Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year of Tyler Durden

Happy New Year to Everyone.

I am declaring 2008 my Year of Tyler Durden. It's about time I served some omelettes in my life, so I am going to break some eggs. My goal this year is to let my voice be heard, ensure my needs are fulfilled and my dreams realized.

My first act of 2008-- ginger ale and caviar...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deal Alert

I just found an amazing deal on a LeCreuset 5.75 quart oval cast iron dutch oven. They are on sale online at JC Penney for 89.99 -- of course, they are on back order but completely worth the wait. Now I have to decide whether I'm going to keep the 2.75 quart I got last night from Macy's for 79.99 -- also a great price. On the one hand, I would have two...on the other, it's just me, I only need one.
What do you say?

edit-- OK. Completely ignore what I posted the item on sale at JC Penney is for baking. It is not the cast iron dutch oven. It is still a good price, but not what I wanted. So it seems Macy's has the best deal on this one. But I'm keeping my eyes open for the 5.75 quart. Let me know if you see a good deal!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Coup...

Ooooh weee. I was very, very naughty. While I was looking for a present for Santa, I saw these!!! I've seen them before, but this time I saw them in a different light.

Sigh, ever so often I have a twinge, a pang of discomfort when I realize that --gasp-- I am getting older. My winter clothes from last year don't fit very well. So I have been re-evaluating my wardrobe on many levels. As much as I enjoy fashion and beauty products and hair stuff, I have to admit I go to work looking pretty schleppy most days. Unless I have a meeting planned, I'm pretty likely to throw on jeans, flat boots, and a sweater or pullover for work. If it weren't so cold, I'd wear a skirt and tights. But it is cold.

Anyhow. A few shopping excursions ago I found myself making some last minute, quick purchases and during the bus ride home it occurred to me that a woman over thirty-five maybe shouldn't be buying clothes at a store called Forever 21. That Amanda Bynes cords from Steve and Barry weren't exactly the desired fashion statement I should be making--though I wear those pants twice a week! And then I watched my Tim Gunn episode...It was the last of the season. A woman of 43 who wore very slutty, junior-sized clothes because she thought it made her look young and sexy. Ugh. She looked tired and played out and-- as Veronica Webb so poetically described-- like a desperate old cougar heehee. Now I definitely don't have a slutty problem. But maybe I am dressing too young. And maybe even though I do spend most of my day in my office, I really should dress like a grown-up at work for sure and even retire my t-shirts for the weekend. As Meg Ryan said, I'm going to be day. I don't want it to catch me with my slip hanging... I want to be fly. And I need to start now so I can build up momentum.

So I've been editing my closet. Taking out things I don't like, don't wear and don't need. Wrong size? Easy to get rid of--divide into worth altering and donate. Haven't worn? Also not too painful, usually I look at the item in question and think "what was I thinking when I bought that?" Or I ask myself, "does that look like something you're going to wear in the near future?" The hard category are semi-formal dresses. Note to self: no more 'one event' dresses. That was for my twenties. If it isn't fabulous enough that I want to wear it again and feel more fabulous rather than like I'm re-treading. Don't need...Now that's emotional. These are things that maybe I AM wearing, but need to let go of... I've been trying to get my friend J over for some tough talk about my wardrobe--you need someone who loves you enough to tell you "you look a fool in that." But I haven't been able to pin her down. So I'm trying to do it myself.

But what not to wear is cake compared to trying to figure out I want to wear and how I want to look. The only way to figure out what I do want to wear is to look around. Look at myself critically. Look at the clothes I'm attracted to and at the clothes I've been overlooking.

Staple, core items have been a hole in my new wardrobe. The foundation pieces that hold everything together have just been hard to find. Classic, tailored styles are great. I'm a sucker for weekender suits--jacket, pants AND a skirt. So I'm always on the look-out for those. A couple of great pairs of jeans. Black pants, skirt. Brown pants, skirt. Gray pants, skirt. I'm on the hunt for navy pants and skirt. Tops are traumatic...I'm not ready to talk about that yet. It's really bad. Really bad. And I am entirely devoid of good belts and handbags.

But shoes have triggered an identity crisis too. Many of the shoes I bought in Virginia are just all wrong for the way I live in New York. I'm not one to tote a second pair of shoes around. So I have all but abandoned stiletto styles. My beautiful shoes are packed away unworn. Unless I am driving, I just can't wear three inch heels. I could very well end up walking uphill or a few flights of stairs. I am not the kind of woman who is willing to have sore feet to look cute so... I need comfortable shoes. At first, I was getting an unhealthy preoccupation with Aerosoles. They are great for flat boots. In fact, I alternate between my black leather and brown suede flats most work days. Very practical. And I am very practical. But I'm also very against-the-grain. I like things that embody both sides...

