Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Elle @ The Final Four

I am completely rocking my company NCAA brackets right now. I may be a heal-wearing, wine-drinking gal from the city, but man-o-man are my Big Ten sports skills coming in handy now.

In my office, there are a few token males (i.e., not gay, but not datable). It’s about this time of year that they all start foaming at the mouth at the thought of “making their picks.” I usually ignore them and go on my merry way, however this year I was invited to participate in two pools: one for my company and one against my clients.

I’m kicking everyone’s asses.

You see, little old Elle was smart. Although I would have loved to see Wisconsin go all the way, I knew it was a shot in the dark. I put aside all loyalties and went with shear probability, putting Georgetown, UCLA, Florida and Texas in the Final Four. I say Florida wins. I’d say my odds are pretty damn good.

(NOTE: Feel free to insert comments here confirming my prediction)

I won’t deny that I do have a bit of a competitive streak in me, but usually not enough to drive me into a bar on the upper east side to watch a college basketball game. This year, I may have to rethink this notion, as there is something quite pleasing about knowing you have “out picked” all the boys in the room. I’ll have bragging rights for an entire year!

Now all I need to do is find out if there is a prize for winning. If there is, I hope its cash…perhaps then I can go buy that pair of sweet Italian leather peep toes I’ve been eyeing in my favorite downtown shop.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Jazzy Monday

As a child I can remember loving the Charlie Brown TV specials, perhaps not so much for the animation, but for the jazzy piano tunes played so eloquently on screen by the one and only Schroeder. As I grew up I never had the dexterity to be a talented musician (save a handful of years of violin playing in the middle school orchestra), but I surely can say that I grew a love for all kinds of music.

As a teenager, I must sadly admit to being fanatical about teeny bopper tunes of Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and NKOTB. In high school, although I never wore flannel, I grew to enjoy grunge music and even a smidge of rap & R&B – I still love old school Mary J. In college, I relived my parents’ experience and fell in love with classic rock. Perhaps it was seeing Jimmy Page play the guitar from the 11th row, but all I know is this genre still dominates my iPod.

Lately, my new obsession takes me straight back to my childhood love of Schroeder’s piano and the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I’m just loving Jazz right now. All kinds of jazz…modern, acid, Brazilian! In an effort to do something different and indulge in my musical cravings, I coaxed a friend to come with me to check out Jazz at Lincoln Center.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been trying to do different things with my time. Not that I don’t love tapas and wine with girlfriends, but sometimes that gets old and I thought a night of jazz would be the perfect prescription to shake things up a bit.

Not knowing what to expect, my friend and I arrived at Dizzy’s Club on the 5th floor of the Time Warner Center and were greeted by large windows overlooking Columbus Circle and the Southwest corner of Central Park. All we could see were the twinkling lights of the city serving as a perfect backdrop for a jazz quartet.

We got settled, ordered a bottle of red and a few snacks and spent the next 90 minutes listening to the spring-themed set of soft, toe-tapping Madeline D’Ambrosio and her musical trio. As we listened to the songs, one by one, I caught myself smiling several times. I mean, how can you not with such whimsical music in such a setting?!

My friend and I were definitely the youngest in the room – by about a decade, but we didn’t care. We joked about how we should be wearing all black, berets and smoking incessantly, but of course, we were in New York – no smoking inside.

As the set ended, we finished our bottle of Cab and decided that the night was a perfect New York Monday. Jazz, a bottle of red, a view of the city…can it get any better?

Friday, March 16, 2007

It’s Time

This Memorial Day will be my sixth anniversary of moving to New York. It’s hard to believe I’ve actually been here that long. But, what is harder to believe is that for the entire time of earning Real New Yorker status, I am still technically a subletter.

Yes. A half a decade. No lease to speak of.

Why pray tell, have I been stuck in sad subletter status? Well, mainly because for the past four years I’ve been lucky enough to live in a rent controlled building. For those of you not savvy, I pay dirt cheap rent to live in a decent sized (read: shoe box sized) apartment that is actually on the island. If I were to have been added to the lease, our rent would have gone up substantially.

You’d think the fact that I scored such a situation would mean I’d be staying there as long as humanly possible, spending my future years in New York among my
strange neighbors and quickly gentrifying neighborhood, but – alas - this will not be my fate. The main reason: one lone roommate. Lone = anal-retentive/passive-aggressive thirty-something roommate that hates life and all social interaction that it may require.

Due to the desire to flee my apartment’s negativity, I’ve recently decided that it is time for me to move out and get my own apartment. The scales have finally tipped. After five years of essentially being an urban nomad and putting up with the strange roommate behaviors and personalities, it’s time to plant my very own city roots. The beauty of this situation is that I am still subletting and can leave said roommate behind whenever I please.

