Friday, May 17, 2013

A sense of occasion is a wonderful thing

Right after I graduated from law school I had a job a large law firm in New York and one of the things about large New York law firms is that along with the regular legal nerds there are always some super interesting and memorable people. I'm still quite close with several of the "kids" who were in my starting class; two of them are among my closest friends on earth and know me at least as well as I know myself. Like pledges or plebs, junior associates bond with each other.

The day the New York state bar results came out was one I'll remember forever. Administered in July, the test results came out in early November. Ours was one of the first groups to have their results released online  and few of us had internet access at home, so my fellow first years and I decided that we'd all work until whenever that day and then convene at an Irish bar in Mid-town Manhattan, where we'd drink until 11:45, then scurry back to the office to check the results at midnight. 

The anticipation was so intense that the drinks could barely blunt our anxiety and fear! But at the appointed time we made our way back to 30 Rock (of yeah, our offices were in that amazing and historic building) and to our respective offices, spread out between the 32nd and 37th floors. And we logged in. 

Holy Mary mother of God, the connection was soooooo sloooooooooowwww! But as we started to call each other and run about the hallways we found out that the news was good. We'd passed!  And so back to (a fancier) bar for more celebrating and then, very early that morning, we all crawled home, happy, proud and most of all, relieved.

The next morning we all showed up to the office and were greeted with smiles and "Congratulations!" from the receptionists, the partners and our secretaries (the thing about NY is that the bar results are published in a trade paper that EVERYONE reads, so the whole firm know your business when you come to work that day). It was so nice!

My coworker Adam had a mentor named Veronique. She was a bit older than I was (and much younger than I am now) and as a Francophone Swiss woman from Zurich seemed to me to be impossibly sophisticated. When she learned Adam had passed the bar, she was genuinely happy and in recognition of his accomplishment, congratulated him with a bottle of champagne. Veuve Clicquot if memory serves. So thoughtful!

I will never forget the moment be then classmate now dear friend Angela told me about that. I was so impressed, and Angela said "Veronique has such a sense of occasion."

A sense of occasion.

What a wonderful thing.

I've thought a lot about that gesture and the expression used to describe it over the years. An understanding that some moments are special and deserve to be commemorated and set apart from others. I like it.

The next year, when I was a mentor to someone who passed the bar, I thought of Veronique and her gesture and bought my mentee a celebratory bottle of champagne. She'd earned it! And she was so tickled.

In the intervening years I've bought champagne, made cakes and made parties for people I love to commemorate their joyous moments. Because they've deserved it! And I love them! Their accomplishments, their milestones, their efforts and dreams. These things deserve to be acknowledged, commemorated, celebrated.

These things are occasions, and they're wonderful.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Staying Out of Trouble

Little fact about me: I love cop & detective shows.

One factor that I feel certain has impacted this prediliction is that I was allowed to watch almost unlimited television when I was a child, and in those days, tha halcyon days known as the '70's, there were lots of cop and detective shows on TV,  both first run and in syndication. The Rockford Files. The Streets of San Francisco. Adam-12. Hawaii 5-0. Starskey and Hutch. Police Woman. Kojak. Barney Miller.  Charlie's Angel's. Vega$. Hart to Hart. Loved them all.

Something else that I'm pretty certain influenced my viewing tastes was growing up in a virtual crime wave.  Kids reared in the 1970's amd early '80s were the first generation of children to come of age in an era of tremendous criminal awareness.  Stranger Danger, Officer Friendly, no candy from strangers, kinds snatched from school restrooms.  On top of that, we had the Hillside Strangler, Son of Sam, The Green River Killer, The Zodiac Killer, The I-5 Killer, Ted Bundy, The Atlanta Child Murders. And more.

So, I watched these programs for education as well as entertainment.  If I knew more about these people and their tricks and ways, I'd be able to avoid them and their traps.

My affinity for this genre of television programming continues to this day and includes shows such as Law & Order, MI-5, CSI (the original ONLY), Luther, The Killing and Psych (it's cute!).  However, I now also enjoy "reality" cop & investigative shows, such as The First 48, Solved, Wicked Attraction and Cold Case. The kinds of shows shown on that channel that used to be called Court TV, but for which they changed the name a few years back, and on which at least half of their current programs start off with someone whispering "Investigate!". There are lots of them and they provide me with many hours of diversion while I knit.

