Friday, September 28, 2007

Morning Meeting with THE BOSS

NBC's Today Show broadcasts from Rockefeller Center, about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. All summer I've watched the morning show as I get ready for work, and stars like Reese Witherspoon, Ellen Degeneres, Robin Williams, etc. have greeted fans in the Plaza while I stand in front of the TV brushing my teeth and berating myself, "I should get up earlier and go out there!" But since I never know which celebrities will be there until day of, and - let's face it - I'm not a morning person, I just watch from the comforts of home a few blocks away.

For the past several weeks, though, Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann have made sure America knows Bruce Springsteen will be performing live on the Plaza. So, I jotted it in my calendar and made a point to get out there this morning.

My good intentions of getting up early and being there by 7 AM didn't pan out. Instead, I watched the coverage on TV to check out the crowd and walked over by 8:30 - just in time for his 30-minute concert. My efforts got me a front row the big screen opposite the stage. I never offically saw Bruce in person - the top of drummer Max Weinberg's head was the most I could see on the actual stage - which made me wonder how my living in New York made the experience any better than my friend watching the show from Yuma, AZ.

I noticed the flags waving in the breeze around the Plaza, looked up at the towering GE Building in front of me, felt the bass boomboom in my chest and vibrate my feet, and the mix of people all around me - businessmen in suits, tourists with fanny packs, construction workers in hardhats, younger, older, American, foreign...everyone swaying to the music and singing along with the band. Only in New York can you enjoy a rock concert with "The Boss" on your way to work!

The preparations at the Plaza Thursday night. I should have spent the night there for a spot in front of the stage! Funny enough, this is about where I stood this morning.

Pictures from the big screen of Bruce playing harmonica and Bruce with Matt Lauer.

Left: My vantage point of the actual stage (in between the two buildings). Right: An aerial picture of the crowd displayed on the big screen during a commercial break (the stage is on the left - not visible - and the screen I was watching is on the right of the picture).

The band gave a final bow, but the crowd chants of "one more song!" brought them back to the stage!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Window on the World

I love to be in the center of the action, so you can imagine how pleased I was to be awakened by the chopchopchop of helicopters outside my window at 6:20 AM! Three helicopters hovered above the United Nations complex just 10 blocks down the street from my apartment on 1st Avenue. I jumped out of bed and quickly got ready for work so I could watch the Today Show coverage begin at 7 AM. Heads of state, presidents, kings and - most noteably - Ahmadinejad from Iran, are meeting in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly.

I stood in front of the TV and watched Meredith Vieira broadcast to the whole nation from the U.N. Then the television shot changed to the aerial view of the U.N., and I turned my head just a little to the left to look out the window at the helicopter hovering at my eye level. I was looking at the source feeding that live shot to all of America...and I realized I truly have a window on the world!

Pictures from my window:
One of the helicopters above the U.N.

U.N. building

Pictures from the TV:
Meredith Vieira

Aerial view of the U.N. complex

Activity on 1st Avenue...groups of policeman on all four corners at each intersection from 42nd Street to the low 50's. 1st Avenue around the U.N. is closed to traffic all week, prompting "East Side Gridlock" headlines on the local nightly news.

A line of reporters and workers waiting to go through security to enter.

The second picture is the people seen at a distance in the first picture. I walked right through all these suits and uniforms, trying my best to pretend I belonged while still snapping a few pictures!

This is the last picture on my camera before it died, but I took a bunch on my phone that I'll have to figure out how to get to the computer!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Off key...On heart

I couldn't carry a tune if my life depended on it. I pretend to sing by humming along, or just singing the words really low under my breath. At church I try to angle away from the person next to me so I can sing without offending my neighbor with how terribly off key I am. Basically, I limit my singing to when I'm alone in the car (um, not much of that going on these days), or when the singing and music around me is so loud, no one can hear me anyway. I attribute these stellar singing skills to my Dad - he sings so off key it's actually funny. The only difference between our singing is the volume - he sings loud and without reservation, and sometimes the wrong line altogether!

Today at church we sang a song I love called In Christ Alone. I actually sang loud and didn't care that I wasn't hitting any notes (not that I would have known what notes to hit anyway). The song made tears well up in my eyes - as has happened several times since I've been here - because it reminded me of home and friends and just a different time.

(I love the second part of each stanza when the music escalates and the words are sung with more gusto.)

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song;
this cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My comforter, my all in all, here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless Babe!

