Friday, September 30, 2005

Airplane Seats

Right before I left for San Francisco, I was talking with someone at work about my upcoming flight. I was so happy to be flying United where I'm a Premier Executive member. United is my favorite airline, especially the United P.S. service. The seats are great and you get your own individual personal Panasonic DVD player. Panasonic and the airlines were smart and configured the players to only play specially formatted DVDs so you won't have any real motivation to steal a DVD or the player.

So I was telling my friend all about my upcoming flight and mentioned that I hoped to get a window seat. My friend asked me how I could like window seats. "Because I like to sleep and rest my head against the cabin," I replied. My friend then asked "But don't you get cramped and feel restricted because you can't get out?". I said, "Absolutely not. If I need to get up, I'm getting up." Then I declared, "You know what I would say to that person in the aisle if he has a problem? Next time, get a window seat."


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tibetan Stool

Last night, I went to the movies with a friend and saw Just Like Heaven because my friend is head over heels in love with Mark Ruffalo. Unfortunately, Mark Ruffalo doesn't really do anything for me, but the movie was sweet and fun anyway. And I always like Reese Witherspoon.

After the movie, I went over to my friend's place for a slice of carrot cake. Her mom had baked a carrot cake and my friend took some home with her. So we were eating cake and just hanging out and chatting when my friend took out a chair. I looked at it and gave a surprised look of recognition. Oh my god, it's my Tibetan Stool! I bought my Tibetan Stool three years ago at Pottery Barn, and I love it. Granted, I don't use it for really anything, least of all sitting on it, but I think it looks so cool. I wish I could find a picture of it, but apparently Pottery Barn doesn't sell this item anymore.

I had never known anyone else who also had the Tibetan Stool, but it was nice to see that someone else shared my taste. Not that no one else ever shops at Pottery Barn. Although, I have to say that I prefer Crate & Barrel, and my apartment looks like p. 17 of the catalog. One time, I was walking with another friend when I was out in California. We passed a Tibetan store, and I saw an exact "replica" of my stool! Wow, there it is! I told my friend, "Well, mine is much better and more authentic. It's the real thing. It's from Pottery Barn."

Monday, September 26, 2005


I went to Saks during my lunch break because I wanted to pick up something at the Kiehl's counter. I also wanted to check out the Fall Collections of some of my favorite designers.

Well, they've really spruced up Saks. My preferred store is Barneys. I always thought Saks was a distant also-ran and held no flame against either Barneys or Bergdorfs. But when I walked into Saks today, I was thoroughly impressed. The store seemed organized and the store management definitely upped the ante in the calibre of their brands. And overall the store seemed much more cohesive and logical in its presentation. They got rid of all the haphazard displays and put different brands together that made sense.

I saw a green zip-up cashmere pullover from Tse that I was itching to buy. It was so nice. It was a nice deep green color with a little bit of cable pattern. But I've really been trying to cut back on my spending.

I left the store with no purchases, not even anything from Kiehls. Wow, leaving Saks with no shopping bags in hand. How strong am I?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I'll be back...

I've been feeling so blah for the past week or so, and I can't seem to shake it. I promise I'll be back soon with some more fun blog entries.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Broken Arm, No Opinion

Tomorrow, I have another X-ray scheduled for my arm. I hope I can finally stop wearing my splint and can start lifting weights again. My range of motion has improved a lot, but the bone is still broken.

Of the many comments of sympathy and amazement people said to me, the most irritating had to have been "I don't think you needed surgery. You should have gotten a second opinion." I'm thinking, "Hey. You weren't there!"

At least now I'm part of the broken bone club, and won't say stupid things like that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Too Bad I Can't Get Paid To Do This

I'm back at work now, having missed the last two days due to my throat infection. It's very disturbing to me how good I am at doing absolutely nothing. My two days off consisted of sleeping, chatting online with a few friends, getting the mail (but only on one day), and watching Food Network and the National Geographic Channel. I did step out to see my doctor on Monday, so I at least got a little bit of light. It takes great skill to do nothing with so much purpose.

