Friday, January 30, 2009

Um, What the heck happened?

For some reason, when Dan and I walk into restaurants, they always seem to seat us at the worst table in the place. It's always the table that's a little cramped, the one near the kitchen doors, the one the waitress never sees. We never know why this seems to always happen to us, but I would say it is just bad luck.

I have been back from New Orleans for over a month and you may have noticed that I have not mentioned our wedding planning once. People have been asking me about it all the time, and I usually give them a vague, "it's going well" and say we haven't set a date yet, but probably October.

Truth be told, the last few weeks, we have been laying out our plans as carefully and thoughtfully as one would build a house out of a deck of cards trying to get every detail into place. Despite our overly perfectionist-wedding planning ways, yesterday, the entire house fell down in one huge swoosh.

I came back from New Orleans with two top contenders for our wedding reception venue. Place #1 I absolutely loved, it was available in October, but was out of our price range. Place #2, I liked almost as much, was in our price range, but not available until Spring 2010. We spent the last four weeks meticulously weighing the pros and cons of each place. Our hearts were set on Place #1 and so we did everything we could to bring the cost down from cutting our guest list and playing with the menu to make it worth our while. We emailed the wedding coordinator at Place #1 constantly for weeks trying to make it work.

The moment where we thought we had everything figured out--we would get married on October 24 in a lovely church and have our (more affordable) reception at place #1--was the moment everything fell apart. In a course of the last few days:

We learn there is a trade show taking place in New Orleans our wedding weekend and most of the major hotels are booked already, so in a panic, we scramble to find a room block somewhere.

Our church tells us mere days before the deadline for our deposit that they cannot provide us with a local priest like they initially stated. We can't put down a deposit and hold the date without knowing if we have a priest to marry us.

The organization that oversees all the churches in New Orleans tells us in so many words that they won't help us get a local priest either.

After a week of trying to track him down, my hometown priest agrees to officiate our wedding but he is not available on October 24.

We contact Place #1 to change the date where we learn that the wedding coordinator who we've been emailing/talking to for the last four weeks is no longer working there. There is no record of our "hold" and the October 24 date was booked weeks ago and oh, and that in the week that the guy left, all the prices went up like 50%.

It's so horrible and ridiculous, that all we can do is laugh. This whole month of agonizing and planning was for nothing, we're basically at square 1. Place #2 appears to be pretty booked already for Spring 2010 so who knows when we will get married.

Still, I know this wedding will happen one day and yes, we're still into New Orleans, but at the rate this is going, it might not be for a long, long time.

I hope that Dan and I will have better luck at marriage than planning a wedding. Here's to a long and happy and lucky engagement!

Monday, January 26, 2009

We celebrate.

Our friends Adam and Nell got engaged this weekend!

It was also Adam's birthday. He popped the question despite second degree burns on his leg from spilling tea on himself the night before. Not pretty. But still romantic, him bending down on injured leg.

We celebrated with Cuban food and drinks.

Dan and me (I kind of hate this picture. Don't I look total spaz?)

Dan being like, stop with the pictures already. Do you know how many pictures like this I have of Dan? Many. And then he is always asking me why I don't take more pictures.

So there are no more pictures.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I love Bill.

[Image via The New York Times.]

One of my favorite things to do every weekend is watching Bill Cunningham's fashion audio slide show on The New York Times web site.

I have only discovered Bill a few months ago, but this guy has been around the block a long time, taking pictures for about 50 years. Bill is a street photographer. Most of his pictures are of women walking down Fifth Avenue wearing designer clothes. He is not really a "great" photographer. Street photography is tough, so I respect what he is able to do. I think he is more interested in capturing the outfit than getting the perfect shot.

Each week, the feature starts with some upbeat music and then there is Bill narrating his pictures. He has the kind of voice that belongs in a Woody Allen film. You never hear people talk like this anymore--but everything is just "marvelous." Each week usually has a theme--the boots women are wearing, the coats women are wearing--and while the pictures and commentary don't really amount to much discovery--there is something really fun and exciting about it that it is such a pleasure to watch. My favorite piece is when he talked about how women aren't letting the recession get to their fashion sense--that they're going deep into their closets and picking out vintage designer clothes to wear instead. For some reason, it doesn't bother me that he assumes all of us have those knockout pieces hidden somewhere in our wardrobes. He has yet to do a feature on cable knit sweaters.

