December 20, 2006


Christmas has never really been about the presents for me. As a young kid, maybe it was and that isn't how my memory held the holiday over time, but presents just weren't ever outrageous and unexpected. In fact, there wasn't a whole lot to want, when I was young, that I recall. There were the sought-after items, certain dolls, then a bike, then a guitar when I decided to blossom briefly into a musician, and books - always books. But these days, there are just so many toys - even for big kids. It amazes me. Hot cell phones, hot music players, hot desk stereo units, hot this, hot that. And that's where I find myself this year - the proud, glowing recipient of a new music toy (and it's hot!) I don't know how Craig dreamed it up, but he started planting the seed a few weeks ago that I could either pick, for Christmas, from him, a new 'big girl' coat (he must be bored with my unsexy Old Navy black quilted faux snow ski coat) or a new iPod. Need I even announce my decision?? I bought myself a long wool coat from Banana Republic as fast as possible so that I could make sure he wouldn't change his mind about the iPod!! And so we traveled to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue (above shown) (the store is underground once you enter that huge curtainwall cage) to purchase my teensy, light-as-a-feather nano, holding only 2,000 songs, so that ideally I can keep the organization under control. He thereby gained sole ownership of the ancient (less than 2 years old, that is) big iPod, which has so much Pearl Jam and White Stripes in it already that now all it needs is a good purging of KB music to make more room for Craig Rock. And that is just what shall happen. In the meantime, we are both music-ready for holiday travel, and music-ready for London travel in January! I'm also several chapters into Howards End, and am taking On Beauty for the vacation, speaking of things to satisfy travel time. Ahh, vacation. So long awaited, so well-deserved. I finished up other holiday shopping tonight, as's funny...we left work at the same time and rode on the train together, and at 86th and Lex I told him I was heading to Modell's (on 3rd between 86th and 87th) to find some sports clothes for Mom and Dad. So we parted in the subway station and I emerged from the stair which would route me east on 86th, whereas he took the stair leading him to Lex to travel north. I paused at the corner there of 86th and Lex and peeked around the building to see his head bobbing as he walked north before darting across the street to the 86th Street Best Buy. May not make much sense to the casual non-New Yorker observer, geographically, but I want to remember our little intersection there forever - where we've got a Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Bank of America (across 86th at Lex), Orva (department store - weird department store where I wandered in tonight and bought navy blue Chuck Taylors and dark blue cords - both hugely on sale, where clothing is priced just what I'd expect it to be priced in New York...I saw a t-shirt tonight...a t-shirt...for $92...holy...), Victoria's Secret, Foot Locker, Steve Madden...just enough shops with big enough names to make 86th a popular shopping hot spot, yet the stores kind of aren't that great reminding one that it is, after all, the Upper East Side near the subway station. Anyway, I had ducked into Best Buy to purchase Craig his gift: an iPod portable dock system which he wants to sit on his desk at work. It's pretty cute. And I stood in line at Best Buy for 3 eternities, talking to my Dad on the cell phone the whole while, sweating pools in my scarf, coat and layers to buy this dock. But it was worth it to get Craig something he really wanted. We are definitely at an age where buying things for each other gets more challenging - yet, the nano purchase turned me into a 12 year-old and I think he's glad about his dock (though, certainly not twelve, seeing as he still hasn't even removed it from its packaging and when we bought the nano last week, he had to command me not to open it until we got home...I kept fiddling with the tiny coffin it came in all the way to the train from the Apple Store and all the way home!) Enough about the iPods and nanos and docks. I sometimes wish my children will never know what electrical outlets are so that I can shelter them from all of this tech. But in other news, we've got all of the presents stashed in his carry-on, tomorrow morning we'll pack our suitcases and then a little after 1 p.m. we will head out of the apartment to travel to Newark to fly out. Denver is all shut down from a blizzard today - Craig hopes the storm isn't on its way to sweep Chicago, since that's where we're scheduled to land tomorrow night. I'm just thrilled. Every bone in my body is aching for flatlined brain activity, couch-sitting, finger foods, sips of sodas or wine or cocoa or whatever Christmas beverage, mindless television, good family conversation and as much sleep as I can stuff into 8 short days. We head to Ann Arbor on Amtrak after Christmas. My parents will pick us up and we'll be in south east Michigan for a bit. Then back to New York. I just love today, tonight, the anticipation, the hours I spent earlier weaving in and out of stores, putting my debit card to good use for gifts (ok, and Chuck Taylors and cords for me), sleeping in tomorrow, my last New York bagel for a while in the morning, a frantic to-do list in the later morning and just the whole thing. See? My scroogeness has collapsed.*

