Tuesday, March 31, 2015

marla and me

1980. I am living in Chicago, separated from my husband, and falling in love with Lee, a fellow student at Kellogg.

But Lee is still not over his high school sweetie from Denver, Marla. Marla is creative. Marla is adventurous. Marla is exceptional. Marla is unlike anyone Lee's ever known. Marla can do no wrong. I want to be Marla.

Years pass. I hear through Lee that Marla moves to LA and becomes a producer. Then she moves to Paris. Of course.That's all I know. Lee and Marla lose touch.

Lee lives in Denver, and we sporadically keep in touch. He's married with a son in college. I have no idea what prompts this, but I Google Marla and find her on Facebook. She is is now in the fashion business.

I am looking for stylists to join my J. Hilburn team (let me know if you know anyone). I think hmmm. Maybe Marla knows someone who might be interested. We have never met nor have we ever spoken.

I message Marla. She responds. We email. She sends me her number. All this within 30 minutes. How can you not love social media?

We talk. Marla lives in New York. We have a lot in common. Know many of the same people. We schedule a time to meet for coffee.

I call Lee, who hasn't spoken to Marla in over 20 years. I tell him the story. He is not surprised. "You know," he says. "I somehow knew that one day you two would meet."

He was right.

Monday, March 30, 2015

free ride

In New York City, when you reach a certain age and you have an income below a certain amount, you may qualify for a rent freeze.

Today I go downtown to the offices of SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption). The words Senior Citizen sound like they apply to someone other than me.

I pass through security, go to the third floor, and walk into a drab, poorly lit room, filled with people.

I take a number from a number-dispensing machine; 116. The number currently displayed is 96.

Using Fairway as my barometer, 20 people before me should be about a 30 minute wait. A half hour later and the number displayed is up to 99. This is more time consuming than ordering sliced turkey. Plus, I'm guessing there are more people manning Fairway's deli counter than there are government workers here at SCRIE.

I'm starting to get impatient. I am only here to have two questions answered from the form I need to complete.  What constitutes a room, and what constitutes a window?  Is a dining area made into a bedroom counted as a room? Does a big window count the same as a small one?  Simple questions but there's no way to have them answered unless I come in person.

A SCRIE worker comes out from the back room and I grab him. "Hey, I just have a couple of quick questions," I say, and then I ask my questions.  He looks at me and answers, "I don't understand why these questions are even on the application. It doesn't really matter how you answer them."

Who creates these forms? Why do they ask irrelevant questions? Why isn't there an explanation on unclear questions? Why isn't there a number to call? Why did I have to come all the way down here? These are the questions I want to ask; instead I say thank-you and leave.

I'm grateful that Robyn gave me her free monthly metro card to use while she's out of town. At least it doesn't cost me  $5.50 to get my answers.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

dressing for spring

It's almost April, and still, my coat closet is filled with shearlings and down.

A couple of girls go half-way spring.

But the majority of us have not parted with our winter wear. Hats. mittens, scarves, hoods, fur, ear muffs, wool and layering are still very much in vogue.

Hard to believe, at 28 degrees, it's time to ...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

eyes wide shut

A few weeks ago I'm talking to a friend. 50 Shades of Grey has just been released and it is being promoted everywhere. My friend, an outdoorsy type who pays little attention to Hollywood gossip, says to me, "Hey, did you know that Dakota Johnson is Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson's daughter?" Did I know? Are you kidding? It's been all over the news for months. (Granted, not the nightly national news, but still). How does someone not know such an important fact?

M's mentally astute 85-year old aunt is telling M about her friend. "Poor Alice has had it rough. You know, her son has polio."  "Polio, really?" M asks. "Well, not the kind that was around when you were young and people were in iron lungs. I'm talking about the kind in your head." "The kind in your head?" M asks again.  It takes a while before she realizes that Alice's son is bi-polar, not stricken with polio.

Last night at book club one of the members isn't aware of the horrific news that the young co-pilot on Germanwings deliberately crashed a plane into the French Alps killing everyone aboard. But then, she hasn't heard that a plane even crashed on Tuesday.  In her defense, she's a professor at a top university, is taking classes full time to get another advanced degree, and is a single mom with two kids in college. 

This week I receive an evite from our EVP Sales Manager at Bellmarc.

Anna is our beautiful, model-thin, model-tall, model-faced office assistant. She's about to have a baby?  I write back asking if Anna is adopting. She's not. She's 7-months' pregnant. How could I not have noticed something as important and noticeable as this?

It makes me wonder what else I'm missing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

the last break before graduation

Spring break at Cornell begins today.  

