Thursday, July 30, 2009

Niagara Falls in Motion

Niagara Falls in Motion is a brilliant time-lapse photo compilation - shot over the course of three nights - created by Matthew Wartman. "Luckily for me, I live in one of the most photogenic places in the world," Wartman said. I can't imagine any shot being less than amazing with the falls lighting up the night behind it.

Niagara Falls in Motion from Matthew Wartman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Secret Agent Man

I'd seen him walking through the park before, but only remembered being slightly annoyed that he walked his ginormous dog without a leash, turning Toby into a nervous wreck. Last Friday evening, when he passed by my bench the second time around, he stopped to ask about Toby and talk about his monstrous - yet incredibly trained - Matiff-Pit dog.

"A dog is a reflection on its master," he pointed out.
"That's just...great," I said as I looked down at the whiny, squirmy pup on my lap.

And so it began. We spent the next 40 minutes talking about Singapore's beauty and disciplined people (though I don't remember how we got there), about Egyptian camels trained to run off with those who refuse to pay, about the holy presence that surrounds you when you walk on Israeli soil. He talked about how he almost married a Grecian woman and why I should visit Mykonos and party with gay guys (he made sure to point out his heterosexuality here).

He stood the entire time, his stance strong and his demeanor intense. I assumed he'd been involved in the armed forces or was with the police department. And even though it was getting dark and I was getting tired, my book laid ignored on the bench beside me, the pages flipping in the breeze. I wanted to hear more. So there I sat in the park listening to this 30-something-year-old stranger talk about places I'd always dreamed of visiting.

When we moved onto Italy, I mentioned my lessons to learn the language. Wouldn't you know, the guy seamlessly broke off into Italian! I understood him, but couldn't speak la bella lingua as quickly as he could. When I said knowing Spanish and French often added to the confusion, guess what he did? Yes, he started speaking French to me.

"Geez, how many languages do you know?" I asked, visibly impressed.
"Five," he replied before adding Hebrew to the mix. (Plus he's Puerto Rican and fluent in Spanish.) "Do you know why I need to know so many?"

And then he showed me his agent badge.

"What's your name, by the way?"
"Dorkys," I replied.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Secret Agent Man. You have really nice teeth."

Apparently he'd been thrown into learning about these places, its people and languages during his time in the military. As we talked and slowly made our way to leave, a guy stopped to say hello. Soon after, a teen passed by to give him a pound. When I noted that he must be well-known around here, he mentioned being away for a stretch.

"So what exactly do you do?" I asked as we exited the park. "Or is that top secret information?"
"Let's just say I could be around for a while and then go missing for two weeks."
"I see..."

Before leaving, he said that now I had a new friend in the neighborhood, someone with whom I could practice my Italian. And we parted ways with a "Ciao! Buona sera!" as he crossed the street and I walked Toby home.

"Italian? Ha!" I thought with a smile. "The next time we meet I'll be ready - in all four languages."

Image: freewebs.com

A Convo Between Two Important People

[It's been nine months since the first one...]


So here we are...just you and me and all of the people, with nothing to do, nothing to prove and it's-


...Are you done singing there?

-you and me and all of the people and I don't know why I can't keep my eyes off of you. Ok, now I am. So, what's up?

Nothing just wanted to give a little update to go along with my first intro Q&A.

And to confirm your psychosis by sitting in for another interview with yourself?

No! Now are you ready or what?

Wait, who's being interviewed? You or me? Like it matters...

Me! Don't you see you're in bold? Now stop sassing and start asking.

Fine. So I got the basics: 27-year-old taking NYC by storm with her writing skills and fantabulous social life.

Umm, embellishing much?

OMG I should totally be your PR rep! You'll be gracing billboards on Times Square in no time! Hmm, first we'll have to give your wardrobe a major makeover...

Woman, work with me here! Focus!

Oh right, right! Anywho, how's work going for you?

Pretty busy. I've been balancing more duties while entertaining dreams of freelancing and seeing this blog grow.

*Snort* Good luck! Are you worried at all about the fate of the print industry?

Well it's definitely not pretty right now with magazines taking such a hit, but I don't think magazines and newspapers will ever truly go away. A computer screen cannot compete with holding that issue in your hands, reading outside, smelling the perfume inserts. Hey, the Internet didn't make books obsolete! But from a writer's standpoint, it'd be a smart idea to work on your online writing skills and build that up now. I've even started playing around with HTML!

Well whoop dee doo for you. Now when was the last time you got a manicure?

What the hell does that have to do with anything??!

Well I, for one, think your response was very telling. So yo, what's up with T?

I don't know. I haven't seen that chick since January.

[Backs away slowly] Was that a wise choice?

[Inches forward] What do you think?

[In a soft whisper] I think...you're...crazy as hell.

NEXT QUESTION!

Hee hee, I win. How's Mr. First doing these days?

I don't know. We don't talk much. I hit a record this month by not speaking to him for seven weeks. But the silence was broken two weeks ago when he reached out for a second time. It's like the never-ending story between us two...today would've been three years...

Stop it. Have there at least been any new characters in your life? Please say you've taken a luvah...

No...No new characters other than my one-year-old puppy.

WOW are you boring. Can I be interviewed the next time around? 'Cause I'm way more fun. You should let me out to play more often!

No, you're trouble. And I'm thisclose to hurting you.

Shut up. You love me love me, say that you love me, leave me leave me, say that you need me...

So help me God...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Latina's Gadget Guide

Check out our back to school must-haves,
including a certain webcam used to create this vlog :)

Image: latina.com

Sometimes a Girl Just Needs to Buy Herself Flowers

When it's going to be one of those days...

