Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You too can have fun in a prison cell

There are times when I feel poor or hindered, which sucks when I feel like getting out and doing something. This video reminds me that you don't need money to have a good time and create amazing art. Put on a suit and have a good time in your matchbox apartment.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Free-Range Woman

As I crack a free-range chicken egg on the edge, a sharp edge, of a bowl, I notice how much thicker the shell is and how brightly yellow the yolk is compared to the cheap eggs, and I think about those free-range chickens. Happy, shiny-feathered hens running around in the sun, eating sunflower seeds and sprouted grains, chatting away with other hens, until one cramps up and projects an egg hard enough to be stamped "EB" on it's unbreakable shell in red organic beet ink.

Is that all it takes for these eggs to change? Some stress-free sunshine, a run in a meadow, and a hearty organic meal? If that's true than what do you tell a woman, stuck in a cubicle all day, eating her fix of quick takeout before going back to the stress mill? How would anything she produces compare to a girl who leads an open, stress-free life of healthy diet and exercise?

I think I'm onto something, and this scares me so much that now, everyday I strive to be a free-range cage-free organically-fed woman. And I will not be broken by the blunt side of a bowl. I will stick to my Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, my daily exercise, and of course, cage-free eggs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Summer Union or Some Reunion

After reconnecting with an old friend on facebook, a snippet of my childhood flooded into my mind, and I had to record it on paper. And since my high school reunion is coming up, it seemed appropriate to share...

In the seventh grade I had a crush on this guy named Jared Michaels. He had a mushroom haircut, parted in the middle, and his hair smelled like Pert Plus for kids, unless he was wearing cologne that day. He never knew I liked him although we had frequent conversations about relationships and sex. Of course, they were one way conversations and often involved him calling me a faggot and professing who I wanted to have relations with. I could have cleared up the rumors by expressing how I felt, but he was dating this tall muscular girl who could definitely beat me up, so instead, I took the heat and rolled my eyes as often as needed.

One apathetic day in Social Studies class, we were paired to present a radio broadcast about the historical events of Russia (Don't ask when. I only remember it was about Russia, because we thought it would be clever to have a vodka commercial in between our segments.) I volunteered to bring in my dad's tape recorder and a blank tape into school the next day, so we could get our project done during our shared study hall, although, I would have preferred to meet off school grounds.

I went home and found a tape that was unmarked and could be blank, but I was determined to play it through to ensure I wouldn't be embarrassed later. Knowing my mom's infatuation with Anita Baker at the time, it was quite possible. The first side was blank, and I flipped the radio to Kiss 108 for homework-doing inspiration while the tape rewound. During some pre-algebra problems, the drum solo kicked in through my Sony boom box, and my heart sunk into my chest and shuttered. In an impulsive desperation, I lunged to the record/play buttons just in time for Always by Bon Jovi to be captured on my cassette tape. I spent the night dreaming of Jared Michaels with a soundtrack.

The next morning, knowing how cool Bon Jovi was, I thought I would score some reputation points if Jared knew I listened to quality pop music, not just Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana, which would suggest that I was not only a "faggot" but also a "freak". So, I grabbed the tape and conducted a plan that would reveal my hip taste in music.

We met up during study hall, and I casually mentioned how I may have recorded Bon Jovi on one side of the tape. he interrupted, "I love Bon Jovi. Is it Always?" I nodded. He then insisted we hear it first before recording over it.

So, I pushed my bitten thumb nail into the play button and swallowed as that familiar drum solo started again. We looked at each other the entire duration of the song as we sat in the 7th grade hallway. I secretly wanted the song to play in an endless loop that would last forever. We had a moment, an understanding, the easiest five minutes and fifty-four seconds of my middle school career. When the song ended, we mutually decided that a song this amazing shouldn't be recorded over, so we recorded our radio broadcast on the opposite side of the tape.

Moments before class, students exclaimed how lucky I was to be working with Jared on a project and I agreed. During our presentation, we stood proudly in front of the classroom to show off our radio broadcast of Russia and Russian products to sell during commercial breaks. The end of our presentation left with an awkward silence, just as I remembered that I never checked this side of the tape to determine whether or not something had been previously recorded. I ran to the tape recorder to press stop, but it was too late. Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal was already in mid-song. The class burst out into laughter and Jared exclaimed, "It's her tape." My moment of popularity was over.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Intangible Being: In Memory of Frank Clark

I had a few early memories of Frank in my childhood, but I really didn't get the essence of who Frank was and what he represented until my adulthood--actually a most pivotal step in my adulthood when I moved to New York to start my career in advertising. In December 2005, I stayed with Toni and Frank in Yonkers for a week before finding the apartment in Jersey City. Not only could I now understand to appreciate his adult humor, but our brief conversations consistently depicted Frank's ability and interest in understanding anyone's perspective, even the giddy 20-something niece, who paved every landmark with material celebration.

Our conversations began when I returned from my first days at FCB, and although he was ill and in a great amount of pain, he hid it with great agility as he let me spend his precious awake hours yapping about the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and other annoying touristy attractions that caught my eye.

I was aware that Frank had strong opinions about religion, but he never imposed his opinions on me, even as I spoke candidly about finding the right church and prayer.

