- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Monday, October 19, 2009

No Longer an At-Home Hair Color Virgin!

As a beauty publicist, it almost pains me to begin this post with an economic tie-in (kind of beating a dead horse at this point). But yet I'm doing it anyway...

Everyone is penny-pinching these days, and I suppose I'm no different. I'm packing lunches (gag... sandwiches get soggy by lunchtime!), doing my own mani/pedis and last week I even dyed my own hair!

I admit I've been a hair color snob in the past. I don't put color on my hair very often, but if I'm going to do it, I do it right and go to the specialists. No way I want to chance screwing up my hair with scary color-altering chemicals!! Sure I know plentyyy of people that have had great results with at-home color, but I never had the desire to go there.

Well, bored with my hair and in the mood for a change, I polled my friends to find the best/cheapest salons in the city for lowlights. At $100 or more, that simply was NOT happening right now. So, I decided to go for it. I researched a little online and bought my first box hair dye: L'Oreal Color Spa Moisture Actif in Medium Ash Brown 20.

The results? I love it! It was just the change and color boost I needed. I chose a demi-permanent, so it will wash out in about 28 shampoos in case I get sick of it, and it's ammonia-free so it won't damage my hair. Since I have light brown hair naturally, I stuck to one shade darker in an ash tone to eliminate any uber shocking color or potential brassiness.

I'm a changed woman and no longer afraid of a $7 boxed color lift. What do you think??

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Aftermath - One Year Post-France

When I was growing up, my mom would give my brother and I one new ornament for the tree each Christmas Eve. The ornament would somehow symbolize the year - a posing Marilyn Monroe the year I fell in love and decided I wanted to be an actress, a shamrock the year I began Irish step dancing, a singing Frank Sinatra the year I came to NY for school...you get the point. Each year has a focal point when you look back.

In 2008, I realized that I didn't need to depend on anyone other than myself. I saw my need for independence and escape, and fulfilled my dream of living in France.

On this exact date one year ago, I spent the afternoon exploring the Marais neighborhood of Paris with an American expat friend - eating amazing falafel, shopping and enjoying happy hour Caipirinhas while discussing the quirks of European men...

Leaving my job last September to live in France for two months by myself was the experience of a lifetime. I got to be adventurous, practiced the language everywhere I went, didn't answer to anyone, and spent each day doing whatever the heck I wanted. I can't believe it's been a year.

Objectively, my life seems a lot more boring nowadays. Today, September 23, 2009, I rolled out of bed to my alarm at 7:45am, headed to work in the office for the day, and came home to watch the season premieres on TV with my best friend/puppy dog Marlon.

I'm kind of okay with it, though. My life has a calm rhythm most days. And, even though I'm not much of a jetsetter, a lot happened in '09. I began volunteering with a pug rescue group, adopted my first dog, found a new job with coworkers and clients I love, and moved into my very first studio apartment (as in no roommates - just me!) in a brand new neighborhood of New York.

2009 has had a different purpose - this year I became a grown ass lady. I took initiative and created a career and life of my own in NY. I took responsibility for something other than myself and became a mom...even if just to a 20 pound snorting pug. :)

That being said, I'm fairly certain I'm getting either a pug or house ornament this Christmas. Good ol' mom.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vote Ada Polla for Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year!

As a female working in the beauty industry, we gots to support one another.

Now, I don't personally know Ada Polla, but she is the President and CEO of Alchimie Forever, an amazing Swiss skincare line sold at Bendel's, and from looking at her picture, she can't be more than 10 years older than me (or maybe those products work especially well...). A young woman that is the head of a successful luxe skincare brand-- now that's someone you can really aspire to.

Ada Polla is a finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine's 2009 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award and she is the only beauty industry entrepreneur nominated. That's huge!

Please join me and support Ada, the beauty industry, and female entrepreneurs everywhere by throwing her your vote!

The voting process is incredibly simple and won't take more than 10 seconds.

Not convinced yet?

In addition to being co-creator of the antioxidant-based skincare line, Ada founded The Network of Entrepreneurial Women, an association for women entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic region and she graduated from both Harvard (undergrad) and Georgetown (Masters) at the top of her class.

Geez, throw a girl a bone! She totally deserves the honor of Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Hope you'll vote!

Week in the Smokies

In the interest of exploring the world one region at a time, I was originally pretty interested in meeting up with my Dad's whole side of the family in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee this summer. Then, I realized that meant my 2009 week's vacation would consist of mountains and Wal-mart instead of beaches and sun.