Monday Giveaway: The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner

Taking care of Toby on my own hasn't exactly been the easiest task in the world. I worry about him being home alone while I work and about his digestive tract when he chews up my stuff. But the good have outweighed the bad by far and I want to make sure I become a good/better owner to him. Yes, I've read other guides (yay for guides!), but none have answered a particular question I've had in mind recently: how will Toby act around any of the future guys I date? Well The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner answers that and more! Below, an interview with author Betsy Rosenfeld on keeping the pooch entertained, teaching your dog to play nice with your new boo and a few dating tips!

What inspired you to write this book?

My work as a rescuer. I was killing myself rescuing dogs from the shelter so they wouldn’t be euthanized and yet it seemed no matter how hard I tried there was an endless stream of unwanted dogs. So I tried to think of how I could make the biggest impact on the situation.

Then one day I helped to rescue a tiny terrier that was turned into the shelter by a cute young 20-something girl who said that she was overwhelmed and just had no idea how much work a dog was going to be. A light went off; this was my own demographic and I knew I could have helped her earlier in the process to avoid the pitfalls of dog ownership. I wouldn’t be preachy or annoying or unrealistic like I’d felt so many other books had been. Instead I could share my own experiences as a way to help raise a dog. I decided to combine those skills with my desire to reach out to other young single dog owners and voilà…The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner!

I have a puppy and I usually feel guilty about leaving him alone while I'm at work all day. How can I keep him entertained while I'm out of the house?

This is probably the most universal problem among single dog owners. It’s just you caring for the dog and you have to work! A few suggestions are first to try interactive dog toys. Dogs like puzzle-type toys that provide a treat when they succeed at the game. They require your dog to really think and stay focused on the task at hand, thus keeping them at least somewhat distracted from the fact that he’s alone. Options range from a Kong stuffed with peanut butter and your dog’s kibble (I like to put the stuffed Kong in the freezer to add to the challenge) to more intricate toys like DaBomb, which makes an electronic explosion sound and dispenses a treat when bumped on a firm surface.

Another option is to set up a dog-care collaborative with other owners you trust. You could set up different days that the dogs are going to be at each others' house and since everyone’s schedule is somewhat different, your dog can get more human interaction throughout the day.

Great ideas! Unfortunately, no matter how many toys I leave out for Toby, sometimes he still decides that chewing up the couch is way more fun.

When given a choice between doing the right thing and the wrong thing, it does always seem that puppies choose the wrong path. Clearly God made them cute for a reason! So the best thing to do is remove any wrong options from their surroundings when you’re not around. Set them up for success by leaving them in a confined space such as an x-pen or a gated-off kitchen or bathroom (accessible cabinets closed and locked). Make the space comfortable with their favorite blankets and toys. Leave relaxing music on and the lights low. Your dog may end up sleeping for most of the day instead of wreaking havoc on your stuff!

Oh if only I’d known that before he got to my shoes… Anywho, onto dating! What's the best way to introduce your dog to your new partner?

When introducing a dog to a new person or a new dog, the best bet is to do so out of their home environment. Dogs are den animals and often act badly or possessive when they’re in their home. So if you’re worried about your date meeting your dog, set up their first interaction in a neutral place such as the park or a coffee house. It’s also best to do it during the day. Dogs can act a little funky after the sun goes down.

And what are your options if your dog and bf/gf cannot get along no matter what you do?

This is such a tough situation. First you have to at least try to get past the issue with some training. Even if you can’t afford a trainer, check out some books at the library or even a video. One of the best things you can also do is have your beau take your dog on substantial walks on a short leash. This helps establish him as the alpha and within this dynamic you are more likely to establish a good rapport between your dog and your date.

Now if you really have exhausted every option, I think it really depends where you are at in life. Is this someone you’re just hanging out with or someone you want to move to the next level with? If you can’t make it work, can’t figure out a way to juggle time between the two and you want to be with this person, you may need to consider finding a new home for the dog. This does not mean dropping them off at a local shelter and assuming they will be adopted. Instead, try to find someone you know who might want your dog – a family member or friend that you trust.

If that isn’t an option, find a no-kill facility or rescue group in your area. And above all really think about your decision. Are you doing this because you have to? Are you doing this to satisfy someone who always wants you to give things up? From experience helping my friends find new homes to satisfy their partners, you will regret this because no one will ever stand by you like your dog will.

How can you keep your dog from killing the mood when you are getting down to business with your boo?

I love my dog, but no matter how tiny or well behaved he or she is, it’s just not sexy to have a dog in your bed when you’re “otherwise engaged.” And even if you can get past it, your partner - whether or not they say something - may not be quite as open to sharing you.

So create the space that you need, by putting your dog in another room with a consuming dog toy. While they are keeping themselves busy with their treat, you can get a treat of your own behind closed doors!

Do you have any personal stories where your dog had a hard time accepting your new partner? Do share!

Oh ya! My beloved dog Bella, who passed in March, loved absolutely everyone but somehow just hated this one guy I dated. On our first hang out, she awkwardly kept putting herself physically between the two of us. I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening but it was. I could tell that she didn’t like him, but I couldn’t understand why – he seemed like a prince! Of course, he turned out to be a jerk and she knew when I didn’t.

Don't pretend it’s not happening because problems don’t always magically disappear by themselves. First off, how many guys that you date will you end up with for the long term? And secondly, dogs can be somewhat malleable. Getting your dog to like a guy can be as easy as having him spend time with the dog and having him give them treats for good behavior.

