Monday, September 29, 2008

Rice to Riches

I haven't posted in a few days. The small things that I wanted to write about were put aside because of the bigger issues that have been consuming my thoughts for the last week. Most have been more personal and I don't want to get into them on here. I guess I'll see how the next few weeks play out and whether or not I want to write about it.

Last week, Nina and I decided that a girl's night was definitely in dire need. We had both had busy weeks and needed to relax. After I got off of work on Wednesday, I met Nina in soho. We walked a few blocks and decided to eat at a dimly lit pizza restaurant in little Italy. The vibe was wonderful; really great indie music mixed with fashionable New Yorkers, great lighting and the best thin-crust metropolitan pizza I've had since I've lived in the city. We talked about life and the little things that had been happening to us since we had seen eachother last. After finishing our gigantic pizza, we walked down the rainy streets over to a place called Rice to Riches. It is very well-branded store devoted entirely to rice pudding! They embrace the idea that it is terribly fattening for you, however, you mine as well enjoy yourself anyway! They had a ridiculous amount of flavors that you could top with cinnamon, nuts, fruit or chocolate chips. Nina and I decided to share a small graham cracker flavored pudding (which was GIGANTIC!)that had berries on top. Good god...it was delicious! I sat there thinking that, in essence, this is a restaurant entirely devoted to a product that people could absolutely care less about and any sane person would run as fast as they could away from rice pudding due to its fat content. Because it is branded SO well, however, rice pudding is now the coolest thing since Lindsay Lohan! This teeny restaurant was so busy with everyone from tall lanky models to business men and tourists who could barely speak english. The women who worked there seemed to be of European descent because of their thick accents however the design of the store felt very influenced by the clean and simple design of the asian-culture that has been developing restaurants like pink berry. I took a couple of pictures.





Yesterday, I woke up pretty late in the afternoon because I had trouble sleeping the night before. I met my friend Liz who is an apartment broker in Williamsburg to look at an apartment for Kate and I. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, so we left and grabbed a cup of coffee. She lives in the same building as my friend Chris, so on the way back I called him up and decided to hang out as his place for a bit. It's funny being in an apartment full of very vocal guys. It's such a different dynamic than living with girls. The three of them are constantly joking around, laughing, walking around without clothes on....it's pretty hilarious. We waited for Chris' roommates, Chris and Eric, to get ready and the four of us took the L train to the East Village to eat brunch at a little vegan restaurant that Chris #2 was really excited about. I ordered this delicious frittata that had olives and goat cheese inside of it with a side of really tasty home fries. Spending time with a group of guys made me realize that boys obsess over girls just as much (maybe more?) as girls obsess about guys. I think the preconception is that, as women, we are always nervous to be the ones to make the first move, be too expressive with our feelings at first, wait for THEM to make all of the decisions, etc. because we don't want to make them feel uncomfortable in any way. I, myself, never want to come off as too needy or dependent on someone so I tend to back off and let the guys do most of the work at first. I don't want them to get the wrong idea about me. But is that really the right approach? I think that the genders have become so uncommunicative with one another over time that we have developed all of these preconceptions that aren't really based on anything concrete! After hanging out with the guys yesterday, I realized that they worry about the same things girls worry about and if we all just vocalized it in the beginning stages of dating...life would be so much easier. At some point while we were eating, Chris was like "do you know what this is right now?" We all looked at him, "It's Seinfeld! We're the guys and she's Elaine!" It was really funny, but very true. I was the voice of the player from the other team. It was a good brunch.

So today has been really lazy so far. I slept in, cleaned my room up and have been sleeping on and off. I just need a day to relax after everything that's been happening in the last week. It's really amazing how huge of a toll external stress can take on your body and mental state. It is always a very gradual but slow buildup until BAM one day I just can't stop crying and feel awful. Luckily, I have such supportive a family. Without them knowing how I function and knowing how to calm me down and make me laugh, I'd have runny mascara on an hourly basis!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Run in with the feds...

Today was an interesting first day back to work after my two day-off stretch. It started off incredibly eventful.