I read his self-penned bio on The New York Times, and it made me really like the guy a whole lot more. He got his big break by taking a picture of Greta Garbo walking down the street, which eventually got published and became the first time The Times published pictures of a celebrity without their permission. But listen to how he describes it:

"Then I got to know Arthur Gelb, and one day I told him about this woman I had been photographing on the street. She wore a nutria coat, and I thought: ''Look at the cut of that shoulder. It's so beautiful.'' And it was a plain coat, too. You'd look at it and think: ''Oh, are you crazy? It's nothing.''

Anyway, I was taking her picture, and I saw people turn around, looking at her. She crossed the street, and I thought, Is that? Sure enough, it was Greta Garbo. All I had noticed was the coat, and the shoulder."

This guy doesn't care about celebrities or taking the "right shot." He just has a deep passion for fashion and that is all he is interested in capturing and sharing with others. This is the guy who says as a boy he could never concentrate on Sunday church services because he'd be concentrating on women's hats. He writes:

"Most of my pictures are never published. I just document things I think are important. For instance, I've documented the gay pride parade from its first days. It was something we had never seen before. I documented every exhibition that Diana Vreeland did at the Met, but every picture is of her hand on something. I do everything, really, for myself."

I love Bill Cunningham. Check out his column every Saturday in the Fashion & Style section.

Do you think Bill would notice me?

I mean, look at these heels! This is really as high as I will go. I can barely walk in them, but they look good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A note to my offspring.

To my future child(ren),

In addition to asking me questions like "why is the sky blue?" and "how did you become so awesome?" I am sure one day you will be ask me where I was on that historic day when Barack Obama became our president. Although probably by the time you are my age, you may think that things like black presidents (and maybe possibly women presidents) are a common thing. I hope that does happen. I will be in my 60s when you are my age, so let's not dwell on that.

Your mother went to work on January 20, 2009. It was a very cold day. There was an email in my in-box from my company that said:

"Given the historic nature of this year's inauguration, we feel it is important to allow our employees access to television coverage throughout the day...we will have televisions set up...As your work schedule permits, please feel free to join your colleagues."

My work schedule permitted.

My co-worker Erin and I went to the conference room and with 50 or more people, we watched the inauguration on CNN. While we were very excited about our first black president and saying good-bye 4-eva to George Bush, we were also very interested in how cute the First Kids are and what First Lady Michele was wearing. Michele wore a pretty conservative yellow-gold dress with a matching coat. I was hoping she would dress more modern, but it seems like first ladies always wear these strange dress and coat numbers. First ladies also have uniforms.
She did step it up with the green shoes and gloves which I think was cool.

I have no memories of watching any other presidential inauguration in my life. Sure I have seen images or clips on presidents with their hands on the Bible, but this is the first time that I have ever made the effort to see it happen live.

Everyone in the conference room giggled when Obama stumbled on his oath and applauded and whistled when he made it through. It was amazing to see all the people on the TV who went to Washington to watch it happen live--your father being one of them. No, I didn't see him on TV but apparently he was near the WWII monument.

And then I went to work. And that is all. And that is one of the ways I am awesome.

Your Mom

P.P.S. I just saw Michelle's white ball gown. Pretty!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This post will make Dan happy.

Went to see Revolutionary Road tonight with Danielle. It's the most depressing movie ever made. I love Kate Winslet. She's so pretty. Leo's looking kind of beat.

When I came out the theater, I bumped into this in the lobby:

Dan's BF from California, also named Dan (whose wedding I went to last summer), is a screenwriter and his first movie is coming out this March. Here's the movie poster. At NYC's Lincoln Plaza theater with Dan's name on it. How cool.

12 Rounds. Go see it.

Morning bike rides

In case you were looking for me this morning, I was in Austria. Tirol to be exact. On a bike. (My dad and brother would be proud).

I was there!

My friend Danielle and I have started taking Kristin's spin class on Thursday mornings at Equinox. Being the gym rat that I am, I have taken hundreds of spin classes--some great, some unremarkable--but I never had a spin class like this.

Each week, Kristin introduces herself as a professional biker from New Jersey. Somehow she commutes from New Jersey to the Upper East Side to make our 6:30 am class (a pretty long trek) and still has more energy than all of us in the room together. Most morning spin classes are pretty subdued. Everyone is still half asleep, so people just kind of say nothing, put their heads down and ride. The instructor is lucky if anyone answers "hello." But with this class, chipper Kristin walks in talking loudly about how she's a biker and how we're going to Austria and it's rather surreal that early in the morning.

Today we went from Kaiserhaus (720m) to near WinterKopf (1226m) (I think). You can see the map here. Yeah, she has a map of our ride on her Facebook page.

Don't you like Kristin?