And reassert yourself as the alpha. Dogs are pack animals and if their alpha likes someone, they are more likely to follow suit. So don't let your dog walk in front of you on the leash, they need to walk beside or behind you at all time. Consider breaking out their crate and putting it next to your bed instead of letting them sleep on your pillow. It’s not that you have to stop spoiling and loving your dog, nor does it mean you should ever show aggression towards him, rather it just means that you must be seen as senior to them in the pack and thus they will defer to you and to whomever else you bring into it.

OK, so I'm not a fan of cats and people don't really think less of those who don't like them. With dogs it's a whole 'nother story! Do you think people who don't like dogs are a tiny bit evil on the inside?

Totally! People who don’t like dogs seem very cold and unloving to me. How can you not love dogs! In my Match.com profile (I met my boyfriend there right after I turned in the book to my editor actually), I clearly stated that if you don’t like dogs then you’re not going to like me!

Have you ever met a guy because of your dog? I have this crazy vision of meeting The One while walking Toby around the park on a sunny afternoon. Do you have any pick up tips?

I have met so many cute guys at the dog park, but never in my whole life had I ever met so many cute guys than when I recently got my dog a Lakers jersey! No guy can resist a cute girl and a cute dog wearing the jersey of their home team!

Sweet! I’ll have to look into that! So finally, what's your definition of a happy dog?

A happy dog is a confident dog and the best way to build a dog’s confidence is by investing your time into training them. Take them to puppy classes, get them well socialized and consider crate training. Make sure they feel comfortable even if you have to leave them to go to work. The activities listed above, as well as taking them to the dog park and on walks, provide dogs with a structure in which they know you are their alpha, and that you are their protector.

*****
All wonderful tips I'll take with me as I enter the dating world with the little monster. And luckily, some of you will too! Five random commenters will receive a copy of The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner. Just leave a comment and if you subscribe or follow you'll receive extra entries. A winner will be announced Wednesday night!

CONGRATULATIONS: Ladystyx, Caren, Dariany, Intense Guy and Chanda are this week's winners!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Second Wedding Pre-Invite

Text from Guy Friend/Groom: Hey, just getting more detail for the invite to the wedding. Are you planning on bringing a date, or is it a significant
other whose name should be on the invite?

*Sigh*

I dunno...

But at least he asked :)

******

Me: Hey, I'd love to bring a date. Could I have that option and RSVP accordingly once the invitation arrives?

Text from Guy Friend/Groom: It's The Bride and yes, you are welcome to reserve the option to bring a date. I don't like putting "and guest" so it will be addressed to just you, but picture the "and guest."

And so the search begins. Maybe when I go out looking for a dress today I'll stumble upon a "buy one dress, score a date for free" special...

Broadway in Bryant Park: Week 3

Uploading this week's Broadway in Bryant Park performances was much smoother now that I know about YouTube's inconvenient limits. Unfortunately, I only caught the last two plays. Fortunately, they turned out to be the two that I wanted to see from Thursday's batch: Mary Poppins and Wicked! (I missed Vanities and Rock of Ages. Oh wells even though I wanted to preview the latter because of the awesome music. "Don't stop belieeeeevin'!!")



Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Friday!

My goals for the weekend are:

*Work on and finish a couple stories on my plate.
*Sorta kinda maybe start looking for a dress for the upcoming weddings.
*Hunt down the super so he can finally fix my toilet.
*Renew an overdue book at the library.
*Eat lots of strawberries and mango sorbet.
*Pretend I don't actually make goals for the weekend.

What about you?


P.S. The image is from My Milk Toof, a ridiculously cute photo blog I found through Blythe some time ago. It's about the adventures of two baby teeth! So adorable :)

How Often Do You Pay Your Doc a Visit?

When Mom landed herself in the hospital a few weeks ago, the doctor in the emergency room let her have it for refusing to get a physical every year. Obviously going in regularly - and while you're still in good health - prevents underlying conditions from worsening and catches them at treatable stages. But for whatever reason some people just refuse to go. It might not be the funnest thing on Earth, but it's so necessary. Keep these important tests and immunization schedules in mind for your next appointment - unless you want to spend even more time with your doc down the line.

Image: cirrushealth.com

Camp: A Parent's Best Friend

Aah, summer vacation. A time when classes are done, energy runs high and the children are free to spend every waking moment running around the house. If they’re starting to drive you bonkers, consider sending the little rugrats to camp! They’ll enjoy playing and interacting with other children while you get a chance to catch your breath.

Check out some tips you should keep in mind when preparing your little ones for summer camp. After a few days, you might actually start to miss them – or not.





Image:
siumed.edu

Editing Sarah Palin

I can't believe I totally forgot to post this. On Monday, Vanity Fair posted an edited version of Governor Sarah Palin's resignation speech after their executive literary editor, copy editors and research department took a whack at fixing it up. And boy did they. I not only write for Latina, but I also fact check a good chunk of the magazine so I love me some factual accuracy! Now my question is this: can they please do this for every politician?

Image: vanityfair.com

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Masochistic Tendencies

I might not offer as much as others during girl talk sessions, but I love to sit in and listen. Why? Because it makes me feel less crazy. Knowing what the other girls do validates my antics and while there's the possibility that each one of us is completely bonkers, at least I'm not the only one. It's such a relief when one of us starts telling a story and another one chimes in with an "OMG, I do that too!!" And with that the doors of psychosis are busted wide open.

Apparently when it comes to past loves...

- We save voicemails just to hear them over and over. And just when the message is about to expire, we press 9 and think, "Yes! Thirty more days, baby!"