My morning began like most other mornings. My alarm went off at seven and I re-set it like I always do to 8:30. I carefully and deliriously crawled off of my bed (which is lofted four feet off of the ground) and headed to the bathroom to wash my face. I finished getting ready and began my 10 minute walk toward the subway station. Lady luck was with me this morn because the trains were running back to back and I made it to Manhattan surprisingly early. I decided to treat myself to a mushroom and cheese omelet from Green Cafe (they've got this amazing $3.99 special. Two eggs any style, toast and a cup of joe) and got it to go so I could mangia and play around on the computer before I had to open the store. I walked up the street to the boutique, set my deliciously warm meal on the stoop and unlocked the gates. However, to my dismay, when I went to pull the chain to lift the gates to the storefront, it appeared to be stuck. The girls had accidentally forgotten to call me the night prior to let me know that the gate had broken when they were lowering it. There I stood, my steamy vanilla flavored coffee rapidly cooling in the crisp morning air, helpless. After repeated attempts to call our little handyman Louie (who was I kidding? it was 10am on a Tuesday), I decided to call a 24 hour locksmith. Two shoddy guys showed up and were able to get the gate working again in about 30 minutes. To be honest, if I had a ladder available, I could have probably fixed the gate too, and for FAR less money than these jerks charged us. They wanted almost $400 for resetting the chain on the track. I used my newly-gained New York "go-get'em" attitude and tried my hardest to talk the price down. Ultimately, they won the battle and I had to call corporate to cut them a check. UHG. To make matters worse, my omelet was cold by the time I was able to eat it.

One of my sales associates showed up a little while later and we got to work. We were really busy pretty early on for a Tuesday. P had some great sales in the morning and helped a little girl pick out an outfit for her 13th birthday. Holy $900 dollars later, the little curly blonde teen pranced out of our store with two pink shopping bags filled with a blue poofy dress, gold purse and a sparkly cardigan. Her parents looked proud. After talking with a long-winded 80's era fan of Betsey's for far longer than I politely should have, I found a moment to scurry out of the store so that I could run our deposits to the bank. I stood in line for a few moments and approached one of the tellers with three deposit envelopes. They usually scowl when they see me because they know I have a ton of pesky change and slips to turn in. Sandra, who had barely looked at me the entire time I was standing there, was down to my last deposit when she froze for a second, held up a $100 bill to the light and said, "This, my dear, is a counterfeit!" Everyone grew silent and two other tellers looked to her direction. "What?" I asked. "It's a counterfeit...a fake! Boy is it a good one, I almost missed it myself." The woman next to her jumped out of her rolling chair and leaned over the cubicle wall to get a glance at Mr. Ben Fake-lin. "Wait...how do you know? I mean, we marked it...the pen says it's real!" I exclaimed through the glass barrier. "The pens lie. This one is a good one," Sandra assured me. From that moment on, the bill was passed from teller to teller. Even the man standing to my right asked to hold it so he could see what a fake bill looked like! I couldn't believe it, I felt completely embarassed even though I had nothing to do with the mishap. I stood there desperately trying to avoid the stares of the many eyes standing in line behind me. Sandra confiscated the bill, filled out a ton of documentation and had me sign forms that were going to be sent to the federal reserve. She gave me the paperwork to send to our corporate office, and with that, I slumped away from the counter and hurried out of the building back to the store.

For the rest of the day, I became an ID super-freak! I was checking people's ID's like a madwoman and was getting everyone's information during each transaction for tracking records. I had found out where the counterfeit money had come from and simultaneously began a frivolous cleaning frenzy throughout the store. During one transaction, a woman from Brazil FREAKED out on me when I asked for identification. She started shouting at me that she would never shop at our store again and that it was against the law for me to ask to see her license. I was so frustrated from the prior events of the day that I looked at her directly and said something to the effect of, "I had to deal with someone using counterfeit money all morning ma'am, so this is for your own protection and it is part of our company policy!" I was proud of myself for backing up our policy but also frustrated that someone would yell at me for trying to protect them.

SO...That was my day. I told you that I'd promise you an interesting post...and there you go! I am SO happy this day is over. Hopefully I will awake tomorrow with a more positive work-day and find that my obsessive compulsive laundry-spree has disposed of all microscopic insects from my bedroom.

I hope everyone is doing well. Goodnight.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I may have been complaining about the last week being very slow at the store, but the last three days certainly made up for the loss we had in sales. It has just been non-stop busy since Thursday...but hey! I'm not complaining! Just thankgoodness that I have tomorrow and Monday off because I don't think I would have made it two more days at the store. I am so exhausted. Tomorrow I'm sure I will have more to say, but as of right now, my head is pounding and bed is calling my name. I just wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know that I'm alright. Expect an INCREDIBLE blog update tomorrow.

Night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whewww!

