Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Heart Letters

"I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay."
~ Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I have a binder full of them. High school notes passed behind teachers' backs, scribbled on loose-leaf margins. Letters from friends struggling to keep in touch once they've moved away. Papers filled with symbols and drawings that can only be cracked with a secret code. Collective journals that chronicle our teenage years: the drama, the confusion, the unrequited crushes, how unfair life seemed at the time. It's all there. And flipping through the pages takes me back in time triggering a smile, a laugh, a sigh. The troubles we deemed Earth-shattering then seem so insignificant now.

Today there are no letters. No unexpected notes in my mailbox letting me know I'm in someone's thoughts. Instead, rushed e-mails with useless fwds, incomplete sentences and lols fill my inbox saying a whole lot of not much. Letter writing has been pushed to the wayside to make space for urgency and stress. It seems there's no time for it anymore; we "need" the message at the speed of light. It's like being asked "How are you?" and promptly left with your answer in mid-air.

But I will continue to write letters and shall hold on to mine as if they were gold; it is through them that I realize how wealthy I am in friends.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yahoo! Creeps Me Out Sometimes

My friend and I were having a very intelligent conversation on AIM about how much it sucks to be single during the holidays (or the only single person in your family), when I decided to check my mail really quickly. I was greeted by this lovely story:

Stop stalking me Yahoo!

Tagged by Tooj

A bit ago, Tooj from Circling the Square Table tagged me for some thingamajig where I list 10 things I love that start with a random letter. She sent me "L" so here goes:

1. Ladybug-themed bathroom
2. Letters (as in snail mail not the ABC's)
3. Listening to the radio instead of my iPod
4. Lazy Sundays
5. Lightweight laptops
6. Looking at the stars
7. Lactaid pills
8. Lunch breaks
9. Leave-in conditioner (especially Bumble and bumble)
10. Locrio (Spanish rice with chicken mixed in...mmm!)

Bonus: Five Things I Hate

1. Lactose-intolerance
2. Looking ten years younger than I really am (and no, don't say this is a good least not until I hit 40)
3. Low temperatures
4. Loud neighbors
5. Losing weight

P.S. I created an Oldies But Goodies list of posts most of you never read (and if you did, go back and relive the wonderful memories, thanks). Feel free to look through and comment. I'll switch those out every weekend :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

NYC for the Holidays

You know what's one negative thing about living in NYC? When contests boast about an awesome trip to the city, you're left thinking, "Yeah, so what? I already live here."

But I know to many people that would be a dream (I should know; I try to dodge each and every one of them on my way to work on Times Square) and I couldn't imagine spending this time of year anywhere else. I once went to Florida during the winter and the swaying palm trees decked in lights was just not cutting it for me. I need snow, hats and scarves, people rushing about with their bags of goodies and the warmth is just that much sweeter when you've nearly lost limbs to the cold.

So to those looking to visit the city that never sleeps (it's because of all the noise really) or NY'ers who want to know where's what and when, here's a mini guide for you:

Rockefeller Center's (47th to 50th Streets and 5th to 7th Avenues) tree lighting ceremony will take place Wednesday, December 3rd. The date is subject to change so check their site for updated info. If you want to skate around the rink, admission is $19 and skate rentals are $9. And let me know how it goes because I've never skated there myself. I just watch from above, pointing and laughing at the poor souls who fall.

If the price of skating by the ginormous tree is too steep for you, then how about skating by many small trees? In Central Park that is. Admission into Wollman Rink, located on the East Side between 62nd and 63rd Streets, is $12 and skate rentals are $5.

Still too high? Then seriously, why are you even in this city? Well, luckily for you there's still hope. Hold on to your wallet and head on over to The Pond at Bryant Park instead. If you bring your own skates you can skip the $12 rental fee and get in completely free. That's right, no admission whatsoever. They even offer free lessons Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9-11 AM! (It gets an exclamation because I just realized this.) Cool, huh? There's hope for this city after all.