This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
And on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, light of the world by darkness slain;

then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
for I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me;

from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand;

‘til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New York Correspondent

My fabulous fashionista friend, Amy Bailey, asked me to write about my NYC Fashion Week experiences for her Birmingham fashion blog. Amy is the authority on style and all the new she needed little ole me, who is decidedly not, to tell the story from an outsider's point of view. Visit Amy's site at and scroll down to the entry on Tuesday, 9/18/07 - A Bama Belle's First Time at Fashion Week.

And check out the lefthand column..."Rebecca Mummert - New York Correspondent." Has a nice ring to it, don't you think? :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nanny Diaries

If you're looking for a cute, funny movie, I suggest "The Nanny Diaries" with Scarlett Johannsen. It's about a girl who just graduated from college with a degree in finance and had big plans of working in a high-paying job and wearing power suits everyday. After a change of heart she finds herself working as a nanny and living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As cute as the movie was (mainly because of Harvard Hottie), the light-heartedness of it was missed by me...I guess because it's a scenerio I see everyday all over Manhattan.

It's sad when I see an adorable toddler walking with a lady who is obviously not his mom, or a big circle of strollers and blankets in the grass with babies crawling around...and the women who are watching them and laughing and talking with each other are the nannies, not the moms. Now, I know a lot of these mothers may not have a choice in working or staying home with their kids, but the women who are just too social or glamorous?

Today at lunch Lauren and I saw a group of strollers, blankets and babies, and we both squealed, "I think it's the real mommies!" How sad that it's the first time in three and a half months we've seen actual moms spending actual time with their actual babies!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Dreaming

The last two nights I've awakened around 3:00 or 4:00 AM and not been able to go back to sleep for awhile. Last night when this happened, I just sat up in bed and looked out the window. I blinked my eyes several times trying to clear the sleepy blurriness and to compensate for not having my contacts in. The darkness and relative stillness of New York at that early hour makes my view very surreal. My eyes focused on the sparkling lights of all the buildings outside, and I laughed. The view reminded me of cartoons I've seen when the characters are in, let's say, the North Pole and a curtain is pulled over the window with a scene painted on it to look like they're at the beach. You know what I'm talking about? I pictured myself lying in my Birmingham bedroom and waking up to look out the window and seeing the same fabulous New York city scene. Seeing that view would only have been possible if I were in a cartoon - and judging from the stiff neck I had, I'm pretty sure I wasn't a cartoon character - or if I were in a dream...and a quick pinch reminded me this is no dream.

"You are walking in the dream God had planned for you."
~ Carrie Pittman, my sweet friend

Sitting on my bed and looking out the window at 4:00 AM...
...and again around 6:15 AM.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rammer Jammer

Every true Alabama fan should make a pilgrimage to Mercury Bar in New York City at least once in his lifetime. I promise you, if you can't be sitting in Bryant Denny Stadium, then the next best place to be is NYC. Our Tuscaloosa tailgating skills come in handy - everyone knows if you want to get a good table, or just a seat for that matter, you have to arrive several hours before kickoff! What can be better than three hundred crimson-clad fans packed in a bar, cheering at every play, waving pompoms and high-fiving, singing audience-led "Yea Alabama" and "Rammer Jammer" cheers...there is more spirit here than in Gallettes or any frat house on campus!

What's so fun about it, too, is that everyone is family. We all share a love nobody else up here understands. We were commenting tonight how fast the weeks seem to go by now that football season has started. "We're living for Saturdays," as one guy said.

And as long as Bama keeps winning, yes we are!!

Celebrating one of many Alabama touchdowns during the Arkansas game!

The anticipation and thrill of the final second victory!! Could you hear our screaming in Tuscaloosa??

When the score was final, every person in the place sang Sweet Home Alabama as loud as they could!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I get by with a little help from my friends

What a fun summer it's been to spend time with friends from home in New York City! Gray, Joy and Haley, Kristen from DC, Annie from LA, Damion from Hong Kong, Mark, Betsey, Eve, Jessica, Elizabeth, Greg, Nicole, Lu Lu Louise, Shana, and Ansley - twice! All the visits have been so special - whether days long or just a few hours! Seeing each has rejuvenated my spirit and warmed my heart.

Okay...who's coming to visit next?! :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering September 11th

With all the excitement of the fashion shows yesterday, I would be remiss to not mention the six year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I had been anticipating the date since the beginning of September - wondering how it would feel to be in New York, how those who were here the day it happened would act, if police presence would be heightened, and if I would feel safe. My dad called me Sunday to "remind" me 9/11 was coming up and I needed to be careful. I told him I might take extra precaution that day and walk to work instead of taking the subway. I hadn't heard any tips or warnings of what to do, so I wasn't really sure how I should act. Something about the date falling on Tuesday, the original day of the attacks, made it a little more eerie (if that's the word to use).

