Friday, January 23, 2015

if you lug a's a product reco

In the spirit of people telling me, "Oh, I bought that curling hair dryer and love it."  Or, "Hey, I purchased that Japanese thermos you wrote about and liked it so much I bought more  and gave it to people as Christmas gifts." Here's something else to consider.

When I first started working for J. Hilburn, I needed a big bag for all my sample fabrics, catalogues, measuring tools, and forms.  I bought a rolling briefcase from Tumi. But it was too heavy and too big.  Dragging a rolling anything up and down subway stairs is not easy.  And forget boarding a train during rush hour. Then I got lucky.  The adjustable handle stopped working a week into using it, so I was able to return it.

M suggests a Tumi nylon carry-all called the Geneva.  She uses it for travel and loves it. So much so that she even makes me a video highlighting the bag's many compartments, pockets, and zippered spaces.


And the best thing? It's last year's model. I find it for almost 50% off on Tumi's site, and buy it in slate gray with black leather trim..

Today I use it for the first time.  I am going to Stamford to meet with a couple of new clients.  I love the functionality of this bag. It's lightweight, has a million pockets for organizing stuff, and fits everything I have.  I put my phone here, my glasses there, my Kindle in a side pocket, a lipstick in a small outer pocket, my coffee thermos on the large outside pocket, my wallet where I can easily access it, and all my J. Hilburn stuff in the middle.

I buy my ticket and board the train.  And then I can't find my phone.  I look everywhere.  I even ask a stranger nearby to call me, assuming I'll hear my phone ring.  I hear nothing.  I wonder if Worth Avenue Insurance covers for theft?  An hour train ride each way and no phone.  I think I'm as upset about the possibility of being phone-less as I am about the cost of buying a new phone.

I sit down.  Pour some coffee.  Find my paper.  Then find my phone — hiding in a pocket I'd forgotten about. 

Bottom line:  
This is a fantastic, more than decent-looking bag.  Looks professional but not too business-y. Great for carting stuff around the city, telecommuting, or for travel.  Brilliant for compartmentalizing; just remember where you put things. And then, if you want it, buy last year's model for over 40% off, and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear.  And no, I am not affiliated in any way with Tumi.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

good news, first of its kind

I am on the phone with Erik from Apple and I see Alexander's number pop up on my caller ID.  This never happens.  Well, not often.

To reach Alexander, I need to text him first and ask him to call. I have learned that my unannounced calls will be ignored. I have reluctantly come to accept this.  So I need to text my son and ask him to call, and then he will.  But the time between text and call back is inversely proportionate to my needs.

"Call me," for example, is sufficiently vague to suggest a relaxed response.  But my son knows that this means there is something I really want to talk with him about, so a text like this usually takes additional clarifying texts.

Something more pointed, as in, "Call me.  Did you follow-up with your $90 refund from Short Line Bus?" could be ignored entirely.  Especially when the answer is — a very likely no.

But if I write, "Hey, what do you think of Deflation-gate?  Call me." Then I expect a quick response. Maybe even immediate.  

Same with, "I just watched Magnolia.  You were right, great movie. I have a question on it.  Call me."  This too will result in a very fast call back.  Although sometimes he gets suspicious and thinks of this kind of text as a ruse to get him to call me faster. He'll call me, but preface the call with,  "This better be why you wanted me to call."

But an unsolicited call from Alexander?  Very rare.  So when it happens today, I even put Erik from Apple on hold.

"Hi.  I can't talk.  I'm on the phone with Apple.  Let me call you right back."

My son ignores this and begins talking as If I've just said, "Hi.  What's up?"

"I got my grade." He's referring to the 3-credit, two-week course he just completed on Green World Blue Planet.  "I got a B+."

"Great," I say. 

"No, I'm just kidding.  I got an A+."

Since Alexander has been at Cornell, I have never gotten a call like this.  I'm thrilled.  He tells me his GPA will now increase by .05 points.

I wonder if instead of enrolling during Fall and Spring semesters, Alexander should have just taken classes during summer and winter breaks. There would be no distractions and an empty campus. Probably wouldn't have been much fun, but he'd have an enviable GPA.

a party, or sorts

I am invited to something I've never been to before: a networking party for women.