Their Holiday Tree lighting ceremony will take place Tuesday, December 2nd at 7 PM.

If you're one of those people that go nuts over department store windows, below is a list of the popular ones. I never really understood why people went so crazy over them until Mr. First and I inadvertently walked by Macy's when they were unveiling theirs last year. I didn't care much about them, but I got swept along in the excitement watching them rip that paper off and seeing their beautiful moving displays. It was kind of cool. But then again, I'm also kind of lame.

*Macy's, Broadway between 34th and 35th Streets
*Lord & Taylor, 39th Street and 5th Avenue
*Saks Fifth Ave, 49th Street and 5th Avenue
*Bergdorf Goodman, 58th Street and 5th Avenue
*Bloomingdale's, 59th Street and 3rd Avenue
*Barneys, 61st Street and Madison Avenue

And if you're trying to make that money go just a little further, the city has just highlighted a number of popular spots that offer free and low-cost admissions and activities. Which is good since I'm sure it's already costing you a fortune to stay here for a couple days.

Oh, one more thing: if you're out and about and need to find a potty, check out Charmin's newly reopened restrooms on 46th and Broadway. I used one two years ago and it was lovely. The carpet was soft and the private rooms were so clean you almost forget it's a public restroom - almost. Plus, I'm pretty sure I wanted to take the person dressed as the Charmin bear home with me.

Hope this helps!


Black Friday Madness

So the shopping frenzy kicked off today and already there have been casualties and injuries. People are ruthless when it comes to door busters and discounts! I've no clue what gifts I'll be giving away yet, so shopping anytime before that would only result in more stuff for myself.

In other news, I heard the Hess truck commercial on the radio yesterday while getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner so that means the holidays have officially begun for me. I actually started squealing like a surprised little girl. It gets me every time.

My other indicators that the holiday season is upon us:
- Seeing the Coca-Cola/polar bears commercial: I have watched those babies grow year after year.
- My radio stations turn to Christmas music 24/7 and for a whole month I honestly wish that there was a Christmas music station year round.
- Live Christmas tree stands start lining the streets and it forever smells of pine, which gets old after a while
- I hear an Adam Sandler song on the radio. Naturally, yesterday's hit was The Thanksgiving Song. His Chanukah songs shouldn't be far behind.

UPDATE: Hess truck commercial on TV!! Eeeeee! (It's really official now.)


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving The Way It Should Always Be

In yet another desperate attempt to turn these crazy people I grew up with into a functional family, I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment. At mom's, Thanksgiving is no big deal really. It just happens to be the day mom cooks triple the usual amount and we each grab a plate and eat whenever and wherever we feel like it: the bedroom, in front of the TV, by the computer.

If I remember correctly, today would be the first time all five of us are here together and most definitely the first time we've had dinner here together. I asked mom to handle the meat and rice and I'd take care of side dishes, salads and desserts. Expectations were low, but I was secretly hoping for a miracle: that a fight wouldn't break out between us.

And it actually turned out great! We ate together, mom said grace (that's got to be a first, too) and blessed my home, and we laughed, danced, sang, told jokes and stories. Having such a good time with my family was just what I needed and I'm glad they had a good time. I hope to host more dinners in the future and just spend time like this with them.

Time where we just sit around talking way too loudly and reminiscing about the day each of us sibs were born (apparently the parentals have totally different memories on those occassions). Time where we take tons of silly pictures. And time where I force each of them to try my side dishes dammit!

All in all I guess time isn't always so bad...

Our first go at a group picture with the timer:

We got it down eventually ;)

I absolutely love her and she loves me :)

Even the too-cool-for-school bro joined in!

Brother and sisterly love!