I just got home after going to Pilates class and running two miles at the gym. I always procrastinate going, but once I'm there I always feel a million times better when I leave. After a long day of work, I feel rejuvenated once I run my little heart out and sweat out the mental stress that accumulates within me during the day. I've decided that, instead of waking up early, it's easier for me to walk over there after work. I don't mind bringing my work-out clothes with me on the train if I'm able to get an extra hour of sleep in the mornings because of it. Whew! Comfy bed...here I come!

Sunday and Monday was the first two-day span I've had where I've had back-to-back days off since I've arrived in the city...and boy did it feel good!!! On Sunday, Chris and I went to McCarren Park. We laid out a blanket and ate bagels while watching hipsters place softball. It was awesome because at some point, there was an entire team of Orthodox Jews, dressed head to toe in white collared shirts and black slacks with suspenders, playing against a team of Mexican men. It was definitely a sight to see (and one that I'd never seen in Texas, that's for sure!) We sat there for many hours, people watched and relaxed in the sun.



A few hours later after our vegan bagels digested, we decided to get up and walk down 8th avenue to this random little park that they've converted an old loading dock out of. The views were beautiful, even with the overcast sky.





I couldn't believe this little spot was so close to where I live. I love the Bedford Avenue area. Although it's very trendy, it has a great vibe and is a lot of fun to walk around. There are so many interesting and varied people walking around. I can't wait to explore all of the little coffee shops and boutiques on that strip. My mission for next weekend is to walk around my area more and find some hang-out spots for those lonely nights when I'm craving something to do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spring Runway show 2008



The last three days have been an absolute whirlwind. I have so much to write, where do I start? I'll begin with Monday.

Monday I left superrrr early to meet Michelle from Dallas and Sharon from Toronto at their hotel on 34th and Lexington. I can't even explain how wonderful it was to see Michelle, I miss talking to her each day. She reminds me of being back in Austin. Sigh. The three of us hopped into a cab and drove out to the place where we were going to have our corporate meeting. The showroom was apparently insanely chaotic because of the runway show the next day so they set up a spot in an architectual firm that our VP of Retail's boyfriend owned. Ummmmmmmm it was GORGEOUS!!! They had a really long table set up for all of the area managers that was lined with bouquets of pink flowers and jars of candy beans, m&m's and red licorice. It was wonderful! It was a very open, bright space for us to have our meeting. The best part about it was this metal staircase that lead up to the roof of the building where they had set a large deck and chairs for the architects to hang out on during the day. It overlooked the Hudson river and you could see Martha Stuart's showroom right across the way.




We would go up there during little breaks to warm up in the sun and chit chat. The architect firm was a perfect example of a really motivating, enjoyable workspace. Natural sunlight, big windows, a place to wind down and relax...it was perfect design (it better have been...they're architects!)

Basically, Monday was one large meeting but we were able to get a TON covered. Around 4, we all headed down to SoHo to do a little competitive shopping and then we all met for dinner at this Thai Restaurant called Peep. It was fantastic, I completely stuffed myself. I wound up sitting next to our new VP of Retail and she kept eating calamari off of my plate. Talk about surreal! I kept giggling every time she'd reach over and steal another piece.

On Tuesday I woke up at a quarter to six again to head to Manhattan. Michelle, Sharon and I caught a cab over to the architectural firm for another meeting which lasted until about 1:00. They ordered vans to drive us to Bryant Park since it was raining. It wasn't just raining...there was a DOWNPOUR while we were sitting upstairs. I kept hoping it would blow over in time for us to go to the show and eventually it did. Luckily, my $7 umbrella came in handy!


(Michelle and I waiting to get into the van)

We drove in traffic for a good while and eventually made it to Bryant Park. This is my second time going to fashion week and I was feeling a little more confident since I knew what to expect. The photographers are always overwhelming! They were stalking Michelle and Sharon! Their outfits were amazzzzzzzing. You definitely feel like one of the cool folk' when you go to things like this. So many people are waiting outside desperate to go in, but we just flash our little pass and they let us right through. DEFINITELY cool.






(haha Kelly Osbourne was there! Too bad my camera hates things that move... it is so blurry!)



Eventually we got in and Michelle and I quickly ran up the stairs to find the best standing spot. Seating is usually reserved for people who are invited, press, celebrities, etc. I like standing because you can see the shoes...but when the guy sitting in front of us offered us the two seats next to him, Michelle and I jumped on that! We climbed over the chairs in our dresses and sparkly shoes and enjoyed the show while resting our feet. The clothes were absolutely amazing. Her things are really going back to ORIGINAL Betsey design. We talked about it for a very long time today at the showroom. They brought all of the pieces from the show out on rolling racks and we edited it down to things we thought were truly special and sellable in the retail stores. I feel really passionate about the approach they're taking with the line, they want to get back to basics and really focus on what makes Betsey Johnson different from other designers and how we can appeal to the entire market, not just prom girls. It is all veryyyyy exciting. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this company...and this week was so inspiring. I've been so caught up with trying to get the store on track and getting adjusted to New York. I put aside why I moved here in the first place --- for the FASHION!!