Frank looked at my cross necklace and asked me very politely why I wore it. I explained that it was a reminder of my faith. And he said, “If you believed in something so special to you, do you really need a necklace to help you remember?" I was stunned. No one had asked me that before. I came from a place where parents said "She's a good girl. She wears her cross," and it seemed irrelevant how faith played a part in it.

I wanted to buy a pair of pearl earrings with my first paycheck--a symbol representing my independence, but I also had to be cognizant of the expenses that come from moving into an apartment.

"Even if you don't end up getting your pearl earrings, you know you still have accomplished what you sought after." I knew that, but the need to have some kind of tangible representation was overbearing. Our conversation segued into how people spend so much money on precious stones that are as simple and cheap as rocks in the ground.

"Diamonds are just compressed pieces of coal. They only have worth because we say they do."
"And pearls are just scar tissue from oysters," I jumped in.

I learned a handful of valuable lessons that week. I no longer saw Frank as the man in the family who was ill, and I hoped that everyone else would see him for the rich person he was. Although Frank was barely physically present in my life, these lessons he taught me have played an integral part in me shaping who I wish to be.

After moving into my apartment in Jersey City, I went to a shady jewelry store and bought a pair of pearl earrings that I later discovered were fake. They have since fallen apart and disintegrated.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

25 miles in one month: The completion

So, I completed my goal (see t-shirt above) while keeping a very detailed log about it, and I'm excited to share everything from what "treasures" I encountered along the way to the various reasons that I couldn't make the lap count that I should have on that day. Instead of telling it in narrative form, I'm just going to share the log, because it's just more fun this way...

These logs cover 7AM-8:30AM of August 2010

Monday August 2
-whistle blows and I finish 63 lengths, I get out of the pool at the far end before realizing that no one really pays attention to the whistle, hence the obnoxious repetitive use of the thing by the lifeguards.
-found a fountain soda lid at the bottom of the pool
-discover that high school kids are running this program and are responsible for keeping record of my lengths

Tuesday August 3
-64 lengths, that's two miles, with a long break between each one
-I find 2 silly bands (a black elephant and a yellow dinosaur)

Wednesday August 4
-I wake up choking on the cap of my tooth
-I make an emergency appointment with the dentist
-I unknowingly walk through a wet puddle of white paint, which I discover as I cover my dentist's plush rug with it
-I spend the rest of my day spilling stuff on myself at work
-0 laps

Thursday August 5
-68 lengths, feel good until the person behind me says 80 lengths, showoff.
-find a Burger King burger wrapper and a tampon applicator

Friday August 6
-68 lengths
-find a red crayon which I forget to rescue

Monday August 9
-32 lengths, stop early to walk my friend to her first day of work
-red crayon still there, I snag it while I can

Tuesday August 10
-64 lengths without any break
-swam in the fast lane (I'm improving)
-no time to collect treasures

Wednesday August 11
-65 lengths
-started off in the fast lane but got clipped by a girl with webbed fingers and flippers (the webbed fingers are detachable, she didn't really have webbed fingers)
-meandered back to the middle lane

Thursday August 12
-26 lengths
-feeling ill/lethargic
-found 2 pearls, one real and one fake, and 2 silly bands, one M and the only silly band i the world that actually lost its shape. I know I'm lucky. This gave me the will to carry on despite being sick.

Friday August 13
-32 lengths
-still feeling crappy
-found one fake pearl and a pantyliner
-yeah I know, why do I still swim at that pool?
-Because I've only done 15 miles thus far

Monday August 16-20
-week off, teaching sailing

Monday August 23
-"I have a week off. What's one more day?"

Tuesday August 24
-64 lengths
-It's raining and cold
-Find out that I actually only have until the 30thone week to finish 25 miles
-Thought I had 2
-Find 3 paper towel sheets

Wednesday August 25
-It's pouring and cold
-I wear a wetsuit
-The lifeguards don't come out of the shed for 20 minutes and pass on the message that they'll come out when they "feel like it"
-60 lengths non-stop

Thursday August 26
-70 lengths!
-water's cold but it's hot and sunny out
-my friend at work informs me that the chafing mark on my neck from my wetsuit looks like a hickey. It isn't.

Friday August 27
-64 lengths
-realize the pool has been spotless all week
- probably because it's been raining

Monday August 30
-70 lengths again!
-I only report 64 because I lied on Friday, and I want to win this thing honestly.

The party was that same Monday night, and I officially met all the other Hamilton Fish swimmers. I was really happy to get my T-shirt.

The adult swim continued through Friday, and I went on Friday to celebrate my accomplishment by NOT counting laps as I swam.

Friday September 3
7AM-7:20 Lifeguards don't show up
7:20AM One guy starts a revolution and leads 50 swimmers to the pool past the desk of the sign out guys who are apparently also lifeguards but unauthorized to work as lifeguards. They panicked and called their bosses, 311.. oh and the police. While they did that, I decided to play lifeguard. Someone has to watch these fools. When the kid with orange shorts, the lifeguard, showed up, I went swimming. The police showed up and didn't know what to do because the lifeguard had arrived.

And the swimmers all went out to breakfast afterwards to celebrate the free-swimming summer. I can't wait until next summer. I want to get 50 miles next time.

