Scarlett’s Letter June 27, 2013

Not flying so high anymore!

I posted an article earlier today about my dreamy flight experience this morning, and was fairly confident my good flight karma would continue. In truth, it has, but with a few twists.

After deplaning from my dream flight in Los Angeles I spoke with the gate agent about my connecting flight, with another airline. Basically, in his words, he “thought” I could get there from where I was. Maybe. And he gave me a route to follow. I started on my way, and because my life is totally charmed, one of those nice people in the electric cars offered me a ride. I was in no particular hurry, but I’m not one to be rude and turn down an offer like that. He asked where I was going, I told him Terminal 4. When he squinted, I should have known I was in for an interesting experience. An inquisition, “where did you come from?” I felt like saying Mars, but I told him I just got of a United flight and needed to connect to an American Airlines flight. That seemed to satisfy him, except he couldn’t take me all the way to Terminal 4. He could take me to Delta in Terminal 5, but then I’d have to exit the airport and walk to Terminal 4. This is Los Angeles and I’m walking? No one walks anywhere in Los Angeles. Unless you need to go to Terminal 4. Apparently.

I followed directions and wound through a maze of deserted hallways and corridors, and encountered no other passengers, just airport employees. I eventually found my way outdoors. I turned left, as directed, and walked through the typical L.A. summer heat, much dryer than New York and New Jersey, but still hot. I made my way to Terminal 4 and went inside, I could not detect that any air conditioning was running. It was warm, I was warm, toting my big ol’ backpack and my sizable purse. I followed the signs to security, the “normal people” security line. No status with this airline. But apparently, “normal” people who fly American haven’t flown since before 9/11. They had NO IDEA what they were doing. Call me intolerant, but it drives us “road warriors” nuts. It’s not that they don’t know what to do, it’s that people just don’t pay attention. For the fifteen minutes we’re in line the TSA agents are repeating over and over and over, have your boarding pass and your ID out and available. They get up to the agent and exclaim, “I have to have my ID? You want me to take it out of the wallet?” Um. Yah. And clean your ears.

I made my way through security and began to follow the signs to my gate. The signs led this way, then that way, all the way to what appeared to be the end of the gates. There was an escalator down with a sign directing me to proceed. I did. Again, the gates ended and there was another hallway to a waiting room. A waiting room for a bus to the last few gates. The door was open and the heat was pouring in. I could feel my carefully straightened hair beginning to curl. I could feel my carefully applied makeup begin to shine. There was a small but ferocious woman guarding the door leading out to the tarmac. She suspiciously inspected everyone’s boarding pass and, when satisfied, directed passengers to sit and wait. I sat. I waited. A bus came and we were ordered to board. The bus was not air conditioned and had large windows. The sun reflecting off of the black tarmac radiated into the bus, making it even hotter. We drove, and drove, and drove. We drove past Terminal 4, Terminal 5, Terminal 6 and Terminal 7. We drove right past the plane I exited from not so very long ago, then turned. We waited for a large jet to pass, so as not to be squashed, and proceeded a little further, to the edge of the airport property, to a collection of temporary, portable, trailer/buildings, crudely constructed plywood corridors with plastic sheeting “windows” and cyclone fencing. Therein, more gates. I looked and looked and looked and finally found a sign for the last few gates, including mine, behind locked doors. On the door, a sign, stating the door would be opened forty-five minutes before departure and to wait nearby. There was exactly on purveyor of refreshments, a coffee shop serving Peet’s coffee. And beer. I had a beer.

I was finally allowed to proceed through the last door, to another temporary trailer/building where I could actually see my gate. And, a plane at my gate. For all the trouble of finding the gate, I was a little surprised the plane was on time, mechanically sound, appropriately staffed and allowed to depart on time. So, my good karma continued.

I made it to Sacramento a few minutes early and met my son. I had a very elaborate plan involving him in order to swap out the contents of my suitcases in preparation for my vacation in Alaska. He also had “the gift”, a very large, very crazily taped together box with my Sweetie’s birthday gift inside. Not something I wanted to, or even could haul all over the country, so he was employed, in exchange for food and gas, to deliver and carry said large box to the terminal for me. I checked in to my third airline for the day. With hours to spare, we decided to grab lunch and a beer in the airport, then head out for gas. The problem, though, was the heat. It was in the upper 90’s and my son’s car does not currently have functioning air conditioning. Just taking the shuttle to my car to swap out suitcase contents worked up a sweat, standing on the blacktop unpacking, repacking, repacking again. And I was still six pounds over the limit. The cost penalty was well worth it, I was not about to repack again. Whatever.

But, with the hot car and the hot day, I pretty much melted as we drove to the gas station and back. All I can think about is a nice cool shower. I pity the person sitting next to me on the plane. I feel like I smell like sweaty cattle.

My son dropped me at the curb and I made my way into the terminal and through security, for the third time today. I unloaded my stuff into the bins and was just unzipping my “scan safe” computer bag when I noticed my water bottle. My full water bottle. I’d decanted water into it earlier in the day and hadn’t finished it yet. Have you noticed, there is rarely a convenient place to dump water out of a reusable water bottle? I guess most folks just buy water in plastic bottles and can just toss them into the trash. I excused myself from line, shoeless, and stepped aside and chugged about sixteen ounces of water. Sort of reminded me of college except no one was chanting “chug chug chug!”

I got back in line and proceeded through security. I confirmed my gate on the display, even though my plane wasn’t due to board for a few hours. I figured I’d pass time at Vino Volo, cooling off with a flight of sparkling wine. As I headed in that direction I heard my name over the loudspeaker. I was to see an Alaska Airlines agent. I guarantee, when you hear your name over the loud speaker at an airport, it is not a good thing, it isn’t because you won the lottery.

I proceeded to the only Alaska gate where an agent was, and as I approached, the man was on the phone with someone, his voice distinctively the same one that paged me moments earlier. When he concluded his call, I identified myself and he informed me that my flight to Portland was going to be delayed nearly two hours. Of all my flights today, it was this flight I fretted over the most. I had a short connection timeframe and, truthfully, I’ve never, ever made it through Portland without some kind of delay or drama. With a two-hour delay departing from Sacramento, I would miss my connecting flight to Anchorage. Thank you, Alaska Airlines, for the awesome customer service, no, seriously, the gate agent had already booked me on an alternate flight though Seattle that would connect me to Anchorage a full half hour earlier than my original arrangement. So, again, not as planned, but still, good travel karma continues. My only concern, as I headed off for Vino Volo, the gate agent was on the phone with the luggage handlers and they only had one suitcase in the bay. Not mine. Not my two purple suitcases, not my big elaborately taped up birthday box, which I’d checked a full two and a half hours earlier. The gate agent said he’d confirm with me that they’d been found and rerouted, but when I returned to the gate after my bubbly, he was gone. Fingers crossed. I really need my eighty-six pounds of clothes and my Sweetie’s carefully wrapped birthday gift to arrive in Anchorage the same time I do.