This reminds me of the weekend I spent a couple of weeks ago before I headed up to San Francisco with a friend of mine from college out in San Mateo where he lives. Except that weekend, we had xBox. I'm honestly too scared to get one on my own because it'll make me even more of a social hermit than I am now. Although, for a while, I was trying to think of a way I could pass off an xBox as physical therapy so I could spend my FlexSpend dollars on it. At any rate, doses of xBox are just fine, but my friend and I played Xbox ALL weekend. Well, we did get a chance to visit the Stanford Mall, and while it's a very nice mall, their Neiman Marcus, at least the Mens section, is a sorry excuse for a Neiman Marcus. It reminded of the Neiman Marcus in Tampa, which I've been to many times on my tennis training trips down there. We also spent a very boring hour at Jiffy Lube and then the Infiniti dealership trying in vain to figure out why a light was flashing in his dashboard. Turned out my friend left his gas cap off, which by the way though led us to a discussion of whether someone had clandestinely siphoned his gas because my friend swore he would never leave the gas cap off.

But the rest of the time, we played xBox. It's so much fun to play against someone else. And me and my friend played TopSpin for hours. Well, I, at least, at one point, went out for a run, while my friend napped.

So I guess looking back, me and my friend actually did do a fair amount compared to my last two days home sick from work. Wow, I guess really doing nothing can actually be challenging. It's an art.

Monday, September 12, 2005

There's a What In Your Mouth?!?

To add to my health maladies this year, I am now suffering from both a sinus infection and a throat infection. My head feels so congested and I can barely talk or swallow because my throat hurts so much.

I went to an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor today, and she told me some interesting things: a) I have a deviated septum, which apparently is very common, but I got all freaked out about this; and b) I have a tongue that's slightly disproportionately large for the size of my mouth. With my broken arm and rheumatic fever this year, I'm just a mess, healthwise.

Just when I was thinking I was the poster child for health deformities, my friend revealed something even more bizarre. She told me about a time in college when she and her friends were playing a drinking game. The game involved rolling back their tongues towards their throats (she told me not to even "ask".) My friend piped up and asked, "Should your tongue be behind the hole?". Her friends were like "What HOLE?". Apparently, my friend has a weird hole in the roof of her mouth and thought it was normal all this time.

When I heard this, I thought, "Whoa. That definitely beats my big tongue."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Rite of Spring

Last week, in San Francisco, I was hanging out at The Bar in the Castro. I got into a conversation with a guy whose name was Matt about classical music. Now, I am not a classical music buff. I mean, I know a lot of composers and a lot of styles, but that's just a relic of my Jeopardy/Academic Team days from high school. I don't really follow the scene or attend performances all that much. So I immediately felt at a little unease in this conversation compounded by the fact that I'm not a very good "small talker" in bar situations. I've always hated that about myself. I tend to clam up for some reason and can't think of anything to say.

I was racking my brain, trying to think of something interesting to say, when Matt asked me to name a piece of music that I really like. For some reason, the first piece I thought of was The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. Matt gave me a surprised look. He said that he was surprised that someone with my limited classical music listening experience would name a modern piece like that. He expected me to name Bach or Beethoven or one of the more popular artists. Not to say that Stravisnky, particularly The Rite of Spring, isn't famous. It's one of the most famous symphonies ever composed. But I think most will agree that it's just not as "listening-friendly" as other pieces because of the seemingly dissonant, jarring and irregular sounds in the piece.

Matt asked me to think about why I chose that piece because he believed it reflected a lot about my personality. Well, that's a given, I thought. Everyone’s personal tastes echo elements of their personalities. So I didn’t take this too seriously. But this was probably the first semi-intellectual conversation that I’ve had in a while at a bar, and as I went back to my hotel that night, I did think about it.

I suppose the most popular use of The Rite of Spring is in Disney’s Fantasia. Supposedly when the symphony debuted, it caused riots in the Paris theater because the crowd was so discontented with the primitive raw sounds they were not accustomed to hearing. At first listen, it sounds discordant. The sounds are visceral, strong and contrasting. Not really what you expect to hear from a piece titled “The Rite of Spring.” It sounds like a swirl of different sounds and noises and you almost get the impression that Stravinksy stops when he finds a sound that he likes, but then leaves, giving fleeting glimpses of monstrous activities, instead of extended sequences.

When I thought about why I like this piece so much, I thought about the inaccessibility of it. The Rite of Spring keeps its listeners at a distance for two reasons. First, as I’ve said, it’s harsh-sounding. Secondly, it’s cerebral. I’m sure understanding this piece when it premiered took a bit of work. And that subtle intellect is almost a limitation for the piece, as it is for me sometimes. Now I’m not saying that I’m supremely intellectual or even smart. I’m really an idiot when it comes to a lot of things. But I do feel that I keep people at a distance. I suppose a large part of that is shyness. But sometimes I feel like the reason I can be so anti-social (note: I won’t go so as far as to say “single”) is that I can sometimes lack emotion or enthusiasm. I suppose my tastes and habits border on the ordinary. I like quiet nights out. I like playing sports. I like staying at home to watch tv. I like going to the gym and the grocery store. Even in the sports I play, I rarely play any sports that are in a team environment because I almost have a fear of relating and being accessible to my teammates.

