Friday, February 27, 2009

Now that's a view

I stayed at my old apartment last week to take care of Roxy while Jane was away on a trip.  Sitting on the couch watching TV (still remembering how to change the channels on the confusing remote) and clanging pots and pans around the kitchen (and knowing where to put them all back), I suddenly realized how at home I still feel there.  I walked over to my old bed - still there anytime I want to return, so Jane says! - and looked out at the view of the city, and I felt the familiar chills of excitement run up my spine.

I remembered the first time I saw that view - Jane and I had been emailing back and forth for about a week to make plans for me to see her (make that meet her) while I visited New York with Jackie and Ansley. In one of the emails Jane included a picture of a sunset view from her apartment window, and when I opened the message and comprehended the picture as the iconic buildings of midtown Manhattan, a lump swelled in my throat and tears welled in my eyes.  Sitting in front of my computer screen in my office in Birmingham, I choked back the emotions the picture stirred - it was my absolute dream!, yet the Birmingham life was my reality.  The desire to be in New York burned as deeply as the piercing oranges of the setting sun in the picture, and I knew then and there that I HAD to get to New York.  

That same lump of emotion appeared again in my throat today - two years later - as I thought about how that dream to live in New York...and have that view...became a reality.   And the lump grew sweeter with thoughts of how Jane opened her home and heart to me so I could experience New York.  What a lasting view of friendship that picture will always give me.  

I still have that email Jane sent me on February 1, 2007 - see the picture below, and my emotions-tempered-down reply: 

"WOW!!!  That picture made tears well up in my eyes!  That is my New York dream!  You are so lucky to live there." ~ Rebecca to Jane, February 2, 2007

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reality Ride

This morning I closed the cab door and told the driver my cross-town destination - Pier 94.  
"Where is that?" he asked. 
"On 55th and West Side Highway," I said, surprised to have to explain further.
As he gingerly drove over bumps in the intersection instead of peeling off like a bat out of hell the way most cab drivers do, I knew something was up.  And then when I had to repeat the destination twice and explain that the piers are all the way on the west side - "just drive west 'til we hit the water!" - I knew this guy had not a clue as to what he was doing.  

I didn't really care though if we inched along - or got lost for that matter - as long as he got me from east to west side in one piece.  An exhausting day of work busyness mixed with periods of boredom awaited at a trade show being held at the piers, and, admittedly, I was not feeling too excited about it.  I hunkered down in the seat and planned to enjoy a quiet ride across town, when again he asked me just where the piers are.  
"Are you kidding me?!" I wanted to scream.  "Everyone knows where the piers are!"  
As I drew a deep breath to tell him again, he apologized for asking and said that it was just his third day driving.  We began chatting, and he told me he was from Tennessee and had only been in New York for four months.  He came for a finance job, but he didn't get it, and he didn't want to move back home so soon, so...there he was, driving a cab until something better came along.  
I sat up a little prouder in my seat and said a quick prayer of apology for my bad attitude about my impending work day.  It beat driving around in a cab for 12 hours at a time, that's for sure.  In fact, my day sounded downright luxurious compared to his.  I launched into a pep talk of "I'm sure you'll find a job doing what you went to school for" and "You never know who might get in your cab who will offer you a finance job!"

We crossed over 6th Avenue - the heart of midtown Manhattan business with skyscrapers and bustling streets all around - and I noticed (impossible not to) a HUGE line of well-dressed business people - young, old, black, white - snaking and curling along the sidewalk.  As we drove, the line continued longer and longer.  "What in the world is going on?!" both the cabbie and I exclaimed.  Finally I saw the beginning of the line turn into the lobby of a hotel, and it hit me like a punch in the stomach - a job fair!  Oh good lord, a job fair.  

Seeing that many people standing in the freezing cold waiting for a chance to go inside to the job fair, while I was being chauffeured to my job by my college-educated cab driver, I suddenly couldn't wait for the work day at the trade show that awaited me.  I put a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart - the most essential part of any business suit these days.   

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Part of the show

Sometimes I find myself at an event or in a situation that suddenly - almost amusingly - makes me remember, "Oh yeah, I'm in New York City!"  Tonight, for example, I found myself in a very large loft studio in Soho, dressed head to toe in black, hobnobbing with drink in hand amongst a crowd of predominately Italian-speaking, short, dark-haired people.  Workers scurried around the gathering crowd to make final lighting and sound adjustments for the fashion show soon to take place, and I found I was being scurried around as the organizing photographer took it upon himself to introduce me from group to group.  As he ushered me to a seat on the empty front row saved for VIPs, I glanced back at the people sitting packed on the rows behind me.  I felt their eyes on me and knew they were thinking (just as much as I was, actually), "Just who does she think she is?"  The tallest person there by a few inches, with the lightest color skin and reddest color hair, I guess maybe I did look like I was somebody.  But I stifled a giggle to think if they only knew...little ol' Rebecca Mummert from Alabama is quite amazed to be here, sitting front row and feeling part of the 'New York City' show.  