Let's just say I went into this vacation not the most excited in my life.

Now, it wasn't my all-time favorite vacation, but in the end, there were a lot of great aspects to the Smokies.

1. It was pretty. Tons and tons of rolling mountains and streams and lakes everywhere.

2. There was a lot of green. I guess I'm not really used to nature anymore. Maybe New York does that to you... But, on this vacation, I reconnected with childhood. I played in the woods and went hiking and my uncle fell in the creek. Totes felt like childhood. :)

3. White Water Rafting. Really sweet. See hilarious picture above. (Yes. "That guy" is my brother.)

As a bonus, our tobacco-chewing mountain man River Guide slapped my ass when he pulled me into the raft -- he got a good tip. haha

4. Lots of history. During a drive through the mountains we stopped at a really old church/graveyard combo with tombstones from the 1800's. Between the Southern drawls around us and all the stuff about "Rebels" and the Civil War, I felt a bit like I was in Bon Temps, True Blood-style.

Things I would do differently if I went again:

1. Rent a house with a private pool or not go during the summer. It was hot. Really hot. And I had no ocean or pool to dive into all week. And no sun deck to lay out on. Dreams of coming home with a golden tan = shattered.

2. Do not go into Pigeon Forge. I repeat, do not go into Pigeon Forge. Gatlinburg is also questionable. It's a cheesy tourist trap and I can't believe anyone chooses to vacation like that. We only drove through on the way to the God-forsaken Wal-Mart, but the traffic was intense and the entertainment on the side of the road looked awful. "Helicopter Rides!" "Fireworks!" "Ripley's Believe It or Not" "Dollywood" "Fish and Tackle Superstore!" No thanks on all accounts. In my uncle's words - Red Neck Disneyland.

3. Figure out exactly what you want to do there ahead of time, and stay somewhere close-by. The amount of time I spent in a car that week nauseates me even today thinking about it. The amazing lake with pontoon boats - 45 minutes away. White water rafting - 30 minutes away. Major scenic mountain drives - 1 hour away. Wal-Mart (grocery shopping for 20 people is quite the task) - 45 minutes away.

But, the important part was seeing the whole fam and eating and drinking as much as possible all week. And for that, this vacation totally succeeded.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Invention Convention - Flats for the afterparty

Omg, this needsss to come stateside asap! This was on Perez tonight, and if you're one of the 5 people in this world that doesn't read Perez, I'm re-posting for you.

No lady, tranny or Kardashian likes schlepping it home in heels after spending the night dancing at the club.

Well, a genius Brit has come up with a solution: Vending machines that sell flats!

Female clubbers in Britain have been enjoying the comfort of slipping out of their stilettos and basking in the joy of flats at their favorite hot spots. For about 5 pounds (which translates to about 8 bucks), a pair of cushy flats can instantly be yours for your aching feet. And they boast being super flexible, so they can be folded up and stashed in your bag for latter usage.

Founder of Rollasole, Matt Horan, is one clever fellow and his inspiration was nothing short of moments of sheer inconvenience: "After getting tired of giving my girlfriend a piggyback home every Saturday night, I had a 'eureka' moment."

Bring that shiz stateside! American girls party hard too!

Perez is right, American girls party hard, too and we deserve to have vending machines that sell flats when our feet hurt from killer heels, as well. Can we start a petition? This is such an ingenious idea!

PS - They're cute, too! Check out www.rollasole.com

PPS - I'm betting I have an old boyfriend or two that wishes they came up with this first... hahaha

The Big Move

Breaking News: Moving is Hard.

Yes, I understand this is something I should've known already, but geezzz, for this past month and a half, I've been completely preoccupied and stressed out about moving.

Now, this was a big move for me. I was moving into my own place (yikes!) and moving out of the only neighborhood in New York I'd ever lived in (double yikes!). Plus, I was moving out of a huge (albeit crappy) three bedroom apartment and into a studio, hahahah. Helloooo downsizing.

But, I did it. I am now happily moved into a cute little studio apartment in an awesome dog-friendly building in Astoria. Now I am THE worst at making decisions and I like to wait until the last moment on things often, but I was able to pull off this move pretty smoothly. Here are some services and tips I found helpful through this awful process:

1. Checking out every shady listing on Craig's List or paying a hefty broker fee sort of seems like choosing the lesser of two evils. Guess what? There are other options.