I’ve begun my search by perusing all the online rental sites I can. I know my price. I know my choice neighborhoods. I’ve seen a couple of places and one thing is clear: I am so damn excited about the proposition that I will have a space of my very own. I can cook whatever I want. I can have anyone I please over to my apartment whenever I want (read: roommates that hate life are not exactly great to have around when you like to entertain people). I can lay around and not be criticized for lengthy couch time. Oh, the possibilities!

I’ve been told time and time again that people can learn so much about themselves by flying solo. Perhaps it’s something about solitude that makes someone ponder their place in life, how they spent their day or who they care to see when they venture out? Perhaps it’s something about owning your own things and hanging your own pictures on the wall? In any sense, a place of one’s own has something pleasingly intangible about it.

So, in an effort to become a more well-rounded person, the search is on.

As they say every gal is on a constant search for one of three things: a job, an apartment or a man. Given that the job is already taken care of, I will gladly take the man-hunt down a notch in honor of my impending move to true singledom.


This past Saturday I saw the lowest of the low when it comes to NYC apartments. I figured I’d check a place out about six or seven blocks from my apartment. It was in an area slightly off the beaten track, but considering how quickly my neighborhood went from sketch to posh, I figured I’d give it a chance.

I should have walked away the second I saw the “POLICE ACTIVITY DO NOT CROSS” sticker on the door…

I walked in to what looked like a badly cleaned up murder scene. Ok. Not really, but the place had clearly been gutted and no clean up had been done following the gutting. As I looked outside through the openings around the window frame, the broker pipes up, “There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

No shit Sherlock.

I quickly told this guy then and there, that I preferred only to see places that were ready to be rented. After all, I wanted to see the place I'd be living in, or at least something that closely resembles it. He retorted that the dump that I was standing in would rent before it was renovated. I balked and told him that wasn’t my style.

After viewing a few more properties in the area, I resigned myself to knowing what the worst looks like. I have no where to go but up!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Tourist in Tow

This past weekend happened to be one of 4-6 weekends in the spring time which qualify as “spring break” for the school-going crowd, so it was a nice surprise when I got an email a couple weeks ago from my mom saying that she and my sisters were coming for a visit on one of their weekends off.

They arrived this past Friday and it was four days of beautiful weather, walking and eating. My family is no stranger to the city, as they’ve been here several times, so I am usually pleased when they come and I can show them what “real” New Yorkers do – meaning eating at the most tasty, little known restaurants in the city, shopping in all the best little boutiques, and walking the most scenic streets the city has to offer. Despite the indulgences, there is one tourist activity that always remains on the list, and it has been one of my most loathed activities since setting foot on the island - a trip to Canal Street.

Canal Street is chalk full of fake designer handbags, watches, scarves and jewelry. The area is notoriously overcrowded and always involves high levels of harassment by locals all in the name of supporting black market items worth a fraction of what you actually pay. Never mind the fabulous dim sum in the area, follow a strange Chinese woman into a back alleyway, get locked into a basement bunker and get your fake Louis today!

When my sisters announced a long list of Canal Street needs for friends back in the Mid-West, instead of scowling, this time I decided to turn over a new leaf. This was my family after-all, and if they want a fake bag so be it! So I grinned and bared it.

About an hour into our little shopping trip, I decided I not only was I going to tolerate Chinatown, but I was also going to say “fuck it,” and act like a tourist all weekend (with noted exceptions of “real” New York activity). Why the hell not? Who was I trying to impress?

In my effort to blend in with the tourist crowd I:

  • Wore tennis shoes all weekend
  • Smiled and posed for pictures when prompted
  • Accompanied my black Chinatown-bag-carrying family to locations across the city and didn’t care to be seen with the bags
  • Went to Saks, Bloomingdales and Tiffany’s all on the same day
  • Saw Phantom of the Opera

Amongst other things…

The funny thing about this weekend was, I was on my own stomping ground here in NYC - a place with a conscious level of attitude, status, image and pretension – and I felt devoid of the normal pressures to live up to it all. Now, to be clear, I certainly don’t have the resources to claim a high level of anything I just mentioned (as a lowly PR girl and all), however all New Yorkers know that by living here we do exude a certain amount of the above simply because that is the social dust the city leaves on you.

The difference between this past weekend and the norm is that it was refreshing to allow my family to bring some down-to-earth mid-westerness my way. I was in my own city but completely unaware of the need to care about anything other than having a good time. In my case, a good time happened to be perusing Canal Street shops to see my sisters excited about their new Coach knock offs.

It was a great weekend of careless fun, and frankly I’m sad to go back to the normal grind. After a weekend in kickers, I finally realize heels really do kill your feet!

Somebody stop me before I buy loafers...