OK, climbing season...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

25 miles in 1 month

I have a new challenge ahead of me. A challenge full of swimming trunks, weaves, headbands, hair elastics and tampon applicators. Let me explain...

I felt especially elated after my 6th Appleman Triathlon on Sunday, July 18th. I am finally at a place where in order to improve my future times, I have to do more than just try to be in better shape than the year before. I have to actually swim, bike, and run a lot, and after having slower times in the swim and the bike, I decided that perhaps it was about time that I train in these fields for once. Hopping on crappy bike a week before the event was no longer going to work for me.

For a while, I even separated myself from swimmers and cyclists in the past, saying to myself, "swimmers and cyclists are the people I pass on the run," but after this event, I knew I had to finally integrate myself with them and perhaps even become a swimmer and cyclist, myself.

Looking at my splits (17 min, 45 min, 26 min), I was exploring ways to shave off some time: 4 minutes on the swim, 5 minutes on the run, but it became apparent that I could shave the most time, up to 15 minutes, on the bike leg. My biggest problem in cycling was that I really don't know how to ride a bike, efficiently. I was shopping for some top-notch tri bikes, and asked a stupid question. The answer would shape the way I ride in the future...fine, so I didn't know that switching to a smaller back gear makes your pedaling more efficient. I get it now. In the past, I just powered through every hill and set the gears easier if I was about to lose momentum and fall over. Not anymore.

I quickly realized that buying a decent tri bike is a huge investment, so I decided to put that off until the spring when I'm confident in my savings plan to squander it. But just as I began to give up and wallow in my Kardashian gossip, another opportunity to improve my triathlon time had surfaced.

In one of my aimless strolls to explore my neighborhood, I discovered the Hamilton Fish pool. I had passed there before. It was the weekend and kids were overflowing from the gates and screaming and hitting each other with towels. Not the ideal serene environment to go swimming in. But on this journey early in the morning, before work, I saw adults taking turns, swimming laps, and encouraging each other. I later found out that joining this pool is FREE. So I joined.

I started swimming whenever I could, either in the "early bird" or "night owl" shift. Both shifts had something that no other pool I've swum in had: evidence of the reckless kid shift in the middle of the day. I thought swimming endless laps would be boring, but as I approached remnants of wild youth, I couldn't help but wonder how these things ended up at the bottom of the pool. Did no one notice that there is an impressionable young man who seemed to misplace his swimming trunks? Who seriously let that girl go swimming with giant hoop earrings? Are the lifeguards honestly not concerned about what the dark spot in the water is? It's a weave of hair.

I wasn't disgusted--more intrigued by the several oversights that made this experience happen. And the number of swimmers with expensive goggles who swam over the questionable treasures.

I stayed because everyone is really friendly and joked about the hairball in the water.

"I saw you swim, you did well today. Working on your stroke?"

"Yes, thanks," I lied. I swam slowly, because I was feeling lazy.

"How many lengths today?"

I wasn't counting so I was flustered by this. I soon realized that I wasn't being probed. Just outside of the entry gates was a sign that recorded total laps of every attending swimmer. And if you swim 25 miles by the end of the summer, you get recognized by the Hamilton Fish pool and a T-shirt stating your accomplishment.

The swimmers were encouraging each other, because they were all working toward one common goal, 25 miles by the end of the summer.

I wanted in, but it's the end of July so I needed to do 25 miles in August alone. Taking my vacation into consideration, that's two miles a day. I've found my next challenge. So starting Monday, I will be swimming 64 laps a day, 5 days a week. I just hope that the interesting finds at the bottom of the pool don't make me lose count of my laps.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

19 little seconds away

One of the goals on my list is to break a 6-minute mile. This has actually been a goal of mine since high school when I ran the mile for indoor track.

I started my freshman year running the 400-meter sprint. At the end of the season, my track coach realized that despite frequent intense training sessions, my time from the last race of the season was the same as the first. So, by sophomore year, I was running distance and I was thrilled to finally see my time decrease with hard training.

From the sidelines, I saw gym and state records being broken... by my teammates on a regular basis, and I wanted more than anything to get my mile time under 6 minutes. I certainly wouldn't be breaking records, but I was so tired of seeing sixes. I was ready to be a fiver.

My Junior year, I treated track as a sport and not a just a way to stay in shape during the winter. In my last race of the season, I ran the mile in 6:18, and that’s been my personal record ever since.

Fast forward 11 years, and I found myself struggling to even be a seven-minute miler. So, when my bucket list came around, I thought, hell, why not!

Since March, I’ve been working with a trainer, and for the first time ever, I did more than just running to train. I finally understood how important core strengthening was for keeping your form, and how squats help your spring in that last half of the race. I was lifting, pushing and running intervals.

Between sessions, I ran the fastest mile I could on the treadmill, and every other day, I went a notch higher anticipating that moment when I would hit 9.5 miles per hour…a 6:18 minute mile.

One Tuesday while playing 1,2,3,4 by Ozomatli with my water by my side, I did it! Staring at the treadmill number 29, designated by the gym, I reached a meditation interrupted only by the inconvenience of having to start the song over again on my iPod. I stepped off the treadmill with a sweaty grin on my face and stumbled to the locker room hoping someone would ask me what I had accomplished.