So, as I sit on my flight to Seattle, destined to arrive early, and to the gate immediately next door to my Anchorage flight (definitely good air travel jou jou), it seems I have the travel gods on my side today, and whatever I’ve done to pay them homage, I must figure out and continue to do. Okay, so I spilled my red wine on the Seattle flight, and the flight attendant totally forgot about me and I had to hail her down to pour my wine, which I’d already paid for. That isn’t bad jou jou, right? It’s all good. It’s all good. One more flight. I will arrive in Anchorage at 12:45 AM Alaska time. I left Newark, New Jersey at 7:00 AM Eastern time. It has been a very long travel day. But it’s all good.

 

The gift. Do you think he'll be able to tell it's from me?!
The gift. Do you think he’ll be able to tell it’s from me?!
I have a theory that lots of sparkling wine creates good travel jou jou.
I have a theory that lots of sparkling wine creates good travel jou jou.

Buzzing Through the Friendly Skies

So far, this has been a long haul. I’ve been away from home for work for nearly two weeks, and more than two to go. I’ve been making noise about travel being taxing and tedious and tiring, but in the end, you know, and I know, I must like it or I wouldn’t continue doing it. I have plenty of other options, career-wise, but this is a great opportunity. For now.

Today is a big travel day; Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles in a single flight, then a short flight to Sacramento where, if the airline gods are working with me today, I will have enough of a layover to meet my son, pick up an item I left with him for the next leg of the journey, re-pack my suitcase from the trunk of my car in the economy lot, perhaps have some lunch, maybe even a beer. Then I’m on another plan for Portland, Oregon and, eventually, Anchorage, Alaska. It looks like about six thousand miles and I will have been awaking and in some sort of motion for over twenty-four hours.

In my conversations with people over the course of this trip, and there have been many, because I’m chatty, like that, I have heard nothing but complaints about air travel. The delays, the cancellations, weather woes, airline woes, luggage woes. Road warriors love to compare notes on airlines and travel trauma. I have commiserated a little, I do have my share of stories. And as this day approached, I tried not to worry. The weather forecast for Newark predicted thunderstorms up until about the time I was to board my flight, which would be a valid reason for a weather delay, throwing the first of four flights into a figurative tailspin. I don’t usually like coast to coast flights, I prefer a stop in the middle, O’Hare or Denver, perhaps Houston, where I can get off the damn plane and stretch my legs, use a bathroom I can turn around in, drink a mimosa with my breakfast, etc. But, with so much riding on good connections today, I figured I could endure a six-hour flight to make it across the country without the chance of a weather delay or mechanical complication in the mid-west. Oh, coach, or even “economy plus” for six hours is a stretch – not.

As the week wore on, I kept hoping to see the “complimentary upgrade notice” arrive in my email inbox from United. It usually arrives a day or two before my flight and is almost like winning the lottery. I spoke with some of my co-workers earlier this week and they all mentioned they just weren’t getting as many upgrades as they used to, and, believe it or not, they have even more annual miles than I do (they vacation abroad, I don’t. Yet.). On my trip east a couple of weeks ago, I got upgraded on three of three flights with United, my airline of choice. Okay, so they were red-eyes, but it was much appreciated and Scarlett misbehaved with free red wine from coast to coast. Today, a weekday, hence a business travel day, I figured I wouldn’t stand a chance. And, I never did receive my “complimentary upgrade notice”. I was doomed to fly economy plus for six hours. However, when I checked on some details with my flight on the United iPhone App last night, I noticed a little green checkmark in the lower right hand corner of the screen, it read “upgrade processed”. I DID get a first class upgrade, for free! Joy! I didn’t want to jinx anything by gloating on Facebook, so I just expressed my silent praise and gratitude and pushed that positive thought energy towards the weather gods. Who, apparently, got the message. I arrived at the airport under gray skies, but no rain, and the clouds were high. The predicted thunderstorms seemed either to not have materialized, were over with, or were yet to come.

With a long trip, and time to shop in New York, plus working with two different clients, teaching a total of six different classes, all requiring different training materials, and one class a considerable number of props, I was quite overburdened with stuff. Stuff that would not fit into the two suitcases I brought. I considered shipping some stuff home U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate (love), but didn’t have time, or the energy, to hunt down such amenities in New Jersey where just getting gas is a major fiasco. In New Jersey, you can’t pump your own gas and must wait for the single attendant who is servicing twenty cars on no less than five islands, then warily hand him your American Express card while you eye the prison tattoos on his neck. My solution to the excess crap; buy another suitcase and pay to check the third. I don’t do carry on, plus I already have my fifty pound laptop bag with two laptops, Kindle, iPad, nuvi navigator, digital camera, helmet camera and all the peripheral cords and cables necessary for sustained operation of said devices, and my purse, also stuffed to capacity with all required to travel the six thousand miles and survive without home/hotel amenities for over twenty four hours and manage to meet my boyfriend at the final destination looking smashing. A third checked bag was a necessity, and could, actually, be expensed as part of my trip. I found a small suitcase at Target in Jersey, one of the Brunswicks, I think. I hit them all by golly, South Brunswick, North, New, Old, First, Last, Middle, Forgotten, Unknown, and one named Charles, maybe, I think, or not. If it was a Brunswick and it was in Jersey, I drove through it yesterday. I paid an extra ten bucks for a suitcase that had four “spinner” wheels, I consider that a requirement, I don’t do a tip and tote, you can’t slalom with them like you can with the spinner wheels. Can you imagine three roller bags, and the backpack and purse as described above? I must have looked like a circus act, or a very well accessorized gypsy. I somehow managed to get all of this luggage to my room, in two trips from the rental car, then stayed up until 1:00 AM packing everything very strategically. Sometimes my tendency to organize deprives me of life’s necessities, like sleep. My alarm went off at 3:30 and I was up, ready and trying to figure out how to get all that luggage, now heavily loaded down, downstairs to catch the shuttle to the terminal, in one trip. Somehow I managed, and even got it all to the terminal and to the “priority” check in line. My first class upgrade also got me my third bag free! And no thunderstorms, yet.

When I reached security, I was directed to the “Premier” line, which is cool, and, frankly, expected. When I got to the premier line I was directed to another line. I found myself in a security screening line where you don’t have to take your shoes off, you don’t have to remove your laptop from your bag, you don’t have to remove your cardigan. You just throw your crap on the conveyor and stroll through the “old-fashioned” X-Ray machine. I didn’t know this until I was half stripped and I was told to put my shoes back on and put my computer back into my bag. Right?

I found Vino Volo closed, so my dream of a mimosa before the flight was squelched. I got a coffee at McDonalds and went to my gate to wait for boarding. As I waited, I received an email from United stating there were likely to be delays in the northeast due to extreme weather. I glanced out the window, my plane was where it should be and the clouds, though gray, and moving in the wind, were still pretty high and not too dark. Weather gods? Work with me.