- I signed up on Rent Direct New York. For about$200, you get 3 months of access to tons of legit, no-fee rentals throughout New York. You are assigned an agent that works with you to find listings that fit your needs and they have a midtown office if you want to meet face-to-face for more support.

The downside for me was that my search was very niche. I knew I wanted to live in Astoria (by this point, I'm a Queens girl I suppose...) and I was only willing to pay a certain amount. I didn't end up finding my apartment through Rent Direct, but the extra $200 was nothing compared to what I could've paid a broker and I liked having this service to fall back on.

- No-fee brokers do exist! I called on an apartment I saw listed on Craig's List and got connected with Anu Dutta. He became my broker and I didn't have to pay him a cent. Certain building management companies hire agents to show their apartments, but they pay him, not me. Anu was great. Extremely helpful and I now have a new gchat and facebook friend, ha.

2. Even if you're setting out on your own, bring other people with you to check out each apartment. I had a rotation of 4 different people that I'd bring along every time I made an appointment to see a place. That way if it ended up being a creepy landlord or a dump in the wrong area of town, I wasn't alone. And if I loved it, I had someone else to bounce ideas off of, and sometimes to bring me back down to Earth.

EX: "Yea it's an okay apartment, but open the window. You're right next to the train!" (as the apartment rumbled and a train went by)

EX: "Adrienne that place was a shoebox and smelled like kitty litter. You can do better."

3. You're never too old to ask for help from family. This was the first move where I didn't throw all my crap in trashbags the night before and make my boyfriend lug anything heavy. I needed to sort through things, pack things in -gasp- real boxes and do it ahead of time. I needed help and I realized it. Thankfully, american girl's dad, the ultimate american dad (He's a truck driver, loves classic rock and owns a Harley - case in point.) and the rest of the fam came out to Queens for the weekend to help. Dad and brother = my movers. Mom = cleaning lady and decorator extraordinaire. I couldn't have done it without them.

And now, I'm settled and happy in Astoria. No more Angelo's (although I did celebrate with the family there one last time), now it's all about the Brick Cafe. Moving on up and starting fresh. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

the new Yankee Stadium!

So, summer is officially here.  I went to a Yankee game.  :) 

On Friday May 15, not only was I setting foot in the ballpark for the first time of summer '09, but I was stepping into a brand new ballpark.  And let me tell you-- it's a beaut.  

Coming from Pittsburgh, I know a thing or two about building new ballparks... 8 years ago we ripped down our old and drab Three Rivers Stadium to build two amazing new fields: PNC Park and Heinz Field.  We went from having an ugly stadium to having fields that people want to visit, regardless of how crummy the Pirates are doing.

Telling my mom that I was going to the new Yankee Stadium, she said, "Ohh wow, does the new one have river views??"  I laughed and reminded her that it was still the Bronx, ha.  The new Yankee Stadium isn't anything like PNC Park (we have the river views there!), but it really is beautiful and a nice new addition to the city.  "The Great Hall" when you enter the stadium is amazing.  It feels like you're in a coliseum of sorts.  Huge arches, open and airy...and then there's a tv that's as tall as a house, no joke. Very cool.

Once I was in my seat and looking around, I still felt a bit like I was in the old Yankee Stadium, it was just bigger, and newer.  The cement slab hallways were so white and clean!!  But the white arched top of the stadium with all the mini flags going around was just the same.  We had absolute nosebleed seats, but it didn't even matter.  Even from all the way up there, we had a great view.  Only thing was I couldn't tell Jeter from Matsui without the help of the announcer or the jumbo-tron, ha.

To top off the fun experience, we saw a greaaat game.  Losing in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Melky hit a two-run single for a walk-off win.  A-maz-ing.  Even better?  I watched it from the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar located basically on the field by the bullpen.  The view was so perfect, you weren't allowed to take pictures because we were in the batter's line of vision.  Can you even??

We finished the night at Stan's.  How can you not?  New stadium or not, you always gotta go to Stan's.  :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pittsburgh blowing up on the big screen!

First Zack & Miri Make a Porno, then My Bloody Valentine and now Adventureland.  I feel like my hometown is becoming famous!!

Now, I won't kid myself, I realize one of the main reasons movies have been filmed in Pittsburgh lately is probably because it's significantly cheaper than filming in New York, but still... there's no better city to deserve some on-screen action.