I haven't seen Alexander since he returned to school on January 4th. 

For the past few weeks, the conversations I've had with my son have gone something like this.

"So, did you book your bus yet?"

"No, I tried to get the Cornell bus but it was too late. I'll just take the other bus."
(Meaning the Shore Line bus where you: don't need a reservation; can be assured of at least a five hour trip;  will likely sit next to a questionable character; and will be dropped off up at Port Authority vs. a few blocks from our apartment. But it is half the price.).

"Okay. Let me know when you know. Can't wait to see you."

"Me too."

Then this week.

"Hi. Do you know when you're coming home?"

"I can't talk right now. I have something due every day this week." He sounds totally stressed.

"Okay, but..."

"Listen, I've gotta go. I really need to study. I'll call you later."

And then finally today.

"So how did everything go?"

"Good I think." He sounds relaxed and happy.

"Great. So when are you coming home?"

"I'm not sure I am. I need to start work on three big papers all due at once, and the books I need are all in the library up here."

Well, I guess it's good that I hadn't bought groceries yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

extreme happiness

My friend Meredith and I belong to Manhattan Theater Club.  First, Terry and I were members. But then Terri moved, and Meredith inherited her seat. We will probably always be members, as it takes years to get seats as good as ours.

A few weeks ago we are scheduled to see The World of Extreme Happiness.  Neither of us feels like going on the day we are supposed to, so we exchange our tickets for a matinee today, which also happens to be Meredith's birthday.

Great, we both think at the time. We'll go out to lunch first, then see what sounds like an upbeat play; it'll be a nice way to celebrate.

This morning I call Meredith. "Would you mind if we don't have lunch before or dinner after?" she asks. I don't. We both have too much to do before the play, and 3:30 is too early to have dinner; the play is only 90 minutes.

I arrive early to pick up our tickets. The woman in front of me says to the woman in the box office, "Can I get any extreme happiness today?" The unsmiling box-office worker replies, "You could have yesterday, but not today." The patron picks up her ticket and says nothing. It's an unusual exchange, to say the least. 

Meredith arrives. We settle into our seats. The play opens.  

Act 1, Scene One: 
A young girl living in rural China in 1992 is about to give birth. She speaks mostly in obscenities. Her indifferent husband, in the same scene, describes a bird pooping on his face and into his mouth. Then the baby is born. It's a girl, so the infant is immediately discarded into a bucket of pig slop. But the girl is a fighter and surprises everyone and lives. She is named Sunny Li.

This all happens in the first ten minutes of the play.  Hmmm. Maybe the title doesn't mean the obvious.

The rest of the story follows Sunny as she moves to the city and becomes a factory worker, and later a rebel, of sorts. As the curtain falls — SPOILER ALERT — Sunny, in a mostly vegetative state, is suffocated by her brother.

I turn to Meredith and whisper, "Happy birthday." 

Seeing Hamlet would have been cheerier.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

stood up

Twice in two days.

Yesterday I call a J. Hilburn client whom I inherited from a stylist who left the company. I'll call him Dillon. The conversation goes well, and soon we've decided to do a virtual meeting.  We speak around ten; then he calls me back with specifics of what he's looking for around one. We agree to speak again at six. He tells me he needs a couple of suits. A few shirts. And maybe a spring sports jacket. Our tastes (not that they have to) seem to align. I spend the next two hours picking out suiting and shirt fabrics, cutting and pasting them into an email, and then searching for an electronic version of the various options. I look on Dillon's FB page to get a sense of who he is. I look at what Dillon last bought, two and a half years ago. I print everything out. I am ready. Six p.m. comes and goes. I call Dillon's cell and no one picks up. I text him. I do not like this role. I feel like a stalker.  Finally, around 7:15,  Dillon texts me: "Hi Lyn, got busy at home. Can we connect tomorrow...?"  Today is tomorrow. It's almost 8pm; the two texts I send him today have not been answered. I feel like I've been jilted before the first date.

Today I have a noon appointment with someone else. I'll call him Peter. This is another inherited client. I connected with him a week ago and we schedule a meeting for today. I send Peter a confirming email yesterday, and hear nothing back. I send him a text today, again confirming our meeting. Finally, less than two hours before our appointment, Peter cancels. He suggests maybe this weekend, but nothing definite yet.

I love the styling aspect of the job. I love interacting with my clients. I love the gorgeous quality of the fabrics, as well as the finished product. I love when my clients are happy.

But this sitting around hoping for promised calls that don't come. Or texts that go unanswered. Or appointments that don't show. Not fun!