Boarding time came and went without a hitch and here I sit, in first class, and in my preferred aisle seat, no less. I was handed a menu, and actual paper menu, by the flight attendant. They didn’t have those last week. Last week, on my longest flight between San Francisco and Chicago, where breakfast was offered in first class, our flight attendant, who had the demeanor and hospitality of an army drill sergeant, brusquely listed the two choices off and you had roughly a half a second to state your decision both loudly and clearly before she walked away assuming you wished for nothing. This week, the flight attendants, in their new and updated uniforms (saw that in an email from United earlier this week, too) have been very gracious and hospitable.  I opened the menu and was reminded of a menu my dad took from one of his United flights to Chicago for a Schwinn Bicycle function back in the 1960’s. I always marveled at it when he brought it out to share, an actual menu with food choices and beverage choices, from an airline. Those were the days, when flying was a real treat. Today, it has become a necessity and is more like the Greyhound Bus. Until today. A paper menu, with choices for breakfast. And, much to my delight, on the drink menu, mimosas! I’ve had four. I’m a little embarrassed to ask for another, I think I can survive without. And I just was offered a snack, I chose the Toblerone chocolate. And this after my breakfast, which, by the way, was also much improved over last weeks. Same menu items, better prepared and much better presentation. Last week’s first class breakfast gave me a first class stomach ache, and all that goes with it, that lasted a full day. I swore I’d never eat that stuff again. But I did. Every bite. And it was so much better.

So here I sit, buzzing through the friendly skies, a couple more hours left in the first of four flights for the day, on three different airlines. I am loyal to United because of all the airlines, they’ve treated me the best. I know everyone has their own preference, for their own reasons, but I have always appreciated United for reasons I consider important; extra leg room between first class and coach for a small fee, or for free if you have status, free entertainment on many flights (used to be on all flights, but the merger with Continental has left some marks). I also appreciate being given the entire can of soda instead of twenty ice cubes and a splash, I can refill and enjoy the entire twelve ounces if I choose. All these little things add up and I feel like they’re really trying to earn my business; last week’s flight attendant and breakfast being the only recent exception.

I can only hope that all the good travel jou jou thus far today carries me through the remainder of my journey. I don’t really believe in “jinxing” things, but I did consider holding off on writing this article until I got where I needed to be, but then, I won’t have the time or the wherewithal to write. So, here I am, gloating, or tempting fate, but at least the longest leg of the journey has been champagne and chocolate infused!

A menu on an airplane! Just like the "old" days!
A menu on an airplane! Just like the “old” days!
A menu on an airplane! Just like the "old" days! Mimosas!
A menu on an airplane! Just like the “old” days! Mimosas!
A menu on an airplane! Just like the "old" days!
A menu on an airplane! Just like the “old” days!
First class breakfast, upgraded presentation.
First class breakfast, upgraded presentation.
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!
Mimosa!!

Making It Work

Break it down.

“Making it work”.

When you hear someone say, “making it work” we usually think they are trying to make something work that isn’t working; a relationship, a living situation, or a job, for example. It often has a bad connotation, like a last ditch effort to make something better before totally giving up on it. And no wonder. Break it down; making it work. If you look at in a literal sense it sounds like we are turning something that shouldn’t be work into work, we are making it into work.

When you hear people say they are struggling in a marriage or relationship, but they’re going to try to “make it work” we can be pretty certain the next time we speak to them they’ll be out of the relationship. The same is true when the phrase is applied to a living situation, a job, or some similar circumstance; it seems doomed to demise, eventually, and usually sooner than later. Is it because they are taking something less than perfect, something they desire to change, and rather than making it joy they are making it work?

Words, and their use, spoken and in thought, can be tricky. Remember Mother Teresa and her statement? She won’t go to an antiwar rally, but she’d be happy to attend a peace rally. Her belief that “fighting” against something only fortifies it through negative energy, but promoting something strengthens it through positive energy. What we think manifests. What we say manifests. So, if we are trying to improve something by “making it work”, we are making a chore, a task, or are making harder something that shouldn’t be. An interesting thought, don’t you think?

Break it down. We are struggling in some situation (pick one), and we decide to try to improve it. If we try to make it work, almost immediately our mood shifts and we begin treating the situation like Monday morning; with a bit of dread, a bit of trepidation, a melancholy feeling of loss over the joyous weekend that is now passed. We move a little more slowly, we procrastinate, we fail to find as much pleasure in whatever makes us feel this way and it further deteriorates. Seem logical? What if you approached it in a more positive mindset? I’m going to make it joyful! Whatever it is suddenly seems so much more appealing, so much more attractive. It feels more like a Friday, like something we want to embrace and savor and make last the whole weekend long. Am I right?

I had my annual review for work this evening. I won’t lie, my job is pretty taxing sometimes, usually when I’m sitting in an airport between flights, I’m tired and I just want to not have to carry all my stuff around, I just want to be vertical or horizontal, not bent in half, for an extended period of time, and preferably motionless, with my eyes closed and my mind quiet. Or when I’m setting an alarm for 6:00 AM Eastern time to get up for work when I “live” in the Pacific time zone. Traveling on weekends and working all week. Being away from home for a week, or two, or more. Living out of a suitcase. Waking up in a hotel room and having a really hard time remembering exactly where I am. But, I still love my job! Every day I work with clients I am enthusiastic, upbeat, I infuse fun and wit and humor into everything I do. The content I teach is dry, serious, and really, not much fun, we’re talking audit software, but I do my best to have fun and make fun, delivering it. I try to always be upbeat and energetic and enthusiastic when I’m working with my team on projects, it makes everyone happier, it makes the work easier, it brings joy, if to no one else, then to me. And for this, I am recognized and valued, by my clients, by my co-workers and by those who manage me. I bring joy to a job rather than “make it work”.

Part of the discussion this evening revolved around the rigors of travel. It is hard, no doubt. Some folks I work with get off the plane, go to the hotel, stay in the hotel, go to work, go back to the hotel, get on the plane and go home. They are just making it work. They are generally less joyful about their jobs and usually the first to complain about work. They make it work, though. When I travel for work, I seek out opportunities to see and do and experience and find joy. I take great pleasure in seeking out unique, local restaurants to dine in. I look for interesting local sites and attractions. Or, it may be as simple as my quest for a Whole Foods in every city I visit. I try to visit different Whole Foods Markets in larger metropolitan areas I visit regularly. I have an unofficial quest to visit every Whole Foods Market possible. I also love seeing professional sports stadiums in different cities, and I don’t even follow sports! I love university campuses, they are usually nice places to walk, have lovely gardens, lawns, trees and are festooned with art and sometimes, great architecture. Nothing major, nothing expensive, but definitely way better than the four walls of a generic, chain hotel room. You do realize that every hotel chain decorates with the same carpet, towels, bedding, and often, even wall hangings. Some hotel chains WILL actually put “local” scenes up for wall décor, but not all. So, the only way you can tell which city you’re in is Googling the art on the wall, That, my friend, is making it work.

