Has Julie seen the clouds?" I whispered with wide eyes. She gulped and nodded a yes. "Oh no," I thought. "OH NO."

Julie was the classically organized bride, planning details of the details so every part of her wedding day would be flawless. And now this, this doomsday of the ugliest sky I have ever seen.

At the hairdresser, the rain poured from the sky, puddled on the sidewalk, and swooshed against the windows. As our hair was pinned up and poufed up, the rain came down, down, down.

I tried to soften the blow, to make lemonade out of lemons: "the wedding will be pretty inside" and "it would be too hot in the June sun anyway." Instead of believing the dream would happen, I looked for Plan B. Julie never doubted, never waivered, never lost faith in her belief that a sunny outdoor wedding would happen. I thought she had lost her mind. She possessed a brideful hope that frankly just made her seem possessed (me, her doting maid of honor, standing behind her swirling a 'crazy' finger at my temple every time she refused the wedding should move inside.)

My finger was soon pointed at me, tsk-tsking the doubt I had been so sure of. As the last noses were powdered and lips blotted before the photographs began, I pulled back the curtains of the bride's room to reveal a sky whose curtain of clouds had dissolved. I laughed with stunned, bewildered eyes: it was a miracle! A miracle I had prayed for but never actually believed would come true.

Oh me of little faith! What wonderful possibilities have I written off because they seemed impossible? Have I ever been so passionately hopeful that everyone thought I was crazy? Do I really believe anything is possible?

When I remember Julie's wedding day, I will always think of how pretty she looked and the lesson I learned: no situation is ever as bleak as it seems, no dream is too unrealistic to hold, no sky is gray forever.

Top, the morning sky on June 13, 2009; bottom, the sky just six hours later.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What have you been doing?

Well, dear blog friend, you did happily welcome me back from my long absence, but you DO have a question: just what have I been doing the last few months that has kept me from writing??

I can certainly tell you I haven't been just lying around, smelling the roses and feeding the birds, that's for sure! No, you know if I have free time I'll fill it...there's always a closet that needs cleaning, an errand that needs running, or a party that needs attending.

No time for lying around when the summer months were sprinkled with projects and events that either filled any free time, or made me too tired to sit in front of a blank page and write: the painting of my living room, the wedding of my sister, the departing of six of my NYC friends, the reading of Twilight books, the taking of tap dance classes, the leading of my Bible study, the exploring of New York, the travelling to London.

Each has a story that I'll tell very soon...

LYING AROUND under the perfect blue sky and the majestic dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

SMELLING THE ROSES in the picturesque country town of Salisbury, England.

FEEDING THE BIRDS on a bench in Hyde Park, London.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hello, old friend

Hello, old friend:

It's been a long time. Too long! Boy, have I missed you! I'll bet you thought I would never visit again; never come around this way to sit and chat awhile. I've got so much to tell you about what I've seen and done, what's going on in New York City, what I've been thinking.

I cringe as I type in your address - realizing with shame just how long I've neglected this one-sided conversation of ours. Have you forgotten me? Will my secret password still work, or have you changed the rules to lock me out?

But just like a good dear old friend, we can pick up where we left off. I show up unexpectedly, and there you wait - that "Welcome, Rebecca" like a bear hug, accepting me back, no questions asked.

It's so good to see you! You haven't changed a bit: you're still a wonderfully inspiring open page...just waiting for me to fill it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tools and Gadgets

For the second time in the month of April, I went home to Alabama for a celebration in Julie and Gabe's honor: this time the occasion was a "Tool and Gadget Shower" to outfit the couple with all the knick-knacks and doo-dads surely essential to a happily functioning home. I admit my bewilderment at the assortment of gifts - if it doesn't fit in my compact tool box, I believe it to be only marginally neccessary for the occasional emergency...and rather useless for everyday life.  The mindset of New Yorkers: when something breaks, you call someone to fix it.

Gifts of drills and sweepers and thingamajigs emerged from beautifully wrapped packages to oohs and aahs from the guests. Julie and Gabe were quite pleased with the gadgets they received, but the only tool I wished to gain in my toolbox (my heart's toolbox) was the one that created the beautiful sunset that wrapped our party into the night sky. 

I don't think I will find "Sunset Maker" on the registry at Home Depot!