I just saw Adventureland today, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I liked it.  Set in 1987, the movie follows a nerdy post-grad kid that comes home to Pittsburgh for the summer and is stuck working at Adventureland, the local amusement park.  It reminded me of an 80's version of Almost Famous or Dazed & Confused.  The movie was funny, especially when Bill Hader and Kristen Wiigs' characters chimed in, but the movie flowed with mostly an understated humor.  Ultimately, it's a sweet coming-of-age story about a kid that grows up more in one summer at a dead-end job than he did all four years at his respectable college.

The whole movie basically took place in Kennywood, the real Adventureland in Pittsburgh.  I loved pointing out all the rides and seeing the park on the big screen.  Although, just an FYI, the movie makes the park look really run down, but in reality, it's not run down at all.  Kennywood has been around forever, but the film purposely doesn't show any of the new additions to the park or the modern roller coasters there.  Fun Fact: I read that they decided to shoot at Kennywood instead of a list of other theme parks around the country because Kennywood isn't commercialized and they didn't have to cover up a bunch of advertisements and corporate sponsors for filming.

Growing up, Kennywood was the place to be seen.  Every school district in Pittsburgh is given a "Kennywood Day," a weekday where there is no school and you're able to purchase discounted tickets to spend the day at the park.  It was of utmost importance to look cute on Kennywood Day.  Ohhh the shopping trips I would take and the hours I would spend perfecting my outfit to make sure I looked good in case I ran into any boys from school. All the girls basically looked like little hoochie-mamas on Kennywood Day.  No dress-code policy there! haha

The characters felt very authentic and the film kept true to Pittsburgh-- the homes they showed looked like homes near my neighborhood and there were plenty of landscape shots that reminded me of home.  The house parties and aimless driving over tons of yellow bridges brought back memories of high school as well.  I also liked the random glimpses of Pittsburgh pride, like the guy playing the shooting gallery game with the Lambert jersey on.  (Zack & Miri was really good with that, too.)  Fun Fact #2: The directors for both Adventureland and Zack & Miri have personal ties to Pittsburgh.  Kevin Smith (Zack & Miri) had a girlfriend from Pittsburgh and always loved the city and told himself he'd like to film there someday and Greg Mottola (Adventureland) got his undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

My advice-- go see it.  

Pittsburgh being in the movies isn't new, though.  Throughout the years, lots of popular movies have been filmed in my hometown.  Here are a few to jog your memory of the Steel City on the Silver Screen:

- Wonder Boys
- Dogma
- Inspector Gadget
- Milk Money
- Groundhog Day
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Flashdance
- The Deer Hunter

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bring It On?

Interesting debate to chew on: Is cheerleading a sport?   

At the beginning of this year, the topic of high school cheerleading made it all the way to the State Supreme Court and onto the pages of ESPN online.  It's actually a really interesting case... 

As a cheerleader all throughout middle school, high school and beyond into college (Go Indians...Go Red Storm!), I get super pumped when cheerleading makes it into the headlines. Heck, I get excited when I come across cheerleading competitions on TV, but when regular folk and sports-talking guys are mentioning spirit fingers, I get all warm, fuzzy and proud inside.

The case: Varsity cheerleader, Brittany Noffke from Holmen High School in western Wisconsin decided to sue a male teammate who was her designated "spotter" (for you non-cheerleaders, it means exactly what you think it means), and failed to catch her when she fell backwards out of a stunt.  She ended up with a serious head injury.  

Seriously, cheerleading can be dangerous, y'all!

So, what do you think?  Can you sue a teammate for not catching you?  The question at hand for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court was if cheerleading was a contact sport or not.  If they decided that yes, cheering should be lumped with football and other contact sports, high schools and teammates would not be held accountable when someone gets hurt (including Brittany's teammate).  In other words, join the squad at your own risk.  But, is cheerleading really at the same level as football with injuries and danger?  And should there be no consequence for dropping a teammate??

In the greater sense of the question, it's hard for me to deem cheerleading a "sport."  I typically only associate games as sports, i.e. an athletic event with rules and a clear winner and loser at the end.  Soccer games, baseball games, etc.  The main and original purpose of cheerleading is to support the players in those aforementioned games.  Even when we show off our amazing abilities in competitions, there is still no clear cut winner/loser.  A panel of judges grades each team on their fancy footwork and the "wow factor" of their performance.... how does that fit?  In my world of sports, a team can play a dirty and messy game and still win.

But then there are the Olympics.  They just throw a huge wrench in my idea of sports.  Figure skating, gymnastics, diving... the winners for each are determined by judges and they are all absolutely considered sports.  What is the definition of a sport anyway?  Dictionary.com defines a sport as "physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively."  By that definition, cheerleading qualifies for sport status.  But, contact sport status??  There is no risk in the actual "leading of cheers."  When a team begins engaging in stunts and gymnastics, though, it gets more serious. In fact, tons of squads across the country do not allow their cheerleaders to stunt or tumble for the specific reason that those activites are dangerous.  