I been realizing way too frequently that I don't have a good pair of fall-winter shoes that can go dressy or office or weekend effortlessly. I have some suede booties--Aerosoles--that are great. But not shoes. I love Mary Janes. They are practical and against-the-grain. I wanted some ponyhair, open-toed Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes-- those are the business! But I am not detached from reality. I cannot afford these....yet! Just wait till I pay off these damn credit cards and student loans. I am going to put hurt on the shoe departments at Nordstrom's and Neiman Marcus. But I digress... I do need a pair of Mary Janes that are so fly that they can look grown-up and funky. And lo, the Fara Pump from Coach! Whoo hoo. I take very good care of my shoes, so I hope to enjoy these for many years to come. Yes, the black ones are nearly sold out-- Coach always does these maddening short runs on shoes, but that also means everyone isn't rocking your shoes-- but I snagged a pair on the low. Yes, indeed. These will do till I get my Manolo paper straight...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kara Walker...

Today I was hoping to go to the Whitney Museum--today is pay-as-you-wish admission--but the weather is bad, so I'm playing it by ear. They are exhibiting the work of one of my all-time favorite artists, Kara Walker.

If you will be in NYC anytime before February 3rd, by all means go to the Whitney and check out her installations. If not, there are published images. But her work is really best seen as a large room size installation.

Her images are provocative and bold. There is no way to look at her work and remain unaffected. What I like best about her work and choice of medium is that it puts the responsibility of interpretation squarely upon the viewer. What you see in her work is largely a product of your own beliefs, prejudices, fears, and desires.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ha ha ha

When I told Mrs. Claus about my new television, she laughed. "Your television is smaller than your laptop screen!" Indeed. Mrs. Claus insisted I return the television I had and let Santa pay for one at least as big as the one that died. Wow. Thanks Mrs. Claus!
So back my set went. Now I have a bigger one. Just in time for the special holiday episode of The Closer tonight.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Santa and Mrs. Claus

When I told Mrs. Claus that my television was broken, you would have thought I told her I was being evicted. Before I even finished talking about trying to find a repair person, Mrs. Claus announced that Santa would be getting me a new one. Really? Now... Mrs. Claus just made Santa reimburse me for my airline ticket--which he grumbled about--Santa thinks I'm too old for gifts, especially since I have a job. But what Mrs. Claus says...goes. I have helped Santa paint. I have helped Santa lay down a new wood laminate floor. All because Mrs. Claus said make it so. I have seen Santa hang his head on Christmas eve and go out for a gallon of milk, a quart of oysters, a dozen eggs...Because I told Mrs. Claus I needed it to cook whatever it was she put on her holiday menu. Yep. Santa had to jump to it. He's lucky he didn't have a cell phone or Mrs. Claus would have called him while he was out to get more things that she thought of while he was away. And when he got back, Santa dare not go to bed before he started Mrs. Claus' pot of gumbo.

Even though The Clauses are going to give me the money, I still thought it would be unnecessarily extravagant for me to get a fancy TV. After a lot of internet searching, I figured out the features I should look for and the size I was comfortable with and decided on a price I was willing to pay. I headed out to Big Box Retailer in New Jersey--because it's too hard to park in Manhattan and because I wanted to take the drive. Sigh. Even though I lived in New Jersey for four years, I still managed to get lost...for like an hour. But finally I got there.

Even with a list, I nearly got pulled into the vortex. There were so many TV's! I'm so glad I did some research first. I was already aware of the change from analog to digital that will take place in 2009, but I was not at all clear about the alphabet soup--SDTV, EDTV, HDTV, CRT, LCD--sheesh. I had some minimum specs for resolution so I ruled out about six sets right away. Then there were three pathetic sets nobody was interested in--they were not up-to-par technically and therefore 'not worth buying-- and they were HEAVY. Everyone was crowded on the opposite end of the display aisle. When I got there, I found one of the models on my list...but right next to it was a larger version from the same manufacturer. Ay caramba! Unfortunately, the larger one was sold out. Darn it. It would have been worth the extra money. But that meant I was distracted by the larger sets. I put the model on my list in the cart, but I started thinking how much more I would be willing to pay for a larger set. I found a set that's about as big as I could carry or need in my apartment, but it was twice the price of the one on my list. In the end, I stuck with my budget and got the set on my list. It was reduced an additional $25 too! So at the end of the day, the amount I spent on the TV could be deducted from my cash allowance for this month--especially since I'll be spending part of the month eating at the Clauses. So now I'm catching up on Oprah, cool. Did y'all see the show with the hoarders?!

