Sunday, June 29, 2008

Somebody stole my brella

Well, my umbrella had a gallant end by saving me from the pop up thunderstorm...
You see, I hung it on the stairwell just outside my apartment door to dry out from the soaking of the afternoon, but when I left a few hours later to meet a friend for dinner, you guessed it - the umbrella was gone! Everyone leaves umbrellas in the stairwell to dry, so I squelched my mad, accusational thoughts of all my neighbors and gave them the benefit of the doubt - maybe someone needed to "borrow" it for the afternoon? When I got back to the apartment after dinner, I made this nice little note and taped it to the bannister where the crime occurred.

We'll see if the guilty party clears his conscious!!


Under My Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh

Funny that I really can't stand Rihanna's song "Under My Umbrella", because I sure have been spending a lot of time under mine lately - or wishing I was under there, at least!  Summer storms have caught me on the streets enough times in the last few weeks to make me toss an umbrella in my bag even if it's sunny when I leave the apartment.  The first umbrella-less soaking happened when I was engrossed in a book on a bench in Central Park, and thankfully the enormous tree covering the bench kept me sheltered for a good hour as the rain continued to fall.  The next time I was caught in Madison Square Park and tried to run home before the rain really fell such luck as I took cover with two others under a pizzeria awning.  And today I was among the hundreds who scrambled from 5th Avenue shopping when a crack of thunder opened the flood gates. Standing beneath the skinny overhang of a building for extra coverage, I actually enjoyed the calmness of watching the rain fall and flood the streets, and laughing at the funny ways people dealt with the rain - thinking large envelopes would keep them dry, hiking up pants legs and tripping through the puddles, and some just walking and getting soaked, not even trying to stay dry.
This time I was glad to be one of the people under their umbrella! 


Saturday, June 28, 2008

One man's trash... another girl's treasure!

The end of the month is an exciting time in New York City - people are moving out of apartments and leaving items they no longer want on the curb, making a walk down the street just about as good as a trip to the mall.

This morning I walked out the front door of my building and immediately saw a white bookshelf outside the building next door. It practically jumped into my arms (or maybe I was just hugging it!), but not knowing if it was up for grabs or in the process of being put in a moving truck (note: there was no truck in sight), I peeled myself off and ran on down the street to throw my clothes in the laundry. If the shelf was still there when I returned, my self-imposed statute of time limitations would have kicked into effect and it was mine for the taking. Sure enough, it was still there, but my fear of hearing "stop, thief!" during my jaunt-down-the-street-with-loot-in-tow made me stall. The shelf was so perfectly what I had been looking for that I decided I would wait by it (note: in the hot sun) for up to 35 minutes (note: precisely the amount of time until my clothes were finished). After waiting only about five minutes, a guy and girl shuffled toward the door carrying another piece of furniture, and my heart sank thinking they probably were just in the process of moving.

Before I could even get my question out, the girl's words were a gift to my ears, "Take it - it's yours! My roommate moved out and left it, and I don't know what to do with it."

Jumping and clapping and shouting, I called Emily to come help me get the bookshelf inside the apartment and up the steps to its new home as the newest member of my "Hall of Finds"!
Oh my gosh, I'm in love! It's so perfect!

My first road-side find - the dresser I nearly killed myself getting back to the apartment.

Our cute Ikea couch (free on the curb off 28th Street - don't worry, we washed the slipcovers immediately!) and the red ottomans (free from a remodeling dance studio - carpet cleaner worked wonders on these!) that double as a coffee table or extra seating.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Behind again

I think I jinxed myself in the “I’m connected!” post by saying now that I have a laptop, hopefully I’ll be more timely with the blogs and not let weeks go by without posting.  Well…I find myself behind again, so I made a date with myself to do some writing.  And I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening - sitting in the park and writing…nevermind that it’s Friday night and I have nothing better to do.

So, if you read “BACKLOGGED” last month, you know the drill.  Scroll back through the last month to read my musings of days and nights when I did have people to see and places to go...

Finger-lickin' Good!