Gabe and Julie 

Daddy and Mama enjoying laughs and the evening sun.

Another valuable gadget for my "toolbox" - a "Sister Trio"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Digging out

Preoccupied, lazy, tired, busy, working, socializing...I have a million excuses for why I haven't posted anything in over a month.  It's certainly not because I'm uninspired - I have a "to write" list of over a dozen topics. I just can't seem to generate thoughtful words to flow from my fingers to the computer screen in the form of clever writing.  

It's 11:48 PM, and I have a closet full of winter clothes that need to be removed, sorted and stored away; there is a stack of papers a foot high by my bookshelf that need to be filed or thrown out; my suitcase sits unzipped by the foot of my bed, still not fully emptied since returning from Alabama a week ago.  I stare from one project to the next as I sit motionless on my bed, fingers resting on my laptop.  My eyes drift away from the computer screen to the (freshly) laundered sheets that sit folded on the right side of my bed - I washed them before I left for home, over a week ago.  (Yes, mama, I've been sleeping on the mattress pad and using my comforter as a blanket for a WEEK!)  I'm not depressed, I'm not becoming a pack rat - I just can't seem to get one project done for thinking about all the others...and I can't seem to write one post without my mind jumbling more stories into the mix.

In an effort to get my thoughts caught up to my actions, I'm foregoing my normal (ahem) well-written, thoughtful, insightful RazzleDazzle stories for the month of March.  Instead, helter skelter stream of consciousness prevails.  Scroll down and check back often - I'm slapping and slathering posts together this week...I'll get around to molding and crafting stories next week (while I'm, uh, cleaning my room).   

Thursday, April 9, 2009


If I hadn't seen her with my own two eyes, I wouldn't believe it. Standing there, in the flesh, mere feet across the street from me, the celebrity I have most wanted to see since moving to New York. Sarah Jessica Parker in all her movie star glory, and my camera battery not responding. I suppose I should be okay with the irony of not getting to capture this momentous occasion on film, because much like SJP getting splashed by a New York City bus in the opening sequence for Sex and the City, maybe New York just sometimes has a way of causing grief to the ones it loves.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Your turn for tea

When I was a young girl, my mother's photo albums captivated my attention for what seemed like hours at a time. Being careful to keep the clear covers attached to the adhesive pages, I flipped through the images of her memories and created a storybook of my own descriptions. Splashing in a bikini in the ocean, sitting on her dorm room bed, playing basketball in uniform, laughing with a boy's arm around her shoulders - it all seemed like a grand time.

I was most intrigued by the page of wedding paraphernalia - a portrait of her in her wedding dress (I always looked at her slippered feet sticking out from the bottom of the large skirt), the wedding announcement clipped from the newspaper (I always loved seeing Mama and Daddy's names in print), and the picture from her tea (I always preferred the grainy black and white version from the paper over the in-color original). There stood my Mama beside the punch bowl and flower-festooned table with both of my grandma's, my aunt Sheree and another lady or two who looked familiar enough that I knew they must have been of some importance to be chosen for this picture.

This image of the tea became iconic to me - the bride next to the table with the most important people beside her. I daydreamed of the newspaperman wearing his newspaper cap coming to the party with his big flash-bulb camera, everyone gathering around the table, 1-2-3 snap! and the moment recorded for posterity.

And now it's Julie turn for her tea, and Mama again is gathered to her spot behind the table - this time her girls the ones to join for the special picture. Our smiles captured by the camera flash for a picture that I wonder whose wistful eyes will one day gaze upon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Great to see ya!

I returned to Birmingham relatively unannounced to many of my friends, something completely out of character for me since past trips were preceded with a great deal of phone calls and emails resulting in a packed calendar coordinated to fit everyone's schedule, and leaving me not a minute to spare.

So this trip I decided to put Julie's engagement pictures and tea as tops on my to-do, and left the rest of my socializing in the hands of my about town girls Jackie and Katherine, who had me hot on the scene again with a compactly planned party schedule. They showed me that Birmingham offers similar after-work venues to those of New York: the rooftop of the Redmont Hotel provides breathtaking city views. They also showed me that an unannounced trip home is a great way to feel like a celebrity amongst friends: squeals erupted at every turn as friends who I hadn't seen in months did a double take to see my face in the crowd.