And voila, with that last statement, I think I have my answer. 

Cheerleading that incorporates stunting and gymnastics is a contact sport, and schools and teammates cannot be held monetarily liable if someone gets hurt.  The nature of the sport is dangerous and you should know that going in.  Tossing people high into the air, balancing a person on human hands (at least) six feet in the air and forcefully springing your body into the air unnaturally can potentially cause injuries, just as sacking a quarterback can potentially cause injuries.  And yes, if your teammate drops you, he should be reprimanded, but not in the courtroom and not to pay for your medical bills.  No one forced you to cheerlead and no one forced you to be the girl in the air.  We all make mistakes and injuries happen in cheerleading.

Do you agree with me?  Check out the full story from ESPN Rise online.

PS - the Wisconsin Supreme Court felt the same way I did.  On January 27, 2009 cheerleading was made an official contact sport, at least in the eyes of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Expensive Bag Heaven

Last week I met with a fashion writer from Paper Magazine and she complimented me on my Botkier (spent way too much money on it when I didn't have anyChrystie bag.  

Let me repeat: a woman who has made a career out of deciding what fashions and brands are cool enough to be written about in your favorite mags told meee that she liked my bag. Like, we literally had elevator chat about it.

Not that I blame her.  My Chrystie bag is super pretty.  It's made of soft black leather with a diagonal snakeskin sectional pocket on the front. Plus, it's surprisingly sturdy and huge inside.

Needless to say, my expensive purchase has now been completely validated. :)

It was my Christmas gift to myself and I did buy it from Gilt Groupe, so I didn't pay retail, thank goodness.  Most of the time those "sample sale" sites just clog up my inbox and I don't allow myself to look... but sometimes you can really get some good steals.

Here are a few I like:

Check 'em out and achieve your very own bag/shoe/designer clothing nirvana.  It's no secret that it feels that much better when you get it on sale!  As in, there's not near as much guilt, haha.

Sidenote: if you need an invite to any of the above sample sale sites, no worries-- leave me a comment and I'll hook you up. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reem Acra love

Now that red carpet season is over and wedding season is beginning... I want to talk dresses.

Not to sound weird, but I know the designer I want my wedding gown to be.  I'm eons away from getting hitched, but I'm certainly in love with Reem Acra.

I first saw a Reem Acra dress in a random OK! Magazine last year as a dress they were predicting some celeb to get married in (Ashlee Simpson perhaps?).  I was getting a pedicure and I was transfixed by how gorg this dress was.  Having no pen or paper around while in a pedicure chair, I actually whipped out my cell phone and texted myself a note so I wouldn't forget the name of the designer.

The dress was strapless, and the bodice looked a tad like a Herve Leger bondage dress with slight jeweled detailing to accentuate the criss-crossing silk sections.  At the waist, the "bondage" ended in a thin silk belt, and the dress flowed down to the floor in a light and airy A-line shape.  B-e-a-utiful.

Months later, as award season began, I was constantly reminded why I need to purchase a Reem Acra dress for my next red carpet event (aka my wedding, because that will probably be the only "red carpet" event in my life, hahaha).  It seemed like every dress I liked on the red carpet circuit was a Reem Acra: Oliva Wilde, Rumer Willis and Eva Longoria at the Golden Globes.  Kate Beckinsale at the Grammys.  Even Jill Biden wore Reem Acra for the Inauguration Ball.

Reem Acra dresses are just so flattering and feminine.  The bodice holds everything up and perfectly contrasts with the pretty and graceful (and forgiving) A-line skirt.  

So, the dress is done.  Guess I just need to find the man, ha.


Reem Acra Salon
14 E. 60th St. New York

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Great Magical Wave-Maker

Beach-worthy hair waves in the dead of winter... what was previously thought impossible is now quite doable with the Remington Emi Style System Dryer with Airwave attachment.

I fell in love with the idea of the Airwave attachment through Beauty Blogging Junkie, but actually decided to buy the contraption when I saw the price.  At only $30(!) and full of rave reviews from all the beauty blogs, I figured it was worth a try.  I needed a new blow dryer anyway.

