The search is on

I’m planning to enter Gap’s casting call. It’s such a long shot, but there isn’t much to the application process, so why not? I took a whole bunch of pictures today, and I’m thinking of submitting the second one (or third, I can’t decide). Go ahead and vote in the comments, if you like. The look is a total steal from their current campaign (namely this photo of Aaron Ward), but oh well, we’ll see how it all pans out. The deadline is December 1, and notification of the next round is December 5.

Rollin’ with the homies

Into the woods. Here are a few pictures from our little reunion picnic on November 9, high in the hills of San Jose. Ah, good times. From left, that’s Sandro, Jeff, Rebecca, Subarna, and Adrienne. (Click for the full frame.)

And here are pics of me, and Adrienne with her birthday cake.

Why yesterday rocked. (1) This week’s issue of The Economist arrived at my doorstep. On Friday mornings it usually gets delivered, newspaper-like, on the ground-floor stoop of my apartment building, and I wake up at an insanely early hour to go down and retrieve it. But yesterday, I got up (really late), opened my door, and right there was my magazine. Some kind soul (probably the cleaning crew) brought it up with them, and left it at the door to my apartment. It was like having the newspaper delivered to one’s hotel room. Yay. Maybe I should wake up late more often. (2) I went out with some co-workers to the Hard Times Cafe for some chili. I had nachos with the Cincinnati chili. Mmm, good. I needed a nap after that. (3) After work I went to Linens N Things, and bought a wooden folding chair. So now I have additional seating (not that I entertain that much). The chair is kind of plain, but the finish matches my bookshelves, and I put one of my red velvet Pottery Barn cushions on it, and voila, it’s très chic.

Rollin’ with the homies. Brr, it’s cold. Today is brisk, but clear as a bell. I decide finally to go to the gym. I don’t mind so much the actual exercise; it’s the uphill walk to the gym that’s irksome. Ironic, no? I get over it, and once I’m on my way, it’s not so bad. Stopping to smell the roses and what not. Anyway, it’s been months since I’ve been to the gym, and so the fact that they’ve switched the men’s and women’s locker rooms for some maintenance issue throws me for a loop. I enter what previously was the women’s room, half expecting it all to be a practical joke. No, it’s all on the up and up.

I spend about forty-five minutes on the StairMaster, all the while flipping between Clueless (still a great movie) and The Osbournes on the mini-TV. Afterwards, I’m all energized and ready to take on the world.

But rather, I take on my room. It’s long due for a cleaning. I don’t have any plans tonight, so I’m at home sorting papers and throwing out old bills, statements, and receipts. Why do I keep these? I think in addition to a kind of paranoia — as if any day now I’ll be called upon to account for every purchase I’ve made — there’s also a layer of emotional attachment that prevents me from throwing them away, especially the receipts I accumulate on vacation. Just like photographs, they’re a snapshot of places I’ve been. But frankly, I’m not about to frame them or put them into an album, so into the trash they go.

I move on and file all my magazines. I definitely can’t part with my issues of The Atlantic and The New Yorker (from November 2000, and May 6, 2002, respectively), so if they’re going to take up a continually growing amount of space anyway, they might as well be neat and chronologically ordered. Some quixotic part of my brain thinks I’m going to go back and read every unread article. Hey, it could happen.

My reward for today’s work: a slice of pecan pie and a tall glass of milk. Good night.

(Oh, and Stanford lost the Big Game today. Boo.)

New York, New York

OK. Here’s my report for last weekend. Finally. (Do you like the Manhattan taxicab motif up at the top?)

Saturday

All aboard! I go to sleep the night before, without taking a shower, without packing, thinking I’ll just get up early the next day and take care of everything then. Famous last words. Fast forward to Saturday morning. I’m supposed to be on a train leaving Washington, D.C. for New York’s Penn Station at 9:25 a.m. What time is it now? Nine. Doh. I’ll just take the next train in an hour. Think again. After I eat, frantically pack my bag, and make it to Union Station, I’ve missed that train too. I resign to take the next one, but I see that there’s an Acela Express leaving at 11 a.m., and decide to pony up the extra cash to take that instead. (It’s all getting very Amazing Race at this point.)