At least that's what I'm told it is.  The invitation reads, 

For the newbies on the list, this is an ever-evolving gathering of terrific women with the sole intent of sharing what’s going on for each of us, seeking counsel if so desired, and sharing a glass or two or wine, cheese, etc. 

Karen is hosting.  I reconnected with Karen in December, having not been in touch with her for over ten years.  We met briefly once, when I was looking for a job. Great is an adjective easily attributed to Karen. Great apartment. Great organizer. Great communicator. Great at keeping people focused. Great at making everyone feel welcome and important.  

About 12 women show up. All are accomplished and interesting. It's the perfect sized group. Small enough to sit around in a big circle and have one conversation, but big enough to have vastly different perspectives — from the practical to the more spiritual, from those seeking happiness to those seeking income, to those who believe the two can and should be intertwined.

Most of the woman have or had careers in television (which is also Karen's and my background). But others have chosen different paths.  There's also an accomplished blogger (as in 100,000 page views/month), a head of catering (at arguably the best bakery in Manhattan), a web entrepreneur, an ex-Google exec, a life coach, a prize-winning documentary filmmaker, a PR head, a non-for profit expert, a trainer and off-Broadway musical writer, and a rescued-animal advocate. It's an eclectic group of women. Some are more settled in their lives than others. Some are looking for advice/help. Some are happily in limbo while others are actively seeking new positions.

I've never participated in anything like this. I'm one of those weird people who actually likes going to meetings.  As long as they are led well. The participants have something of value to say. And you leave feeling the time has well spent.  Check. Check. And check.

Monday, January 19, 2015

a pop-up bar

I remember when I first heard about pop-up stores.  

It was 2006 and I was working at PHD Media.  Mostly everyone I worked with was young and hip. They knew all the latest trends, hottest restaurants, and best music. It was easy to feel old.

Now pop-ups are commonplace.  Just a couple of years ago I went to a pop-up hair styling bar. Free blowouts in midtown.  It was great.

Tonight I am meeting Eric W for drinks.  He lives on the westside, but graciously offers to meet somewhere in my neighborhood.  He impresses me even more by picking a new (as in opened six days ago) bar.  In fact, this new bar will have a short life; it closes January 24th.  It is described as a mescal den and is called Bar Illegal.  Something trendy on the eastside — that doesn't happen often.

I walk over. There isn't even a sign on the door, making the place feel even more special.  Though I'm not a big frequenter of bars, this is exactly the kind of bar I like.  Dark, cavernous, candle-like lighting, quiet, crowded enough to know you are somewhere good, but not too crowded to be loud.

Eric is already there when I arrive, sitting with two shot glasses of tequila infused with ginger (one is for me). He is easy to talk to, interesting, and knows a lot about a lot of things. Our conversation is all over the place: current news stories, photography and cameras, football playoffs, the death penalty, theater and movies, family enigmas, and some personal reveals.  We flip from topic to topic, comfortably and often.  And the two additional shots of tequila taste better and better.  

As we are about to leave, someone at the table next to ours says, "Is that your glove?"  I look over and see my favorite fingerless leopard glove sitting on the red leather banquet I just vacated. But there is only one. The other is gone.  I check my pockets, the floor, and my bag. Nada.  The iPhone flashlight with its laser beam is pulled out by more than one person and an earnest search begins. Everyone is treating this as a major loss, making me love this new bar even more.  But alas, I leave one-gloved.

I come home, take off my coat, and snuggled in the arm is the second glove.  A good omen, I'm sure.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

going darker

Last year I added  bright bleached streaks to the front of my hair.  I liked it for a while.  I liked it even after one of my sisters asked, "Did you do that on purpose?"

For the past couple of years, my hair has become lighter (not exactly by itself). My natural hair color is dark brown, almost black.  And that's what it's always been. But as I've grown older, it's become harder and harder to maintain.  White roots are a lot more noticeable bursting through a head of dark tresses than blond ones.  

But as my hair has grown lighter, I've begun to feel more like someone else.  So yesterday when I saw Lyo, I asked her to darken my base.  She did, and  even added a few lowlights. I'm still lighter than my natural color, but closer to feeling like me (even though I'm not really sure what that means).

Friday, January 16, 2015

book club sans book

Eight of us meet. Betsy is hosting. 