19 seconds away, I thought, and yes, I would be perfectly content if I ran 5:59, because even then, I would be a happy fiver.

But soon after, I faced other challenges that would keep me from achieving my goal. My trainer, who I gave credit to any progress, had quit.

I was in a windsurfing competition, where I came very close to pulling my quad and had to take a week off to prevent injury.

I also made the mistake of assuming that a treadmill mile was the same as a road mile, which was proven wrong in a recent hilly 3.5 mile road race, where my first mile pace was 7:30, not 6:18.

I set my treadmill to an incline of 1, and gave up prematurely, realizing that I might as well start over. I decided to be a fiver on a flat revolving surface before putting up barriers. Yesterday, I set my treadmill to 9.6, a 6:15 mile, and also had to quit early…This was going to be harder than I thought.

Before the summer ends, I'm going to step on treadmill #29 and set it to 10.1, and I won't step off until I'm a fiver. I'm only 19 little seconds away. How hard could it be?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Windsurfing in Manhattan

I had never seen anyone windsurf on the Hudson River for as long as I'd been here. I spent three years seeking it out and figured the concentrated boat traffic was way too dangerous for beginners to be unintentionally blown into. Of course, this most recent New York relocation has exposed me to the unreal. In April, I joined this windsurfing meetup, which was born two months after I left New York in late 2008.

At my first meeting, a member of the group, Michael, approached us and tried to recruit us to take part in the Hudson River pageant, which involves windsurfing in the Hudson river behind decorative kayaks and canoes in a whimsical water dance-like presentation. What made this more appealing was that without this "performing permit" excuse, windsurfing is forbidden on the Hudson. Without blinking, I volunteered. As the event got closer to date, I did some research and discovered that the Hudson River is rarely windy, and there was major concern regarding the current, which is a problem if stronger than the wind.

The day before the event, I questioned my competency on the water and was terrified of being dragged into a barge by strong currents that my wind-driven sail couldn't possibly escape from.

The next morning, Saturday May 22nd, our recruited windsurfing team strapped the gear to the roof of some car with man-made roof racks and drove down the pothole streets to Pier 40, balancing shit on the roof and waving at surfer hopefuls on the way.

"Dude, where are you going with that?"
"The Hudson River, where else?"
"Yeah, I know"

Now, let me digress and mention this time where I took the Community Boating kids to Cape Cod to go windsurfing. When we arrived at Kalmus beach,past the parking lot, where there was just sand dunes, sharp grass and patchem eggs, the car windows, which were ajar, started to whistle, and without even looking at the water, we knew the wind was cranking. The car was silent until we went over the bank, revealing white caps spilling off the shallow waves. These kids went wild, punching and slapping the roof, howling with the window. I could tell, this was going to be a great day.

So, we approach Pier 40, I didn't hear anything, because even though we were only 100 feet from the water, we were still surrounded by concrete. We unloaded our gear onto a wagon-type structure, and I was already tired, because the gear was really heavy and it was humid, hot and windless. I was afraid. Michael said on the car ride over that it had to be blowing at least 10 knots against the current for us to go anywhere, because the current moves 5 knots, which is one of the strongest currents, certainly the strongest I had ever encountered. I fooled him into thinking that I didn't care about how little wind there was. That was a lie. You don't load, unload and rig your sails just to go cruise around. In my mind, I thought, this better be worth it.

We wheeled our gear over to the kayak dock, and we finally felt the wind. It was blowing a gusty 20 from the East, which didn't make any sense, because we were getting the wind that went through Manhattan before it hit us, but it was still strong, and unsteady but manageable. I took a heavy board, (the equivalent of a hyfly primo) and a 5.0 sail, and I still flew. Planing, falling, carving, it was unreal. Unreal. And the wakes from the motor boats and barges made my path feel like this fun and twisted obstacle course.

I hadn't gone windsurfing since last September, and I relived some moments from my last sail, but with a little twist.

I had a boring, plowing reach as I pointed toward the Statue of Liberty, steering clear of the Coast Guard pier. Dark ripply waters and a deep wake were heading my way, so I cautiously tacked around, saying to myself, don't let the wake take you down. You got this. This is gonna be good, Liz." I sheeted in, sank low, and let the Manhattan air pull me out of displacement and into fleeting oblivion. Tourists with cameras waited for my arrival, and I carved upwind with one hand and pretended to take a drag of a cigarette with the other. Then, like all upwind endings, I fell in with an uneventful splash, which my sister happily got a picture of.

On our way in, one of the windsurfers hit a kayaker, ensuring that we'll never get to windsurf on the Hudson ever again. Honestly, that just made this day more special.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My 4th grade pen-pal

My friend and colleague, who I’ve known since 1st grade is now a 4th grade teacher in the exact classroom that we both had 4th grade, 18 years ago. It's unreal to think of how long ago we were sitting in our mini desks pondering how old we'd be in the year 2000. In February, he reached out to some of his former colleagues to ask us to take part in a pen-pal program with his students, and I was so excited to participate.

After a few weeks of finger crossing, I received my first letter. What started off as an awkward exchange of favorite colors and hobbies has turned into an understanding between two worlds. The student I write to loves to read and loves animals. And her words, which are simple yet colorfully expressive, brought me back to my childhood, where school was fun, and reading for school wasn’t a required task, but an opportunity to explore the unknown. She asked me what my favorite books were and I responded with a condensed list, including, “To kill a mockingbird,” which I strongly recommended she read by 7th grade.