Friday, March 09, 2007

PR Prom

Imagine being a grown adult and a guest at your very own senior prom...In a nutshell, that was me last night, as I was at the equivalent of the NYC PR Prom.

That’s right…last night was one of many PR industry award events of the season. This one, for some reason unbeknownst to me, was a “black tie affair” at the Tavern on the Green. Black tie for my office mates meant any form of wrap dress that you can find in your closet. Black tie for the out-of-towners meant sparkles and floor length gowns…aka: overkill.

The evening was one of those nights where a difficult combination of unintentional drunkenness and trying to be on your best “professional” behavior was at play for all. Your boss was there. Your boss’s boss was there. Your client was there. Your past bosses were there, and the waiters wouldn’t allow any wine glass to bow below the half way mark. I still couldn’t tell you how many glasses of wine I drank, but somehow I think the dinner rolls saved me.

Dinner was served. Awards were given out, and the after party began – which by the way was officially called an “After Glow Celebration.” It was in this “after glow party” where I witnessed the saddest of pick up attempts ever.

Just when a co-worker and I were jockeying for a position by a couple of cute guys by the bar, two decent-looking guys waltzed up and started laying on the compliments. My co-worker and I gave each other “the eye” and began to politely smile, nod and answer their networking questions (i.e., where do you work, what accounts to you manage, bla, bla, bla…).

It was about 5 minutes later when the hit men took out their cards and we finally figured it out. We weren't being hit on at all, we are being SOLD to by a couple of salesmen from a vendor company. Not only had the other cute guys moved off, but we weren’t even being genuinely hit on. How depressing.

After the guys had moved on to their next set of prey, my co-worker and I mozzied up to the two token males from our office and claimed “saved” status from getting another sales pitch thrown our way. Of course the evening started looking up with the help of our “wing men” and keen eye for avoiding vendors.

All in all, the "PR Prom” was a good time. After working the room, it was truly eye opening to realize how many good looking chaps actually do work in my industry…I just have to wonder why none of them are at my company.

I think I'll have to talk to HR about that...

Until next year...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Being Non-Serious

As someone who is highly driven and ambitious, I certainly can attest to the notion that I sometimes take myself too seriously. And given that reality, sometimes it’s nice to plunge oneself into a situation that is anything but serious. My Saturday was just this…a reversion back to my collegiate days. And when I think of a typical unserious day from college, it usually started with an unnecessary trip to the mall, followed by hours and hours of day drinking. My unserious day wasn’t too far off…

I normally wouldn’t go to a mall, but this time my job required it. So I spent my morning – in Long Island - “monitoring” an event that was going on at the mall, combined with lots and lots of window shopping. Let me tell you, there is something about shopping without a list that is just glorious. I leisurely mozzied in and out of every store I had an inkling to hit. Proceeded to load my arms full of everything I wanted to try on, and then spent hours trying on, discarding, trying on, pondering…It was pointless and lovely.

When it was time to leave the mall, I felt a slight tinge of cliché when my Towncar pulled up outside of Dick’s Sporting Goods, however I was happy to have a company-sponsored ride.

When I arrived back in the City, a friend of mine called to tell me we were going to the infamous Hoboken St. Patty’s day celebration. Glad I still had car-service, I picked her up and promptly headed to New Jersey.

I like to call Hoboken “post-college America,” as it’s a location in the NYC area that most post-graduates can afford. To boot, residents all seem to continue their borderline-immature behavior despite being a working member of corporate America. So it was no surprise when we drove into town, all we could see was green, saddled with sightings of empty Silo cups blowing in the wind, staggering 22-year olds and long lines outside of every pub.

Again, all seriousness stopped in its tracks as I put on my college drinking cap. After all, one must be mentally prepared to partake in such activities in their late twenties.

We went to party after party. Drank light beer out of a kegerator. Earned our St. Patty’s Day beads. Flirted with 24-year olds wearing Abercombie. I knew the day was completely ridiculous when - at the last house party - I saw a pregnant woman playing beer-pong, followed by the party being “busted” for noise violations. We decided it was time to elevate ourselves to the post-21 crowd and go to a bar.

After more beer, a dinner of corned beef on rye with fries (!) and a few more beers, my gal-pal and I decided we had had enough. We said our farewells to the group and headed back to the city.

In retrospect, the day was super fun. Normally, my serious self would be doing “unserious adult” things like drinking coffee, seeing a film at the Angelika, getting a mani & pedi followed by a glass or two of wine. I’d most likely balk at the idea of drinking light beer in Hoboken, however it was great to be reminded that adult fun doesn’t need to fit into a little box of appropriateness. It was refreshing, different and grounding. And yes, it helped to have a Towncar to make the travels lighter!