Friday, February 20, 2009

Everywhere I Look a Celebrity!

Here a celeb, there a celeb, everywhere a celeb!!  The past week has been the most celebrity-filled of my New York tenure.  In true Gossip Girl form, read on to see who all I spotted around the city:

Friday - Spotted: Matthew Broderick - aka Ferris Bueller - on 62nd and Madison....on the phone and walking into Hermes.  Buying a Valentine's gift for Sarah Jessica, perhaps?  Or meeting Sarah Jessica inside??  Gossip Girl followed his brown coat tails...found no SJ, but predicts jewelry is in her future. 

Sunday - Spotted: Heidi Klum sneaking out of the Tents at Bryant Park. Our golden girl of the runway shying away from the spotlight? 

Tuesday - Spotted: Front row at Narcisco Rodriguez fashion show - Is that Kanye West and galpal Amber Rose behind those sunglasses?  Is Juliana Margueles making her comeback as ER makes its exit?  Has Claire Danes finally gotten a so-called life?

Wednesday - Spotted: Barely.  Carrie Fisher - aka Princess Leia - stumbles into Braccialini in Soho.  A few pounds and a few raindrops concealed her identity even after a few conversations.  Really Gossip Girl, you're losing your touch...

Thursday - Spotted: Kevin Bacon, Taylor Hicks and New Kids on the Block...street-side at the Regis and Kelly Show...Gossip Girl, you should be ashamed - up at 5:30 AM for them??

Friday - Spotted: Christian Siriano - aka Project Runway winner - dining at Lure in Soho with mom and boyfriend.  No smiles post-fashion week show?  Or is he just too fierce for smiles?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NYC Ballet

Similar to my quest this year to visit a museum a month is my quest to see a show a month. Like the museum, I've not set a schedule for what to do each month, or even planned it out further than just deciding 'today I feel like seeing a show', but I have set three viewing guidelines:
1) A Broadway show is preferred, but any type of theater, dance or music (comedy is pushing it) counts
2) It has to be a live show
3) If I can get in free, even better!
January's show started the year on a high note - not only was it Broadway, it was classic Broadway - The Phantom of the Opera - AND I sat in the best seats in the house for free!   

As luck would have it, today my boss gave me two tickets (free!) to the New York City Ballet (live!) in Lincoln Center (practically Broadway!)  

Cameron and I enjoyed an evening of three ballets - Ballo della Regina, Robert Schumann's 'Davidsbundlertanze', and Glass Pieces.  Our seats were stage right in the dress circle...a perfect spot to enjoy both the movement on stage and the audience in the theater.  Though the real show was playing out on the stage in front of me, I took advantage of my perch above orchestra and gazed at the rapt faces of the audience.  I dreamed of what thoughts the ballerinas on stage have as they spin and leap and await the clapping hands.  My eyes dazzled with the beautiful architecture of the interior - the chandeliers and lights cut like hundreds of beautiful diamond engagement rings.  

Unlike the current trend of lax dress code and demeanor at most Broadway shows, the atmosphere at the ballet is dignified and grand, just as a night at "the ballet" should be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Barbie is celebrating her 50th birthday all around New York City - in the windows at Bloomingdale's, in displays at toy fairs, and even in the exclusive Tents at Bryant Park. And who would dare stop Barbie as she pranced by the security guards who barricade the entry to the inside of the Tents? Those intimidating guards blocking the entrance from the less-heeled crowd on the street definitely couldn't resist Barbie's charm, and neither could Fashion Week organizers. She was honored with The Barbie Fashion Show (watch here) - the hottest ticket this Fashion Week with girls young and old trying to finagle their way to the show.

I wanted to see the show so badly, I decided if having let my little sister play with my beloved Peaches 'n Cream Barbie all those years ago would have provided me enough good karma to get a ticket to the show, I would have gladly handed Peaches over to her "death". (Elizabeth was the culprit in the decapitation of just about every Barbie ever known to be in her care. She claims she's only guilty of having a heavy hand while hair brushing, but I always had suspicion there was more reckless motives behind the incidences...)

Knowing a head-crammed-on, short-necked Barbie wouldn't give me any more good karma now that it would have to play with back then, I figured unless I could come by a ticket the honest way (minimal finagling required), then I didn't really want a ticket to the show anyway. Why have Barbie come to life on the runway now, since she's always existed in my world of pretend?