An ionic ceramic blow dryer, the Remington Emi is good for hair and leaves a healthy shine, but in addition to being a quality blow dryer, it comes with fancy attachments!  That's where the real fun lies.  There are two attachments: a Concentrator attachment that helps smooth and de-frizz hair, and, the really cool one - an Airwave attachment that acts as a mini wind tunnel and corkscrews your hair while drying for a unique mermaid look.  

I lovesss it!  This summer, I really got into the "au naturel" look and let my hair air dry into its natural loose waves everyday.  I became super accustomed to this easy hair routine and got a rude awakening when cold weather set in.  I either froze trying to let my hair air dry, or was unhappy with the results when I tried to enhance my waves with a dryer.  Then, voila, the Emi came into my life.

For loose, beachy waves, here is what I recommend.  Comb a detangle spray/lotion through wet hair and for about 3-5 minutes, blow dry hair with or without the Concentrator attachment (less time for short or fine hair). Next, attach the Airwave and slowly feed in 1-2 inch sections of hair and run the Airwave up and down the length.  After you finish half of your head, you should have a bunch of twisted, pretty dreadlocks.  Spray the section lightly with aerosol hairspray and then do the same to the other side.  Run your fingers through hair and loosen up and separate all the twists, then run larger chunks of hair through the Airwave until hair is just about dry.  Flip your head over and give it another once-over with aerosol hairspray and you're done.  Hair will be dry and have pretty, bouncy waves, too!

You gotta give this one a try.  Drugstore.com

PS - it's even on sale now!  Go on and shop guilt-free ;)

Monday, February 9, 2009


Well, it's been a week since the Pittsburgh Steelers' sixth Superbowl win in Tampa, and I am just beginning to come off of my high.  What a game... what a team... what an awesome way to make history and put the city of Pittsburgh on the map.
If yinz didn't know already, I grew up in Pittsburgh.  I've been living here in New York for a little over six years now, but my love for the Steelers hasn't faded, in fact, it's grown.  If you're ever sick of your hometown, I know the remedy.... move.  It's freeing to get to know a new city, and slowly, you begin to appreciate/miss the quirky trademarks of home and develop a newfound pride in where you came from.  You turn up the TV when the news mentions something about it, your ears perk up when you hear someone nearby talking about it, or in my case, you feel the need to become BFFs  and buy shots for anyone wearing a Steelers jersey in the bar...

When the Steelers made it to the Superbowl three years ago, I bought an inconvenient and slightly disastrous flight home (looking at an outdated schedule and taking the PATH to Newark Airport with only 45 minutes til takeoff to miss the flight at the gate by 5 minutes... and then sitting in the airport for 6 more hours with only a freaking $8 food voucher, grrrrrr), and when the Super Steelers made it once again this year, I knew there was no place I'd rather be.

It was a perfect weekend; the city truly comes alive when our Steelers do well.  I spent my Saturday afternoon in the Strip.  It's the spot to get your not-so-official Steelers gear from the street vendors and your breads, meats, cheeses and chocolate from the mom and pop delis and bakeries along the way.  A stop for lunch at the original Primanti's location with a line out the door and a group of crazed middle aged women decked out in Steeler gear doing cheers made the day complete.

On Sunday, I did not leave my house.  The whole day was spent preparing nervously for the game.  Many Iron City beers were consumed, the Superbowl spreads and dips were made and I changed three times into different Steeler shirts, unsure which was best to wear at game time.  I decided on my old Bettis jersey... lucky #36.  Worked for me in Superbowl XL and worked for me the past two playoff games.  Everyone in the whole city was wearing Steeler apparel, even the dogs.  With amazing foresight, I bought my german shepherds, Renner and Luna personalized Steeler doggie jerseys for Christmas.

What an awesome game.  From the moment of kickoff, my phone was buzzing with texts from literally everyone I knew in New York.  In the first 5 minutes of play, when we almost got our first touchdown, we thought we might have an easy game (ha).  When James Harrison intercepted the ball and ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown at the half time mark, we were amazed, elated and pumped to power through the next half.

Halftime... the Boss delivered a great show.  I'm loving this reversion to old school rock stars like last year's Tom Petty and now Bruce.  I may have been born forty-some years too late.

The third quarter began and was finished before we knew it.  Then came the fourth quarter and a severe blow to our confidence in the Steel Curtain.  Two touchdown passes from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald gave the Cardinals their first lead in the game by a mere three points, with only a little over two minutes left in the game.  My mom and I held hands, no joke, and the house went silent.  