The challenge, then, is to change our thought patterns, change our choice of words and watch our resulting attitude change. The next time you feel the need to “make something work”, stop yourself. Rephrase it. Make it joy, instead. Approach whatever task or situation ahead of you with joy and enthusiasm, with energy and the thought of opportunity, and I’m quite sure you’ll garner a better result. Whether your challenge is, indeed, a relationship that is faltering, a job that is tedious, a living situation that is strained, a lifestyle that is stagnant, health that is deteriorating, fitness that is languishing, or just a feeling that there must be something more, use a different tone of voice inside and out, select words that are more positive in your thoughts and in your speech and I’m sure you’ll find the outcome to be much easier and more rewarding than something that you turn into hard work.

Make it joy.

 

Making it joy, a week at work, strolling the streets in the evenings and finding begonias everywhere!
Making it joy, a week at work, strolling the streets in the evenings and finding begonias everywhere!

 

To Change or Not to Change

Life is never exactly the way we imagined it, sometimes things are better than we ever imagined, sometimes, they aren’t. We’ve chatted a bit about fear and we’ve chatted a bit about change. To recap, ditch fear, embrace change, it’s as simple as that. Okay, simply said, harder to employ.

The real question comes up when deciding if something in life that isn’t quite all we imagined should be changed, or just left alone, accepted “as is”, and a compromise made. There are many things in life, especially those things we yearn for, try really hard for, think about, work towards, envision, focus on, concentrate on and visualize, and when it comes to be, isn’t nearly what we envisioned or visualized. I think sometimes our imaginations are so good, the imagined outcome ends up being far superior to the real deal. So, when this happens, do we seek to change it? Or accept it for what it is? And if we do, is this a compromise? If we don’t accept it for what it is, are we ungrateful?

This dilemma can apply to very big things in life, and to very small matters. The point is, change is not always easy and we often accept less, compromise, because it is easier than shifting gears and initiating very necessary change. We are afraid of the amount of effort to change versus the actual reward.  Again, ditch fear, embrace change. Simpler to say, harder to employ.

A seemingly small change I’ve made recently, at least small to most, but huge for me; I have always hade love/hate relationships with purses. I buy a purse and think we’ll be together forever. A week later, I hate it and in “the pile” it goes. “The pile” has recently been pared down to two boxes, with the last move. Two boxes of beautiful purses I can make myself carry for a day or two because of the color, the pattern, the size or some other temporarily tolerable benefit. After a couple of days, back in the box it goes and out comes the ONE and only purse I have ever truly loved. If you’ve paid any attention to my pictures or videos, you’ve probably seen the ONE purse I have truly loved; my Kandee Johnson Imoshion bag in leopard print vegan material.

My leopard bag was designed by Kandee Johnson, a YouTube entertainer/mom/professional make up artist. She has incredible style, a ton of practicality, great fashion sense and knows how, exactly, a real purse should be designed. Imoshion approached Kandee and asked her to design the bag of her dreams and the result, my beloved purse. There was some minor hysteria over a contest to win one, then more hysteria over ordering from the first limited batch, then more hysteria over ordering one from the extended batch after the first batch sold out immediately. Through some hysterics of my own, and by employing every family member with internet acumen to attempt to obtain one online (the only way they could be purchased), I finally persevered, and only because I was willing to set my alarm at some unholy hour and attempt placing an online order when the web traffic was a bit more manageable. I’ve had my Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard bag for just over a year. I have never, ever, ever, ever, completely worn a purse out. Ever. Until now. It is, literally, in tatters.

To clarify, this is a very high quality bag, but, I am brutally punishing to any bag I carry, and one I carry day and night, on my business trips, crammed under airplane seat after airplane seat, set upon the floor in every imaginable condition, carried untold miles holding a MacBook, an iPad, a Kindle, two iPhones, make up, a leather jacket, a wallet, an umbrella, a cardigan, a water bottle, snackage, electrical cords for various devices and even, occasionally, a bottle of wine, and weighing in at probably well over thirty pounds, is bound to die an earlier death than a bag that sees only occasional, light duty use.

As I prepared for my month-long excursion from California to New York, to New Jersey and on to Alaska, I eyed my sorry leopard bag. When I left home just over a week ago, it had a tear in the bottom, the pink satin lining was peeking through a half-inch round hole. The lovely turquoise tassel is long gone, the cross-body shoulder strap still looks brand new, but comes unclipped at the most inopportune time, usually when burdened with the most weight imaginable. The zipper at the top is busted so the bag is always gaping wide open to display its contents. The leopard printed “vegan” material actually wore thin in several areas and looks blurred. The metal studs were vanishing at an alarming rate. I eyed my poor bag and wondered if a) it would survive one more very long, very hard trip and b) would I look like a homeless person carrying it, especially to and from the clients’ office? I ploughed through all my other bags and decided a trip without this purse would be intolerable.

I have been routinely checking in with Imoshion to see if they’d be stocking any more Kandee Johnson leopard print vegan material bags and I would have willingly bought one, two, three. In every color. Furthermore, I get so many compliments on this bag, I could easily have sold another 1,000 bags had they been available for sale! But, the website perpetually said “Out of Stock”. I finally emailed them from the website contact form and told them about my relationship with my bag. They kindly replied, suggesting I follow them on Facebook for upcoming news. I have followed Imoshion on Facebook since the prototype giveaway over a year ago. So, I set them as a favorite, now every little photo and blurb Imoshion makes about every OTHER product they carry, creates a notification on my iPhone, which, frankly, is driving me crazy. Crazier, even, because none of the notifications have anything at all to do with the availability of a replacement for my beloved bag.

This weekend, in New York, the half-inch hole in the bottom of the exterior of the purse finally wore through to the interior, making a “clear through” hole out of which my treasures could tumble. The leopard printed “vegan” finish was peeling off like a bad sunburn. The bag was, really, almost nauseating to look at. I checked the Imoshion website one more time. “Out of Stock”. I caved. I went to Fossil and plopped down three times what my Kandee Johnson bag cost for a new bag. And it was on sale. At first, I was thrilled, more because the color was amazing, and it was genuine leather (sorry vegans). Mostly, though, because the nice salesman at the Fifth Avenue Fossil store found a way to embellish my “tote” with the cute gold key that “only came on the purse”. So, my bag is unique compared to others “exactly” like it. He had nice eyes, too, for the record.

I’ve been carrying my new bag for just over twenty-four hours and it is a major adjustment. I have a “system” when I move into a new bag so it will be easy to find things, I will use the same pockets for the same things. Always. Once I’ve “set up” a new bag for the first time, everything has a place and everything is always in its place. I am not one of those women who can’t find things in my purse. Well, about 99% of the time, anyway. This is a huge adjustment for me. I can switch domiciles more easily than I moved out of my beloved leopard bag into my new Fossil bag. After the first trip down a NYC street with it, realizing I could no longer carry a MacBook, an iPad, a Kindle, two iPhones, my leather jacket, an umbrella, a cardigan, a full water bottle and all the things a purse is supposed to carry, I remarked to my daughter that I was going to hate the bag. Soon. Of course she laid “dibs” on it.