So pretend is exactly what I did: though my credentials got me inside the Tents, they did not get me into the show. Instead, I wandered the decorations surrounding the fountain and pretended I was sitting live in the audience while I watched the show on the television screen.

After all, a game of pretend is always better than a huffy declaration of "I'm taking my Barbie's and I'm going home!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just another girl in the park

With it being day 3 of NYC Fashion Week, and me not having been to a show in the Tents at Bryant Park yet, I decided the next best thing to models lined on a runway was a table lined with sushi. Eating at the restaurant Koi in the Bryant Park Hotel has become my fashion week tradition, so I made plans to meet there with my fashionista friend Amy who was in town from Alabama.

Excited about the sushi, drinks and conversation soon to be consumed, I energetically hopped off the bus at 42nd Street and walked the few bustling avenues to Bryant Park. My tall boots were click, click clicking as I cut through the back side of the park behind the Tents - the area dark, quiet and all but deserted - a far cry from the onlookers crowded at the front of the Tents on 6th Avenue.

I slowed my hurried pace a few beats so I could enjoy the refreshing sights (trees with a glowing backdrop of skyscrapers) and sounds (distant car horns) of nature. "Ah, to just be a girl relaxing in a park!" I thought, before picking up the pace again. But wait - I'm not alone in the park - who's that tall blonde walking up beside me? And why are there 10 cameramen walking backwards in front of her, and now me, too?!

With a quick glance - and an even quicker jaw drop - I realized it wasn't just any other girl in the park with was Heidi Klum. My first reaction was to flip my hair and rock my hips in a catwalk sashay duel beside her across the park, but I quickly saw that she was just walking, just like me, on her way toward Koi, just like me, her heels clicking, just like mine, her hair blowing into her face, just as mine did. She's just another girl in the park, just like me. But, oh!, how I wished I could be her as the flashbulbs lit up her face and the dark sky around us. As she ducked into her waiting car and I ducked around the back of it to cross the street, she glanced at me through the window, and I wondered if just maybe she wished she could be me even for a little while - just another girl in the park.

My Tulips

A crimson and white "pompom" more spirited than a stadium full of crimson and white shakers. Roll Tulips Roll!  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heart Hustle

When was the last time you saw a man running at top speed down a sidewalk with flowers in hand? Never, you say? Well, me either, until today. The influx of roses this week to the city's street corner markets beamed shades of red into the gray wintry streets - a blaring red siren, if you will, to alert one and all that Valentine's Day is here. Judging by the cellophane-wrapped bouquets cradled in many a man's arm as he walked home - New York City suitors had taken notice.

So with Valentine love abundantly in the air, the sight of this particular man with flowers in hand should not have been so startling. But his exuberance, his determination, his desire to get those flowers to his intended recipient was so strong, so obvious that he was running as fast as he could down the sidewalk.  I half expected to see him leap over a garbage can and clear the gate like a hurdle as he bound toward the front door of the apartment building.  Surely his motivation was the loving smile and happy eyes that awaited him.  If only all men could have such - breathless? - dedication. 

If only all men were the 1-800-flowers delivery guy...  

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Memory Handful

I love when an unexpected sight stops me in my tracks, the image depicting a fond memory brought to mind. This type of reminiscing does not include rummaging through a drawer and finding a photo or memento to remind you of an occasion. This is about seeing something completely unrelated to the memory, but it being so depictive of the event that your memory is sparked and brought vibrantly to life. One of the remarkable things about walking the streets of New York City is the sights and sounds here could not be further out of context from every memory I possess from life in Alabama, yet a simple image can spark a memory and bring the two worlds together.

The anticipation for the halftime show of the Alabama-Auburn football game my first year as a Crimsonette was tremendous. Our part in the 12-minute show consisted of a twirling feature, a high-spirited dance number, a two baton routine, and a graceful dance, not to mention three costume changes of only about 30 seconds each. Throw in the added stressors of traveling to Birmingham for the game, the thought of the whole state of Alabama in the stadium watching, not learning a three-minute dance routine until midnight on the Thursday before the performance, and never having practiced the costume changes until Saturday morning - it's needless to say we were 18 girls wrought with nerves.

We had a million details to remember and a million opportunities for things to go wrong - and go wrong they did: missed musical cues, wardrobe malfuncitons, dropped batons. During the dance routine we'd learned just 36 hours before, I didn't know whether I was jumping or leaping or spinning, and a look at the Crimsonette next to me showed she had no idea either. We escaped to the tiny makeshift sideline dressing room, a commotion of girls ripping off our peppy skirt and sweater costumes from the spirited dance and grabbing on the long sheer red skirts and gloves for the next number.