Watching these reality programs has actually taught me quite a bit about the criminal element and how terribly different most criminals are from me, so allow me to share my wisdom and offer up these

Tips For You:

1. Know your friends last names.
2. Know your friends' first names.

That's about it.  If you're the kind of person who knows the first and last name of the people with whom you spend the bulk of your free time, you're likely to stay free.  On the other hand, if most of  the people in your circle you know only as Man, "Cuda, Tron, Black, Whitey, Red, J. Roc, Goo Man, Money Mike, Murder Mike, Junior, Lil' (Pete/Joe/Jon/Whatever), Crazy 8 or Pretty, you need to re-assess your situation.

Home work

When I work from home, I tend to get sit down at the computer and get started right away, like two hours before I would normally be at my desk. A few hours into my day, when my pits start feeling clammy and I realize there's still sleep-crud around my eyes I realize that I've left some things undone. Some hygiene things.

Tip For You: When working from home, remember to treat yourself like the fully integrated member of society that you are. Brush your teeth! Wash your face! If you're feeling energetic, maybe even take a shower (confession: yesterday I didn't bathe [I always take a bath] until 4 pm and so after I washed my face, went straight to night cream, bypassing my daytime moisturizing routine entirely; it felt creepy) .

Doing these little things will make everything so much easier when you pop out to the local cafe at 1 pm for a cookie or to Taco Bell for a taco if you're already moderately presentable.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Live and Learn (hopefully)

You, over there in the shortshort!  Stop tugging on it.  It hasn't shrunk since you left the house and pulling it down every 30 seconds ain't gonna make it grow longer.

Oh, hello there.  Camel toe got you down? Picking at your pants isn't the solution; a quick stop at The Gap, however, might be.

"Suddenly" realize your shirt pulls flatteringly across your gut? I call bullshit.

The times that I have seen a woman tugging at her hemline or a man obsessively readjusting his button down in the vain attempt to give it some stretch are too numerous to count.  Despite living is a society filled with mirrors and other reflective surfaces, some people are painfully deluded about their clothing. I'm not talking about wearing a skirt that's shorter than is flattering for your legs, jeans that leave nothing about your package to the imagination or a shirt with a neckline so plunging that I can see the lint in your naval.  Those are all matters of personal style. If if makes you feel good, why give a shit what I think?  WEAR IT!

I'm talking about people who MUST, in the back of their mind, know that what they've put on is a bad decision and who then spend the rest of the day fiddling and fidgeting sheepishly and generally drawing attention to their bad decision.  It's not helping, none of it, so let me offer this

Tip For You: You wore it, now wear it.  The day will be over soon enough and when you get home, consider dumping the offending item. Until then, try to remember that it's the only thing keeping you from an indecent exposure charge, so ride it out with a little grace, ok?  If that's impossible, run in to the nearest Target/J. Crew/Dress Barn and buy a quickie replacement and chalk the expense up to experience.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rain on your wedding day

We all know it's not ironic, but neither need it be a catastrophe.

One of my besties got married a couple of years ago; an outdoor wedding in Cape Cod in June. While the locale was beautiful, the forecast predicted rain and she debated whether to order a special tent for the ceremony.  It was, like anything surrounding a wedding, a bit spendy, and how tragically annoying it would be to rent the tent and not use it, right?  Being a wise and thoughtful hostess (more brides need to think along these lines), she realized that her guests comfort was paramount to a successful day and that sometimes you have to bite the bullet, so she rented the tent.  And it rained. And none of the guests minded a bit and the wedding was a blast.

Bite the bullet.  That's what I should have done when I caught cold last week. Instead of buying the luxurious name-brand "facial" tissues, I made the mistake of cheaping out and buying some off-brand packet and I'm paying the price for it now. The lower third of my face is red and chapped and the skin under my nose is flaked such that I appear to have boogers hanging out.  FYI: I don't. To top it off, I wound up needing to buy more tissues (Kleenex, with lotion, thank you very much) and Mentholatum to sooth my poor visage. Arrgh!  If only I'd have spent when spending was needed.

Tip For You:  It's true what they say, a penny wise is a pound foolish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walk it off

When you walk, you see the neatest things.

The last few months that I lived in New York I walked a lot.  A lot.  I'd been a walker in the past and would often walk to or home from work in the spring and summer, but this year I reached a whole new level.  Inspired in part by my disgust for the MTA I would regularly walk to and from work, a round trip of 8 miles that saved me about five spiteful dollars a day.  Since I was no longer purchasing a unlimited monthly transit pass, I became VERY tightfisted about paying for trains or buses.  If it would take me an hour or less, I'd walk instead of ride. If I wasn't carrying a cumbersome load: walk.  Not raining? Walk.  Raining but not pouring? Put on my wellies and walk.  One day I walked 12 miles, round trip, to the dentist.  I was committed.