Today was the first day I carried it to work, and, well, it worked. I did get the cardigan in. And a small water bottle. When I walked into my hotel in New Jersey, though, and both the ladies at the front desk exclaimed excitedly over my bag, I fell a little in love with it. It garnered nearly as much attention as my leopard bag, which, by the way, I can’t bear to throw away. It is in a carrier bag, carefully tucked in my one of my overstuffed suitcases. I will take it home, I suppose, and decide upon an appropriate ceremony and internment for it. Sigh.

I know this seems like much ado over a handbag, but I suppose many of you just don’t understand the depth of the relationship I hold with such an item. We travel hundreds of thousands of miles together; it is, truly, the one constant in my life. Always there. My friends, my family, my possessions, are with me only here or there. My bag is with me at all times, never more than a few feet away. Change was very hard, and I am still a little uncertain, but, I’m afraid there is no going back, at this point.

So, what in your life, big or small, has deteriorated to the point where you really should consider making a change? There are other things in my life that are warranting similar consideration. Truthfully, there should always be a LIST of things in our lives that are up for consideration. A list of things far more serious than a handbag; career, living situation, relationships of all types, fitness, health, diet, spirituality, attitude, social life. To name a few. If any of these facets, or any other facets of your life are less than spectacular, aren’t measuring up, have finally worn through and become tattered, it is not only okay to consider change, it is acceptable to seek change. In fact, necessary is the more appropriate word.

We should not be settling for less when we know in our hearts, in our souls, and in the deepest corners of our minds, that we deserve more. Sure, the superficial voice may tell us we don’t, but our true voice knows better and should speak up. We deserve more. An unfulfilling career, a relationship that is one-sided or languishing, whether a union, a love affair, a friendship or a family tie, our broken health, diet or fitness habits, or whatever else in life that is sub-par, should be rectified, reevaluated, rejuvenated or sent off to the recycling pile and replaced. And, yes, some of these things are easier to change than others, but they should be changed and you should be initiating that change. You need to finally decide it’s time to get a new handbag, especially if the old one can’t be made whole. And, yes. It is scary!

You should have seen me yesterday, with the contents of my leopard bag spilled all over the hotel bed. The carcass of the leopard bag by my side, the hot pink satin lining visible from every open pouch and pocket, looking a lot like blood from many incisions, like after an autopsy. I sat there amidst piles of lip color and coin purses, wallets and device cords, hair ties, batteries, SD cards, various small personal electronic gadgets, an umbrella and a half dozen reusable Whole Foods shopping bags (the really good kind with the amazing prints that cost $4 and support a worthy cause and have a single cross-body strap). I was a little distraught; how was I going to fit this into my new large, more expensive, but somehow smaller and less capable bag? I would have to adapt. I have already begun. I actually felt quite a bit better carrying my new bag today; I felt that my image is improved for finally replacing my tattered bag with a new one. I had a little spring in my step today that wasn’t there yesterday, like I was saying, without words “look at me and my new bag!” It is going to work out and the change will have been the right decision.

What other scary changes need to be considered, and made, in order to move forward in better condition, in a better direction, with more confidence, with improved self-worth and self-esteem? What other scary decisions will leave you shaky and uncertain at first, but happy and whole, after a brief period of adjustment? You will never know the good that awaits unless you are willing to evaluate changes to that which you are carrying around, full of holes, worn bare and thin, weighting your down with excess and compromising your (self) image. What are you hanging on to that could be replaced with something more serviceable, more rewarding, more fulfilling? Only you know and only you can identify and initiate what needs to change, and I guarantee, no one is immune from having something in their life ripe for change. We just fail to see it, or fear the outcome. It is time to ditch fear and embrace change. You deserve it.

My beloved Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag all shiny and new.
My beloved Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag all shiny and new.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag out shopping with me.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag out shopping with me.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag. Tattered.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag. Tattered.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag; broken zipper, holes, studs missing, shoulder strap broken. Me sad.
My Kandee Johnson Imoshion leopard print vegan bag; broken zipper, holes, studs missing, shoulder strap broken. Me sad.
A change has been made. The new bag.
A change has been made. The new bag.

 

Scarlett’s Letter June 23, 2013

How in the world did it get to be June 23rd already? When I landed in New York City a week ago, it was as though an eternity stretched before me. A whole week in New York. Just like everything we look forward to for a very long time, the days elapsed oh so quickly.

I had a fantastic week, and this in spite of the fact that this was all for a work assignment. I did work very, very hard all week long, and have tomorrow left to work with this client, here in the city. But, I have also taken every opportunity to play very, very hard, too. I am so happy my daughter got to spend the whole week with me, and her hubby a few days, too. Living on separate coasts has been difficult, as we have always been extremely close. The distance and the time apart haven’t changed our relationship at all, we were able to pick up right where we left off, as fantastic friends, as mother/daughter, as two people with a great deal of passion for similar things.

Sometimes I think my daughter is actually a clone and not my daughter. Actually, we don’t look much alike at all, and yet, we constantly have people come up to us and tell us we look identical. I have an oval face, she has a round face, our noses are completely different, as are our mouths, our eye shape, and our brow. We have very similar mannerisms, though, and I think this is what people see. We react to things in a very similar fashion, often at the same time, usually at the same thing. Clothes and shoes, flowers, architecture, nature. We also share a passion for language, for expression and for the written and spoken word. We both seek to be understood and find writing an excellent vehicle for self-expression.

We both share a passion for life, for fun, for incorporating experiences into our ordinary day. We both share a desire and a passion for an extraordinary life. Here we are in New York City, together, for a week, and on a budget. We did splurge on one Broadway show and one museum (MOSex – the Museum of Sex), but other than that, we looked for ways to enjoy the city on a shoestring.

Mission accomplished. We took the (free) ferry to Staten Island and enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty. We visited as many parks in a day as we could from Battery Park to Central Park, using the Subway to get us from south to north. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. We took a million pictures of flowers (mostly begonias) and buildings. We shared meals at restaurants with different cuisines. On the night of the “super moon”, we sat in Central Park with our reusable water bottles filled with red wine and talked and talked and talked by the light of the moon. We ate cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches and other treats, then ran in Central Park on Saturday and Sunday mornings as penance.  We planned out silly videos to upload to Vine and YouTube. We decided to incorporate carousels into our sightseeing venue and rode Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn, the Central Park Carousel and the Bryant Park Carousel, all within a twenty-four hour period. We walked around town, from Brooklyn to Central Park on Saturday with mimosas in our “water” bottles. We stopped by Starbucks on Fifth Avenue, on our way to run in Central Park, early on Sunday morning. There, we bought our coffee, a croissant and a banana to share, and ate down the street, leaning against the building, in front of Tiffany & Company’s flagship store. Yes, we had breakfast at Tiffany’s, in honor of Audrey Hepburn and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, one of my daughter’s favorite actresses and movies.

My son and I share quality time together as adults, too. Our favorite thing to do is to set aside an evening one a month or so to try a new pub, or maybe a tacqueria. We sit down, more as friends than as mother and son, we enjoy a couple of interesting beers, a bite to eat and many stories. This is our time and we both look forward to it and cherish it.