Btw, turns out my sis is a borderline Rubik's Cube genius. She can turn a whole side one color in a matter of secs, which is way more than I can say for myself. I've never felt so inadequate in my life :p

And P.S. Thanks so much for the hugs and warm thoughts about my feelings toward the holidays. I felt a bit better once I wrote it out and went to bed. Of course after I wrote all that I woke up to an unexpected text from him sent long after I'd fallen asleep (he doesn't read this blog). When midday hit and I still hadn't responded he tried to reach me two other ways worried because he hadn't heard from me in a while. He just wanted to make sure I was all right, catch up and wish me and the family a happy Thanksgiving. It didn't turn out so bad :)


During the rush of the season to buy food and presents, don't forget about those who have much less. As you count your blessings around the dinner table tonight, think about others who struggle to find something to eat day in and day out. Give of your time, your heart, your thoughts, your own good fortune to help others in need year round.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time Passes

I don't want the holidays to come. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I don't want to face it or the horrid trifecta that's to follow: Christmas/New Year's, my birthday and Valentine's Day. I don't want any of it. I want the clock to stop right now at 11:17 PM and go no further. I don't want to face it all without him. This is not what I'd imagined last year; 2008 was supposed to be good. We were supposed to spend our holidays together in our home. Not barely talking and borderline indifferent toward each other.

It hurts. It still hurts so much. And I don't want the holidays to come.

Awards Galore

Over the past week or so I've accumulated a couple more awards from my lovely readers. I finally have some time to pass them on to other wonderful bloggers, so here goes:
This foreign award (which means the blog invests and believes in the proximity/closeness blogging gives us) was passed on to me by The Wife O Riley at Living the Life with the Wife of Riley. I have to include the following statement as well:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

Don't mind if I do...

1. Maegan at Maegan
2. Franco at RiverMist Expressions
3. Maki at w/ Love, Sincerely - Posh Mom's Diary
4. Valerie at being red
5. Lainey at Everyday Musings
6. Noah's Mommy at Project Mommyhood
7. Lenore at Lenorenevermore
8. Heidi at Fancy Feet

Next, Kelsey over at K is...Not Your Average Girl has given me the Encouraged Blogger Award!

The rules for this one are as follows:
1. The winner may put the logo on their blog.
2. Put a link to the person who sent you the award.
3. Nominate 5 blogs.
4. Put links to their blogs.
5. Leave a message for your nominees.

And the nominees are...

1. ChicagoLady at I Don't Care What You Say Anymore, This Is My Life
2. The girls at Musical Laughter
3. Queenie Jeannie at Jeannie's Happy World
4. Joyce at {sugarlens}
5. Odessa at freefalling me

Maki from w/ Love, Sincerely - Posh Mom's Diary also gave me the newly created Secret Garden Award (by Franco of RiverMist Expressions), which "s
tands in recognition for individuals on the web that embrace and showcase creativity, imagination and/or a theme of fantasy, escapism, magic, dreaminess or spiritualism." Sweet :)

As it always is with these things, here are the rules:

1. You must link to the person who gave you the award
2. You can link here or you can display the award.

3. Pass the award to at least 4 people
4. Finally if you wish you can submit your info to be displayed as an official member of the Secret Garden Family.

Here you go:

1. Intense Guy
2. Yaya at Yaya Stuff
3. Colby at Spittin' (out words) Like a Llama
4. Lisa at Curious Girl
5. Leigh at CREATE

Finally, Noah's Mommy from Project Mommyhood has given me another I Heart Your Blog Award! I'll be passing this one on to:

1. Susan at My Life in Sketches
2. Gabby at Gabby, She Wrote
3. Blythe at Blythe: Unscripted
4. Merc at BookBitten
5. Joy at Joy De Vivre Design
6. Suz at Alive in Wonderland

Wow, that took a lifetime to compose. When's bedtime?