December 17, 2006


Craig has left the apartment to wrap up some of our last minute Christmas shopping. We did a few things yesterday, and we've ordered some gifts through the internet (definition: life saving device which allows one to experience the joys of shopping for loved ones without hour-long lines, crowds, overkill of Christmasness, etc.) so I gather we're nearing done. He left angry with me, though. I told him yesterday I did not want to go out and about both Saturday and Sunday. He thinks this is a waste of my time and our lives. I didn't go to finish up shopping because I have an ongoing list of things I'd like to get done in my head before leaving to go to the Midwest for 8 days: 1. heavily revise my short story for the last class of my semester. It has undergone massive revisions since I last mentioned it, but now, we've been instructed to "take a risk" which for me might mean tossing around tense changes. I haven't decided yet. And I realize I procrastinate nicely but I'm terrified that this won't turn out as I want it to, and for our last class tomorrow, we're doing "student showcase" where we must be prepared to read one full page aloud from our stories, and what I rarely let on to anyone is that I equate reading my work aloud with permitting someone to slowly saw off my arm while I watch. 2. Create our photographic slide shows for the families. We started the project together this morning and now must fine tune last minute decisions. 3. Fill out my recipe cards to put into my recipe club members' Christmas cards, although Kara's and Erica's both went without, upon the persistence of my Christmas Card Boss. 4. Clean our messy apartment - I try to maintain certain levels of decency but it is impossible to keep up with it and everything else - and look, I don't even have any children yet...I can only imagine! 5. Relax a little. Granted, we relaxed good and plenty yesterday, after a wild night with our new friends Alison and Scott Friday, which found us hanging out in Chelsea until wee hours of the morning...or like two a.m. Yesterday's relaxation, needless to say, was filled with unrest and fog. I'd like a clear Sunday to perform all of the above referenced tasks. And I could keep going with items I'd like to accomplish. But Craig is mad, because evidently since there isn't his select football on today (I swear, we've been sitting around the apartment for months with football ringing in my ears and suddenly now it is irrelevant, mere days before we leave for an extended stay away from home??) he wants to wander around and view Christmas sights. Granted, he's dealing with a Grade A Scrooge here. And he can't stand that aspect of my personality. It's common that I will compromise my distaste for Christmas for him - like the night we wandered around for 2 hours after work looking at Rockefeller, Saks (see above), and other lit up Midtown spots. But today just doesn't seem like the opportune time to do it, to me, and so he's mad. Of course he's mad. If there were football on today which bound him to the couch, as has happened many weekends since we've moved to New York, maybe I'd be off the hook. But no. I guess none of his favorite teams are playing today. When it really comes down to it, the other part of the Holidays that winds me up is leaving home for such and extended period of time. I love seeing our families - I love to see our families more than I could explain. And I love the fact that this year is even better still, because we get to spend extended time with his nieces and my nephew. And I love the food, the warmth of family get togethers, and the nice conversations. But leaving home for so long makes me a nervous wreck - I don't know why. I guess I've lived far enough away from home for so long that when I leave my apartment, it feels much like I need to pack so many "just in case I need this" items - clothing-wise, book-wise, etc. - I don't know. Maybe today I'm just moody. The hope is that I will wrap up a good portion of the things I want to get done today (this post is just sort of to get things off my chest, I guess, and to gear up to revise the story) so that when five o'clock rolls around, and Craig wants to get out and see Bryant Park and Wollman Rink and lights and smell roasted chestnuts on the street and pine from the trees sold by street vendors - (see now how it all sounds so nice?) I will be ready to leave with him, to make him happy. I love him with my whole heart, and if he loves Christmas this much, I guess it's time I embrace the holiday myself. I can't remain such a grinch forever - someday there might be a couple of little people in my life who are going to want all the joy out of the end of the year they can get and will deserve. Yes, I'm just moody and irritated today. It happens.

