Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jeans whore, connoisseur

I was once a jeans whore, a connoisseur.

Last night, my favorite pair of jeans EVER, the Rock and Republic "Scorpion," bit the dust. I found a huge hole in the crotch when I plucked them from the wash. My grief was boundless. Shite. I needed another pair of medium-to-dark distressed jeans, and quickly. Shopping was in order.

As I gathered 20 pairs of jeans in my arms this evening at Bloomingdale's, I thought back to that fateful day some seven years ago in Nordstrom on the Magnificent Mile when I realized that my jeans were absolutely massive--I was wearing one or two sizes too large. It took me until I was 27 to figure that out. Such a shame that my best years of a youthful ass were behind me. But, better late than never, one supposes.

I had thought I was improving by moving up from Levi's to Lucky, but then I saw and felt the curve-hugging rightness of premium denim, and suddenly, I was more than willing to fork out $150 for an item that used to cost me $45. In any case, I resolved to find the perfect pair of jeans. But, I was alone. How would I ever know what fit? I whipped around the store, trying on every brand and purchased 12 pairs of jeans in total.

I took them to my sister's place on Belmont and started modeling. With her approval, I settled upon my first pair of an impending obsession. They were black, low rise and bootcut, made by 7 for All Mankind. They were a triumph of perfectly emphasized ass. (And I do thank the Lord that I have an ass to fill such denim. I would be inconsolable otherwise.)

From that day forward, I was consumed with the notion that I could find the perfect fit that obliterated camel toe and mitigated my hips. There was always that pesky butt-crack problem when bending over or sitting, but what a small price to pay for priceless curves.

I used to go shopping for jeans so frequently, even just for fun without purchasing, that I could tell you the cut and fit of each major brand, and I often took my friends shopping, analyzing their bodies and fitting them with the perfect pair of jeans.

Lost in the reverie of those glory days as I sauntered through Bloomingdale's, I plucked denim off the racks, seeing brands I no longer recognized, and something shocking happened. Something that I've been burying deep in my soul for probably the past year or so, ready to erupt: I just didn't care anymore. Sure, I want my ass to look great. Sure, I want my jeans to fit well. But, the obsession has died. More than anything, I just wanted a pair that made me happy and got a thumbs-up from me in the butt department.

I tried on pair after pair. Too big in the waistband! (And what is WITH the jeans right now--20% of the jeans i tried on were like that.) Too tight in the legs! Too stretchy! And then: my holy grail. The brand I haven't worn for several years now, yet the brand from which I started: a bootcut low rise pair made by 7 for All Mankind. They were the second to last ones I tried on, and they were by far the best fit. I took them to the counter and made my purchase.

My days of denim highs are over. I was pleased to find serviceable jeans, but not ecstatic. These were not as stylish as my Scorpions, but they were the right color and would fill the gap until I stumbled upon another superior pair. I am not sure when I'll find them, but unlike before, I'm in no hurry to rush out to look. They'll come to me when they come, and until then, these Sevens will get me through my daily commute.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Observer. Spectator. Cheerleader.

What does it mean to be a witness?

The holiday season is the time to spend with family, and seeing my parents made me think about witnessing--witnessing life. Parents are first-hand witnesses to their children. They were there at the beginning--they held us, and nursed us and literally and figuratively carried us until we could walk on our own two feet. Parents are the most open to entertaining the minutia of our lives. Who else might care that your childhood action figure's head accidentally popped off but your mother?

As our awareness develops and our focus moves from self-centeredness to empathy, we find that we observe our parents just as much as they observe us. We are more historically entwined with our parents than with any other relationship in our lives, and as much as they might drive us crazy or amuse us, we are indelibly linked to them, and their pain and their joy is ours.

As we grow older, our lives are less immediately connected, and perhaps if geography stands in the way, we cease to intimately know each other as we are now, instead relying upon memories and prior experience as our markers for understanding one another. But the bond is still there, and it's fraught with fear and tension and most of all, love, in whatever form each of us knows how to give.

And as our parents age while we're still in our relative youth, we begin to witness certain apects of their decline. In my case, I have a chronically ill parent and I can see how my mother struggles to adapt to her changing life, and it breaks my heart. I want so much to be this fountain of compassion, and yet I find myself hard pressed to keep my heart open and express tenderness because I am afraid of the tidal wave of pain that I know is under the surface of all of our hearts. I find myself sometimes becoming most emotionally detached at those moments when I should be most present. It's hard to love. Love is a kind of loss that can turn prickly and hard. But, it is also healing. Thankfully, I can admit to any faults and ask for forgiveness, and best of all, I know my parents will grant it.

As a witness, we are paradoxically

a part of

apart from

We are a part of our parents, yet apart from them at the same time. We also occupy space in other people's lives that is tangential and paradoxically central. There is a fine line between being a witness and becoming an interloper (and sometimes we do both), but for the most part, as adults, we are witnesses to our friends' experiences. We watch from a short distance as our friend, in only three months time, applies for and gets into a world-class grad school for her MBA. We see a lesbian couple wed using honored traditions from their respective religions. We see babies being born and share in the agony of an illness and their (mercifully) brief stay in the hospital. We see yet another reach out across the years to get back in touch with her estranged father. These are momentous events, yet also just life.