The special time I spend with my kids as adults is reminiscent of things we did as kids were growing up. Just little things that made daily life interesting, special, unique. We added these little activities to our daily routine like a chef uses an uncommon spice, an unusual seasoning, a secret blend of herbs to make his/her dish extraordinary. We used to play a word game in the car on long drives called “My Little Green Martian”, we learned the game at Girl Scout camp one year and played it as a family for years to come. When my children were in elementary school, we lived in a suburb with an old “village”. In the village were the school, homes, a park, an old-fashioned hardware store, a coffee shop and a bakery. One memorable tradition we had was our Friday afternoon routine. I would walk over to meet the kids after school. We’d walk home together, stop at the bakery, buy a “hindber snitter” cookie which we’d enjoy in the park, then play on the swings and slides before heading home for the evening. This ritual cost me three dollars per week, twelve dollars a month, $144 a year. For the price of a few video games, or cable TV for a month, we shared valuable time together and created special childhood memories that will never, ever be forgotten.

It doesn’t take much, a little imagination, a little creativity. My kids remember those little things, and I’m betting my daughter and I won’t soon forget our shoestring adventures in New York City.

Couples, friends, brothers and sisters, anyone at all, can find ways to add a little spice to their daily lives and to their relationships. We don’t have to succumb to the monotonous routine of work, household chores, mundane meals, sleep, repeat. There is something we can do, every day even, to make life as memorable as “hindber snitters” and swings and slides in the park on Friday afternoons, as memorable as riding three carousels in New York City in twenty-four hours, as memorable as playing silly word games in the car on long drives. I even look for these opportunities for spice and style in my day when I travel alone.  Life is what you make it, lack of time, lack of money is no excuse. Your only limitation is your imagination and your desire to change life for the better, and both of those are easy to fix. Why would you choose not to change your life for the better?

 

Coffee on the church steps; a sin.
Coffee on the church steps; a sin.
Mimosas on the go.
Mimosas on the go.
Carousels!
Carousels!
Running in Central Park
Running in Central Park
The Great New York City Carousel Caper
The Great New York City Carousel Caper
Howling at the "Super Moon" in Central Park
Howling at the “Super Moon” in Central Park
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Begonias!
Begonias!

Whatever

I remember, a decade or so ago, when the saying “whatever” became popular. I remember, actually, being quite offended by the saying “whatever”. To me, at that point in time, “whatever” expressed an apathy, a lack of caring, it expressed complacency and all that I stood against. “Whatever”, I feared, was the attitude of an entire generation, and I envisioned a whole segment of society that refused to participate in the political process, who wouldn’t vote or contribute to society in a meaningful manner.

As time passed, I found that my fears were, as usual, unfounded. One of the many reasons I’ve decided to just give up fear altogether. The “whatever” generation is actually quite astute and participatory, contribute wholly, and, in all truthfulness, are probably more serious and less apathetic than my own generation.

Of course, I think as I’ve aged chronologically, I’ve actually become younger in many respects. I find that I identify socially, politically, physically, emotionally, spiritually and attitudinally with the “whatever” generation more than my own. Most of the people I find I have the most in common with are about ten to fifteen years younger than me. This I cannot explain other than I am about ten or fifteen years behind my peers, career-wise, partially because I took a bit longer to graduate from college than most, and partially because I compromised my career for a number of years to work part time while my kids were in school (no regrets). But, most of my career peers are significantly younger than me. Between that, and my physical, mental and emotional activity level, energy and enthusiasm, I think I’ve found the fountain of youth and have digressed a bit age-wise.

For whatever reason, I totally identify with the “whatever” generation now. The person I was a decade ago is long gone and has been replaced with a much more spontaneous, wild, fun, active, outgoing, liberated and moderate, “whatever” kind of girl.

As a matter of fact, I’ve found, recently, in the past year or two, the phrase “whatever” has become a mainstay in my vocabulary. I would give my former self hives with the frequency of the use of the term “whatever”. “Whatever” has become my response to many, many, many things. Tonight, I was crossing a busy New York City street, at a crosswalk, with the appropriate green light. A town car came around the corner, right in front of me, causing me to have to stop and wait for him to cross my path so as not to be struck. Rather than becoming indignant or angry, I just shrugged and said “whatever”.  My daughter was with me; she is an English major and is intelligent in every imaginable respect, a delight to converse with. She and I discussed the use of the phrase “whatever”; did it still, in today’s common usage, represent apathy and complacency, or has it evolved, as a saying, into something else? Upon reflection we both agreed that the phrase has evolved to mean, “I agree to disagree”, that I don’t agree, but I am choosing my battles and choose not to pursue an argument on this particular point. I guess, in legal terms, it would mean to plead no contest. I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to debate the point, I am willing to let it go.

In further reflection, I think I apply the phrase “whatever” to scenarios and situations beyond my control. I will admit, I am a bit of a control freak, I always have been, but I am recovering. In my effort to evolve into a more grounded, peaceful, happy person, I am learning that control must be relinquished in many areas in order to more effectively focus on others. My verbal acknowledgement of this fact is expressed as “whatever”. It is my white flag, waving in the face of my submission, my choice to not have to control over every aspect of my life and my surroundings. It is liberating to finally realize that I don’t have to be in control of everything, that I can’t possibly be in control of everything, that I can “go with the flow”. And, when the flow is going where I think it shouldn’t, I need to just let it go and adapt. So, whatever.

We just simply cannot possibly control everything in life we would like to. We can either drive ourselves crazy with frustration and unhappiness by trying, in vain, to do so, or we can learn to choose, to prioritize which things in life we can and should control, and which we should just let go of. We need to periodically reevaluate which things in life we choose to control, master and work towards, and which things can be left to follow a course not under our management. These become the “whatever’s” in our life. Once we identify and acknowledge those things we cannot or will not seek to control and let go, we have more energy and more impact on those things we can influence, on those things we choose to attempt to establish or maintain control over. It is one of the most liberating things we can do.

In m experience, and based on everything I’ve learned over the past several years, we can most effectively control a limited number of things; our personal attitude, our individual happiness, our individual health and fitness, and our suitability for a successful relationship. Everything else, and in particular, the attitude, happiness, health and fitness and suitability for a successful relationship of those around us, our significant others, our children, our friends, our parents, our acquaintances, are well beyond our control. To learn to say “whatever” and focus on ourselves is really, not just the best we can do, but the only thing we can do. Realizing this and then focusing on only those things we can influence, is really the most individually empowering action ever.

And so, I invite you, to just simply throw your hands up, smile a little, roll your eyes and exclaim “whatever!” The more attitude, the better.

Swinging. Boogers. Toilets. Sex.

I have been writing my whole life. Practically. I was first “published” when I was seven years old, in my elementary school’s creative writing collection. For the record, NOT every child in school was published, there was, indeed, a selection process, of some sort. The publication wasn’t too fancy, several pages, mimeographed (that probably dates me), stapled together and sent home to all the parents to enjoy. I’m hoping Mom hasn’t shredded it along with all the family photos and important letters in her last spree. The piece I wrote was on being Amish. I’m not, but at that point in my life, I thought it would be really cool because you could have lanterns and candles instead of boring old electric lights and you’d have to have horse drawn carts instead of boring old cars. In high school, again, I had two short stories published in the school’s creative writing journal. One was about not liking peas. I can’t remember the other, but I think it was even better than the “peas” one. Who knows? It, too, probably got shredded. I’m beginning to think Mom’s shredding is a subtle statement she is trying to make about my desire to be a writer.

