Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Excuse Me? . . .

I had to run to the bank today, so I stepped out during my lunch break. It’s fabulous outside, perfect Fall weather. Overcast, cool, but not windy and frigid. I walked past the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons on 77th Street and continued on to Broadway dodging taxis, barricades, and construction areas. This part of town is nice to walk around, since there usually aren’t many tourists.

The bank didn’t take much of my time, so I thought I’d stop off at Fairway and grab a salad. I crossed the street, dodged through the pedestrian traffic and abruptly stopped when I caught sight of the swarm of people attempting to get inside. Um, perhaps the day before Thanksgiving wasn’t the best day to hop inside a grocery store to grab something to eat.

I stepped to the curb and looked across the street. Starbucks? Yeah, I guess they’d do.

I eyed the offerings in the deli section of Starbucks and decided to grab the Avocado Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread since I love avocado. (FYI-it wasn’t that great.)

I stepped to the counter and handed over the sandwich to the young girl standing behind the counter. “Anything else?” she asked.

On the spur of the moment I decided to get a drink, “A tall vanilla crème, no foam please.” I smiled.

“No foam. Whip?” She said back.

Whip? Oh, “Yes, whipped cream please.”

She punched a few things in on the screen in front of her, then held up a shiny red bag. “Are you interested in picking up a pound of our Christmas-“

“I don’t drink coffee.” I smiled politely, she looked at me like I had just grown another head. Yes I know I was in place that was built and marketed around coffee, but hello, I just ordered a cup of steamed milk. You’d think that if I liked coffee I would have ordered it.

“Does anyone in your family drink-“

“I’m single.” I was starting to feel like I was on the phone with my credit card company, you know, when they try to sell you all those security bells and whistles on your card for only $872/month.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” she said.

I couldn’t believe it. My Thanksgiving plans (or lack thereof) were none of her concern. My eyes swiveled between the number displayed on the register and the pointed eyes demanding an answer. $9.XX? Was that the right amount? I mumbled something about double checking the price wondering if she had charged me for a Grande, after a glance at plastic container I remembered the sandwich was $6.25. So yeah, the amount was about right. I handed over my debit card.

She swiped it, then leaned forward and asked pointedly, “So, do you have plans for Thanksgiving?” I just stood there, flabbergasted.

“Excuse me, but can I just have my receipt?” I pointed at my card and the paper she had clutched in her hand.

She shoved them forward. I said, “Thanks,” spun on my heel, and walked away.

I suppose you had to be there, but I was so taken back by her reaction to me not wanting to buy a stupid bag of Starbuck’s Christmas Coffee Grounds, that I was furious for about 15 minutes.

Fern (not her real name) thinks I should have leaned right back toward her and said, “Why yes, I do have plans. I’m working at the soup kitchen, would you like to donate several bags?” (Fern works at the soup kitchen all the time, and so the quip came readily to her mind.)

The Starbuck cashier’s lack of tact coupled with the vibe that I got from her implying that it was not okay to be single is what set me over the edge. That she did it so vindictively and pushily left thinking, “Excuse me?”


FYI: I do have plans for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Snow

Snowflake, originally uploaded by JJSchad.

I'm happy to announce that I saw snow this morning on my way to work, yes, I'm talking about those white little flurries that float through the air before dying a miserable death by melting.

Anyway, NYC's first snow of the season last year came in February. So I'm thinking that since I've sighted snow already, and it's only November, that we might actually have a winter this year. What do you think?


Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter's Eve, at lincoln square

Guess where I'm going to be on Nov. 26th?

"The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District and presenting sponsor Time Warner will host the 8th Annual Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square, New York City's largest holiday festival featuring free entertainment, family fun, food tastings, in-store activities and shopping around and about this colorful and vibrant neighborhood... all following the Lincoln Center Holiday Tree lighting ceremony at 5:30pm!

On Winter's Eve, stores, restaurants, cultural organizations and public spaces in the district will be buzzing with activities for both children and adults. At the same time, sidewalks along Broadway from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street will be alive with performers, street musicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers and more, making for a festive fun-filled stroll through the streets of this dynamic Upper West Side neighborhood.

WHEN: Monday, November 26, 2007, 5:30 PM – Lincoln Center Holiday Tree Lighting, 6:00 PM – Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square

WHERE: From Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street along and around Broadway and Columbus Avenue.