We are witnesses to ourselves. We can see our own growth and change if we choose to. We can think about it, but if we record it in journals, or write about it, we can make our own personal witnessing something that someone else can witness too. (And let us hope what we share is not shared entirely out of narcissism--I only mention this because it seems like such a danger that culturally everyone wants to be famous these days.)

Taking on the role of witness is an outward view that exposes us to potential hurt and the chafing of our hearts, but also opens a door to the joy and triumphs of the experiences of those around us. We live vicariously through each other all the time, and we can strive to be beacons of encouragement and hope for those we love.

What does it meant to be a witness? It means opening our hearts. It means being involved.

Being a witness means you're not alone even as you stand on the sidelines.

You are not alone.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not my terminal

I spent a half-hour blogging from my iPhone and the post never made it online, but the photo did. I added some other pictures. This is the rewrite:

The weekend of the 17th, I took a trip to DC flying out of LaGuardia. When I got to the Delta terminal, I was informed that because I was booked on a Delta *Shuttle*, I was in the entirely wrong place. Of course, nowhere on my ticket or in any of my pre-boarding materials did it mention that I was on a shuttle or that I had to go to some other terminal entirely. Thanks for the heads-up, Delta! The guy at the ticket counter informed me that I had to go downstairs, outside, and take Bus A to the Shuttles. Uh, OK. Thankfully the airport wasn’t too congested and I had arrived with 60 minutes to spare. I made my way downstairs (again, thanks for the lack of signage!), found where I needed to be, and waited for Bus A.

Once I got on Bus A, I wondered where the heck we were going. We passed every other airline terminal I could think of…American, United, US Airways…and then drove through green pastures. Perhaps they were taking us out to the fields to kill us?

Just as I was going from annoyed to supremely annoyed, they dropped us off in front of this small art deco terminal with a frieze of flying fish. My dismay turned to joy: an unexpected architectural gem! And it was in seriously good shape! And it was OPEN! I went inside and glimpsed a small rotunda with murals and nice art deco doors with steelwork reminiscent of airplane wings. A sign for "restaurant" was off to the left and a sign for "gates" was directly ahead. Beautiful!

But, it was pretty much deserted. Clearly, this wasn't it. Dammit! (After doing some web searching, I discovered that this is the Marine Air Terminal, the last remaining active airport terminal from the days of the "flying boat" in the 1930s and 40s.)

I went back outside and saw a slapdash, makeshift short white box of a temporary pile of terminal poo. Great, that was my craptacular destination. I went inside, did the security bit and sat in this minimalist-due-to-cheapness drab interior. Barf:

And please explain those bizarre magazine racks of free reading materials. It's like someone deliberately set out to make as sterile an environment they could muster, but figured if they could toss in some free toilet reading, all would be forgiven.

I'm grateful that I glimpsed the Marine Terminal and found something I want to research further. However, I'm sad that most travel nowadays is full of armed soldiers and nondescript architecture that provides no aesthetic pleasure. Airports and train stations are portals to our destinations, but why has culture devolved to the point that we can't make these temporary spaces as much a part of a positive experience as where we hope to arrive? I'm sure the sheer volume of people traveling now versus in 1930 is the issue, as well as economics. But still--there has to be a better compromise.

If I were applying to architecture school, this is exactly what I would write about in my application essay. Since I have no intention of going back to school, I simply sat in the nearly windowless space, nostalgic for a time I wasn't a part of and yet also grateful that I caught that tiny glimpse into the past.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's Organic

Ummm...who couldn't use Batter Blaster? Make pancakes in minutes...because God knows it takes 5 minutes to combine flour, eggs and milk or a milk substitute. Does it come in a gluten-free variety?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stop your cravings

The past few months my sugar addiction has returned due to me stuffing my face with organic cookies and gluten-free tasty treats. Why, oh why, are there so many new gluten-free products of late??? All day today I've been thinking about going home and eating chocolate. Or gluten-free licorice (which, by the way, Candy Tree makes amazing GF licorice. WOW! A pack of 12 is only $27!!). Even though I've been having allergy-induced headaches from corn syrup, I still want it. I find myself justifying reasons for stopping by the store to pick some up tonight, like the fact that if I take that route home, I'll have to walk an extra 15-20 minutes, and that's good for me even if the licorice is not.

In any case, some new research blogged about on Cognitive Daily shows that looking at something distracting while you're having cravings may stop the desire for that food. The image above, when animated, is an example of something distracting. The next time you want pizza, or soda or pie--take a look at the animated faux-crossword puzzle and stop your bad self before you're sobbing about those extra zits at the same time you're clutching your leftover bag of Halloween candy corn.

Consider this

150 people around the world die annually from falling coconuts. Keep that in mind on this, the Day of the Dead. See other statistics on causes of death.