By the way, Kristin may be my Facebook friend and subject of this blog post, but I have never spoken to Kristin in my life. I am one of those people who kind of say nothing, put my head down and ride. IT'S 6:30 IN THE MORNING PEOPLE!

Someone forgot their uniform.

I usually see Meagan on our weekend jaunts to New Jersey, sporting her usual outfit of black leggings, a long shirt/dress, big earrings and pink lip gloss. Remember, Meagan is the person who informed me that I wear a uniform. She knows about uniforms.

So imagine my surprise when I see Meagan on her 31st birthday sporting a brand new hair cut with bangs and actual blue jeans. She NEVER wears blue jeans. She looked good! (I mean, she always looks good, but she looked different good!)
New Year, and Meagan's stepping it up.

Meagan, Julie and me.

Meanwhile...I'm still same old.

Cable-knit sweater.

Brown from head to toe.

What would you wear when it's 20 degrees and looks like this outside your window?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The new uniform.

Today I wore a grey sweater dress. I know what you're thinking--the SAME grey sweater dress from last week already??? Don't be silly. This one is completely different. For one thing, it's short sleeved. It's a few inches longer in length, and it's charcoal as opposed to heather grey.

This, my friends, is the art of the uniform. You are wearing the same thing, but you are not.

I wore it with a grey long sleeved shirt, some grey tights and my brown Frye boots. Apparently, I do wear brown.

I have no idea why I felt compelled to purchase two grey sweater dresses within a year's time except to say that grey sweater dresses are both comfortable and easy for me. And they were both on sale.

The other day, I wore this monstrosity.

I didn't really like this outfit (Okay, it's not THAT BAD but not New Year's Resolution worthy) but I ran out of time in the morning and had no choice but to go with it. That would be a grey sweater with grey striped pants--with a tan (that's light brown people) and off-white striped button-down shirt.

Witness my masterful work. In the two pictures, don't I look like I am wearing the same thing even though one outfit is a dress and the other is a pants? It's the uniform. I just nail it every single time.

Did you really think I could change overnight? How can I be frugal and a fashion plate at once?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I wore a headband.

So I left one resolution off my list (mostly because I was embarrassed to admit it) but here, let me share it with you anyway: To become a better dresser. Totally shallow, I know. I want to look good. I have complained about my winter wardrobe in the past, so part of it is trying to shape that up and part of it is trying new things and getting a little out of my comfort zone.

I used to be adventurous about my clothes. I started high school wearing flannels and combat boots Eddie Vedder-style, but soon my style morphed to a homage to the movie Clueless. Think short plaid skirts, thigh high stockings, sweater vests, that sort of thing. Which was pretty fucking awesome, I must say, because I was the only one dressing like that in my high school at the time. I wore some crazy stuff. No skirt too short, no heel too high, nothing I wouldn't try. I had platform jelly shoes--okay?

I used to spend a lot of time reading fashion magazines and for a while I wanted to be a fashion designer.

So really it was no surprise when at my high school reunion, a bunch of people asked me if I ended up working in fashion.
Which sort of made me feel kind of sad. Like, where did that fearless fashionista go?

I know the answer. I left her in Syracuse, New York--where I went to college. It was so cold and snowy and miserable all the time that you had no choice but to wear large sweaters, jeans and sneakers under a big winter coat. I really disliked college, I kept to myself and I didn't want to call any attention to myself with my clothes. So fashion stopped being a priority. Sad.

After college, moved to New York, started working in an office, I had to step it up a bit. And that's when the uniform came into play. As an assistant, nearly every day I wore some variation of a turtleneck sweater, Banana Republic dress pants and sneaker-loafer things. As a promotions manager, this look grew up to a cable-knit sweater, corduroy skirt and boots (see good example here). I love the look of heels but never wear them because I can't stand the pain. I am always flat.

Don't get me wrong. I still love clothes. I buy a lot of clothes. They just all look the same.

It was my old roommate Meagan who pointed out that I wore a uniform everyday (It takes one to know one--she has a uniform, too. Only she actually works in fashion so her uniform is a little more stylish than mine). I remember we were shopping one day, and she pointed to a mannequin and said, "That looks like something you would wear" and it was this horribly plain outfit. She wasn't being mean. It was the truth. That is when I realized how boring my wardrobe had become.

Even though I love colors, my clothes tend to gravitate to blacks, off-white, blue and grey. I love grey. It looks awful on me, it washes me out, but I can buy a thousand grey sweaters.

"You wear a lot of brown," Meagan told me recently. I looked at her horrified.