“Is that book really about killing a mockingbird? I don’t think I would like reading that.”

This sentence was one of the many unsolicited journeys that I took while reading her letters. I scribbled out several explanations of what and who the mockingbird represented before realizing that 4th grade is a place where crimes aren’t justifiable and spending hours on the meaning behind character actions don’t exist.

I’ve come to learn that 4th grade is the calm before the storm. It’s fun to read, because there’s no dark turn to Mr. Popper’s Penguins. James’ parents’ death by rhinoceros stampede is comical and forgetful in James and the Giant Peach. 4th grade readers have conquered the idea of long chapters and story structure, but they’re not quite in a place where death-stricken moral dilemmas can be explained.

So now, it’s the end of the school year, the last of the letter exchanges, and I had decided to get my pen-pal a 5th grade reading level book, a whole new platform of worlds to choose from. I definitely thought she could handle the reading level, so I sought out to find something suitable for an animal lover.

I soon found out that a majority of young adult authors think, “in order to introduce death-stricken moral dilemmas, which is a required lesson for reading comprehension, we should start with dogs.”

Every book that I recalled reading in the 5th grade, involved the main character’s dog dying, which is seemingly a requirement. Where the Red Fern Grows, Sounder, Old Yeller, Stone Fox, I could keep going. 5th grade is simply not an animal lover’s year, and I had genuine concern for the challenge my pen-pal would have to endure in the coming future.

I pondered, Call of the Wild, because the owner dies, not the dog. I finally settled for “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” about a girl living on an island by herself with a bunch of dolphins…

…Of course the reason she is alone is because half of her tribe died, the other half abandoned her, and a pack of wild dogs ate her brother. Whatever, the girl has to learn sometime.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The stuff that dreams are made of...

...has much less endurance than the drive to make them come true.

I am headstrong into my bucket list, happy that I haven't gotten sick of the need to pursue anything on this list, except maybe the Sundance film festival as I have no desire to travel to Park City, Utah. I guess I'm a little disappointed that even in full pursuit, some things are taking longer than I want them to.

This list has certainly sparked my urge to finish the novel. Now, I feel I have a fair shot to defeat my dad in our race to novel completion. But since I've spent the better, sunnier part of my weekends writing, I feel I've missed on the opportunity to cross other more viable items off the list, so lesson learned, I'll make more of an effort to do that from this point on.

Also, some items like donating bone marrow and is a two step process, the second step being waiting for a match who needs a donor. I've put myself in the position of having to choose between the health of others and the joy of crossing something off the list.

I've also been working with a trainer to get my mile time below 6 minutes, however, this might take years to accomplish (My current mile time is 7:15, a far cry from the 6:18 high school personal record). I'm also throwing a wrench in the plan by giving my trainer other goals to conquer like: improve triathlon time, strengthen my core, look toned, get my bikini body back, get in better shape than my boxing friend, which may or may not improve my running time. Correction, my decision to ignore diet advice is the wrench.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Number 51 CHECK

51. Live IN Manhattan

"It all came close to never happening. This life came so close to never happening."

This excerpt from the 25th hour has always resonated with me. Whatever is becoming of me through this project, through all of these endless projects, I feel like I need to step back and acknowledge the effort gone into each step.

I don't think I've had a long-term goal as challenging as this one. The moment I set foot in Jersey City in 2005, I knew I wanted to live in Manhattan, but I took my time, paid off my loans, and prepared myself for the big move. Then other things got in the way and I decided this move wasn't important, but saying this aloud several times didn't make it true. Moving back to Boston without completing my Manhattan destination gave me the impression that I failed at my quest and didn't give New York a fair shot. Because the New York I had abandoned wasn't New York at all.

This time I decided that since I've put in enough time and struggle in Jersey, Brooklyn and Queens simply weren't going to be options.

March 1st. I move into my Lower East Side apartment. One month later, I'm still jumping up and down and sporting a lameass Ben Stiller smile curling at each end. I'm finally here, and there are already so many stories to tell building with each day, but I'll share my favorite one.

The two windows in my quaint bedroom look out to other quaint bedroom windows. During my recent past time of people watching, I've managed to label my neighbors, much like a modern day Rear Window scene. There's the jogger, who puts his smelly shoes out on the windowsill every morning. There's the music fan, who thinks he just discovered indie music for the first time, and plays songs repetitively with the boombox speakers facing outward, so I know the music is for our "benefit." There's the Julie Andrews, who belts musicals on hot afternoons. There's the party guy who has annoying sloppy drunk parties on his deck. Oh yeah and there's the freaky couple who happen to live directly across from me...

The weekend of March 13th was a cold and rainy one. Mother nature graces the art of making the temperature just cold enough that the precipitation is still rain, but I swear I've felt much warmer in a blizzard. That Saturday night, I came home, got into the fluffiest pants, sweatshirt and socks I could find and huddled to the heater with my hot cocoa. I soon fell asleep to the sound of the chilling downpour. I woke up in the middle of the night to a flash seeping through my blinds. Must be lightning I thought. I waited for the thunder, but nothing. Then I see multiple flashes as if someone was taking a picture of my window. I brace myself and bend the blinds. A man is standing on the fire escape ladder across from me with a camera, and he's taking photos of his girlfriend, who is rolling around naked on the cold steel fire escape platform...in the freezing cold rain.