I learned a few neat things on my walks.  For example, Williamsburg was much closer to my apartment that I'd thought, and almost as fast to reach on foot as it is via the train.  Also, the Williamsburg Bridge is Pepto-Bismal pink.  And I'm no good at distance walking while carrying a coffee.  And my fingers puff up like hot links when I walk for more than an hour.  

The neatest thing by far that I learned was that the city seemed to shrink when I walked.  As areas once new to me became known to me, my sense of neighborhood expanded.  Places once a hassle to get to now seemed to be "just over there." Also, when you walk, you get none of that disorienting "where the hell am ?" feeling that often arises when you pop up out of the subway (usually in an outer borough).  When you walk, you  know where you are because you saw where you were going and how you got there.

In the midst of all my walking fervor, I moved half way across the country to Minneapolis, a city I know, but not terribly well. And I don't have a job.  So I walk. Not like Forrest Gump (that a shitty movie), but for two to two and a half hours three or four days a week.  And it's been awesome!  I saw a great blue heron, realized Minnehaha Creek isn't far from me, stumbled upon the local Dairy Queen, learned that rabbits are almost as ubiquitous as squirrels here (which are like rats in NY, which is to say: disgusting), have found streets where I would LOVE to own a home and streets where you couldn't pay me to rent an apartment.  

All this is to say that in walking, I'm getting to know my neighborhood. And my neighbors.  Yesterday while walking I ran into a fellow I'd seen walking a dog two days earlier and he asked me if I'd gone to a local high school, as I was apparently wearing the school's colors.  No, I replied, and he proceeded to tell me that he'd graduated from there in 1988, had three brothers, was walking the dog for a friend of his who had terminal cancer and that he himself had gender identity issues, had inherited his house from an aunt so it was paid for and he knew someone who'd had gender reassignment surgery in Thailand and was now so happy and asked if I was happy being a woman.  "Yeah, it's working out pretty well for me," was my truthful response.

So, Tip For You:  Get out there and go for a walk!  It's healthy and you'd be amazed at the things you can learn.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The last-minute traveler's bitter enemy and BFF

1.  A couple of years ago my Grandma fell ill and we thought she was going to pass away (which she did, but that's not the point o f this post).  At the time, she lived in Minnesota and I lived in Brooklyn, New York.   There are many, many flights between the three New York City area airports and MSP, but as I was flying at the last minute, I knew that the fares would be spendy, so I called a couple of airlines and asked about their bereavement fares.  

Almost without fail, the "Bereavement Fares" were as high, or higher, than the most expensive fares that I found when conducting my own ticket search.  WTF?  Now, I loved Grandma and the was no way I was not going to her funeral so I knew I would spend whatever I had to spend to get there, but COME ON!  I wasn't jetting to Cabo for a sex romp!  I was flying to Minnesota in the dead of WINTER to bury a loved one, so why in the world was the quoted bereavement fare so much more expensive than other last minute fares (which were, in and of themselves, quite pricey)?  When I asked this question of the ticketing agent I was told that tickets purchased under a bereavement code could be changed without penalty, which I thought was both evil and moronic, as I've not heard of many funerals being rescheduled, thus requiring attendees to change their travel plans.  I told him so, and bought a cheaper, non-bereavement ticket.

2. A couple of months ago I was scouring Craig's List for apartments in Minneapolis, where I was planning to move.  After seeing a lot of potentially awesome apartments on line, I decided that I needed to fly out and see some so that I could make a decision and start working on the move.  I hopped on, my go-to airline ticket aggregator, and, as expected, prices for last minute (leaving in 2 days) tickets were astronomical.  I was fretting over the wisdom of making this expensive trip when my pal Jim suggested I check out a site called Last Minute (, which specializes in last minute tickets, to see what I could find.

A few minutes of poking about on Last Minute and it became clear that this was the solution to my problems.  Quoted prices were significantly cheaper than anything I was able to find online, either through other ticket aggregators or directly through airlines. 

But wait! There's more!

In a bizarro twist of norms and up-ending of all travel advice I had ever been given, I found that my trip would be even cheaper if I purchased two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket. So

Tip For You:  The next time you need (or shoot, even just want) to book a last minute flight, check out and consider a one-way ticket. And remember, bereavement fares are for suckers.