I also love to write letters and was an avid pen pal for many years with dozens of pen pals from all over the globe. This hobby I continued for a decade, or more, until all of my pen pals ended up on Facebook and we already knew each other’s news and saw each other’s pictures before the snail mail even got posted.

I did write a novel once, about ten years ago. It was a “romance” type story, with an element of suspense. About four hundred fifty pages worth. I based part of it on some plausible but not yet developed technologies. Before working up the nerve to do the final edits and submit it to anyone who might be interested, the technology came to fruition and is actually, now, very common, sort of making the story ordinary. It needs a serious revision. So, in the meantime, I’ve lost the computer “the book” was on, or, at least the hard-drive. And the password to open it. It was a masterpiece, however, I assure you.

Blogging. I never imagined myself enjoying blogging nearly as much as I do. I didn’t think the shorter, less formal form was really my style. I was wrong, I find it liberating! I can use slang, and cuss, and employ all the quirky little run-ons and conjunction overuse I so enjoy in speech. I can write like I speak, with emphasis in unusual places, to add interest. I can use as many commas as I like! And exclamation points! I fucking love punctuation! I have a lot of ideas I want to write about, mostly on topics of “importance”; self-esteem, self-confidence, health, nutrition, success, fulfillment, spirituality, fitness, and relationships. I have learned a great deal about myself, about people, about personal growth and life in the past several years and I feel like I have information and methods that may help others overcome their personal struggles. I am passionate about these ideas. I like to add a little humor for levity and to prove that life really shouldn’t be all that serious. We should laugh. We should laugh everyday. We should laugh really hard, everyday. Life is too short to be so damned serious all the time. For these reasons, I will categorize my articles as “Life is Funny” and/or “Life is Serious”. I love it when life is seriously funny! That’s just the best.

The more articles I post, the more I learn about what people seem to enjoy, to prefer. When I write about more serious topics I usually get a few “likes” and maybe a “follow”, but no real “searches”. When I write something shocking I get a whole bunch of “likes” and several “follows”. When I look at the stats, the article that has more searches by keyword than any other ever I’ve written, is an article titled “Upside Down Pineapple”, which explores rumors revolving around swingers.  The longest comment I ever received was in response to an article on going commando. The most likes and follows I’ve had in response to any article, recently, were after I posted the one about boogers and toilets. It’s like we’re all a bunch of grade schoolers, laughing and snickering at dirty stories and potty talk. But, hey, whatever works.

I used to read posts on a blog called “Girl With a One Track Mind“. She wrote about her experiences with rather indiscriminate sex. She wrote fairly well and her content was quite interesting, but she got busy with other stuff and pretty much stopped posting to her blog. She was shocking, usually, but highly entertaining. I also follow certain YouTube channels, Jenna Marbles being one. She is funny and yet, often, has a worthy message. I think it is entirely possible to be funny, a little shocking and still relevant and worthwhile. This is something Scarlett strives for. I love to entertain people, I love to make people laugh, with my unique style of quirky humor and dorkiness. And yet, I really seek to be understood. I have a message, I have learned some very important lessons in life and want to share my experiences that others may benefit. To mix these into a medium is very challenging.

I do have a message I want to get out to the world. I really want to make a difference, in a serious way. And I still want to laugh, and make people laugh, too. There is a balance between silly, shocking and serious, and I feel like I am the epitome of that. I believe that is probably my message to the world above and beyond any other. Be silly, a little shocking, be serious, be everything, not one without the others, not one more than the others. Be seriously silly, be funny and fierce, have fun and be focused. So, what I’ve learned from the feedback and activity on my posts thus far is that I need to write serious shit and include references to sex, drinking, toilets, boogers and swinging in order to attract the largest audience, and to hopefully, make the positive mark on the world I seek to make.

 

 

Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC
Museum of Sex, NYC

Scarlett’s Letter June 20, 2013

Still in New York City! This is the longest NYC trip I’ve ever been scheduled for and I’m finding I STILL don’t have time to do everything I want to! Each and every time I come to New York, I discover new and amazing things, some of them so fantastic that I just HAVE to do, see, eat that same thing again. So, after several visits, you can imagine, my repeat list is growing to fill almost a week itself. To take in new sites and scenes and restaurants, to visit friends in the area AND revisit all my MUST DO AGAINs is getting a bit crazy and makes for a fairly frantic visit.

As a repeat visitor from afar, what are my MUST DO AGAINs? I always, always, always MUST have a meal at Serendipity3. I MUST go to Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake and I MUST have a few, very specific pieces of Jacques Torres chocolates. I am also drawn to Times Square like a moth to light. I just love the spectacle and the energy, I guess because I, myself, am energetic and often make a spectacle of myself. I am also quite likely to have Waffle and Dinges from a street vendor, preferably in the new and improved smaller size with Spekuloos atop. I am also a repeat offender at Dhaba Indian on Lexington. I am a big fan of Central Park and window-shopping on Fifth Avenue, I am a HUGE fan of Bryant Park. I like parks. Time permitting, I will often do a multi-park downtown to uptown subway trek; Battery Park, Union Square, Madison Square, Bryant Park and Central Park. I know there are many others, but these are each conveniently located by other traditional stops; Whole Foods and Eataly, for example. If I happen to have enough time on my hands, I will walk from park to park to park to park, finishing at Serendipity3 with my Magnolia Bakery cupcake in a box and a small bag of chocolates from Jacques Torres, which I take back to my hotel for later consumption. At Serendipity 3 I am focused on that Frrrrrozen Hot Chocolate after my meal, often my only dessert splurges of the week.

As I am not a trust fund baby, though I love Broadway shows, I usually only splurge on one show per year. Last night was my one; Mama Mia. Love it!!I have a compilation of ABBA songs whirling through my mind, from the time I lay my head on my pillow last night, all night while I tried to sleep, and even now. ABBA songs.

So far this week, I’ve done the park to park tour, with the exception of Central Park. My daughter and I plan to run there on Saturday morning, which will be a first! I’m looking forward to it, I just hope my feet aren’t worn out by then with standing to teach for eight plus hours a day for five consecutive days PLUS all the walking we’re doing in the evenings. I’m sure I’ll manage.  I’ve done the Broadway Show and Times Square. Tonight? Serendipity 3. Dhaba later this week. And window-shopping on Fifth.

I’ve thought of publishing a guide “Scarlett’s Whirlwind Tour of the MUST Dos in NYC”. But, I think New York City is to each visitor something different. We will all be drawn to different activities, different types of food and sites and scenes. And for all of us, there is plenty to keep us interested and entertained, no one guide could possibly satisfy all, most or even any other visitors. For those of you who have never experienced this place, might I suggest you add it to your bucket list? Whether you appreciate crowds or urban places or not, I think this city is something everyone should experience even if only once. There are as many quiet, serene areas as there are crowded, noisy and bustling places. There are places to walk, to ride, to run, to (urban) hike, even to fish. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, much like everything else in life, only limited by the limitations you have in mind.