I can’t remember the last time I ate something so good that I licked every finger on my hand – twice.  When I caught a lady who was sitting a few spaces down from me on the bench, I realized I’d been practically snorting the onion rings down my throat as I held the little cardboard boat up to my mouth and shoveled them in.  Well, I guess I wasn’t exactly shoveling because I did take the time to feebly dunk the crumbly, juicy, thick, perfectly-breaded rings in a tiny ketchup-to-go container before slurping the dangly, grease-dripping end into my mouth.  “Mmm…perfection,” I savored with a smile.  I didn’t care what she, or anyone else, thought of my fat girl in a thin body act - I HAD gotten the mini-burger, mind you!  Besides, I knew the onion rings they were surely coveting, I would be cursing when I poked my hips in the morning. 

*My vote for best onion rings in the city goes to New York Burger Company – the place New Yorker’s voted best burger in the city in 2007.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The city is the stage

The New York Philharmonic played a free concert in Central Park, and over 60,000 New Yorkers packed the grounds to hear the Sousa marches and watch the fireworks at the end of the show. Thankfully my friends arrived early and got a patch of grass very close to the stage. As the concert began and the blue skies darkened to night, I turned around to look at the enormous crowd behind us...and I was as equally awed by the beautiful backdrop of the city buildings literally glowing in the darkening summer night. Why in the heck were we watching faceless musicians on a boring stage when this gorgeous scenery was shimmering at our backs?

See pictures and video of the music and fireworks at the link below (copy and paste into a new window):

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Surprise! I'm home!

Top Ten Surprises from My Surprise Trip Home:

1. Daddy doesn't really like to be surprised (despite the way he looks in this picture when he first saw me, and realized it was me...not my little sister.)

2. I just might have narcolepsy.

3. Daddy's grilling powers only work if he's wearing his special chef outfit.

4. My mom can beat your mom at jacks...and don't even touch her around-the-worlds!

5. Daddy will be Nick Saban's sideline stand-in this fall.

6. I'm not as afraid of Elizabeth and Chris's one-eyed cat as I used to be.

7. Daddy can hit a pose on queue.

8. Rojo is closed on Mondays. Call ahead the next time you plan to meet a bunch of your friends there.

(Cafe Ciao is just as fun.)

9. Julie will do anything to show off her flowers and be in a picture - there is a lizard less than two feet from her!

And the most surprising surprise from my surprise trip home...
10. Being home made me homesick! I miss Alabama summertime!

All you Alabamians, please enjoy the mimosa trees along the roadsides for me!

Friday, June 13, 2008

That's not football!

It may not be football as I know it, but the fans of Euro football are just as wild, if not crazier, than any hooping, hollering college football fan I’ve ever seen! After recovering from the shock of the sheer amount of fans filling a three-story sports bar in Times Square (it was packed to capacity with a waiting line outside!), and then adjusting my eyes to the over-abundance of orange (the color of the Dutch national team), I found myself wound up in the frenzy of the soccer game along with all the misplaced Europeans – groaning at a missed play, singing along to Dutch-spoken cheers, and high-fiving when the ball rolled our way.

Even with a full understanding of the magnitude of this Euro 2008 quarter-final game (it’s only played every four years, don't ya know!), I was still not prepared for the celebration that ensued at each goal. After shrinking to the wall to protect my head from flying objects and my camera from spewing beer during the celebration of the first goal, I was embarrassed at my skinny-boy reaction to the rowdy jubilation. I am, after all, a southern girl who knows how to cheer at a football game! At the next goal I joined in the euphoria of group hugging and jumping, and I even took a beer soaking with the same grace you’d expect from a well-mannered European who just received a splash in the face during tea time.

Click here for a full gallery of photos:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I’m not one who has ever been good with music. I don’t really have a favorite kind of music, although most know me to be a lover of oldies. and I never tire of listening to 80s music. When I do have a favorite current hit, I usually can’t remember the name of it: “You know, the one that goes like this,” and then I hum a tone-deaf, rhythm-less rendition. My little sister even used to quiz me on songs playing on the radio as I drove us to high school, “What’s the name of this song? Who sings it?” she pestered. If I was lucky enough to guess correctly, the triumphant smile that spread across my face was fleeting, because the next quiz time surely would not go my way.

This being the history of me and song, I’ve always had a slight envy of people who can spit out a list on que of their favorite songs of all time. But I never cared enough to create and memorize my own list, and then program it in my iPod to listen to on repeat. Besides the fact I don’t own an iPod, I was just always happier to take what I got on the radio, and enjoy the thrill of cranking up the volume and singing along when I song I love came on.