- Oh the sadness when we forget to resave and realized his/her voice has been deleted forever...

- Sometimes the message is saved just to prove a point - especially if it's from someone who swore he/she'd never reach out again. Self-esteem boost or vindication? Who cares! It still makes you feel wanted.

- We keep his/her songs in our iPods so that instant depression might or might not hit when you choose "shuffle." It's like musical Russian roulette.

- In fact, we might have gone right ahead and created a whole playlist with those torturous songs. They're played when we need a good cry, when the world is just too damn happy and you want to bring it down a notch or when you want to take a dark trip down Memory Lane, which just so happens to be one of those songs for me.

So, do you do anything of the sort? It's ok. You're probably not alone.

Image: weheartit.com

Broadway in Bryant Park: Week 2

[Ok, so I FINALLY managed to upload the video clips from last week's Broadway in Bryant Park. It only took forever! Hopefully I'll have better luck with today's performances.]


Two weeks ago, the annual Broadway in Bryant Park series started up again! And being a fan of all things free (especially previews of expensive Broadway plays) I went to last Thursday's performances.

Like last summer, I recorded the show and included it below. But unlike last year's clips, the video quality is better thanks to the Flip MinoHD I received last week! I didn't think you'd be able to hear much since I was a bit far from the speakers, but I think the sound is pretty good too. The only downside is that the video camera barely zooms in at all. Then again, I zoomed in so much with my digital camera the last time that the quality was pretty craptastic throughout.

Week 2's acts consisted of The Little Mermaid, 9 to 5, The Toxic Avenger, a hilarious musical about NYC's stinky neighbor to the west, and the über-boring (to me anyway) Pure Country.


Highlights

- I first heard "She's In Love" last year and was so excited to hear it again with the cute little Flounder boy that I actually started singing it before it even began. (3:42)

- I never really listened to Dolly Parton and seriously thought about heading back to the office after The Little Mermaid was through, but luckily I stayed. I was mighty impressed by both songs!

- David Bryan from Bon Jovi was on hand to introduce The Toxic Avenger (he wrote its music and lyrics) and mentioned that the band will be releasing a new album at the end of the year.

- A butterfly fluttered by while Pure Torture was on stage and I found it more interesting than the songs. Maybe it was the humidity or the tiredness from holding up the camera for 40 minutes, but I was just not trying to listen to sappy country music in that heat. Exactly why the camera was all over the place; I wasn't paying attention. I do think that guy was gangster for plugging in the play in the middle of his song. (1:05)









*Last year's Broadway in Bryant Park weeks 2, 4, 5, and 6 parts A and B

*Originally I wanted all four clips in one video, but apparently YouTube has a limit on file size and time. I wish I'd known this before I spent 2.5 hours waiting for the thing to be created.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Le Lezioni d'Italiano hanno Finito...per Adesso

Last night was the final lesson in Italian Step 3, which means I have my Tuesday nights back! I must confess that I completely slacked off in this course. First was the horrible 7:30 PM- 9 PM time slot, which meant I didn’t get home ‘til at least 10 PM starving but too sleepy to eat much. And then my coworker/ partner-in-Italian-crime couldn’t sign up for this level so I lost interest and fast. Shame on me.

But I refuse to give up on my polyglot dreams so during this two-month break before the next level starts up, I’ll try to read through the three chapters (in our textbook Oggi in Italia) that we covered over the last two months. I might or might not do the homework I missed, which were all but the first two (what?! I’m a busy woman so don’t judge me). But honestly, I will probably resort to Barron’s Learn Italian the Fast and Fun Way. This is how my coworker and I started learning on our own last year during our lunch breaks. In fact, we may have only studied through page 55, but we still breezed through level 1 (because we’re awesome).

The book makes it fairly simple to learn the language (as well as all the others they have in their collection: I bought the French one as well to brush up) and the cute cartoons keep my interest because apparently I’m a child with ADD who needs colors and pictures to understand concepts. Hey, whatever works!

Image: overstock.com

Showing Vermin Who's Boss

Gooseberried's post just made me laugh...and relate. I'm more of a Lysol girl myself, but I still revel in the fact that I'm not the only one with unconventional ways of getting rid of intruders!

Image: amazon.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Playground in the Sky

Horst's playful SKYplay photos on Flickr make me wish NYC's skies were this lovely today. Also makes you look twice at those shifting clouds in the sky! (via A Cup of Jo)

Images: doubletakesblog.com and joannagoddard.blogspot.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Weekend Picked Up

Saturday

The BBQ turned out really good (Heidi's chicken is always off the hook) and we lucked out with gorgeous weather. It was a fun little group with good conversation (mostly about boys, of course). I even took Toby to finally meet Charlie even though he and I were still not on speaking terms. He spent the day running and hopping around acting like a little brat. But we did stage a cute photo shoot to go along with an upcoming article. Let's see if any of them make it into the mag. Kudos to Dariany for the great shots (and there were quite a bit)! We should do it more often ;)

When I got back home around 11 PM, my other cousin surprised me with a visit. She just needed some comfort and I spent the next two hours trying my best to give her just that.

Sunday

Dear Lord was that day long. I had a bunch of chores and errands to do including the one I'd been avoiding for a month: laundry (dun dun dun). For all you lucky fools who complain about walking a couple feet to your washing machine, imagine going up and down four flights of stairs and walking down the block with a 40 lb bag of sheets and clothes. I bet it looked like the ginormous yellow bag sprouted arms and legs and started walking down the street by itself.