At the same time, my interests and actions also used belie my age (I’m 28 now), similar to the forward-thinking of The Rite of Spring. My interests in clothes, for example, go beyond following the latest fashions and who’s wearing what. I like to explore brands and thoroughly research the history and legacy of brands. My passion for food indicates a pretty sophisticated and well-researched palate. As I entered my 20s, it was hard for me to find other people who shared the same interests. I often felt alone and not able to relate. I know a large part of this had to do with the fact that I didn’t come out that I was gay until I turned 25. Putting that aside, though, I felt and still do feel that it takes a lot to get to know me, mostly because I just may not be the warmest person or “funnest” person around at first.

Finally, I can also be very serious. At work or even social situations, I often zero in on getting stuff done and don’t partake in the joking around or more emotional situations that arise. This happened in college when I was a member of the Model UN club. I rarely attended the social events, but still rose rapidly through the ranks of the club and became well-known and respected because of that ability to focus on the work. When I worked at my old job, I managed a large number of people. But this time I used this intensity to my advantage and was able to separate myself from the drama that often took place, and I know people appreciated that. The Rite of Spring, I feel, can sound like that--intense, serious, and even despondent.

I think all of this can be traced to a self-fear of obsolescence. I’m terrified that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life and not feel "relevant." I don’t really feel that I’m weird or socially withdrawn. I go out once in a while and I have my circle of friends. At the same time, when I am in a situation where I’m meeting new people and not feeling totally confident, my mind sometimes almost races to think of something trendy or funny to say, like I almost have to justify why I’m there. As a consequence, I can come off as arrogant, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think anyone who knows me would learn that I have a strong personality that’s both familiar and unique; down to earth and quirky. Most people do, and if you make the effort, it’s usually worth it to find that out.

On a less personal note, and before this sounds like a Personal Ads profile, if you ever have the opportunity to see The Rite of Spring performed by a full orchestra, take it. The shivers that ripple out of the orchestra will blow you away.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's Soul Train

Today I was watching some cartoons. I haven't done that in so long. Saturday morning cartoons were the best, especially because I didn't have cable growing up. But then Soul Train would come on and it'd be all over.

Wouldn't you know, Soul Train came on today at 1:00PM. Once again, I cried "ARGH." Some things don't change.

High School Horror

I went to a kind of snooty high school, and like most prep schools, our school has an alumni magazine. Back in May, I attended my 10th year high school reunion. It was actually a pretty pitiful showing. Only six of us out of a class of 65 kids showed up and we were one of the honored classes. All in all, I had a good time. I hadn't been back to Virginia in a while, and it was nice to see everyone, even though I was bored out of my mind after a day. I feel like I've changed a lot since high school, and I was eager to see how everyone else had.

So I left Virginia with all sorts of feelings of nostalgia. When I got back to New York though, Virginia and my high school years were quickly forgotten as I adjusted myself back to the pressure cooker of a city that I live in. Then one day I got my high alumni magazine in the mail. I flipped through it wondering if any of the pictures taken of me at the reunion were in this issue. Towards, the end, I finally come across a picture of me with the other members of my class. My eyes are CLOSED! I was horrified. I could not believe they used that picture!

I think my high school needs to recall every single issue of that magazine with that picture. I simply cannot have that picture floating around. It's too embarrassing.

On second though, nah, it can stay. I guess it gets people talking about me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm back!

I'm back from San Francisco! I had a good trip this time and experienced lots of "firsts." Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. Visited many cool restaurants including Bouchon, Chez Panisse and Domaine Chandon and got to visit Napa Valley for the first time.

All in all, I had a very nice week in SF, despite being shipped off there for work. I'll have some posts later this week about my trip!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jury Reunion

Last week, in front of Fairway, I saw someone who looked vaguely familiar. Then I realized, it was Helen from my jury group! Not that Helen and I ended up being great friends or even exchanged any sort of contact info after our jury stint, but it was nice to reminisce. It was a little reunion on the street with one of my old jury buddies.

I had jury duty in December 2004, and I had the best time. After my experience, I urge everyone to do their civic duty and get on a jury! I told some people at work that jury duty was the best vacation I ever had. I only had to go in for about 4 hours a day, was out by 2PM, and then got to have the rest of the day to myself. Being near Chinatown, I also got to have dim sum every day. And the best part was that I was still getting paid my salary (I realize that not everyone on jury duty is this lucky.) I must have garnered a few strange looks as I cheerfully whistled while walking into the jury room. The sun was shining. I was on jury duty!