BY SUBWAY: Take the 1, A, B, C, or D train to 59th Street & Columbus Circle or the 1 train to 66th Street and Broadway.


Hotel Cleanliness, not cool

This comes to you as a public service announcement for those of you who travel.

Atlanta's Fox News ITEAM reported that out of the 5 hotels they secretly investigated (four of them randomly chosen) all five failed to replace the glasses in individual rooms with fresh ones when cleaning the rooms.

The common procedure they found? Rinse them out and put them back. One housekeeping lady even cleaned the toilet and then with the same rubber glove on proceeded to rinse out the drinking glasses before putting them back.

The health expert they interviewed said the unwashed glasses could transmit diseases including flesh eating bacteria. I haven't been able to stop thinking about those video clips since watching them, and I'm worried about all the unwary travelers out there. So I'm spreading the word, consider yourself warned.

Read about it here, here, and here.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find an archived copy of the video clips online, perhaps FOX will re-post them at some point.

What to do?

BYOG -- (Bring Your Own Glass)

Happy Day, guess what I found?

Last night as I was hunting for my "lost" phone, guess what I found?

Yep, you're right. I'm looking forward to many restfull nights coming soon. :)


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Annee, things i remember about her

As some of you may know, my little sister Anneliese Bitter Wood (known as Annee, pronounced Ah-knee) passed away two years ago today from liver cancer. As November 8th approached, I've wondered what to do.

You see I don't want to forget her, nor do I want to let the day pass by without thinking of her, speaking of her, or remembering her. But how to do so? What's appropriate? And so for months I've pondered what to do, and finally two days ago I realized what I want this day to be, a day of remembrance, of celebration, of making note of what she did and who she is. A positive remembrance of her life, from those of us who love her.

So without further ado, I'll commence.

I remember Annee loved bananas. As a little girl, she downed them like they were water and she was a sponge. She was strong and stocky, and had biceps of steel. We used to hang her from the fireplace mantel to entertain ourselves and unsuspecting guests and friends.

She would dress up as wonder woman all the time, and wore the Halloween costume year round until she couldn't fit in it anymore.

I'll post a photo here of her and her wonder woman costume later tonight.

She wanted to be a percussionist in high school, but in 7th grade she had to start on a wind instrument first, so she played the trombone like Grandma Bitter. The next year she transferred over to the drums and played until she was in high school. She loved the drum core and had a blast.

She played soccer and was good at it. As a freshman in high school she made the varsity team and played for a few years. In the off seasons, she played tennis and softball. Needless to say, in high school, quads of steel joined her biceps, and her stocky frame became slim.

She took photography in high school and was on the year book staff. She fell in love with the art of taking photos and was the official family photographer.

She took German instead of French like me...I'm still not quite sure what to think of this. I must not have brain-washed her as successfully as I did Michael boy and Natter-B.

After we'd go to movies, she never ceased to amaze me when she'd start quoting all the funny lines as we'd walked out of the theater. She was a funny girl. Her favorite quotes came from The Three Amigos and episodes of Brach. And of course I can’t let this paragraph end without mentioning the scene she used to act out from Star Wars that never ceased to make me laugh. "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You're My Only Hope." We spent an enjoyable afternoon once with her dressed up as Princess Leia, dishtowel draped around her for a skirt, hair wrapped up in buns, and trash can on her (which I can’t possibly remember what she did with).

She was often like that, dressing up in character before descending on us unannounced in full character as she quoted from her favorite movies. Oh she was a funny girl!

Annee was popular all throughout school, not because she was “rich” (we were poor) or was "cool", but because she genuinely cared about people and was a happy-fun person to be around. She stayed close to friends she had from elementary school on up through college because the relationships she formed were genuine and people knew it.

She fell in love and married a guy that was perfect for her in every way, even though he wasn't her "type". At first they were just acquaintances, but friendship grew to admiration, which in turn developed into a deep abiding love, and respect for the quiet gentle man who won her heart. Theirs was a happy marriage, one built on respect and love for each other, their disagreements were just that, disagreements. Arguments were tame and thoughtful.

Something she used to say about marriage was, "Start as you mean to go on." That you build patterns even in the beginning stages of a relationship, and that it's easier to uproot a pattern or path and re-lay it than to combat years of misunderstandings, bad patterns, and miscommunication.