My cousin stopped by again and after some hours listening to music and talking, we walked on over to Target for a little field trip. Why is it that Tar-jay is always an acceptable "outing?" It doesn't matter if that's all you're going to do, but you will create an event out of just going there. Or maybe that's just me and my friends...

Dating in the Dark

Is anyone else seeing this new reality dating show? The premise of Dating in the Dark (ABC, 10 PM EST): three men and three women dating...in the dark. They live in separate parts of the same house and only get to interact with the opposite sex in a dark room (we get to see everything though). Sparks might or might not fly between any of them and at the end of the show they reveal what they look like. What will they think of next? Date My Dog? I'll report on this later.

"I have no idea what I just kissed in there. I hope to God that when all is revealed I didn't end up with a guy who looks like Shrek." Ha!

"He's NOTHING like I imagined. He's the kind of guy you bring home to mom and she'll say, 'He's lovely boy, Lainie. He's a lovely boy.'"

Ok, so far the guys are beyond happy with the ladies' looks. The women...eh, not so much. Do we just have higher hopes and unrealistic expectations when it comes to looks?

Aww! One guy got rejected! After they shared so much with and about each other, she chose not to come out and meet him on the balcony and just left without saying adios. So sad :(

Apparently she just didn't feel that physical attraction once she saw him. I think if they spent more time getting to know each other in the dark, his personality would've trumped his looks and that connection they felt earlier might have had a fighting chance. She still could've given it a shot! Not like she's getting any younger...

Interesting show/ concept. I'll probably try to catch it from time to time!

If you watched, did you like it?

Image: ca.tv.yahoo.com

NYILFF 2009


Monday Giveaway: Fruits & Passion

This week's sweet giveaway is from Fruits & Passion. Their Imagine line of shower gels, creams and eau de toilettes contains organic fruit extracts ethically harvested from local communities, natural biodegradable formulas and eco-friendly packaging. And their Apple Illusion fragrance is just so yummy (smelling, not tasting)!

A random commenter will receive the Foaming Bath (far left), the Hand Cream (middle) and the Quenching Butter (far right). Subscribers and followers will receive extra entries and a winner will be announced Wednesday night. Good luck!

CONGRATULATIONS: Tooj is this week's winner!

Image: canadianliving.com

Happy Birthday, Sibs!

Happy 23rd birthday, little sis! And bday joys to our "baby" brother who turned 18 last Monday! I feel like you guys are gaining on me so slow it down a bit, ok? Thanks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

FML

Maybe I crossed a black cat yesterday without realizing it...

- After a long day at work, I headed off to karaoke with some coworkers. Had a great time 'til I realized that the song I wanted to sing was just not popping up even though I programmed it about four times. Tried another one. Nothing. I jump in to sing a Spice Girls song with someone else, the song inexplicably stops in the second verse. A song of mine finally comes up and it's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun: The Polka Version."

- Walked home in the rain sans umbrella and got to my apartment to see little black pieces all over my apartment floor. Toby had chewed up my black flats. The only black casual shoes I own. The ones I'd decided to wear today during last night's train ride home. I was so mad, I stormed into the bedroom because I needed some time to myself. This was after he shredded some papers a couple days ago and because his saliva is some sort of magic crazy glue concoction, pieces are still stuck to my hardwood floors. Last night's reaction made me realize that I probably should not have children since patience does not run through these veins. (A huge jump from last Sunday's instant pardon when, in a fit of we're-going-on-a-walk excitement, he knocked over my laptop and dented the power cord.)

- Tried to work on the videos I wanted to have up yesterday on my PC. I trimmed the clips, made them shorter and started uploading them onto YouTube. The first should've been uploaded in 45 minutes. Fifteen minutes before completion, my screen goes blue. Something about deleting memory pops up. I want to cry.

- I shut down the computer and decide I need a warm shower before I break down. After I'm inside, the water turns freezing cold. I want to cry.

- Beyond ready to put an end to the day I put Toby in his crate and head to bed. As I lay there, with Toby barking up a storm in the background, I realize I completely forgot to eat dinner...

- This morning I try to fix the computer, but it keeps taking me to the same menus and I have no idea what they mean. The manuals don't help. And if I'm going to get charged to talk to some fool on the phone, the price had better include a house visit from that same fool so he can actually fix it.

- I'm cranky and PMSing so I feel like throwing punches instead of attending a lovely BBQ with friends. This certain blind date guy who never called might show up, but I kinda lost interest over the course of the week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Friday, I Have Nothing to Say

But that's because I'm extremely frustrated with a blog post I had hoped to have up today, YouTube and its inconvenient video size limits (unbeknownst to moi), my lack of sleep and my need to have everything I do just as I imagine it. But because I've been "quiet" around these parts and some of you clearly have no work to do at your jobs, here I am.

Let's start off with the fashion eyesores that are Crocs. Apparently they're in deep and might be wiped out if they don't pay their debt by September. So unless you guys fall off the deep end and help them out (read: throw your dignity out the window), they're goners! I still don't understand who thought it'd be an AWESOME idea to market plastic colored blocks as footwear. And I don't know who's worse, them, the people who actually bought them, the people who started making crazy little decorations for them or parents who put them on their kids. For the love of God, think about the kids!!

Speaking of fashion eyesores, Vanessa Bryant has no friends. Seriously. I can't even begin to explain this fugly tragedy.

Next: Harry Potter. Does anyone still care? I've lost some major steam on that one, to be honest. I feel like I've been hearing about these movies for half my life. I don't even know which one we're up to. Ten?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about FWBs (aka "friends with benefits"). Maybe a more detailed post on this will follow (or maybe not; my blog, my rules), but I wonder if seeking a purely physical relationship would ever work for me...