We prayed for a miracle, and a miraculous play was exactly what we got.  Ben moved the ball down the field pass by pass to the 6 yard line.  After an incomplete pass to Santonio Holmes in the end zone, Ben threw again on second down to Santonio on the opposite side of the end zone.  It worked.  It worked!!  It was a heavenly catch, a magical catch by Holmes, toes dragging in the end zone, arms outstretched and grabbing the ball out of the air.  And that was it.  With 35 seconds left in the game, we ripped the Cardinals brief lead away from them and took home history.

I stayed in Pittsburgh til Wednesday so I wouldn't miss the victory parade.  What a show.  The city was packed by 9:30am, and we started drinking 16oz. IC Lights in Primanti's by 10.  The streets filled up so we took to the parking garage to get a bird's eye view.  Even the top level of the garage was filled with fans.  We watched each Chevy truck drive by and screamed and waved our Terrible Towels with everyone else.  We saw Jeff Reed (knowing him right away by his bleached mutton chops), James Harrison with the Vince Lombardi trophy and Santonio Holmes, proudly showing off his MVP trophy.  And, highlight of the day, we saw Troy Polamalu crowdsurf into the fans below us.  Too raw (sorry, that's my brother's phrase).  And in an interesting twist, he was wearing Uggs, hahaha.

I love, love my team.  I will become a New Yorker in very other way, and I will like the Giants and love the Yankees, but I will always love my Steelers more.  I have pride in Sixburgh. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fresh Air, Old Memories

Warning: This post may not hold any interest if you did not attend St. John's University.

Yesterday I needed fresh air, so I went for a long walk - the in 20 degree weather no less.  It felt good to be numbingly cold.

I wandered through my neighborhood and around the frozen pond down the street (where do the turtles go when the pond freezes over?), over to Jamaica Estates (Starbucks/Barnes & Noble stop), and then made the return trip.  I passed college friends' old apartments and remembered the fun we had in them and cut through St. John's campus and saw the changes and remembered the way it looked all those times I trudged through the snow to class.  It all seems so long ago already.  Specific moments flew back like a stream of consciousness. 

Walking past the house on 168th Place (the atrocity next door is finally built - complete in pink sandstone and adorned with large stars, ha), I remembered sitting helpless on the stoop one morning after I'd lost my cell phone and my dignity and needed to apologize, but couldn't wake anyone up to answer the door for me (What was I thinking?  What college kid would be up at 9:30am on a Saturday??).  And then the time I locked my keys in my car and we made a mad dash on the bike (complete with me on the pegs... hilarious in hindsight), whizzing past high school kids on 164th St. at 8 in the morning to find the spare keys in my apartment before alternate side parking came into effect at 8:30 (oh the guilt of making you race around with me to find them...I felt ridiculous standing on those pegs, and heavy, haha, you shouldn't stand on pegs past age 9).  At least we made it in time!

Now on Homelawn, I walked past another group of friends' house and thought of that awesome summer post-college, right after you guys moved in there and none of us realized life was going to change that much after we got degrees (kind of a bummer that it actually did).

As I approached campus, I remembered the moment I first set foot on campus (Is this what college is supposed to feel like?  Is this the right school for me?  Will I fit in...be homesick?). Oh and now the Great Lawn... ultimate frisbee on those sunny days and our ill-fated bake sale (that included some delicious melted chocolate pudding pie and lots of help from friends). Passing the church, I remembered when it was first built, and RCIA classes, and racing back every Tuesday/Thursday afterwards for lunch with everyone at Montgoris.  Remember when the St. Vincent Stairs didn't exist??  Now that was ridiculous (...cutting through 2 or 3 buildings just to get to the other side of campus... no sense).  Good ol' Montgoris - group dinners, morning-after brunches, stealing lunch trays for sled riding (and eating the same meal, the only one I could stomach, everyday... deli sandwich and cucumbers with ranch dressing).  Oh man, and then I saw Donovan Hall.  I looked up and saw all of our bedroom windows... the smoker's rock outside is gone now (God, I wish I was a freshman again).  Oh and that back fence that we'd hop to cut the corner on the way to Traditions... lots of cuts, ripped jeans and bumps from doing that every week, ha.  

Leaving campus, I remembered that dumpster/cafeteria stench and the air conditioner "rain" by Gate 6 (now that's actually just really disgusting, haha), and waiting on the curb for cabs to Bogarts  or - gag - DNA, hahaha.  That scary ROTC building with the barbed wire is now the Public Safety office (sans barbed wire, thank god).  Ohhhh those mundane nights of scanning IDs for Public Safety to make minimum wage.  Sgt. Anna!  She scared me and looked so tough.  Always thought she was a lesbian, but learned later she was preggers, so who knows. 