The Acela is sleek and James Bond meets Star Trek. I don’t usually ride it, but since I’m already running late, this is the way to go. The atmosphere on the Acela is almost comparable to first class on an airplane. I settle in to my roomy seat for the two-hour-and-fifty-minute ride, and start reading Harry Potter while listening to assorted classical music on the armrest audio. Nice touch.

Wilkommen. Bienvenu. Welcome. At around 1:45 p.m. I arrive at Penn Station, and we’re off. I walk to the Hotel Sofitel at 44th Street and Sixth Avenue, where Susan and Kesha are staying. Man, these are some posh digs. The carpet in the lobby is so plush, it’s like I need hiking boots just to walk on it. I go up to their room and chat with Kesha while we wait for Susan. She tells me about their adventures the night before, seeing Rent starring Joey Fatone of *NSYNC fame, and shows me their picture taken with him. Ha, fabulous.

I know it wasn’t Tehachapi. The three of us regroup and take a cab down towards the Village to meet up with Stefanie and Marie at Dean & Deluca. If the first part of my journey was The Amazing Race, this is Felicity, thanks to Susan’s impeccable choice of venue. To counter the rain and cold, I decide to have a bowl of hearty chicken and corn chowder soup. The gals and I have a fun, laugh-a-second gabfest, mostly gossiping about folks on the Rufus message board, proclaiming profusely the greatness of New York City, and trying to help Kesha remember what oddly named town on Long Island she had visited. (All of the towns up around here have quirky names.) Ronkonkoma! (And I thought Weehawken was funny.) Not just a city. A lake!

La vie bohème. A few hours and many laughs later, we say goodbye to Stef and Marie (such darlings), head back to the hotel to quickly rendezvous with Susan’s friend Crystal and her family, and see about dinner. We are three hungry musketeers. Manhattan Chili Co. is the site of our next chapter, where we get our grub and grog on. Dude. After much chili, several beers, and a very nice tequila shot, we are buzzing like a hummingbat out of hell. Or something. We offer to buy our gracious waitress a shot as well. (She declines, but says how nice we are. Ha, she’s great.) We get out our cell phones and start calling people on our lists. That’s right: core peeps… in the house, yo.

It’s getting to be about midnight, and we have to go back to the hotel to have a last chat with our doorman, whom Susan and Kesha have taken a liking to. They tip him generously, and ask him about bars or clubs to check out. (They stop short of asking him out, though another shot of tequila and we might’ve been there.) He recommends the W Hotel, points at a Town Car that just pulled up, and says, “Here. Take this.” A car — a fancy one, at that — to go five blocks? Yes, we’re officially rock stars. The club at the W is übercool. (Too cool for us? As if.) We are now a commercial for Sex and the City. Very swank and lounge-y, it’s like being at someone’s apartment party… if those persons were, say, Dolce and Gabbana. Take your pick.

Despite the spaciousness of the club, all the little seating areas are taken, so we leave and opt for something more comfortable: the Roxy Deli, a great open-late place at Times Square. I am so full and still kind of buzzed — the celebrity caricatures on the walls are starting to move, I swear — but I manage to have part of a slice of cheesecake, and a glass of water. The girls ain’t havin’ none of it. They order a couple more beers. Dude, for the next reunion, I’ll need to go into training. (My fridge is currently full of Pyramid apricot ale. That’s a start.) Then we’ll see who drinks whom under the table. Ha.

It’s late, even by core-peep standards. Back at the hotel room, we watch a little TV, listen to some music, and call it a night.

Info:

  • Amtrak. Several daily departures from D.C. to New York Penn Station, $72-$126 one way. Current holiday promotion: 30-35% off coach fares; purchase by Dec. 13, 2002 and travel by Feb. 28, 2003.
  • Hotel Sofitel. 45 West 44th. 212.354.8844
  • Dean & Deluca. 75 University Place. 212.473.1908 (other locations on website)
  • Manhattan Chili Co. 1500 Broadway on West 43rd. 212.730.8666.
  • The Whiskey. W Hotel Times Square. 1567 Broadway at West 47th.
  • Roxy Deli. 1565 Broadway btwn 46th and 47th. 212.921.3333

Sunday

No, really. What time is it? Our scheduled wake-up call doesn’t materialize, and we get up around 11 a.m. Eep. We pack up, and walk west on Forty-fourth past Broadway looking for a place to have lunch. We snub Sardi’s, the theater-district restaurant from which the Tony Award nominations are announced every year, ’cause well, I simply can’t be bothered with directors tossing their half-baked scripts at me. You know how it is. Kesha, Susan, and I decide on John’s Pizzeria further down the street, just opposite the Majestic Theatre, home of The Phantom of the Opera. We proceed to have some damn good pizza.