Trying to regain composure from the hysterics of the costume change, I waltzed into my position on the field while frantically yet discreetly struggling to get my right hand in its glove. My thumb must have gone into the pinky of the glove causing my fingers to miss half of the finger holes, because when the music began and I circled my arms above my head with ballerina-like charm, I saw the empty finger slots protruding in every direction from my unfortunately twisted glove. Feeling as though the eyes of the entire stadium were focused on the gnarled hand at the end of my graceful arm, I balled the sprouting fingers into my fist so I could continue to dance for the duration of the song with the least bit of humiliation.

The image of that gnarled red glove has always stuck in my mind, always reminding me of one of the more shameful performances of the Crimsonettes, but making me laugh nonetheless.

So you can see how this unexpected sight not only literally stopped me in my tracks but also brought about a wave of sweet Tuscaloosa memories while standing on the corner of the busy New York City street.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

So close, yet so far

My pleading with the weather must have worked - today the sky was blue and the sun was bright, and the temperature was milder than it has been in ages. I shrugged off the big puffy coat I've grown accustomed to wearing and slipped on a short, three-quarter sleeve jacket. A mixing up of my wardrobe deserved an equal changing up of my scenery, so I traded my well-trod Manhattan streets for an out-of-borough excursion to Brooklyn.

I hopped on the subway clutching the directions I had hastily scribbled on top of another note, and as the train lurched forward in the direction I hoped was toward my Brooklyn destination of Prospect Park, I realized the station where I was supposed to get off was not listed as a stop for this train. I panicked only slightly before picking a new stop by the park that I figured must be close to the outdoor flea market I intended to visit. After the 40 minute ride into Brooklyn, I exited the train and emerged in an area I discovered was so close, yet so far from my now unknown destination.

I decided to just explore the area I had happened upon - finding the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Library and Grand Army Plaza - and enjoyed the new scenery but grew weary for "the City" I had left behind for the afternoon.  I turned a corner and- there it was!  My Manhattan so majestic in the distance, it beckoning me home, and me realizing I was so close, yet so far to getting back there. 

With the sun beginning to set, the winds beginning to gust and the temperatures beginning to drop - I tucked my scarf a little tighter, wished for my heavier coat, and decided the lasting days of warmer temperatures that lead to today's adventure were so close, yet so far away. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stop, please

The freeze always begins with a tingling in my upper lip that moves immediately to my lower lip and then creeps into my cheeks - my face feeling paper thin with the frigid temperatures blasting against me. Realizing my nose is so frozen that I can no longer feel it, I start moving and twitching it side to side - not the quick Bewitched style, mind you, my twitches are slow-motioned and labored, my numbing face clumsy.

Snow is piled everywhere, and I've been living in my big puffy coat for what feels like weeks. Last year at this same time I was wishing for snow and bragging that this southern girl didn't think the New York winter was so bad. Sure it was cold, but it was a refreshing cold, and I didn't believe anyone who told me I was experiencing a mild first winter in the north.

But I believe them now, for there is nothing refreshing about walking outside and feeling your skin freeze on contact with the air. Nothing refreshing about having to cover every inch of your body in three layers. Nothing refreshing about tears streaming down your cheeks from the windy cold. Nothing refreshing about wishing you had a ski mask just so you can take a walk down 5th Avenue.

So, stop, please! to the frigid air and snow.  Let us icicles of New Yorkers remember what normal air feels like, the weightlessness of no coats, and the warmth of the sun on our faces.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chic at all costs

Pegu Club - Soho

My green knit dress clung to the rich brown velvet cushions as I fidgeted in my chair at the swanky Soho cocktail bar Pegu Club. The medium height and rounded shape of the chair made for an uncomfortable - albeit aesthetically pleasing - perching spot beside the low table. I took another sip of my drink - savoring it as my one and only for the night. Outside the window, West Houston Street was quiet and covered in snow. The glow from the street lights shown through the wood grilles decorating the window, and cast a funny plaid shadow on the trendy clothes and pretty faces of everyone around the bar.

Popping the last bite of the shrimp mini burger into my mouth - the double use of "tiny" descriptives should have forewarned me - I marveled how something so delicious could be so unsatisfying. No doubt unsatisfying because one drink plus one small appetizer at this place equals what I spend on lunch for an entire week.

"What we New Yorkers pay to be chic is ridiculous," I thought, but resigned myself to focus on the conversation and to enjoy the evening of sophisticated company. I sipped my drink again and smiled across the table.

"Oh my gosh," my friend said, half under her breath. "I could eat about five of these shrimp burgers, but I'd settle for four slices of cheap pizza right now!"

My thoughts exactly.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Tulips

Every time I look at these tulips, I'm transported to a late afternoon sky of frothy clouds edged with the hues of the setting sun, the wind gently blowing me from one blossom to the next.