December 11, 2006


Likely Craig won't be pleased at the title of this post. It's got something to do with college rivalry and his complete disgust for Ohio State. Nevertheless, we were in Cleveland, Ohio this past weekend to see our good friend Gordo, to help him see through his entire 30th birthday, from early afternoon when we landed from New York at Hopkins, all the way to 5 a.m. the next day. Painful. Staying awake past 9 takes courage anymore, much less to almost the next morning. But we did it. It was a fantastic time - Gordo's girlfriend Julie made so much food, it was as though we were beginning the holidays early - and such games (previously foreign to me) as beer pong and flip cup were played, as well as Left Right Center (which I just missed but possibly could have won and brought home tons of money. Oh, well). Gordo and Julie live in a completely cute neighborhood lined with modest Midwestern homes with backyards covered in snow and lit by pure orange dusks as seen above. I won't lie: I kind of missed the old world. Nothing like returning to stinky subways, jabbing elbows and curbs littered with trash to remind you that the everyday Midwest actually does feel nice to call home. But don't jump to any conclusions: I still love it here.*As evidence of my continued love for this City, we are planning a solid, happy and likely sidesplitting reunion here in NYC for New Year's Eve. My friends Roger and Mary are spending some time in Cleveland for the holidays, some time in Rochester (New York) then heading here. Our co-worker Wojo and his girlfriend Karen, plus Gordo and Julie (whom it took no time to convince to come! yay!) will all be here, plus an old friend of all of theirs named Jenny. It will be flat out fun - Gordo, Roger and Wojo worked together in Milwaukee way way back, Roger and Wojo worked in Houston together not long after, and Craig roomed with Gordo in Farmington Hills (MI) right around the same time Roger and Wojo were in Texas. Then I met Rog in St. Louis, and there you have it: many, many degrees of separation with continued reconnection. We have such great friends!*Moving on to what I wanted to say, at the tail end of this post - I had a really stimulating class tonight and next week marks my first last class in New York (first last meaning first last of semester, since I plan to take more). I've loved it - I haven't missed one. (See old college KB - never skipping school, such a nerd). I've found my new book club, though I missed my first meeting Sunday night due largely to the fact I had seen the light of 5 a.m. Sunday morning in Cleveland and landed back in New York in no shape for book club. We're reading Howard's End next, followed by On Beauty, a book written only recently but inspired by E.M. Forster (and Howard's End). Our next (my first) meeting is at a yoga studio belonging to one of the members - how great is that?? And basically, if I had to stand up on a chair and say it loud to anyone who would listen - New York has afforded, does and will continue to afford me opportunities that were never just right there. So much for dusky skies. This morning I saw bright pink reflections on the skyline of New York as I traveled into Queens. The skies behind us were lit by the gorgeous reddish morning. How could I miss one moment of the suburbs? New York has it all.*