"No, I don't. I don't even like brown." I wear brown. It's true.

, in my freelance years, since the reunion really, I have been yearning to rediscover my fashion self once again. I have done a pretty good job this summer infusing my summer wardrobe with pretty dresses (okay so it is a new uniform, whatever!) My winter wardrobe, brimming with cable knit sweaters in every color of the rainbow, is not faring as well.

This week has been an earnest attempt to start a new, fashionable winter Yvonne. It's just about trying a little harder, putting in the effort. I have been wearing old standbys the last few days but today I took it to a new level. I pulled out a new dress I got on sale last week (it's grey and it's like a long turtleneck sweater--what???), but it was totally different this time because this dress is short. Like the almost high school short. Like I am not sure if 30-year-old Yvonne who took a long hiatus from working out should be wearing it short. But I did. And you know what else? I wore my black boots--the ones I love but never wear because they have heels. Yes I did. And the topper of it all? I wore a headband.

Because yes, my hair has a uniform too. While I faithfully cut and color it often, going from short to long no problem, I don't do anything with my hair. Every day, I wear it down. And on the weekends, when it's long enough, I wear it in a ponytail. But today, on a weekday, I wore it in a ponytail and I wore an accessory--a headband with a poofy sort of fabric flower on it. An accessory that says, Hey, look at me! An accessory that I was compelled to buy knowing that I might not actually wear it. But I did.

And at my job, where no one really talks to me, here I was with my short dress and a poof ball on the side of my head, brimming with excitement to reveal the new (old) me. And no one really cared that much. All that drama for nothing.

Though judging from this picture, I don't think the outfit was much of a success. I look kind of pregnant here and that dress is much shorter in person.

The poofy headband is sort of weird. Maybe I should have worn my hair down after all. I don't know. I am a little rusty.

Next step: Wearing lipstick. That grey really washes me out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm back.

Monday I got an email from my boss from my last freelance assignment asking me to come into work today. They needed some help. Most people wrote on their Facebook status that they were unhappy to go back to reality, but I am very grateful for the work.

My three week vacation was great. A trip to New Orleans, holidays in New Jersey, then Dan and I spent most of the third week together in our sweats, eating leftover lasagna, watching The West Wing, going to bed late and waking up late, discussing our wedding. Occasionally, we went outside to go to the movie (Benjamin Button) or to go to the museum (photographer William Eggleston's exhibit at The Whitney), out to dinner or dessert, a little bit of shopping. It was fantastic to have my time open to nothingness. My phone didn't ring, no one emailed, my calendar clear: it was a relief.

The email came just in time. I was ready to go back. Four weeks might have been overkill.

This morning, I went to the gym for the first time since November. I put on make-up. I blow-dried my hair. I put on a dress. I made myself a salad for lunch. I threw myself into a crowd of people on the 6 train after I watched five packed trains go by. I greeted my coworkers and got the holiday and New Year's updates. I sat in my cubicle and did some work. I looked at wedding dresses online. I came home and made dinner and listened to Dan talk about his work. And now I am ready for bed.

Back to work, back to exercising, back to eating vegetables, back to boring. Back to Yvonne.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Dan and I decided weeks ago that we were staying in this New Year's Eve. I never enjoy myself too much on this overrated holiday and so I was relieved when we came to this decision. So relieved that when anyone asked what we were doing this New Year's, I blurted out, "We're staying in" in a way that seemed to suggest "so don't even think about inviting us anywhere."

It turned to be one of the best New Year's Eve I've had in a long time. Dan and I started the day by exchanging Christmas stockings. Any day started with present-opening ranks high in my book.

My presents included an umbrella, Williams-Sonoma hamburger and seafood spices, a scarf knitted by Dan's grandmother, measuring cups and spoons, a Giada cookbook from Dan's brother and sister-in-law, a Jillian Michaels workout DVD, a mini-camera and a pot holder/dish rag (I really needed new ones!)

I spent a good part of the day in the kitchen making my stand-by sausage lasagna, one of Dan's favorites (or at least I think so, since he always has seconds and thirds whenever I make it), and along with salad, garlic bread and some wine--we shared a nice candlelight dinner.

Then we had a good old fashioned movie marathon. We spent the evening watching Swing Time (Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger's most famous musical--my choice), Hot Fuzz (British cop comedy--Dan's choice) and Persepolis (cartoon about a girl who grows up in Iran--mutual choice)--sneaking in brownie breaks and tuning into Dick Clark's countdown on TV in between.

A great night like this is a good indication for a great year to come. Right?