I tried to notice a different feeling from people I encountered on the street, a different attitude in the way they went about their day. Honestly, it seemed business as normal...I took the subway (just too much rain to walk), and there were so many people on the subway I actually saw the train sway as people unloaded at 51st Street. Those who watched the Ground Zero ceremony and other 9/11 coverage on TV commemorated the day more than the average New Yorker. Sure, I heard of an event scheduled for Times Square, and several people talking of little ceremonies to happen at their office, but, for the most part, it seemed people remembered the day privately and had the attitude of looking forward rather than looking back.

I think I was expecting a day or two of people being overly kind to each other, like the week when the attacks happened. For me, I remembered the day as I always do, I was sitting in my 8 am supply chain management class in Bidgood Hall. The guy in front of me turned around and whispered that a plane hit the World Trade Center. I thought probably a little helicopter nipped the side or something. I had never been to New York when it happened, so I really wasn't even sure where the Towers were or what it meant. I remember going to my next class in ten Hoor and seeing chalk boards rolled out in the hallway alerting ROTC students of their responsibilities. What is going on?!? I kind of started to freak out, and then the phone calls started from my dad and others concerned about my safety. Back in Bidgood, the lounge area was packed - and everyone stone silent. We watched as the chaos unfolded. I'll never forget it. The shock, the disbelief. Elizabeth and I were roommates at Harris Hall that year, and I remember just watching the footage for days. It's surreal for me to look at pictures of the attacks now - those buildings are images I see everyday, and to think of that horror happening is just mind blowing.

While the attacks are remembered for most of us as a horrible day, there are thousands of people who live it every single day. Kathryn Hart told me about a funeral she and John went to for a friend's daughter who was killed in the World Trade Center. It stunned me to think of the people whose lives have not been the same since that day six years ago.

The weather today is pristine - bright blue sunny sky - just like the day the attacks happened. I hope the New Yorkers who experienced the terrible events first-hand can enjoy this beautiful day as a gift of hope and not a memory of the past.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NYC Fashion Week

Thanks to my sweet roommate Cameron who works at a fashion PR firm, I got invited to two really great fashion shows! Monique Lhuillier was at 11 am in The Tent at Bryant Park where the main hub of Fashion Week action takes place. I used my lunch hour to head up there for the festivities. It was a rainy day, but it wasn't so bad since the subway entrance is at the end of my street and I exited a block from Bryant Park. I left my big red galoshes at work and wore my leopard print heels - had to try to glam it up a bit!

The Tent at Bryant Park

Once inside the tent, I had to wait in line for about 20 minutes - all the shows start late, or so I've learned. I was supposed to be standing room, but just before the show started there were empty chairs so I got to sit! It looked exactly how you'd expect - the long runway with photographers at one end and the audience on each side. There was a group of photographers in the middle of the runway taking pictures of celebrities on the front row. (Thankfully, I had sat down by a girl who was as star struck as me - she said it was okay to take pictures, so I snapped away - otherwise I would have been trying to play it cool!)

Leann Rimes (in tan) and her husband, Michelle Trachtenberg, Asian woman in gray - is that Tia Carrere?, and Ivana Trump!

We thought this woman looked like Judith Light from Who's the Boss...I'm not convinced though.

In between our front-row scanning and celebrity watching, there was a fashion show going on!

I love the picture of the model in front of the throng of photographers!! Can you imagine! :)

The models were unbelieveably skinny, had terrible posture and the most expressionless faces ever! I remember thinking I would HAVE to smile when I got to the end of the runway if I were them! Oh - and I only noticed one girl trip up on her skirt.

The show was over pretty quickly - maybe 15 minutes?? I needed a lot longer to get good pictures, but oh well! :)

Back in the main area of The Tent, Carmen Electra was broadcasting for Full Frontal Fashion. She's very tiny!

Carmen Electra

Back on the street, I had just put my camera back in my bag and opened my umbrella as I waited for the light to change so I could cross the street. Who pops out of a town car FIVE feet from me but Ivana Trump! I saw her bleached blonde hair and saggy, skinny, tan legs trotting toward me as she hopped into another town car and sped up 6th Avenue. She was so close to me I could have grabbed her, but it all happened so fast all I could do was stand there with my mouth open!!