As far as the image goes, I just wanted to put up the 1976 New Yorker cover of "A View of the World From 9th Avenue" because Saul Steinberg was simply genius.

Image: mappery.com

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pedro Martinez Signs with the Phillies

Today former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez signed a one-year $1 million contract (along with $1.5 mil in extra goodies) with the Phillies. The 37-year-old Dominicano (who hasn't pitched a game since the World Baseball Classic in March due to an injury) had this to say about the move during his press conference:

"As far as embracing the Phillies fans, I think I'm going to have a lot of fun, because they seem to be really wild. And I'm a little bit out there, too. I think we're going to match up really well. But I can't do anything with the hate you feel for the Mets or Mets fans. That's between you guys."

And Dad thinks he's real slick. After refusing to the see the Phillies when they come for their four-game series against the Mets in late August, tonight he asked, "Do you think Pedro will pitch when they come?" He'd better not even...

Image: sports.yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Inevitable Role Reversal

Last night, I was faced with the fact that one day my parents will become old and feeble and will need us to take care of them. I also realized that I will probably be a hot mess when the time comes.

For the past week my mom has been in and out of the hospital after a fainting spell and a trip to the emergency room uncovered blood pressure and heart irregularities. After going through a “minor” heart procedure to hopefully correct the problem, my sis and I paid her a visit.

I hate hospitals. I don’t deal with sickness well and avoid wakes, viewings and funerals if I can. I never really know what to say to try and soften the physical and emotional pain of those who are suffering. So I keep away. And I internalize what those around me must be feeling or how I’d feel if I were in their shoes.

Up until now, there had only been one close family member I’d visit when she’d land in the hospital time after time: my 26-year-old vibrant cousin whose diabetes has slowly been taking a toll on her for years. And even then my visits would be short and quick with few words, half smiles and hopes that things would get better soon.

Seeing Mom lying on that bed last night, hooked to God knows what, barely able to lift her arms just got to me and I had to step out. To know that someday we’ll have to hand feed her, help her take her medicine and hold the phone up to her ear all the time was a tough pill to swallow. Yes, I’ve known this will happen, but I’ve always chosen not to acknowledge it. I’ve even brushed aside Dad’s requests to help him with his will. Doing that would force me to confront the fact that one day he won’t be around anymore and I cannot do that yet.

Naïve as it is, I like to think that my family will be around forever just so I don’t have to deal with the day after.

How do you handle sickness and death?

Image: healthypr.wordpress.com

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Giveaway: Chef'n CleanGenuity

I hate doing chores. I'll put off doing laundry until I'm down to my last sock. Likewise, I'll often put off doing dishes 'til I'm down to my last cup (sounds gross, I know, but I also only use five. When I win the lotto, first thing I'm getting is a dishwasher...and a real house to put it in). The weird thing is when I get around to washing the dishes it's actually soothing to me! The mindless scrubbing is some sort of psycho stress reliever (and the same happens when I clean the tub) that calms me down when I'm feeling anxious. Go figure.

So I will jump on any incentive that will motivate me to be a better housekeeper. I love cute and colorful things for my home and remember the excitement of buying essentials for my first apartment last year.

Oh how I wish I'd checked out Chef'n's site during those days. Or maybe it's good that I didn't because I would have bought everything on there! They have things I didn't even know existed, things that would make life - and cooking - a lot easier and fun. Yes I know cooking is not exactly my idea of a good time BUT how much better would it be with this GarlicZoom? Or their Kiwee? Or their adorable G'Rabbit salt and pepper grinders? Their bright designs made me want to drop everything and create a gourmet meal from scratch.

Then I woke up and smelled the burning one-minute rice.

Anywho, some of their newest products fall under their CleanGenuity tab: a line of fun and practical cleaning tools that will make you think twice about leaving the dirty dishes in the sink 'til later.

The Sudster Drinkware Scrubber is great for washing baby bottles, delicate glassware or champagne flutes after a couple rounds of bubbly with your friends. Or by yourself. Whatever. We don't judge. The sponge is super soft and you can twist off the handle to pour liquid soap inside. Now the Sudster Sponge Station is a personal fave. I'm always leery of leaving my sponge lying by the sink and don't even want to think about what germies are getting all up on it. So this serves as a little sponge holder that's a lot more sanitary than my current situation. And yes, it holds liquid soap inside the station, too. Pretty sweet, no?

Well this week, Chef'n will be giving away a set of both the Sudster Drinkware Scrubber and the Sponge Station to three lucky readers! Just visit their site and let me know what product(s) would spice up your kitchen. And if you follow or subscribe to this blog, you'll get extra entries.

Three random winners will be announced Wednesday night! (Non-bloggers please leave contact info or be sure to check back in within 24 hours.)

CONGRATULATIONS: Caren, Joy and Carla are this week's winners!

How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

I met up with JK, a close buddy from undergrad that I don't see nearly as much as I should. Why? Because she lives in NYC's red-headed stepborough: Staten Island. No offense, but can NJ just adopt that already?

Anywho, our lazy afternoon started out in Bryant Park catching up under an umbrella of trees and splitting a big, yummy Caramel Chew Cupcake. Then we walked to Central Park where we watched the mini carnival below us and took a picture for a singing scavenger hunting church choir group from Florida. Then JK and I walked back to Grand Central Terminal through Fifth Avenue secretly judging the people who actually shopped there.