Tonight has been planned more as a get-together than a book discussion. Unlike most meetings, Betsy goes all out and makes a four-course meal: appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert.  Well, actually, Betsy's husband makes the meal. He artfully makes some kind of baked dish of cauliflower and parmesan, couscous, and meatballs. Everything is delicious. Dessert is cut up fruit and an amazing upside down apple tart, prepared in a cast iron pan.

Tonight's book club is more like a dinner party.  Our animated conversations cover a wide range of topics. From:

Je suis Charlie, and freedom of speech


The economics of working women.


Summer camp.  One in the group attended a liberal summer camp, where all campers were required to write letters to LBJ in protest of the Vietnam War.  She was 7 at the time.


Our kids, who are all in college, about to start, or freshly out.


The job market.


Losing a parent.


Our children's boyfriends and girlfriends, even the ones we don't like.


The flu, picking swatches for a slipcover, and much in between.

This is a smart, strong and likable group of women.  The common bond is parenting; we all met through either elementary or middle school.  We all do different things professionally.  Among us is a lawyer, a programmer, a college professor at an Ivy League school, an artist and performer, a world traveler, a banker, a therapist, and a manager of a rock band (featuring her three sons).  Six of us are Jewish; four are not (although one is married to a Jewish man).  Three have lived abroad, including one who grew up in Holland.  Most of us grew up on the east coast, though one of us is from Nebraska. Four of us are single; the rest are married.  When we started the book club, only two of us were single. We've shared our thoughts on books, but also on politics, social changes, and most importantly, our personal life challenges.

I joined this book club in September 2004.  We even had a rule back then: no hardcover book recommendations because, "They're too heavy to carry around."  I was so happy when Amazon introduced the Kindle.

So I host next.  I'm already nervous about what to serve.  If only Andy were for hire.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

lost font

I lose a lot of things, some more memorable than others.

I still miss my  long, Calvin Klein pale yellow raincoat. I was living in Chicago then, and the purchase was a splurge.  But oh did I love that coat.  And then one day it was gone.  I think I may have left it on an plane, or at an airport, but I'm not sure.  I still remember the clean lines of the coat, its great color, and how special I felt every time I put it on.  I think it was more than a year before I gave up thinking it might magically reappear.

More recently I mourned the loss of a my favorite S. T. Dupont ballpoint pen that I got when I worked at Gillette in the early 80's.  At the time, Gillette owned this luxury pen maker and employees were able to buy rejected pens that sell for over $300 for $35.  I never let this pen outside the house, and was amazingly able to hold on to it for over 30 years.  Then, a few months ago, it disappeared. I have searched every coat pocket, every bag, and every drawer.  I still believe it will one day just show up.

I have lost plenty of Metrocard cards.


Surprisingly, never a wallet, at least none I can remember.


A bike once.  In college, I left my green Schwinn on my boyfriend's porch and in the morning it was gone.  But I suppose that falls more in the category of stolen than lost.

Debit cards.

Credit cards.  I have had many Amex cars Fed Expressed to my house.  They were never stolen, just lost.

And then there was my Toyota Corolla in Boston. M and I went to get my car one night and it was gone.  Turns out I had accidentally parked in a neighbor's space instead of my own, so he had me towed.  M and I ended up at a towing lot at midnight.  But I guess that doesn't really fit the category of lost, just temporarily misplaced.

I've left packages on subways and buses, and have gotten home absent the thing I just bought.

I've lost single earrings.

Phone.  Never lost that.  

But in all my many years of losing things, never have I lost a font.  That is, until, now.

Somehow, Century Gothic is no longer part of my Font Book.  

This discovery comes after hours and hours on the phone with a great senior tech guy named Andrew from Apple.  "How did I lose a font?" I ask, totally bewildered by this unforeseen conclusion as to why I can't send emails any more in my favorite default font.

"I have no idea, but it's gone."  The only solution Andrew can offer is reinstalling my Operating System. Much as I love my font, it's not worth that

So I'm going to have to live without Century Gothic.  I am substituting with Avenir Next, but it just doesn't feel right.  It doesn't have that rounded, familiar, comfortable look.

Maybe I'll get used to my new default font.  But in the meantime, if you find my Century Gothic, please let me know.  I miss it.