Link( R.I.P. WaMu)

CONGRATULATIONS: Tooj from Circling the Square Table - no, actually Tooj's husband - is this week's winner!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Biz Quiz

A winner will be randomly chosen from those who submit the correct answer. Contest is open until 11 AM EST tomorrow and the answer will be revealed an hour later at noon. Since last week's winner never claimed the prize, it'll be the same one this time. The winner can then e-mail me his/her address so I can send over their goody. Good luck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Buried in Books

So looks like the next month or so is going to be hectic as all get out what with work and getting together with friends and families for the coughholidayscough. So I've decided to postpone The Book Club relaunch until '09. Hopefully by then I'll have chosen something - anything! - for us to read together.

Plus, I have some catching up to do with selections of my own. I finally finished The Geography of Bliss (only took life) and have moved on to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (I've never watched the movie). I like this one. Not only because the story behind the story (and how the author managed to get it written) is fascinating, but because I've read through two thirds of the book on my commute to and from work today. I'll be able to return it to the library without renewing it once! Pat on the back for Dorkys...

After I finish it off, I'll be moving on to Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. T lent me this book from her own library and I was instantly hooked when I read it on my way home that night. I can't wait to continue. I'm only 16 pages in so feel free to join in and let me know what you think.

Are any of you reading anything interesting these days? I could always add to the list :)

Images: and

I Heart Town Shop

Today I finally went to the Mecca for bras. I’d been hearing about this so-called Town Shop from my coworkers for the past six months. About how awesome it is. About how you’re most definitely wearing the wrong size. About how everyone who's shopped there has been enlightened and amazed. But most of all about Eyvette, the miracle worker who will find your correct size just by looking at you – no matter how big or small you are.

Obviously I wasn’t buying into the hype until I was in that fitting room myself. And boy did I. Eyvette was just the sweetest woman who rolled in with cute piece after the cutest piece to try on – and she was pretty much spot on with the size each time! So as with every other person my friend/coworker has taken in, my first visit with Eyvette ended in hugs and thank yous.

So goodbye GapBody and hello Town Shop!

2273 Broadway at 82nd Street

Sigh, now if only I could easily find size 00 jeans at a store whose name does not start with Limited and end with Too…


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lazy Sunday

So it's Sunday afternoon and I'm chilling (literally) in my apartment. I think my radiators are on strike again so I'm fully dressed and still lounging around the house in my wonderful new bathrobe from Target. It's so soft and warm, I could wear it all day (and I just might)!

When it's this cold outside don't you just feel like sleeping in all day? Burrowing under the cozy covers and snuggling with your boo (or pillow...we don't discriminate here). Thing is some of us have actual work to do (and snuggling with a stuffed object only makes us feel even more loser-ish), so where on Earth do we find the motivation to get things done when you're functioning at half capacity? Sure, I could just throw the day away and use it for some much needed R&R, but I pretty much did the same the last few days and I have stuff due tomorrow. Boo.

Maybe I should:

-Do some jumping jacks on the bed to get my blood flowing
-Pump up the radio and sing at the top of my lungs
-Run laps around my tiny apartment
-Down a couple spoonfuls of sugar to wake up
-Remind myself that this work week is only 2.5 days long and will be over before I know it!

What do you guys do to get your heart rate pumping when it's feeling extra sluggish?

Either way, I hope you all enjoy your lazy (or productive for you overachievers) Sundays :)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Living Life to Its Fullest

My bloggy friend Heidi over at Fancy Feet wrote a wonderful post yesterday about striving to live life fully and completely. I just had to share this great paragraph she wrote because it simply summed up everything I hope for in my life so perfectly well:

"It is good to take stock. To say no because you can. Breathe in deeply (especially when outside). Ask why. Be still. Say yes because it helps. Love to challenge fear. Risk and you might win big. Rest. Notice the stars. Discover what’s so funny. All in the name of life."

I'm about to write this out and carry it with me wherever I go. I could definitely use the reminder.