Saturday

What a long day for the pup and me! We headed off to the vet early in the day to finally take his sutures out. Then we walked to Petco for Toby's first professional grooming! I've been bathing him myself to save some money, but after seeing him yesterday I'm tempted to treat him more often. He smelled sooo good and the way they trimmed his hair makes him look so cute, I love him all over again. He received some serious squishes from me afterwards. In fact, I might keep that little bandana on his neck foreverrr. (Sidenote: I always love when vets and other handlers tell me what a sweet dog he is. It actually makes me proud!)

Then it was off to spend some time with his "grandma." He was completely pooped by the time we got home.


Sunday

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Gotta Feeling

While getting ready for last Saturday's outing, the new Black Eyed Peas single "I Gotta Feeling" kept playing on the radio (along with Pit Bull's infectious "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" and Kristinia DeBarge's "Goodbye"). Love it! It's an anthem to total debauchery and such a fun song that I couldn't wait to go dance the night away. The semi-racy video doesn't exactly say "lazy Sunday afternoon," but who cares? I wish all my nights were this carefree. Well almost...



What do you think of their new single?

P.S. Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" was already good, but now I'm jammin to his light reggae remix featuring Jah Cure and Lil Wayne.

Spread the Word

Dry As Toast has a Facebook group page! So join up and tell your friends.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Milk and Cookies

During the dinner party a few weeks ago, the girls and I discussed Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which has been making the rounds among the group (though personally, I'm not really interested). Days later, Latina’s hookup blogger wrote about the same thing. One part caught everyone’s interest: Harvey’s thought that a woman should always put a man on a 90-day probationary period before giving him the benefits also known as “The Cookie.”

Here’s what I think about all this: duh! This is nowhere near new. What Harvey calls "The Cookie," we’ve been calling milk for years. “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I think it all comes down to common sense. Sleeping with a guy you just met at a bar? Probably not the best idea unless you’re craving a one-night stand with a side of herpes. Do I think sleeping with a guy “too soon” will hurt your chances for longevity relationship-wise? Not always, but personally I believe if you give up the goodies before he can say, “My name is- what?!” he’ll wonder who else has enjoyed your carefree personality.

And then I wonder, does this also apply to oral? Or is that probably necessary so the passion doesn’t dry up before the 90 days are over? It’s not like I have much experience of my own to refer to, but I’m guessing people just play it by ear. That rules aren’t written in stone and don’t necessarily follow through from one partner to the next. We learn from previous experiences as we go and become more in tune with what fits us best – or what fits that current relationship best. Mr. First and I waited an incredibly long time thanks to several factors and sometimes I wonder if anything would have changed if it had happened sooner, but I also know that it felt right for us.

Maybe 90 days is too soon for some while waiting three months – instead of three dates – is hell for others. So tell me: should it just come down to what you’re comfortable with or should you always wait before getting down to business? And because what we say is not always what we do, how long do you usually wait?

Image: dreamcullen.livejournal.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Latina Staff Health Challenge is Over!

I can't believe 90 days have already passed by, but here we are! Now the staff challenge might be over, but I still have quite a bit of work to do...

Image: rochesterhills.wordpress.com

A Pup's First Birthday




Happy Birthday, little Toby! At first I thought you were this timid little thing because you were so incredibly shy. Lord how that's changed! Sometimes I want to give you back and other times I want to squish you to pieces. Thanks for taking the salty tears like a champ and for making these strolls through the park so much nicer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Well That's Because the Mets Suck

Last night, on the car ride back to my house…

Dad: Do you know if the Phillies are coming into town anytime soon?
Me: They won’t be back to play the Mets ‘til end of August.
Dad: Ok, then can you please not invite me to those games?
Me: Why? Are you scared ‘cause the Phillies beat you guys in all three games this weekend?
Dad: No…it’s just…I’m so disenchanted with the Mets these days…
Me: Aww… [to self: Muahaha!]

Friday: Phillies W 7-2
Saturday: Phillies W 4-1
Sunday: Phillies W 2-0

But the Marlins are way too close to the Phillies in the NL East standings

Image: metsmaniac.com

July 4th Weekend Recap

Ok, so this is a bit on the late side, but I had a good reason: I was still in recovery mode.

Friday

I actually didn’t do a damn thing that day. I vaguely recall wanting to go enjoy the sunshine when Mother Nature pulled a “haHA sucka!” and made it rain again. Then I proceeded to spend three hours chatting with Dariany to try and figure out hellish HTML codes.

Saturday

A beautiful day. I spent the first part of it cleaning and tidying up the apartment. I always love when my place looks nice and clean, but hate doing what it takes to get it there. I watched Superbad for the first time and then the Phillies v Mets game as I painted my nails. Then I took an evening stroll with my camera to finally finish off a roll of film.

Then it was time to get ready for the night and, oy vey, what a night it was…

Well despite how sick I became towards the end of the night, I had a fun time at Columbus72. I enjoyed the music and though you’ll probably want to bring a dance partner for the Latin music room, the other room was great for just dancing around with friends and staring at the rhythmically challenged. They even played "Hips Don't Lie!" Unfortunately, I got the spins after a while and realized it was time to high-tail it home. (It was pretty bad.)

Clearly Sunday was shot and I was still trying to recover a day after that. The mere mention of vodka with cranberry juice still makes me queasy. So much thanks to those keep mentioning it to me. Punks.

Hopefully you guys had a wonderful (and headache-free) weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

[Cousins and partners-in-crime Dama and Dariany have teamed up to review My Sister's Keeper. The tear-jerker is based on Jodi Picoult's novel about a girl born to help her sister survive leukemia and her fight for the rights over her own body. Hover your pointer over highlighted bits for spoilers!]