At my going away party last year, as I greeted Katherine Marsh hello, she put a CD into my hand. With all the people swirling around me, I didn’t have time to look at the song list immediately, I just saw that Katherine had burned the music to CD herself and written in her swirly handwriting “Rebecca’s Alabama to NYC CD”. The CD stayed in my hand for a while as I inadvertently used it as a fan to flutter the sweat and emotions away as I greeted more friends to the party. But mid-flutter a song title caught my attention, so I quickly glanced down to read the list. I found myself exclaiming with each new title, “Oh, I love that song! Oh perfect!” I saw Katherine across the room and held up the CD and mouthed “I love it!”, she nodded and gave me an “I knew you would” smile.

I can’t remember now if I popped in it my car’s CD player during the day or two I had left in Birmingham or if I waited until I was in New York to listen to it. Hmmm, judging from a memory I have of a mixed tape Elizabeth made for me when I left home for college that I popped in the tape deck of our little Geo Prizm as I drove away to Tuscaloosa (already crying), and then listening to the songs brought me to a full boohoo for most of the hour-long trip to my new home, it’s safe to say I probably waited until I was fully in New York to listen to this compilation!

Whatever the case, I listened to it every chance I got when I first moved. Dancing around, singing along, I would look out my “bedroom” window at the city view and be even happier that I was in New York.

These songs do not necessarily make up my list of all-time favorites, but together they are definitely the soundtrack to my life the past year or so:

These Are the Days – 10,000 Maniacs

“These are the days you’ll remember. Never before and never since, I promise. Will the whole world be warm as this, And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true, that you - are blessed and lucky. It’s true - that you are touched by something. That will grow and bloom in you.

These are the days that you’ll remember. When May is rushing over you, with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour. You'll know it's true, that you - are blessed and lucky. It's true - that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are the days you might fill, with laughter until you break. These are the days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face. And when you do, you'll know how it was meant to be, See the signs and know their meaning. You'll know how it was meant to be, Hear the signs and know they're speaking, to you, to you."

Dixieland Delight - Alabama

I’m a “homegrown country girl” and this country rhythm is just in my heart.

Southern Girl - Amos Lee

“Farewell my sweet, well the time that was coming, the road has begun to move beneath my feet. Good things come to an end, well, I hope through the pain and the heartache and strain we can still remain friends.

Something about a southern girl, makes me feel right, in a Mississippi morning she’s an angel in flight, in a blink of an eye, she’ll be out of your sight, something about a southern girl.”

Stars Fell on Alabama - Billie Holiday

"We lived our little drama, we kissed in a field of white, and stars fell on Alabama last night. I can’t forget the glamour, your eyes held a tender light, and stars fell on Alabama last night. My heart beat like a hammer, my arms wound round you tight, and stars fell on Alabama last night."

New York State of Mind – Billy Joel

“I know what I'm needing, And I don’t want to waste more time, I’m in the New York state of mind. I don’t have any reasons, I’ve left them all behind, I’m in a New York state of mind.”

Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae

“Maybe sometimes, we’ve got it wrong, but it’s alright. The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. Oh, don’t you hesitate… Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song, you go ahead, let your hair down. I hope you get your dreams, just go ahead let your hair down.

You’re gonna find yourself someway, somehow.

Maybe sometimes, we feel afraid but it’s alright. The more you stay the same, the more they seem to change. Don’t you think it’s strange?

When you gonna realize, that you don’t even have to try any longer? Do what you want to. Girl, put your records on.”

Move by Yourself - Donavan Frankenreiter

“I couldn’t just do what they wanted, fake it. They said they’d be shocked if I found another place. Don’t stop doing what you believe in, don’t let them put you on a shelf, you’ve got to move by yourself, move by yourself tonight. Don’t ever be somebody that you’re not. There’s a choice you’ve got to make, do what you feel, don’t hesitate."

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Big wheels keep on turnin’, carry me home to see my kin, singin’ songs about the southland, I miss old Bamy once again, I think it’s a sin.”

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

“I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined. I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned.

Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window, let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find. Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it, release your inhibitions –

Feel the rain on your skin! No one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in, no one else, no one else, can speak the words on your lips. Drench yourself in words unspoken, live your life with arms wide open, today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten."