Now go read the rest of her post! She's a great writer, a motivational speaker and completely inspiring :)


People Who Make Me Want to Scream

-Public Displayers of Affection (especially when I'm very much single)

-Smokers who walk in front of me or sit next to me at the park when I'm trying to have a zen moment

-People who can't tell the difference between "to," "two" and "too"

-Blatant litterers

-NYC drivers on cellphones - without a hands-free device

I just encountered three out of five on my commute home. It was a good day.

So let it out guys, who or what makes you want to borderline hurt somebody?

UPDATE: I needed to add rowdy teens on the train who make me absolutely embarrassed to be Latina! It's a wonderful start to the day really.


People's Sexiest Man Alive

Hugh Jackman: yea or nay? Personally, I'm leaning more toward "Yay!!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


CONGRATULATIONS: Kelsey from K is...Not Your Average Girl has won this week's prize!

Also, my sis raised a very good point in yesterday's comments. She said that my prizes have been "very gender specific" and in turn "an insult to [my] fellow male readers." Now I would never want to alienate any of you so from now on I shall be awarding pens and pencils as Biz Quiz prizes. Please be sure to thank Dama for speaking out against inequality and unfair practices. True American? I'm thinking yes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Take That Con Ed!

July- $83.14
August- $62.87
September- $90.72 and a heart attack
October- $59.33

[Drum roll please...]
[No, I'm serious! Start banging stuff!]

November- $35.39!!

Yay! I guess it paid off to finally switch out those over-watted lightbulbs that came with the apartment for some pocket-friendly ones. Oh, and unplugging stuff and never turning on the stove helps too.

I think winter and I might get along after all :)


Biz Quiz

A winner will be randomly chosen from those who submit the correct answer. Contest is open until 11 AM EST tomorrow and the answer will be revealed an hour later at noon. The winner can then e-mail me his/her address so I can send over this week's prize. Good luck!

Prize: Prestige Shadow Duo in Stormy


Monday, November 17, 2008

Please Stop the Crazy

Ok, can I just say that I will in no way, shape or form acknowledge that the so-called "holidays" are upon us...because they're not. Christmas is more than a month away so I'm putting my foot down. There will be no such talk of presents, eggnog or that fat man decked in red. Actually, there will be no talk of eggnog ever because ew.

Dry As Toast refuses to partake in such shenanigans until at least the day after Thanksgiving- when the rest of the country goes completely mad. And even then is pushing it.

UPDATE: You've got to be joking.


Thanks & Pay It Forward

For starters, I wanted to give a great big thank you to Vilma, Franco, Heidi, Joyce, Mercedes and Joy for pitching in while I was away. Thanks to you all I was able to rest easy knowing my blog was in good hands.

And a thank you to the readers who showered them with love and support. You guys are truly the best!

Now, for the Pay It Forward tag Maki passed on to me last month...

I know most people only tag other bloggers for this, but I decided to throw in the non-bloggers who helped me as well. There's no reason why we can't use some pay it forwardness outside of cyberspace. So the three people I've randomly chosen must in turn do something nice for three more people and only ask that they do something nice for three more, so on and so forth.

The three people are:


I'll be sending your little Cancun souvenir in the mail as promised and can't wait to hear what nice things you set forth into the world :)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 5: Adios Amigos

Dear Journal: Boo. It’s time to go :(

I just went to the beach to grab some sand and was going to sit on the steps to write from there, but holy crap it’s hot. Plus I look like a freak wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and sneakers for the trip back (because it could very well be snowing in NYC right now).

Argh, I don’t want to go back. It’s so beautiful here. A part of me feels like time flew, but the majority feels like I did a lot – I’m tired! (From relaxing?? Leave it to me…)

I can’t believe I never got into the water. I need to learn how to swim before I come back here so I can take full advantage of the place without that fear of drowning.

Ok, I guess I should head back upstairs so I can check out and wait for my ride to the airport.

Goodbye gorgeous beach and funny waves, beautiful room and wonderful service. I’ll be back again someday. Until then I’ll have a tiny piece of you.