Annee delighted in finding a steal on the bargain racks, and was crafty and artsy, but in an elegant and hip way.

She was smart. She earned fabulous grades in school (Summa Cum Laude in High School and Magna Cum Laude in college), received her Associates in 1 1/2 years, and her bachelor's in 1 1/2. Annee and I graduated with our bachelor's at the same time (despite a four year age gap). Two years later, she received a Master's in Social Work, and a couple days before graduation gave birth to her darling little girl Alli.

Two months later she was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. No, she never drank alcohol. Yes, 90 year olds usually get this disease. She was 22.

She was always nice to me, and I knew that no matter how silly or stupid my problems were, she was there to listen. She genuinely cared, as was part of her charm.

She looked forward to being a mother, and absolutely loved her little girl Alli during the first two years of Alli’s life. Annee and her husband called Alli their little angel, because she was a sweet-tempered girl, which was a tremendous blessing as Annee struggled through bouts of chemo, pain, and sleepless nights.

She was a woman of faith, who was an example of patience as she fought to the end. She loved our Father in Heaven and would often turn to the scriptures and to Him in prayer seeking comfort and peace.

I know she still lives and watches down on us.

For those of you who knew Annee, what do you remember about her?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Skiing, at age two-and-three-quarters

I've been tagged by Kitty over at NY Portraits, and instead of doing the meme, this time I'll post a picture from my childhood. :)

This is my family when I was little. Yes, that's me in the green.

Yes, I started skiing when I was just a few months shy of my third birthday.

Dec 1979

Here's the original

Dec 1979 original

I have fond memories of piling into the family car with my dad and sisters, heading up the mountain to hit the slopes, with Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" blasting from the car stereo. We lived on the benches of the Wasatch Mountains and were just 15-20 minutes away from a handful of major ski resorts. Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird. Needless to say, we went skiing often. We learned the basics on the bunny hill at Snowbird, then graduated to the more difficult runs dotted up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon.

While in elementary school we mostly haunted the slopes at Solitude. They were closest and the least expensive of the resorts up the canyon. I have many fond memories going through the tree runs off to the side of Sesame Street (one of their most popular green runs).

I once got stuck under a gigantic pine tree after spectacularly crashing while skiing through the Sesame Street tree runs. I landed with a thwack against the snowy ground then slid down toward a tree trunk. My body slanting down, head toward the trunk, with skis up toward the trail, I wasn't injured, but was stuck. Immobolized, I thought I was going to die a cold and lonely death before anyone ever found me (most likely during the spring thaw). I cried for what seemed like hours, and no one answered my pleas for help.

Here' a fine work of art that I labored over for hours, that might help you visualize my predicament.

After realizing neither my sisters nor some good Samaritan was going to save me, and that I probably wasn't going to die right away, I managed to pull myself out from the pit and skied on to find my sisters waiting at the end of the run. They weren't too concerned about my near brush with death, and so after a few brief moments of making sure I wasn't bleeding anywhere, we were off to the next run.

As I grew older, we frequented Alta (my favorite, challenging trails and no snow boarders) and Park City Mountain Resort.

Things I love about skiing: the crunch of snow beneath your boots or skis, crisp air, brisk breezes; the smell of grilled hamburgers and fries as you ski past the restaurants perched half-way up the mountain; the wind as it rushes past your face as you fly down the mountain and the rushing sound that fills your ears; the solitude and pervasive peace that claims you as you carve your way down a wide slope or narrow cat track, and how silence presses in when there are not many people on the slopes; the feeling of freedom; the fun camaraderie of friends and family as you try new tricks or trails; the accomplishment I feel when I'm practicing proper technique; or the happiness I feel when I get over my jitteryness from the first run of the season and finally feel comfortable flying down the slopes, knees bending, snow shushing, and muscle memory returning.

But before I get carried away, let me say that I'm a scaredie cat (spelling?) at heart, that I'd rather take a nice blue run over a couple of black diamonds any day. That I almost passed out (complete with tunnel vision, dizziness, and tears) while peering off a drop-off in a snow storm so bad you couldn't see 15 feet in front of you. What did I do? Why I sat down and scooted my way half-way down the hill on my rear-end (much to the chagrin of my brother who won't ever let me live that moment down). You see, I ruined the fresh powder for all those who came after me...

So there you have it, me and the slopes. Fond memories and good times, too bad childhood doesn't last forever.

Do you ski?