Amsterdam by Reed Waddle

“Headed for the open road, bought my ticket yesterday, got a seat by the window, like a bird I’ll fly away."

Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

“Her face is a map of the world, is a map of the world. You can see she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl. And everything around her is a silver pool of light, the people who surround her feel the benefit of it, it makes you calm, she holds you captivated in her palm.

Suddenly I see, this is what I want to be. Suddenly I see, why the hell it means so much to me."

Soul Thing by Taylor Hicks

“Where the city streets meet the county road, where the sun is nice and warm, no matter how long I may roam, this song still takes us home, takes us home.”

New York, New York by Frank Sinatra

“Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York! These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray, right through the very heart of it, New York, New York! I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep, and find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap. These little town blues are melting away. I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York. If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere! It’s up to you, New York, New York!”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Harlem Hair

Leave it to Elizabeth to put a little "culture" in my life. Since I rarely travel much higher than East 80th Street, visiting my Birmingham buddy who lives on 125th Street (on the West side, no less!), is quite an adventure. Just a few blocks from the Apollo Theater, I never know what I'm going to see on the streets when I exit the subway.

And I wasn't prepared for what I saw today! Elizabeth, whose hair hasn't touched her shoulders since college, was getting long braids, aka "a weave". I arrived to the process a bit late, getting there at 5 PM; Elizabeth had been there since 11 AM! However, I was there in time to see a few braids greased and twisted into her hair, and see the steaming hot water bowl - and Elizabeth's saucer-wide eyes when she realized they planned to dip the ends of the braids in it, oh so close to her bare shoulders!

Sadly, the braids didn't last a fraction of the time my memories of putting them in will - after four days of suffering through a New York City heat wave made even hotter by a foreign head of hair, a few snips of the scissors sent Elizabeth's Harlem hair down the drain. Or the toilet. Or the trash can - or wherever you put that stuff so it doesn't come back!

Sometimes two, sometimes three people worked on her hair. I've never seen hands move so fast to make braids!

If you're going to get braids, might as well get them in authentic Harlem.

Going out on the town - the braids really looked great on her...and I felt so plain with only a ponytail!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Year In New York - "Right in the middle of it all"

Have I really been a New Yorker for a whole year?!  Has it been 365 days since I choked back tears as my family waved goodbye to me at the Birmingham airport?!  Was it a year ago that I showed up on Jane's doorstep with nothing more than three suitcases and a nervous smile "hello!"?  All the new friends, all the new experiences, all the new sights and sounds and thoughts...what a year that has set a new course, given a fresh perspective, defined my life in so many ways.   

As I celebrate this milestone, the phrase "right in the middle of it all" repeats in my mind.  I remember reading those words on a University of Alabama Million Dollar Band recruitment brochure I received in high school.  There were quotes from several band members who each stated how much joy he felt to be part of the organization.  Of course, the quote I zeroed in on was the one from the Crimsonette.  I can picture so clearly the image of her smiling face as she stood proudly on the field during pre-game, and the words of her quote that went something like this: 

"Just picture it - standing on the field in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the football team running onto the field, the cheerleaders jumping on the sidelines, the band playing Yea Alabama, all while 88,000 exuberant fans shake crimson pom-poms and cheer at the top of their lungs...and there I am, right in the middle of it all."

I got chills when I read that while sitting in the floor of my bedroom.  I gripped the thick paper of the brochure and read it again, my palms beginning to sweat.  "I want to stand on the field!  I want to be a Crimsonette!  I want to be right in the middle of it all!" 

That Crimsonette wish came true, and for five years I spent fall Saturdays right in the middle of it all.  I remember several times as I stood on the field and looked out at the crowd (sometimes while just standing at attention, but sometimes even during a fast-paced twirling routine), my own thoughts became louder than the cheering fans or the playing band, "I am on the field. I am twirling as a Crimsonette. I cannot believe I am getting to do this!" I would try to visualize the scene from a bird's eye view - get a glimpse of myself dressed in those crimson sequins and white boots, marching to the sounds of the band with the football frenzy all around, just trying to make sure it really was real.  

I find myself doing that now - stopping on the sidewalk to look around at the skyscrapers, the bustling crowds, the taxi-filled streets, and saying to myself, "I am in New York City!  I LIVE in New York! I cannot believe I am getting to do this!  Here I am, right in the middle of it all!"