I'm waiting for the runway videos that I took on my camera to finish up loading on Youtube, but until then...here are some pictures that I took this morning in the showroom ;)


The Hallway leading to the showroom.





The pieces we edited down to production from the actual runway dresses.





EDIT!!! Here are the two videos I shot on my camera! One is of the opening of the show, Betsey and her grandchildren. The other is of the very end of the show!!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Whenever I'm walking around the city by myself (wait...when am I not walking around NYC by myself?!) I always wonder what the soundtrack to my life would be at that moment. Sadly, my mp3 player broke long ago so I can't necessarily hear music while pondering things like this. There are certain bands that I can correlate with different time periods in my life, however, without headphones and an ipod, I'm starting to associate city sounds with New York instead of actual music. I sit on the subway each morning and gaze at all of the people around me who are plugged into some kind of electrical device. Their ipods, iphones, dvd players, etc. Before I moved here I was constantly surrounded my music...at the gym, in my car, at my store, my mp3 player was always in my purse. However, I feel like I would be missing out on so much around me if I still had my headphones constantly in my ears. I really enjoy walking down my daily route to the subway each morning. I live in a Polish neighborhood and there are always locals hustling and bustling at 8 in the morning while they prepare their bodegas and corner shops for the day. I enjoy standing on the subway platforms listening for the faint sound of the train coming down the track. Even if you can't hear or see it at first, you can always tell when it is coming when the humid, stagnant, sticky air begins to move just the teeniest bit around you. It lifts up patches of peach fuzz that you might not have even known you had. I would totally miss out on the sound of commuters in taxis whizzing down the streets and the faint honking noises coming from blocks away. On a daily basis, I overhear random snippets of conversations that leave me wondering what kind of book I could write if I pieced together each remnant of these stories that pass me by while I walk.

This evening I walked down my little Brooklyn street after work alone in the dark with my umbrella while hurricane Hannah poured down above me. I listened to the water slosh underneath the cars and onto the sidewalks. Although my ballet flats squished as I walked from the rain water inside of them, I didn't mind the weather. I realized that being alone isn't so bad because I definitely wouldn't appreciate these tiny moments if my attention was focused elsewhere, whether it be on my ipod or the companionship of others.

Good pick-me-up from yesterday.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tough week.

For some reason this past week has been particularly overwhelming for me. I think, with August winding down and me finally moving into a more permanent apartment, the events that have happened in the last four weeks finally had a chance to catch up with me. I've spent a lot of time by myself, more than I have for quite some time. In some aspects it feels good to do things independently and reflect on my life a little bit while I'm at it. At the same time, I miss the companionship of my friends and little brother. It's like...you come home at the end of the day and you just don't know what to do with yourself. I feel restless. Upset. My nose won't stop running. A friend of mine suggested that I should take a class or something to try and meet people. That's definitely a possibility. Where do I even find out about something like that? Is it meeting people that is really my problem? I feel like I could entertain myself if I just knew where to go. This city is so large, I find myself wondering...where do I even start?!

I took the last three days off to wind down from the craziness of August. A friend of mine from high school was in town so I played tour guide, even though I had absolutely no idea where I was going. We took the F train to Coney Island yesterday. I was pretty shocked at how deserted it was, but it felt really inspiring to see a little piece of my mom's and grand parent's history. That was their playground back in the day.




The other night we ventured out to try to find a special place that Dennis showed me a few weeks ago. For some reason I feel such a huge connection to this spot. The view of the Manhattan skyline is gorgeous down at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It is a long boardwalk that overlooks the lower end of the city and at night it is a picture perfect place to be. I've never been so close to something so beautifully breathtaking. I wound up going back to that spot tonight by myself to snap a few more photos that didn't come out so well while I was there with Sean. It was difficult being there alone. Although there was a decent amount of people walking along the path, it was very quiet and the big city seemed at a standstill. The only thing you could hear were the cars whizzing by on the freeway below. Every time I turned around, there were couples holding hands and enjoying the romantic view together. Eeek. To say the least, it was emotional for me but I will continue to go back to that spot. For one reason or another, it's the one spot I don't mind being alone in.



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