Friday, July 8, 2011

An Exercise in Autonomy

Visiting Perouge was an exercise in autonomy for me, as I ventured to the medieval village alone using my limited French language skills. It meant navigating the national rail system. It has been years since I last traveled alone, and as such I had to make an effort memorizing the map of two neighboring villages, outside of Lyon, France. From the closed rail station in Meximieux, I walked 2km to the hilltop village. The scent of burnt sugar, cow manure and grass led a trail to the city gates. Children on field trips ran through the streets with chaperons beckoning them to investigate their surroundings. I wore the wrong sandals for the cobblestone lanes, but this minor detail didn't matter as I had unleashed something more important, the adventurer in me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A night to remember at Fashion 4 Action

I felt so flattered to be invited to the press preview for Fashion for Action at Housingworks in Chelsea on Thursday night. After two seasons of dealing with critical family health issues, a wave of lightness and anticipation washed over me for the first time in months. What makes for better guilt-free shopping than raising money to benefit people living with HIV/AIDS; I encourage my readers in NYC to visit the store before the sale ends on Monday.

The apparel, housewares, and displays are spectacular and reflect the amount of energy and commitment the community has for the efforts of Housingworks.  Most noteworthy were the gracious volunteers - Marc, David and Michaela  - who encouraged me to become a volunteer with transgendered youth, gave me an honest critique of the pieces I intended to purchase, and assisted me by personally trying on a Hugo Boss Orange military jacket that I eventually bought for Gavino.

As the flagship store filled up with Housingworks hordes of well-heeled members furiously searching for that special score, I had a sense of being part of a scene. Although I was preoccupied with taking photos and uploading them to my iPod Touch and posting to Twitter, I had a chance to shop and talk to some special folks.

While in a check out line that snaked through the store there was a celebratory feeling as strangers conversed with each other about their finds. There I met a long time survivor of HIV and others committed to issues affecting the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. The men in line behind me selecting menswear openly solicited feedback from those of us around them. In this vein, I nearly purchased a Brooks Brothers black, pebbled leather over-sized clutch, until another woman who shopped with me for awhile suggested I follow her suit and put it back, after all she said, like an old friend, I rarely go out on the town at night.

Simultaneous Thought

"Me and your mother raised you to be polite," was an obvious cue that the guy was a weekend custody dad having lunch with his tween daughter.  He must have picked her up after her flute lesson. None of them wanted to be there together. 

After making such a proclamation about his parenting skills, the guy, wearing white sneakers and high-waisted pants, made an aggressive stance when the waiter told him it was too late to change his order to french fries with his omlette. He looked like a skinny pitbull with crazy eyes, and later when he stood up to use the restroom, Gavino and I had the same intuitive thought to tell his daughter, "your dad's a jerk." 

Friday, May 28, 2010

5-0 Radio Lite, a police scanner

My new favorite iPod app is 5-0 Radio Lite, an international and domestic police radio scanner. Right now, I'm listening to communication between dispatchers and law enforcement at Precinct 42, the Bronx. At 3am, Newark, NJ, can be quite a captivating scanner location to listen to.

At the heart of it for me is story telling similar to what might have been found at the height of the radio era when families would hover around the radio console. The communication and descriptions of people, locations and activities swirl in my head, making for compelling visual theater. Theater, I might add, that is never really resolved in course of scanner communication. Ultimately, some of the narratives are left to the listener to conclude.

To date, the Police Departments of Las Vegas, LA and San Diego provide a different cultural context in which to consider social issues affecting those communities.

The site also has a Twitter account.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sample Sale Frenzy

Sample sales are a staple for New Yorkers looking for high end fashion at a reasonable cost. This may explain why bargain hunters standing in a long line at the entrance of the Steve Alan sample sale were willing to wait for a chance to squeeze through the tight racks of overpriced plaid shirts and dresses. Since handbags had to be checked in, I could only carry my wallet and phone (and a steely determination not to get caught up in the frenzy of $100 cotton frocks) as I surveyed the sale during my lunch hour. Hipsters, both male and female, however, stripped to their underwear before an alter of abandoned clothes at the back of the store  just to take home the perfect fit. 

The truth is I don't know how to integrate Steve Alan's plaids into my wardrobe and opted for the basement where more treasures were located instead. Paying for two linen scarves (fuchsia and silver at $10 each) in cash seemed like a confusing, novel transaction for the hurried cashiers so used to processing large credit card purchases. To this end, my beige frock (a failed experiment with no return online sales) was saved by a splash of color before mid-day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Success with the Lose It app!

After witnessing the success that a few colleagues have had losing weight using the Lose It app, I downloaded it to my IPod Touch. 

Gavino decided it was time to join me, too. 

It helps to do this as a team (even though it's unfair and I am at a disadvantage), as we have turned the process into a competitive game rather than a harsh form of food restriction.   

After gaining two pounds during the first few days, I am on the right track. Gavino doesn't believe that I have dropped five pounds so quickly. I blame it on water weight. Now we have begun evaluating our love of eating cheese and crackers in a whole new light.

Lets Celebrate the Bad Mothers, too

Under the pretenses of food shopping at Whole Foods this morning, I ventured into TJ Maxx. No sooner had I begun to pillage the designer section, did I run afoul. Middle-aged, upper-middle class moms were out early with their only children celebrating Mother's Day but mostly spending the time screaming at and coercing their kids. I imagined ten years earlier these moms full of the splendor of pregnancy after a successful in-vitro insemination. But now the exasperation had set in, and a decade later their lives are filled with ways of subduing the little monster darling.

Did they live with any regret about taking on parenthood? Is motherhood all that our popular culture makes it out to be?

After this assault on my senses, I tried on and then eventually plucked this pair of Stuart Weitzman pumps (found here at Nordstrom for a considerable amount more than what I paid)  and then planted herbs and tomato seeds in a new ceramic pot. 

Happy Mother's Day!