Sure it looks warm now.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The buried list has been extended

In the slight chance that I won't be able to eradicate polio, I've developed a few other list items that can be substituted. I will also use these in the place of a completed task that I found to be lame or uneventful.

101. Meet my childhood penpal from Japan
102. Be the first person in the world to see daybreak
103. Windsurf in the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool
104. Shimmy up a really tall coconut tree
105. Become a TEDfellow
106. Compete in a pinball tournament
107. Compete in the Ironman Triathlon

I have also completed a few more tasks and look forward to posting about them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Number 21 CHECK

21. Go to Holi Day in Washington Square Park, NY

I was incredibly outgoing when I was a kid and yearned to be different from everyone else. More importantly, I remember thinking how pathetic the other kids were as they stood still during recess watching in disgust as I ran circles around them before crashing into the ground, and getting up and doing it again. Thankful that I was raised in the 80s, if I grew up any later, I would easily have fallen under the attention deficit disorder cohort. I think my biggest disappointment was that good behavior meant acting like an adult, so all the “good” kids stood near mom, being reserved, while I went exploring and recruiting my close friends back into kid-dom. I soon met my demise as studying and conformity became the only means of middle school survival. But before that, my life was simply about immunity from any injury and insult: attempting to get the swing around the top bar with me still on it, riding my bike down a bumpy hill without holding the handlebars, climbing trees, climbing brick walls, and climbing the crown molding inside my house, doing flips off the bunkbed, trying to land on my head. It's a lot harder than it looks.

My most exhilarating experiences as a child involved completely letting go of all inhibitions to truly enjoy the moment. When a friend taught me how to ride a bike without the handlebars, she really couldn’t explain in detail what to do. “Just let go and be free,” she would say. And it wasn’t until my hands were flying through the air down a car-free hill that I knew what she meant.

I knew there had to be an event somewhere that celebrated this kind of freedom—an event that defined who I was and what my youth stood for.

Then sometime in college, the rumors started to spread about this Hindu holiday called Holi. To commemorate the coming of spring and the lively colors that go with it, people of all ages would gather and throw colored powder at each other. This always became an opportunity missed, as year after year, I would seldom approach what looked like a care bear mass murder scene—a myriad of bright hue powders scattered across a vast flat area. One day, this powder would hit me instead of the ground, I thought.

Sunday March 7th. I went to American Apparel and bought white pants and a white sweatshirt. If I was going to partake in this, I was going full-force as a blank canvas. Washington Square Park is being renovated this year, so my new destination was Richmond Hill in Queens, NY.

I began my journey strutting down the Lower East Side, and surprised that I was being gawked at by the tourists for my all-white wardrobe. I didn’t mind. I wanted to say, "wait until I come back."

I took the long A train ride into Queens. I was hoping to see some evidence that I was heading in the right direction, maybe a blue smear on someone’s face, but it wasn’t until the last stop at Ozone Park, where I saw red blotches of color on the ground of the station. Someone just couldn’t wait any longer to unleash a youthful red blow, an impatient feeling I could identify with.

I followed traces of color on the ground and on the people as I made my way towards the park. Unscathed, I was warned by strangers that I might get my sparkling clothes dirty. “I know,” I responded smugly.

I walked head first into the crowd, and was flawless for about 30 seconds before two brothers and their super soakers filled with blue and red dye sprayed me in the face. “Are you alright?” said someone in the crowd. Still with my eyes closed, I nodded. I opened my eyes, and a young man said with confidence, “That’s good,” as he painted a pink smudge down my sleeve. With two packages of purple ready to go, at first, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. That was until an old lady rubbed orange on my cheek without verbal permission, and I quickly patted her shoulder with purple. I spent the next hour patting peoples’ shoulders with purple. Then, they would turn around, thinking I had just tapped them on the shoulder, and I had to make the awkward gesture that their shoulder was now purple. Eventually, I emerged into conscious coloring, acknowledging that everyone in the park wanted to be colored and a sly tap on the shoulder was lame. I sought out colors that I felt I was lacking, on a mission to become entirely covered. Between flights, I wandered around, enjoying the music and the playground occupied by toddlers who had no idea they had green and blue faces.

Then I saw a photographer asking teens if he could take their photo, unaware that the exchange involved him getting colored afterwards. He summoned me over to his camera, and I then realized my mission was complete.

Photo taken by Gerald Holubowicz

The subway ride home was fun as I shared my coloring encounters with other Holi participants while others simply shrugged at our disposition. I’m sure they’ve seen worse. I emerged out of the subway, looking like Rainbow Brite after a car accident. I couldn’t pretend that I was no different from everyone else on the street, so I held my head high and nodded at passersby. I stopped into Sugar Café on the lower east side, deciding that I deserved a piece of cheesecake after my event, and I’m happy to say that I had the best service with all smiles. The only real judgment I received was from the bums on my block. This old man looked at me in confusion while the woman beside him said, “You’re not hallucinating this time. She’s real,” and they both had a good laugh over nips and a metal bench that was getting colder as nightfall approached.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Number 95 CHECK

95. Eat something I haven't eaten before (preferably something edible)

When I initially wrote this one down, I had images of the Survivorman, trekking through the jungle for days and sucking the bone marrow from a freshly killed Rhino. I definitely hadn't eaten Rhino before. But as I ventured to conquer number 95 and put a dent in my list, I soon realized that there can be varying degrees of defining how to complete each task.