So, I thought I'd already had a pretty fun day and was pleased with the celebrity sighting I'd been able to do. But next on the show list was Just Sweet - Jennifer Lopez's new line! It started at 9 pm and was in a warehouse on W 21st St between 10th and 11th Aves. Again, supposed to be standing room, but when they finally ushered us into the room, we were quickly directed to split up and fill seats. The chairs were set up all over the place (not the typical look of the earlier show). The path for the models zigzagged through the crowd. I was on the front row on the stretch just before the models went backstage.

Oh, but let me back up. When we walked through the black curtains into the room, the first people I saw were the cast of "Fashionista Diaries" on Soapnet! We're addicted to this show, so I had to keep myself from talking to them like I actually know them!

Fashionista Diaries cast - from right to left: Tina in red, Laurie is blonde behind her, Andrew in white jacket, Bridget in front of him, Janjay with her back to me, and Rachel looking to the right.

Just before the show started, Tommy Hilfiger slipped in! I watched him quite a bit, but I couldn't get a good picture! The show was really cool - I loved the models' bright make up and long hair, and I marveled at how their skinny mini legs could balance on their platform stiletto heels!

The models entered here and walked straight down the main runway to the photographers, then zigzagged twice back up through the crowd and turned a corner by me to exit. I had to keep my feet out of their walkway, I was so close!

And then...J. Lo herself!! It was so exciting!! It was complete chaos in my world during her parade down the runway! My camera battery was dying, so it took like 40 million years for the camera to get ready to take another picture! I was more concerned with my camera than watching her, so I really didn't get the full J. Lo-watching experience! You'll have to take my word for it that right after this picture of her walking back up the runway was taken, Marc Anthony stood up and they hugged and kissed about 15 feet from me! It was so upsetting - I would have had the perfect picture!

J. Lo entering and pausing for applause before walking the full length of the runway and back.

Though I missed my primo pic, this one of Marc Anthony will just have to do!

Rebecca and Shaina

I went to the show with Shaina who lives in my building and Lauren. Even Lauren was a bit star struck, and she never is! ha! We also saw the singer Mya - walked right by me and I didn't even know who she was! I'm the worst celebrity spotter ever!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Park

My favorite spot in New York is one I had never even seen or heard of until I moved here. I don't think I'd ever really even noticed it on a map of New York. It, like several people who have meant a whole lot to me in my life, found me, and I remember the very first time we met.

It was on June 5 - my second day of work when Mary Jane and I walked together in the morning. We passed by and I was immediately struck by the cuteness of the little green oasis in the middle of the bustling streets and tall buildings. I guess you could say it was love at first sight!

Madison Square Park has been my joy. Lauren and I have spent our lunch break in the park practically every day this summer. It's a popular place for everyone who works around there; some days we have to walk a lap or two around the pathways, trying to find room for two on one of the many benches. Often the benches are so full that we can't be picky with our seats, and we will take one in the sun or near the dreaded pigeons. Lauren's better at shooing the birds and squirrels away than I am. She's also better at watching the time than I am. She says one day she's just not going to say anything about when it's time to head back to the office just to see if I would actually sit out there all afternoon!

Wouldn't you want to sit outside all afternoon if you were lunching in the shadows of the Empire State Building?!!

One of the reasons the park is such a popular lunchtime spot is because of Shake Shack. It's a burger, fries and milkshake "shack" in the southeast corner of the park, and people LOVE it! The line is always wrapped onto the sidewalk, and still, the people wait! I got a burger after work one day and then understood the obsession.

The line begins...and keeps going and going!!

The Shake Shack eating area - when it's not so packed, Lauren and I try to grab a table for a more "civilized" lunch than our normal benches!

I don't know exactly what it is about the place that I love so much. I guess it's a combination of everything. I see all types of people there - groups of coworkers, punky-looking teenagers, nannies with other peoples babies, young and old couples, homeless, little kids at the children park and dogs at the dog park. I see all kinds of things going on there - a little girl walking on stilts high above everyone's head, people reading or writing in journals, grown men dressed in button ups lying flat on their back to rest in the grass, couples getting engaged (saw it happen twice!), people exercising or practicing karate, someone on the phone crying, camera crew filming scenes for a show. I see all sorts of events happening there - Big Apple BBQ, weekly author readings and book signings, summer concerts in the park, U.S. Open viewing area.

For several months this year there is an art exhibit in the park - aluminum tree and rock installations. I'll admit, the first time I saw the silver trees, I thought, "How in the world did they wrap those trees like that!!"

I love the small snippets of life I see happen on a bench or a little patch of grass, contained within the beautiful trees and paths and fountains, contained within the streets and buildings that enclose the park to create a little sanctuary where you can escape to your own thoughts and feelings.

If anyone ever wants to dedicate a bench to me - make sure the plaque is on one in Madison Square Park!