During my jury stint, I was interviewed for two trials. The first trial was a robbery with a judge who was the funniest guy ever. I actually later found out that he wrote the book, Carlito's Way. This guy was like that eccentric judge played by Paul Dooley on The Practice. Does anyone remember him? He was that crazy judge who was disillusioned by the judicial system and who would turn his court into a kangaroo court sometimes.

Anyway, Judge Torres was so funny. He'd interrupt everyone and always had some quippy remark to our answers to his background questions (i.e., our jobs, age, hobbies--I have no idea why he asked that.) He'd wave his hands in the air and chastise the lawyers for asking us "ridiculous" questions. He was hilarious.

The next judge I encountered was this quiet older woman and she was presiding over a drug-trafficking case. But the lawyers provided some more caricatures. The prosecutor was this mousy brown-haired white guy who just had no charisma whatsoever. I felt so bad for him.

The defense attorney, on the other hand, was like Johnnie Cochran. He'd wave his arms everywhere, screaming and yelling what he had to say. At one point, he rolled his pen off of the jury box ledge and onto the floor to demonstrate how without reasonable doubt, the prosecution's argument just "falls to the floor." Upon saying "floor" he stamped his foot to the ground like some televangelist.

During the jury interviews, we encountered some strange characters. One was this hippie woman who was a sculptor. Well she immediately got dismissed when she said she believed that all drugs should be legalized. But no way was I gonna say something like that. Jury duty was my ticket for a paid vacation from work and lawyers and documents that I had to deal with at the law firm. Probably the most provocative thing I said during the entire experience I said was that I did not believe a police officer to be any more of a credible witness than anyone else just because he was a member of the force. If anything, I really dislike the police because I think a lot abuse their power. The latest anecdote was how I heard a cop was caught looting TVs from a store devestated by Katrina. Um...where's he gonna plug it in? And dude, TVs don't float well.

We also had a trapeze artist in our jury pool. The judge asked him where he lived. "A tent," he said. "I travel with the circus." The judge had this quizzical look of disbelief on her face. "What?," she asked. The guy answered "Oh that address is just an office. I travel in a trailer with the Big Top Circus [which happened to be performing at Lincoln Center at the time]." The entire room, including the bailiff and lawyers were laughing. The judge was just dumbfounded. This had to be the most bizarre thing she had ever heard.

Well, in the end, I got picked. It was like my own Sally Field "You Like me, You really like me" moment. Hooray. Since I worked for a law firm, my managers just had to grin and bear it since obviously it'd be pretty embarrassing if they weren't supportive of me fulfilling my civic duty.

The trial was BOOORRING. The arresting officer gave the longest testimony and his examination went on for two days. The rest of the witnesses were short and quick and then it was time for the fun part: deliberation. The judge read us the charges again and gave us standard rules for jury conduct and then we were sequestered and left to our own devices.

I won't go into the complex legal nature of overcoming any burden of proof and finding someone guilty except to say that it is very difficult to say with any certainty that someone is guilty. Doubts gnaw at you and you try to be objective and not bring in any of your own personal views or experiences into the mix. But that's what makes jury duty so interesting. Juries, by nature and necessity, are random. Our two lawyers had done a very good job of selecting a diverse group of people, people who I probably would have never met otherwise. Our group included an inner-city high school teacher, a publisher, a corporate headhunter, a nurse, a doctor at St. Vincents, a couple of IT professionals, a PR guru for Crobar nightclub, and a legal case manager (me).

Our group deliberated for about a day and a half. Throughout it all, we got along very well. There were no jury power struggles and everyone listened to one another. We all had this bond and could make fun of everything in the courtroom and laugh conspiratorially. We took our job seriously and it was a bit unnerving to realize that you could send this person to jail. Although, I didn't let this my jury duty take over my life. On our second day of deliberation, one girl announced to us that she had been "haunted" by this whole experience and then started sobbing, almost uncontrollably. I was like "Whoa. I didn't take it THAT seriously."

In the end, we found the defendant "Not Guilty." Having rendered our verdict, we were done. The judge thanked us and dismissed out and I left the courtroom wondering whether I would see any of my jury buddies again.

Well, it happened last week, and I felt like I was seeing someone I went to high school with. Ah, jury buddies. Everybody should get one.