The shopping. My god, the shopping. No trip to New York City is complete without at least some dalliance in the retail trade. The gals had gone to Macy’s the other day, so for this outing we choose another venerable institution, Bloomingdale’s. Our strategy: divide and conquer. I wander off on my own, entering the men’s section (a maze, really), and after much deliberation over the items of clothing vying for my final purchase — there were several elimination rounds — I emerge triumphantly with one fabulous, eclectic shirt by Custo Barcelona, which is unexpectedly on sale, thank you very much. I’m currently trying to liven up my wardrobe, and this is definitely a step in that direction.

At this point the girls’ departure time is fast approaching, so we reluctantly part ways, but not before we are reminded how hard it is to hail a cab in the rain. They head back to the hotel to get their luggage and then continue on to JFK, while I am left to my own devices in the Upper East Side. Being an H&M habitué, I make my pilgrimage to their store down on Fifth. I usually find loads of clothes I want there, especially pants, but this time I end up with just a few choice items: a jean jacket (marked down fifty percent), a pair of plaid pants, and some dark gray gloves. Go, me.

They’s no view! Night falls. Rain is… still falling. I mosey down Fifth and stop at the Sofitel. Yes, the girls have already checked out and are long gone, but the place feels almost homey, so I go in and rest my weary self in the familiar lobby. Mmm, leather chairs and French newspapers. Classic. When I’ve regained my senses, I brave the elements once again and make my way to the Empire State Building. Kesha had given me her unused pass to go up to the observation deck, and I think, well, I’ve never been up there, why not? The guard I meet in the lobby is not so enthusiastic. He says in a stereotypically New York accent, “Save yeh money, folks. They’s no view tonight.” In my case, it would only be time I’d be saving, but I shrug my shoulders in agreement and head back outside. Perhaps I’ll try again another (sunny) day.

Looking at the sky. Hunger takes its toll, though all I could really use right now is a hot cup of something. I see a Starbucks. Bingo. (I know, so I’m a cog in the big coffee machine.) Anyway, I order a peppermint mocha and a slice of carrot cake. I take a seat by the window, and with a few hours until my train leaves, I lazily eat, sip, and read. I make a few phone calls. I love it. Sure, I’m not really doing anything — I fancy myself a flâneur, remember — but it’s all quite decadent: to be on vacation — in the city that never sleeps, no less — and yet have the leisure to sit around and let it all go by. What’s the Italian phrase? Dolce far niente. Sweet idleness (“doing nothing”).

Staying connected. Well, even Starbucks in New York closes at some point, so at about 8:30 p.m., I walk past the animated Macy’s windows on 34th, up towards the easyInternet Café on an especially lively, brightly lit block of 42nd. (A couple stops me and asks me where Broadway is. I point them in the right direction. I feel good.) The “café” is minimal; it’s more like a campus computer lab, but the size of a small airplane hangar. easyInternet is a chain actually, based in Europe, though this is the only U.S. location. I used their café on the Damrak in Amsterdam last year. Anyway, I enter and use the vending machine to pre-pay to use a computer. A word to the wise: just put in a buck or two and pay more later, as needed. I think I’m being safe when I put in five dollars. Doh. Unbeknownst to me, the hourly rate varies, gradually getting cheaper later into the night. So now my five-dollar ticket is good for way much more time than I plan to spend there.

Miles to go before I sleep. I e-mail, websurf, and AIM chat for a few blissful hours. I leave around 1:30 a.m. and walk to Penn Station. (My mom is going to freak when she reads that I was out walking alone in New York City at this hour. Don’t worry, Mom. It’s fine.) Despite the time, the waiting area is surprisingly crowded. Classical music is chirping over the loudspeaker. It could be noon, and you wouldn’t know. I’m entranced by the big departure board flipping its tiny numbers and letters. My train leaves at 2:15 a.m. I’m on my way.