For example, there were a few foods I was exposed to this past month, where I thought to myself, well I've never had that before, and I ate them all: goat's milk, kim chi, Rice dream, soy ice cream. Yes, I ate them all, and yet I felt ashamed to check off number 95. Why? Well, the night after I ate kim chi, I looked up how to make it only to realize that I've had all of the ingredients separately. The same thing went for the rest of the new foods I've tried, so at this point I decided to set guidelines for my list. I may not get to suck the bone marrow from a Rhino, but every task will be complete when it has a great story to back it up. That will make the seemingly easier tasks a little tougher. So, my story...

My mom always told me to never ever eat mussels. She only vaguely recalls the absence of mussels from her family dining experience. I blame the fact that dining with the Collings family in the 50s had been overshadowed by liver and onions, which was apparently a favorite. My mom never shared by whom. I think at the time, that would have been the deciding factor of which grandparent I loved more. Both grandparents were gravely allergic to mussels and warned my mother against them. She had successfully avoided them until her later twenties when she started cooking macrobiotic foods and incorporating more seafood into her diet. The next few years would teach her that mussels may as well be a notable substitute for ipecac syrup, and crustaceans would cause her face to swell to great proportions, increasing with every bite. Now she is forced to carry an epi pen in case the food she eats is even cooked next to crustaceans. She used to love lobster. When I was really young, we went to Legal Seafoods and she was so submerged in the lobster, I actually thought, wow, mom needs a bib more than I do. But a few years ago, when I asked if she missed the taste of lobster, her eyes widened, and with direct response she exclaimed, "No. Not after experiencing what it can do to me. It's not worth it at all." I used to think I was allergic to lobster. I remember being sick from eating lobster, but in hind sight, it may have been from eating a WHOLE lobster when I was eight. I avoided lobster for years. I even refused the free lobster we would seldom be offered at Community Boating after discovering a function had leftovers. But one time I was traveling for business and the special was lobster ravioli, and I just figured, what the hell. And it was delicious. I hadn't inherited the lobster allergy gene. And I thought, what else am I not allergic to? Should I take into consideration that my dad is allergic to mussels too? Mussels would be my next venture, and after eating them, I would deserve to cross 95 off my list.

Thursday February 18th, 3PM. I was hungry, there was a Belgian restaurant right across the street from where I was staying, Petite Abeille, and I knew they served mussels. I texted my friends, I'm going to eat mussels now. They assumed I was being my usual obscure self, which I was, to which they replied their ambivalent standing, and off I went.

I ordered the appetizer bucket and started shelling and eating...and it was delicious.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in the land of OZ

The rumors are true...coming soon.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

To all my friends in Boston

When I decided to move back to Boston last year, it wasn't a rash decision, it was my conviction. I had been threatening for months to move back, and then I had two sick family members, my cue to take action. I missed seeing my sister more than twice a year, and I wanted to go back to the place I was raised and be a young professional in Beantown. Things didn't exactly fall together like they did when I moved to New York. In fact, 2009 was a rough year. I realized I could no longer be aggressive and picky about the work I got, and my spending habits went from shopping sprees to savings to survival.

But I will never regret moving back. My grandmother passed away one month after the move, and the extra time spent with her was worth so much. I also made several new friends with inspiring interests and developed existing friendships. I rescued a dog from a broken home, ensuring she will always be loved and well fed. I got to spend time with my family, and realized that my sister was so busy that I saw her maybe once more than the year before.

But the reality is that I never want to be in a position where job security is an issue. I guess in these times, one is never truly secure, but I was so much more secure in New York, and it's time to move back there once again.

Now that I'm heading back into the health care advertising world, I want to be highly selective of the brands I choose to work on, because how I feel about the drug world as stated in previous posts still stands.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Buried Life list Part 2