Dariany: So Dorkys asked us to review so let’s get to it. What was your initial reaction?

Dama: Well when I heard they were making the book into the movie I was excited and a little worried. I loved the book and wanted to see how they would adapt it on the big screen, but Hollywood is known for f’ing up loads of books. What did you think?

Dariany: The first thing I think when I hear a book is going to be a movie is, “Will it be just as I pictured it in my head?” I don’t know if this movie was exactly like I’d pictured it. Maybe more like 80%.

Dama: That's close enough! I can see how they tried to keep their interpretation close to the book EXCEPT for that major change. I know that left a sour taste in your mouth. Care to share?

Dariany: I felt they should have been more loyal to the book so I was very pissed off. What made the book was the shocker at the end that left you with "WTH?" and made it unpredictable.

Dama: Seeing as how I spend half my life online, I had already read that it was very possible that they would change the ending. So I lowered my expectations and prayed to God that 1) they didn't keep them both alive and 2) that I had the same reaction to the movie as I did to the book (I cried my eyes out). So since both things happened, I was quite satisfied!

Dariany: Well I didn’t cry for either. Maybe I’m just not that emotional, but I think the book’s ending would’ve made more big time money.

Dama: Bueno, Hollywood is all about what GUARANTEES the big bucks. Maybe they were afraid of taking too big a risk. I read that Jodi Picoult wasn't happy and I'm not surprised. I mean, they changed her baby.

Dariany: It wasn’t My Sister’s Keeper, it was My Sister’s Keeper: The Overused Version of a Family Dealing with Cancer.

Dama: You know, I loved the fact that like in the book, they switched perspectives from the children, the parents, the lawyer...

Dariany: Yeah, I liked that too. I feel they portrayed the family a lot closer than the book did. You could feel the love between them, but in the book you can see how the family was falling apart towards the end because of the illness. The movie showed so many happy moments that in the end they couldn’t bring in everything that made the book.

Dama: Ok so switching gears if I may, what scenes touched your soul? You do have a soul right? ‘Cause you didn’t even cry.

Dariany: Oh screw you for that one! I do have a soul lady. I loved that they went more in depth with the boyfriend unlike the book. Oh and the scrapbook was great! That girl has some skill. But honestly, the death didn’t hit me hard ‘cause I felt like every scene was preparing me for it.

Dama: I loved her and Taylor together, but seeing as I have a soul, seeing her with him was soooo heartbreaking, ‘cause I def knew he was gonna die and then it was likely she would too, so it was such a bittersweet relationship. The scrapbook scene was also heart wrenching. I think that’s the one that got EVERYONE in the theater.

Dariany: To me, the fact that Taylor existed wasn't heartbreaking because they both had been living with this disease for a while and they both knew there was a huge chance of not making it to tomorrow let alone to forever, but they were happy ‘cause they were together for right now. Actually, I felt it was the happiest part of the movie!

Dama: Wow, talk about polar opposites. It was heartbreaking to me because I knew that that little bit of happiness was temporary, but I loved that neither she nor Taylor let the disease become this huge dark cloud on their relationship.

Dariany: Ok so overall I won’t say this movie was horrible because it really wasn’t. If I had to rate it without having read the book before, I would give it 4 Toasties. But in relation to the book, I give it 2.5 for effort!

Dama: Oh wow, 2.5? Why you being so damn stingy with the Toasties?!

Dariany: Hey lady, this is my rating. You go and give it your own, woman!

Dama: I guess after having read the book, I’ll give the movie 4 Toasties.

Dariany: Ok, we'll agree to disagree then.


Summary

Dariany: So after being introduced to this book by Dama and reading it, I fell in love so this might have left me a bit biased. If you haven’t read the book, you would probably think highly of it. Very emotional and everyone (except me) left in tears. It’s amazing how they show these actors as a family and you can believe it (although I’ll never believe that Cameron Diaz and gorgeous Jason Patrick could ever be those grown children’s parents). But I was highly upset that it didn’t follow the book’s blueprint to the core. So because I am a Libra that can’t make up her mind, I have two ratings: If I’d never read the book: 4 Toasties; As a huge fan of the book: 2.5 Toasties

Dama: Personally, I would say steer clear of My Sister's Keeper if you're a lover of the book from beginning to end because some changes were made. However, I have to say that the movie still tugs at your heartstrings like the book. While the overall tone of the movie is depressing, the movie does a good job of including humor and young romance as well. I give it 4 Tostadas.

My Sister's Keeper: (avg.) 3.5/5 Toasties




Image: collider.com

Monday Giveaway: Cloud Star


Because Toby's 1st bday is coming up in two days, this week's giveaway is doggy-related. I recently received a sample of Cloud Star's Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Madness and the little furball cannot get enough of them. They're shaped like little gingerbread men and they just look cute and delicious. That said, I'm pretty sure Toby doesn't even taste the peanut butter goodness because the little beast eats them so fast!

Cloud Star not only makes all sort of yummy treats and products, but they're also committed to giving back. They've pledged to donate at least 10% of their profits to non-profits that benefit animals, women, children and the environment.

A random winner will receive a low-fat gift pack with Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Madness, Buddy Biscuits Molasses Madness, Trail Hound Yogurt, Apple & Banana as well as Chicken & Sweet Potato and a "Wag More Bark Less" Auto Magnet. Just leave a comment below for a chance to make a dog in your life really happy. Subscribers and followers will receive extra entries and a winner will be announced tomorrow night.

CONGRATULATIONS: Stereos and Souffles is this week's winner!