Info:

Back again

WASHINGTON, D.C. — I arrived in D.C. from New York this morning at around 5:45 a.m. I slept a bit on the train, but it’s all a blur, as I would keep falling asleep and waking to the arrival announcements of cities that seemed to jumble in my head: Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and so on. When I got back to my apartment, I slept some more, and then after a few hours finally made it to work.

For now, I’m going to eat, and watch some TV I had taped last night, so my weekend report will have to wait until tomorrow.

On the town

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Right now I’m at easyInternetCafé, the place to get online in Manhattan, a huge internet cafe (over 800 computers) on 42nd Street. The agenda for this weekend has been shop, eat, drink… repeat. I’ll post a full report when I get back to D.C. tomorrow. My train leaves out of Penn Station tonight at 2:15 a.m., which gets me to Union Station past 5. Crazy, I know. But I’m squeezing every second out of my New York minute.

Scenes from a mall

On my lunch break, I went to Barnes & Noble and got Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (I’m a little late to the party, I know.) I’m thankful that they publish editions with alternate, less kiddie-like bookcovers, like this, instead of this. Not that there’s any stigma being an adult reader of Harry Potter now that the series is so mainstream, but still, when I’m out in public reading a book, I like a little dignity.

I forwarded around an e-mail I got for an American Eagle Outfitters sale. Take a look at this one set of pictures, especially the captions. Adam deftly replied, “I’d like to load up on Cami’s jukebox, I’ll tell you what!” To which I riposted, “I’ll get my hands on Brian’s poker.” Ha.

I called the Ralph Lauren store in D.C., and it turns out they don’t carry in stock the corduroy coat I’m looking for. Grr. After work I went to Friendship Heights and scoured the department stores around there. Nothing. Although, at Saks I did come close to buying a $545 Theory denim jacket with removable fur lining. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t that close to getting it. (a) I don’t have that kind of money, and (b) I’m not so big on fur. And it was just a little too fabulous, even for me. Instead, I decided I would just get the Polo coat online.

On the way out of the mall, I stopped at Hold Everything, and got something much more prudent: a bookshelf. Here’s the story: a long while back, I bought a nice wooden bookshelf there. It’s foldable and stackable, which is great. (I think Crate & Barrel carries them too.) And since then, I’ve procrastinated on getting another one, even though I really need it, since my lone bookshelf runneth over. The shelves come in a few different wood finishes (my favorite is a dark shade named “chocolate”), but when I went in tonight, I didn’t see the chocolate shelves on the main display. I found them off to the side, and marked down. That made me think they’re discontinuing the finish, and my conversation with the sales guy confirmed it. (Don’t you hate it when a store stops carrying an item you really like?) So I bought one right then. Lugged it on the metro and everything. My room is on its way to becoming a neater, happier place to be.

But the actual tidying up will have to wait a bit longer. I’m turning in early tonight, ’cause tomorrow morning, I’m off to Union Station to catch a train for Manhattan, to meet up with Susan and Kesha. This is going to rock.

Like sands through the hourglass

A&F comes to W&G. Did anyone catch Will & Grace tonight… with Eric McCormack in a muscle tee? Rowr. Also on tonight was My Best Friend’s Wedding. The only reason to watch this: Rupert Everett. It’s a cute movie, but it periodically slides into a sleepy tedium, from which we and Julia Roberts are repeatedly saved by Rupert’s appearance on the scene. Maybe I’ve seen it too many times. But back to clothes, I’ve decided I must have this coat. I was originally dreaming of something in suede and shearling, but this will do nicely and is friendlier to my wallet.

They don’t make them like this anymore. Last night, Adam, his woman, and I went to the Uptown to see Lawrence of Arabia. Great place to see a movie like this. You definitely get a sense of what it must have been like to see this movie when it was released back in the 1960s. Be forewarned, though: including the overture, intermission, and entr’acte, the whole epic experience runs about four hours. (With the great score by Maurice Jarre, I think the only thing to make it more over-the-top would be a live orchestra. That would be sweet.) I don’t begrudge the length, but still, the movie ends a bit weak. Dare I say there should have been a sequel? Yikes, it would be like the Ring cycle or something, where you’d watch the entire thing over a couple of nights. In any case, not having seen it before, I had expected the movie to be lighter in tone (which it is, at the beginning), but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it gets darker as it trudges on. Great acting and a wonderful production overall (yes, lots of sand).