It started short...

Unfortunately, it is possible to get bad work from a consultant...for a variety of reasons. In some cases, I think they get lazy. In others, I think they get arrogant and figure they know what they are doing just as well as 'that JoAnne' and they are going to what they want to do.

I just wish that these 'consultants' would tell their customers that they make this deviation or that change, so we can make informed decisions.

I wrote awhile back about an amazing braider that I know. She was actually teaching me to braid. She had developed her own parting pattern and her braids were unique and beautiful. She decided to use HER braiding pattern when she did 'sisterlocks.' The problem--her pattern did not leave straight, grid-like parts. It didn't look bad. But it wasn't the Sisterlock pattern. The shape of her parts meant you ended up with fewer total locks and no center or side parts for styling... But she didn't tell her clients about her variation. It was only because I met a consultant using the correct technique that I even had a point of reference. The braider felt that because of her considerable experience as a braider she could make whatever variation she wanted.

And I've talked to other locticians who feel the same way-- I sat next to a very obnoxious woman during my consultant training class who was openly talking with her companion about the changes she was going to make to the technique--if she even offered it at all-- back in her own lock shop. She wasn't going to do all that parting...she wasn't going to make locks that small...she wasn't going install so many. She hadn't even left the room! I can only imagine what kind of mess she's up to now-- and she IS a trainee consultant because she did, in fact, take the official class.

If at all possible, talk to a few people before choosing a consultant. Sometimes the best person for the job is a trainee. Like doctors, sometimes there are quacks and sometimes newly minted MDs are more up-to-date and careful with their technique. But we also know that trainees make rookie mistakes too.

I think the common denominator are personality offense. I think stubbornness and/or a lack of humility and/or vanity and/or carelessness lead to this problem.

Is this your consultant?

1-- If you don't listen to anybody else and always digging in your heels, you are going to make have to listen to learn the Sisterlocks technique.

2-- Relatedly, if you cannot bear to have people think you don't understand (a classic case of I-know-expertitis), you are going to make have be willing to ask questions and start learning the technique comfortable with the idea you are learning something NEW.

3-- If you think you should be JoAnne Cornwell or Taliah Waajid, you are going to make mistakes. YOU need to create your own system or product and stop swagger-jacking --LocLoops, sorry couldn't help it. Offering someone a service is NOT about you and your need for people to recognize your hair genius.

4-- If you are careless or just not a details-oriented person or you just have poor motor skills (smile), you are going to make mistakes. You need to have an acumen for doing close work, you need to ENJOY the idea of being precise, and you need to have the capability to understand and do the technique. If you have a little arthritis...this is not for you.

5-- If you get easily frustrated or if you don't notice when you make a mistake until someone else tells you, you are going to make mistakes.

So...did I just describe your consultant?

Lastly, if your potential consultant offers other services than Sisterlocks --palm-rolled, nappylocs, etc.-- I would ask them SPECIFICALLY if they follow the Sisterlock method during their installations. I would ask them what they thought were the differences between the techniques they offered. Usually those kinds of direct questions will give you an opportunity to find out whether the person is straightforward and/or ethical about what they are doing. 1) Do they use the Sisterlocks tool? 2) Do they use a Sisterlocks sizing chart? 3) Do they start the installation in the front of your head? 4) How many locks do they typically install?

Even if you don't know the answers to these questions yourself, you are looking at their demeanor... Does it seem like this person is trying to blow some smoke up... anyway. That loctician I met who tried to convince me that my Sisterlocks were going to break off because they were too small...eventually you'll meet one of those too. It's rite of passage like having someone rush up and TOUCH your hair without asking.

As soon as I asked her HOW she knew that...Then her game was blown..."Oh cuz somebody told me that they knew somebody who had Sisterlocks and they broke off and you don't ever see anybody who has sisterlocks longer than three years." Really? Really? Sure enough, this dizzy chick didn't know a damn thing about Sisterlocks--the technique or the logic beneath it. She wanted me to get scared and let her --of course-- fix my hair. That's one of the reasons JoAnne Cornwell says she is growing her hair so long--so people can see that they do not break, that they are not too small.