Day 4: Living Up the Last Day

Total beach bum day. I threw on my bathing suit and sat out on the beach until I thought I was going to pass out. I walked along the shoreline trying not to let the waves topple me over and checking out the other hotels (for future visits). I also did some people watching while flipping through Cosmo. I had an awesome lunch of ginormous mutant shrimp (had been craving the stuff for days), grilled vegetables and rice. And the strawberry daiquiri was yum-o! (Btw, I actually never had a martini while I was down there).

Dear Journal: I think everyone and their mother is here with their significant other. And of course as soon as I write that four guys walk by me along the shore! Well either way, most people here are paired off.

Yeah, I wish he were here. I mean I haven’t gotten all mopey about it, but he’ll pop into my head every now and then when I think of how romantic this place is.

So here I am on my last night in Cancun (and having dinner at the same restaurant as last night and again I’m famished). And guess what? To cap off this amazing trip, there’s an almost-full moon out tonight and there’s live music coming from an event out by the pools.

While I’m waiting for dinner to be served, I just wanted to say that:
-I like how the elevators smell like soothing incense thanks to the spa on the fourth floor.
-I love how freaking friendly everyone is around here.
-I love that no one ID’ed me for anything around here. What’s the legal drinking age here anyway? (If it's anything like DR, it'd be third trimester.)
-I’m so happy I finally got to see water that blue.
-I love the hotel room and how they fold the towels each day (although not realizing it’s back in its place and no longer where you left it by the shower stall until you’re already soaking wet is NOT COOL).

Tomorrow it’ll be back to the routine and real life. Blah. So overrated. Ooh, I have to go outside for my nightly ritual, but argh, it’s so noisy out there. I’ll just get out in the morning.

Or maybe I’ll run out tonight really quickly…

Day 3: World Wonder

On Monday, I went on a tour of Chichén Itzá one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (just six more to go)! The tour guides were hilarious and kept us entertained for most of the bus ride and I got to chat with several people throughout the day. It was a wonderful (and super tiring) experience where I learned a lot more about the mysterious Mayan culture.

I got back to my hotel room that night absolutely famished. So I decided to get cleaned up and have dinner in one of our hotel’s restaurants.

Dear Journal: I love eating by myself! You get all this attention from waiters to make sure you’re ok. Right now I’m so stuffed and blissful I’d have no problems passing out right here. Mmm…when’s bedtime….

And now they’re playing “So Far Away.” If I had to stay in one place, this one would be a top contender.


Ok, I’m still sleepy and yet here I am sitting near the pool taking pictures and staring out into the night sky. I want to take in as much as I can because I know I’ll miss this when I’m back home.

Day 2: Relaxing is Hard Work

Dear Journal: I woke up with a start. The Cancun sun was blaring through my window, shining full force and begging me to come out and play. I check the clock: 6:55 am.

Hell no.

But after several attempts to go back to sleep I just decided to throw on some clothes and get ready for the day.

Even though Sunday was a day of total relaxation and do-nothingness, I accomplished quite a bit. I wrote out most of this story for work (and yes, I know I shouldn’t have done any of it while on vacay, but this one is very personal so I felt it’d be a great environment to write it in – and it was. I completed the story on my last day there). I also read, napped and in the late afternoon took a bus to the downtown area. The bus is so easy to take and I really wanted to get out of the resort for a bit. After a 15 cm Subway sandwich for dinner while watching Bringing Down the House on TNT, I went out to the beach…

It’s becoming a little habit I think. I sat on the steps leading down to the shore and again I just stared at the waves. I heard them crash. I smelled the fresh air. I felt the night chill. And I just sat there. At one point I thought, “I should get going,” but where to? So I made myself stay. I looked at the stars and wanted to send a little prayer up, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. So I just put my hands together and smiled. I felt I was going to be just great. And there I sat for a half hour doing nothing but watching, listening and giggling to myself.