December 06, 2006


Oh Christmas tree! Last night we were riding the train home together, for once (I'm always darting out of that office before Craig for one reason or another) and Craig said in a little kid voice, "Do you want to go see the tree?" I gave him my post-work grimace and said, "No, Craig, not tonight. Maybe some other time." But as we pulled to a stop at 74th/Broadway in Queens, I felt a sudden wave of miraculous Christmas festive spirit (I rarely do) and said on impulse, "Do you still want to see the tree?" His eyes lit up more sparkly than the tree itself, so we dashed off the train and headed downstairs to catch the F to Rockefeller Center. Here it is, the lovely tree, seen beneath the dancing flood light snowflakes that roll down the side of Rockefeller. We managed to capture our Christmas cards, which delighted us both. The cards will be homemade this year! - well, sort of. Anyway, it's been a while since I've been able to write. I attribute this to many things: fantastic dinner last Friday at Nina's, indescribably amazing and 5-star dinner Saturday (to be explained shortly) and a recovery Sunday from too many varieties of Champagne, wine and liquor the night before at the aforementioned 5-star joint. Monday I had class, Tuesday was the impulsive festive Christmas light-looking night (including more than just the tree and the ice skaters at Rockefeller, such things as strings of white lights on many Midtown trees) and tonight it's Wednesday, and I'm exhausted, will be cooking dinner for Craig and working toward a finished short story at least 5 pages in length, due next Monday (which has been begun, and includes three characters, Eloise, Janey and Isaac - none of whose names I'm completely sold on except maybe Eloise's, because it seems to suit her well. Janey started as Janet then turned Janey but might need to morph back to Janet.)*So, here is what happens from time to time in the adult working world: people offer gratitude in forms of food. Basically, a company Craig works closely with offered to host (sponsor, pay for) dinner at the fine dining establishment of Craig's choosing. Seeing as Craig and I are still fairly new to New York, and are absolutely rookie to the fine cuisine scene, Craig suggested that the representative in charge of the operation pick the place. And so it unfolded that we found ourselves dressed in new outfits - Craig in a suit and I in a red velvet dress with a matching piece of costume jewelry (where were the strappy heels in New York when I needed them?? All sold out, apparently, as I couldn't find any all day Saturday on my shopping excursion) and in a cab headed south to E. 61st Street. There, we were dropped at the door of Aureole (housed in an old brownstone) and Craig turned to me and said, "I don't know what's happening" which is our code for...well, it really isn't code at all. He (and I too) didn't know what was happening! We walked into the restaurant and asked for "Alex". Alex happened to be standing exactly by the hostess/host podium. When Craig then explained, "We're guests of ____," Alex smiled even more warmly than the first smile he gave us and showed us to a very nice table near the back, where Craig and I sat side by side against the wall. The sommalier came right over and presented us with a bottle of Champagne - real Champagne! From that region of France! - and we observed the very cryptic "first course" listing. I wound up ordering a salmon plate with goat cheese spread and a poached quail egg on a panini round and Craig ordered some exotic plate (a charcuterie) with sausages, pate (don't know where the ^ symbol is, which I think crowns the 'e' in pate?), prosciutto and other douses of things. Craig wasn't completely pleased with his first course, but our second courses and desserts were just unimaginably fantastic. By that point, we had ordered a bottle of wine to accompany the meal. There were short ribs as part of my dish that just literally melted off the bone as I touched my fork to them - and they tasted equally as tender. Craig, looking handsome as he ever has in a fancy new tie and brown jacket, ordered a funny triangle of differently-flavored sorbets, and I ordered a chocolate mousse concoction that was unforgettable. That was the point where I wanted to withdraw the camera from my small purse. I was denied permission (by Craig). Surely I would have looked foolish snapping photos of the gorgeously sculpted chocolate sensation that was my dessert. Finally, we cleansed our palettes with after-dinner cocktails - I had an elixir and Craig ordered a Manhattan (apropos), which may as well have walked up and kicked him in the head, it was that strong! Need I say here how fantastic it is to walk out of a place that swank having not laid a penny down? Here, a thousand times thanks to the guy who foot the bill. We had an incredible night (and we looked incredibly hot, if I never said that before!) Now accepting applications for additional fancy dinner sponsors!*The holidays approach at full speed. We're excited to see family. This weekend we fly to Cleveland to see Gordo turn 30. Sunday I attend new book club in Brooklyn. Etc., etc. - so much happening, so little time to sit and be still.