54. Live in Buenos Aires
55. Conduct an orchestra
56. Lean my head against the glass wall of the viewing room of the Sears Tower in Chicago
57. Throw a water balloon off a tall building
58. Build a 3-D model of a New York apartment building
59. Open a bakery in the Lower East Side
60. Invent something that many people could use and benefit from
61. Catch a grape in my mouth at 200 yards (yep, that's a world record)
62. Experience Manhattanhenge
63. Be an extra in a film
64. Walk into a room and feel others being awed by my presence
65. Drive across the country and come back with "The Story"
66. Learn and perfect the lift (think Dirty Dancing)
67. Grow old with my friends
68. Donate bone marrow
69. Walk the streets of Manhattan blindfolded for the day
70. Fake handshake George W Bush
71. Discover new land, even if inhabitable, temporary, or a sandbar, and tend to it for a day
72. Hop on a moving freight train headed to Santa Fe
73. Climb up a giant dome jungle gym
74. Go cotton picking in Missouri
75. Work up an immunity to a poison, ie Indian food
76. Meet Munzareen Fatima
77. Learn how to breakdance (Capoeira doesn't count)
78. Ski off a ski jump, the big olympic kind
79. Street luge
80. write and direct a mockumentary
81. Help my dog finally catch a squirrel
82. Start a non-profit that gives shark blood to surfers to use as shark repellent
83. Learn how to flip against a wall
84. Find out the name of that song from that place
85. Invest money in something I truly believe in
86. Relax in a natural hot springs
87. Overcome my fear of SCUBA diving (I can thank my chemistry teacher for convincing me that my head might implode)
88. Jump from the roof of one building to the next
89. Sail a Catalina 14 in full harness
90. Climb the mast of an America's Cup boat
91. Float down the Mississippi River on a raft or powerless tugboat
92. Go bouldering in Thailand
93. Complete a Navy Seals obstacle course (in no desired time)
94. Make use out of all my old electronics (CD walkman, cassette walkman, sony minidisk, portable radio etc)
95. Eat something I haven't eaten before (preferably something edible)
96. Find myself in a boat where all i see is sky and water
97. Find myself in a desert where all I see is cracked earth and sky
98. Save someone's life
99. Pick a fresh pod from a Cacao tree and turn it into chocolate
100. Fall madly in love

so that's my list. I would like to know how many of the one hundred you think I'll actually do. I have to say, this was so much fun. This exercise has encouraged me to think creatively, and i love the opportunity to do so. You can bet that every time I check something off this list, I WILL blog about it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Buried Life: The young man's Bucket List

So, as you might have imagined by the silence, I didn't get into grad school of my choice for the Spring term, and decided that Northeastern wasn't the right program for me. Along with my letter of disapproval were some keen suggestions that would have helped before I initially turned in my application, such as, "take more advanced biology classes" and "Don't get hung up on Spring term, because we're only accepting 12 students." I'm well over the sadness and look forward to the March applications process. For inspiration, I turned to MTV. Ha, wouldn't that be pathetic?

Well, I did and this is where I heard about the buried life. The creative play on the concept stayed with me. Four friends ponder over the accepted idea that if they were on this earth for only one day, they would, of course, have a list of things they would want to accomplish. The truth is they have more than that, so they have an even longer list of crazy things to accomplish. Every time they cross something off their list, they change someone's life in their path, and it's all documented by MTV cameras. I decided to make my own list of desired accomplishments in my lifetime. The goal is to hit 100. I'm almost there.

1. Meet Barack Obama
2. Climb Malibu Creek and fall into the water
3. Think of something scientifically that no one has thought of before (ie, PhD)
4. Finish the final draft of the novel and have it professionally published
5. Learn how to drive stick shift
6. Attain another country's citizenship
7. Speak French fluently
8. Visit the Christ Redeemer, Brazil
9. Meet a Namibian San farmer in Africa
10. Eradicate polio
11. Have an art show (screenprinting)
12. Have a casual conversation with a celebrity
13. Get a 100% on a difficult test or a 4.0 in a semester
14. Jump an island or sandbar in a windsurfer
15. Completely gut and remodel a house, "This old house" style
16. Win a national or international award
17. Donate 1 million dollars to Community Boating
18. Help Mike Choi's cousin meet Bono from U2
19. Rebuild the Waterworld set in the middle of the ocean and live there for a bit
20. Pay off my parents' mortgage
21. Go to Holi Day in Washington Square Park, NY
22. Participate in La Tomatina in Madrid
23. Partake in the Running of the Bulls in Barcelona
24. Travel the world to spend all of my collected foreign money in the countries of origin
25. Go to SXSW in Austin, TX
26. Have a discussion with David Benioff
27. Visit Cuba before Castro dies
28. Go to any of the abroad Summer Olympics
29. Attend the Sundance Film Festival
30. Be a lead singer in a band long enough to endure at least one live performance
31. Laugh over money
32. Make a BIG difference in someone's life
33. Quit cracking my knuckles
34. Punch someone in the face
35. Get punched in the face (please no random surprises. I just got a job and I want to keep it)
36. Teach sailing to my friends
37. Go snowboarding (sandboarding?) down a sand dune
38. Open a bar in New York (Barbell)
39. Bear a child
40. Be Zoe Bell's stunt woman in a movie
41. Watch an open heart surgery
42. Inspire someone to make a life-changing decision
43. Randomly see someone reading my book on the subway
44. Meet someone who has lived in a remote village in Tibet their whole life
45. Travel to compete in a sporting event (Run, tri)
46. Catch a piranha with my finger
47. Visit a cave that can only be travelled with aided oxygen under water
48. Windsurf in Bonaire
49. Eat raw for a year...and survive
50. Run under a 6 minute mile
51. Live IN Manhattan
52. Live in Los Angeles
53. Live in Paris

So, I'm half-way through. Writing these really made me excited, and I can't wait to check off my first item. Actually, I feel a little empty, as if I haven't done anything, but I have to remember that I've done several things that were on my list several years ago: getting jetlag, working in New York, climbing a 5.11, surfing in Malibu Beach, doing a triathlon, going up the Eiffel Tower, participating in a mass protest, mass pillow fight. feeling better now.