I love NY!

Mama Mia!
Mama Mia!
Like a moth to light.
Like a moth to light.
Serendipity 3 Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate (and a hot fudge sundae)
Serendipity 3 Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate (and a hot fudge sundae)
From Roosevelt Island
From Roosevelt Island
The Tram to Roosevelt Island
The Tram to Roosevelt Island
Landmarks everywhere!
Landmarks everywhere!

Scarlett’s Letter June 18, 2013

Missed you! Sorry. First day of work in The City yesterday, followed by a big dinner out a friend from work, the sales rep for the client I’m working with this week. We brought our daughters and another company associate was there, too. We indulged in a New York City dinner like you only see on movies. Carbone; one of the newest, trendiest, hottest spots and somehow a reservation (an early one) was available. We had the best waiter imaginable and he looked like he could’ve stepped right out of “The Sopranos”. The food was incredible, and ordered family style, we got to share a bit (plenty) of everything. Too much to eat, too much to drink, too much fun! Just awesome!

We passed Bryant Park in the cab on the way back to the hotel last night and something exciting and loud was happening there. We changed clothes at the hotel and set out on foot. They were playing the movie “Tootsie” in the park, so we found a seat and watched the last bit of it. A perfect ending to a perfect evening. Not a night to be forgotten!

Another day with the client today and rain this evening. We are a bit tired from last night, and the day’s adventures; work for me, an extended walk in Central Park (not totally by design) by my daughter. Between the two of us, we have each seen many features in the park, and no two the same! We found a restaurant a couple of blocks down Third Avenue from our hotel and had a nice, quiet, moderately priced entrée, then returned to the hotel.

We had a “project” in mind and decided to get it crossed off our list this evening. Our room is on the sixth floor, the top floor, of this modest and very inexpensive, but nice little hotel. We’ve sworn to taking the stairs up and down and I have almost always done so. On my way back from work, after standing all day teaching, and lugging my computer backpack a few blocks back to the hotel, I have been sneaking in via elevator. Don’t tell my daughter.

We wanted to film a Vine (@BegoniaBegoniaS) of us taking the stairs, pausing at each floor for a look over the railing for the camera. Of course, our vision was much more difficult to capture via iPhone with the lighting available, so after a few attempts, and many, many, many trips up and down the stairs, we uploaded our six seconds of “Stairmaster”. Not a work of art, but at the very least, an evening of cheap entertainment in the Big Apple.

The rest of the week promises to be busy and eventful, so a quieter night, whilst rainy and hot out, is just fine. Time to catch up on a little of this and a little of that. Including sleep. And chocolate. And that wine I bought the other night.

An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
An evening at Carbone in West Village
"Tootsie" in Bryant Park
“Tootsie” in Bryant Park

Scarlett’s Letter June 16, 2013

I’ve made it to New York City and had a lovely time today sharing some of my favorite sites with my daughter who now lives in up state New York. She has joined me for the week. We’re going to have fun! When I’m not working. Which won’t give us much time, so we are cramming everything we can into every free moment we have. We are very well practiced at this.

We were on our way to dinner and I noticed a couple walking down the street. I pointed them out to my daughter. The woman was carrying her purse; the man was carrying his backpack, dragging a suitcase and carrying her enormous Vera Bradley duffel bag. At least I’m fairly certain it was the woman’s Vera Bradley duffel bag, I honestly don’t know many men that choose to carry Vera Bradley duffel bags. In public, unless it’s the wife’s/girlfriend’s/spousal equivalent’s. I see this all the time in my travels. Have you ever tried to carry a duffel bag with all the clothes, make up, shoes, straightening irons and everything else a woman likely to carry a Vera Bradley duffel bag would need to be as lovely as her luggage? It’s frickin’ heavy!

I will admit, I have entertained the idea of acquiring a Vera Bradley piece, or two, but I know for certain I don’t want anything that I have to carry over my shoulder. I already have a purse and a backpack.  I don’t want anything that doesn’t roll. The only luggage I will ever carry I will never actually carry, unless I’m in the backcountry, backpacking. I insist on luggage with caster-style wheels, that will roll in any direction, and four wheels, not just two, so I can push my luggage down narrow passages without having to tip it and drag it.  Or carry it. Second, I can’t imagine the lovely quilted fabric would hold up to the abuse I dish out for very long.

I bought the best purse (very large purse) a little over a year ago. It was designed by a mom who is also a make up artist and who travels a great deal. It is stylish, well thought out, extremely well constructed and absolutely adorable. I get compliments on it every single day. But, in spite of it’s high quality and excellent engineering, superior materials, construction and design, I have worn it out to the point that it is almost embarrassing to carry. And still I carry it. The company has stopped making them for the time being, but I’ve launched a very loud and consistent campaign for a new batch. My point is, if this well engineered, high quality, well constructed super bag is in tatters after sixteen months in my care, no quilted duffel bag or tote is ever going to hold up to the kind of travel and abuse I am responsible for.

I was sharing my thoughts on this with my daughter when we saw another couple walking down Third Avenue, the woman, who by the way, was wearing Under Armor, as in pretty BAMF workout clothes, carrying just her big purse. Her man was carrying his backpack and a Vera Bradley duffel bag. Two different couples within ten minutes, within two blocks! It is an epidemic!

I was nearly apoplectic! So was my daughter! I can’t imagine, and she agrees, ever, ever, ever asking my significant other to tote my stuff around because it’s more than I can handle. Now my gentleman, like my daughter’s hubby, will insist on helping, and sometimes we reluctantly agree, but we both believe that a woman should be responsible for, and capable of, managing her own stuff. If not, we are either packing too much, or we are weak. Perhaps it’s our independent nature, perhaps it’s our love of backpacking, where you could never, ever, every ask someone else to carry your stuff. You just man up and carry your pack! Okay, true, on more than one occasion we did offload an item or two from our pack into my son’s, but, by golly, we packed less the next time. And the stuff we offloaded was “community” stuff, like rainflies or a cook stove or water purifier, not our wardrobe and luxury items (luxury item, we allow ourselves only one when backpacking). And, women backpacking with men have a certain code of honor to maintain, we are already out to prove we can trek as well, as fast, and as strong as the guys, no way are we going to wimp out on carrying our own stuff.

The second thing, here, guys; when your girl begs for a Vera Bradley duffel bag for some gift-worthy occasion, buy jewelry instead. She will be delighted with jewelry, it will cost about the same, maybe even less, and you will never, ever, ever have to carry it. If she just HAS to HAVE Vera, buy a wallet instead and put the jewelry inside as the “big surprise”. Just don’t tell her I told you!

Vera Bradley Guy and Under Armor Girl. What's wrong with this picture?
Vera Bradley Guy and Under Armor Girl. What’s wrong with this picture?