Great to see the Birmingham skyline aglow.

Always great to see Jackie.

Take Two

On a sweltering hot day in the summer of 2006, I accompanied Elizabeth and Chris to the Botanical Gardens to "assist" them as they were photographed for their engagement pictures. I lugged around a large bag filled with brushes, combs, hairspray, makeup, gloss, sunglasses - you name it - and scurried after them blotting sweat and taming humidity-induced frizzy hair.

The result: a happy couple looking so beautiful I was highly recommended for a second gig as engagement picture assistant.

My "take two" as handler for Julie and Gabe landed me in the same role at the same location but with a new starring couple. The scene was a little different this time around with an overcast sky and chilly temperatures, not to mention a few new props slipped into my bag - towels and a hand broom - that I *lovingly* used to prepare the backdrops for each shot.

But the story was still the same: me running after my pretty sister and making a big production of wilting under the weight of carrying her bag, reminding her to hold her shoulders back, smile like this, smooth her skirt - all while thinking I have the best role in the world. This attention hog will work behind the scenes for her sisters any day.

Prepping Julie in the parking lot pre-pictures.

Our star being scolded for hopping up on the railing not yet brushed off and toweled dry.

The co-stars recounting Gabe's proposal at the exact spot it happened.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A little change can do you good

My bed has been turned long ways in my room since November, its pillow-top padding extending two more feet into my precious floor space for the past five months. Moving it from its original position - that is, being stuffed sideways against the back wall, the head of the bed touched the right wall and the foot of the bed touched the left, with the radiator sandwiched snuggly in between - seemed like a necessity at the time. I was completely unfamiliar with the sputtering, hissing and clanking that was bringing the metal bars to life. To me it looked like a fire waiting to happen - my comforter would surely ignite on the metal bars that were soon be flaming hot.

Maybe normal radiators get flaming hot, but throughout the winter, mine never so much as warmed up. Just sputtered and spattered and shook a few times, but never warm, much less hot.

So now with April approaching, and me sadly giving up (on my radiator burning) and joyfully letting go (of the cold weather), I decided it was time to claim back my space, which is no small feat considering: 1) the mattress could squish me like a fly swatter and a bug, 2) the width of my room is so small, the mattress, box springs and bed frame each must be lifted practically on one corner in order to "swivel" into a new direction, 3) my bookshelf, dresser and wall hangings all must be moved out of the room, and 4) I keep thinking I can do this all by myself.

Two hours and a broken vase later, my bed was back flush against the radiator, hushing it like a finger in front of a ssshing mouth. I skipped a few victory laps around my broadened floor space (four small skips and you've lapped back to the starting point!) and marveled at how invigorating a few extra feet can be.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steps of Met

The mild and sunny weather brought a hint of intrigue to the air; a magical vibe connecting paths and creating music. A smile hello, an unexpected coffee, the glare of the sun, a wandering walk, the bright blue sky, my regular scones, a flurry of pigeons, a quartet of voices, notes from a saxophone, people perched everywhere, an empty space, a spot near the steps, a friendly phone call, an impromptu brunch, exploring a neighborhood.

A Sunday afternoon in New York City can twist and turn and change in a matter of moments. I'll remember that curvy day by the brief moment I spent near the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the person I met. Both making me reconsider my whimsy wanderings as possibly perfectly planned steps.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Snowy Spring

In anticipation of the first day of spring, I went to sleep last night with visions of blue skies, chirping birds, and warming temperatures.  

This morning I flung back the curtain before my head had even risen from the pillow.  My bright eyes turned hazy - what is that whirling and swirling on the other side of my window?!  

White-hot disbelief and disappointment mixed with the swiftly blowing snow.  When will this winter trudge turn into a spring pirouette? 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rat Race

Today being St. Patrick's Day, and me not really caring but feeling like I should, I headed out to a pub with some friends to celebrate. Green beer and questionable outfits aside, I don't know what was more surprising and ultimately quite troubling...the rats-of-guys who were trolling the bars, or the actual rats that ran toward us - squeaking and squawling (the rats and us) - as we stood on the subway platform (noses pinched from the urine smells) racing away from a less than envious evening of green.