Then, I found myself en route to Traditions... We never wore appropriate outerwear, thinking it took away from our "hot" outfits for the bar.  Therefore, we froze our butts off during the walk and would borderline run and pretend we weren't cold.  "It's summer and we're wearing bikinis!!"  "It's so warm - all I'm wearing are shorts... and a top hat!"  Haha, don't ask.  There were so many walks (and stumbles) to and from that bar.

Funny how "fresh air" can bring back so many old thoughts and memories.  And that was only one side of Union Turnpike.  If I had gone to the other side, I would've passed two more old apartments and tripled the memories.

I guess it was a nostalgic day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rules for Saying Goodbye

So, I've taken a brief hiatus from blogging.  I could say it was because of the holidays, but that's not really true.  I think that I've just been a bit uninspired.  After all the excitement and new experiences in France, I came back to New York to sit in my apartment, search for a new job all day, and a few nights a week, walk downstairs to work at the same bar... with the same customers... that I've been working at since I was a Junior in college.  Sigh.  It's been kind of boring around here.

But... the upside to having a lot of free time is that I've been reading a lot.  Latest read: Rules for Saying Goodbye, by Katherine Taylor.  It was recommended to me by a friend who said the protagonist reminded her of me.  I read it and decided that in many ways, I agree.  That's both a good and bad thing.

"We worried about holding on to our rent-controlled apartments even though the hot water worked only occasionally and the doormen stole our packages and the landlords constantly tried to evict us.  We worried about how all the crying would give us wrinkles and we worried about the price of cigarettes we would have sent up from the grocer downstairs.  We worried about explosions on the subway and whether or not our insignificant boyfriends were alive when they failed to phone.  We worried about taxi accidents and making enough tips to cover the weekend's activities and we worried that we drank too much or that our careers would never speed up, at least never as fast as everyone else's careers seemed to go.  We worried that we had the wrong friends, or not enough friends, friends with not enough money or too much obvious money; we worried about who we knew and who they knew..."

The book follows Katherine Taylor as a pre-teen who ships off to a well-to-do New England boarding school, and then on to her college life and ten or so post-graduate years of living in New York as a bartender, with brief stints (and boyfriends) in Brussels, London and Rome.  Split into four parts according to four major life changes, all including a "break-up" of sorts, I related most to her mid-twenties-self, a voice that was a tad selfish and superficial but very confused and exasperated all at once.  Basically, take a look at the excerpt above.  I get that.  I'm there.  And I think a lot of us are right now.

Another reason my friend thought of me for this book is because, obviously, I am a bartender.  It was my method of paying rent throughout college and my fallback money-maker while the economy is tough and I'm stuck doing the never-ending job search.  This book follows almost too well the instability that comes with the turf of being a bartender.  It's fun, but definitely not always fun.  The money is amazing, but occasionally you barely make ends meet.  People tell you that you're gorgeous all the time, but it's not the people you want to hear it from.  You have all of your days free, but can't seem to get out of bed at reasonable hours or do anything productive with them.  I think you get my point.

Another reason to read this book: although it centers around a coming-of-age woman and her hook-ups and break-ups and ups and downs of life in New York ... it is not a Sex & the City wannabe.  Sex & the City is wonderful, but should be saved for only Sex & the City.  Katherine Taylor has a different way of writing about these events of life.  This novel sways in and out of periods of her life like a running memory.  It's full of sarcasm, understated humor and at times, a bit sad.  Making up for the depressing moments are sharp one-liners and an uplifting ending.

I leave you with a few of my fav lines from the novel.  Enjoy.

"'I have got to get out of there' is the most famous refrain of bar employees, but no one ever gets out of a well-paying bar, no matter how underworld the whole situation may be."

"He used the phrase 'make love.' ...I have never known a girl who could stomach the phrase.  It's a mystery to all of the women I know how it remains in the language, when simple natural selection should have removed it."

(speaking about a neighbor who constantly threatens her)
 "... but in New York, giving up a rent-controlled apartment to save your life is as ridiculous as living in Queens." (ha!  ouch... poor Queens, we always get a bad rep)

(speaking to his mother, who really does mean well)
"My brother has told her, 'People like us do not get up before eleven a.m.'"
"Unemployed people?"
"Bartenders, Mother."

Rules for Saying Goodbye available on Amazon.com