Monday, November 26, 2012

Catching Up Still: Summer, Part 3. Maybe I Went to Hawaii By Myself. It's Fine.

So, I went on vacation by myself.  And loved it.   My cousin Allison lives in Hawaii with her family (so maybe that doesn't totally count in the "by myself" department, but I am trying to capitalize on my independent image).  Chris is stationed there with the Army; really rough life for them, I am sure.  Anyway, I took myself on a vacation after Crazy For You closed to visit family and see this strange land called Hawaii.

I might be in love.  Allison and I went on adventures while the kids were in school to Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head State Park.  We also visited different beaches by ourselves and with the whole family.  Allison, Chris and I went to dinner in Waikiki with some friends.  And we did a whole lot of good, high quality chatting, Riding family style.  Just a few pictures to send you on your way:

Allison and I in front of the USS Missouri

The USS Missouri is the last battleship ever built by the USA.

It is also the site of Japan's formal surrendur at the end of WW II.

USS Arizona Memorial.  Fallen ship, 1,177 fallen soldiers trapped inside.

Pearl Harbor.

I have never seen a working sub before, and so up close!

The neighborhood beach, no big deal.  With subs just passing by.

4 of the 5 munchkins I love so much.

Waimea Bay

Chris, Allison and I, soaking it up.  I needed some sun.  Still do.

Duke's in Waikiki

Just out driving on a Sunday afternoon...

The view from the top of Diamond Head.

I kind of love lighthouses.
Sandy Beach

Allison and I definitly took advantage of the kids being in school to have adventures.

Great people.  Great vacation.  Family is cool.



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Namesake? I think so.

So guess what?  My brother Mike and his wife Sarah had a baby girl last Monday.  She is so cute I can't even stand it.  However, they don't have a name for her yet.  What are they calling her in the meantime, you ask?

Little Red.

I am soooo taking that as a compliment.  Why not?

By the way, no matter what they end up naming Little Red, I am pretty sure this name is going to stick, and I feel great about it.

(I had to throw this one in of Sammy guarding his new little sister in her crib.  Those big brother protective instincts sure don't take long to kick in.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So, This Happened Last Night.

While at work, you know, selling merchandise at Evita, my friend and I were invited to the opening night party for the Broadway show A Christmas Story.  I thought, this is going to be interesting; an adventure, you know?  Especially since I was dressed for work, which is veeeerrrrryy casual.  Like, jeans and a Tshirt casual.  Even with that standard, I was pretty laid back in my appearance, more than I might be on another day.  But sure, I will go to a Broadway opening night party.  Is there food there?  Then YES.  I will go.

But, let me tell you what I was actually wearing.  First of all, my jeans had some chemical stains on them from the clean up in Rockaway last weekend.  Woopsie, kind of altered their appearance with that adventure, but no big deal, they are still presentable for work.  The stains are not that big....I was also wearing a hat, because yesterday was a hat day with the state my hair was in.  Included in my ensemble was a hoodie from one of my comfortable work out track suits.  Let's just say, I was wearing three different shade of blue, and dirty ugg boots, and my red Evita Tshirt. 

Rachel and I showed up, and of course, had to show the security our pass to get in, because we couldn't possibly BELONG there.  We walked in, and...we didn't belong there.  Everyone was dressed to the nines, even for an opening night party, from what I heard.  Great.  So, we were super under-dressed, and everyone else is super overdressed?  Fantastic.   We found our friend Brendan, and I proceeded to eat deep-fried mac and cheese (???) like it is going out of style, and make small talk with a drunk guy that Brendan had made friends with over the course of the evening.  You know, like you do. 

The best part for me?  The actual Tshirt I was wearing.  I couldn't have been wearing my cute "Livin' Evita Loca" black V-neck uniform Tshirt (Thank you, Ricky Martin).  No, I had to be wearing this one:


Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't wear show paraphernalia.  Let alone something that, taken out of context, is as pretentious as this one.  To be wearing it at a BROADWAY OPENING NIGHT PARTY was just too much for me.  But, I couldn't keep my hoodie on, because of the before-mentioned three different shades of blue, of which the hoodie was one shade.  (I mentioned I just thought I was going to work and back home last night, right?  Don't judge me.)  So I ended up turning my shirt inside out.  Which made it only a little bit better.

I think last night, I was as classy as I have ever been, which is saying a lot.  I am usually really classy.  ......    It was awkward and amazing, all at the same time. 

Or, maybe the best part for me was seeing this great girl that I graduated from BYU with.  It was nice to see her again, but I was just the tiniest bit concious of the fact that I was there in all my merchandising glory, and she was there as part of the cast....

Awkward and Amazing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Catching Up Still: My Cute Mom.

So, as I unpacked upon my arrival at my temporary place in New Jersey, I found this:

Just some love notes from my mom about how much they will miss me, how talented I am, and to keep the faith and stuff.  Just your sensible mom thing to do, I guess. :-)

I like her a little bit.

Catching Up Still: This Girl.

So on my way to New York on September 10th, I had a five hour layover in Charlotte.  Dave and Becca live there, and it happened to be Ainsley's 4th birthday, so Dave came and picked me up from the airport and I surprised the birthday girl and spent a nice morning with their family.  OK so, for part of it I was dozing on the couch since I had just gotten off of a red-eye, but...whatever.  It was great.

Total, utter, sleep deprivation.  But I sure love these kids.  And their parents.

Little Lucy.  Every time I hold her she starts crying.  ??
 And this girl, she seriously cracks me up.  I can't handle her.  As we were getting ready to go back to the airport, Ainsley throws on her purse and sunglasses and starts saying "I'm FABULOUS!"  I wanted to die.  She certainly is.

Need I remind you of her fabulous-ness a couple of months before?  My pleasure.

Happy Birthday, Ainsley-girl.  A couple of months late.  Stay classy.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Just a Little Bit O'Fall...

I love the fall.  So much.  Fall in New York is awesome.  So I wanted to share a few gems of some of my adventures...

I love reconnecting with old friends.  Karyn and Wade are two of those.  Laughing our guts out at a diner in the meat packing district was good for my soul.

Saturday brunch at Alice's Tea Cup.  Tea and scones, and a mug of hot chocolate that is bigger than Rachel's face?  Yes please.

Fall leaves.  FALL LEAVES!  And, fall leaves in Central Park!  I am obsessed, but that is another post.

My friend Kevin came into town, so we went into Chinatown in Brooklyn for some really good chinese food.  It was amazing, but I was a little concerned with some of the window shopping.

Don't worry.  Just giving my Crazy For You bag a shout out.
A few weeks ago we walked Highline Park, this awesome public space centered on an old elevated freight line.  It is now a beautiful park on the lower west side.  I was in heaven with the coming together of two totally different settings, urban architecture and peaceful walking paths and vegetatation.  All overlooking the Hudson.  Loved it.  Then we went to lunch at Max Brenner's, a chocolate restaurant that just happens to have really amazing food.  We all got a little excited about this huge chocolate bar.  $300.  No biggie.

A quiet night in with my great friend Jeff.  Just what we needed.
 And..Halloween.  Again, at Jeff's house, we made yummy soup, and friends came over and we just played and ate soup and candy.  My kind of Halloween. 

I kind of played a lot last month.  And I feel really good about it.  Have I told you I love New York in the last 5 minutes?  Oh.  I guess I just did.  In case you were wondering.

Hurricane Sandy, You Are NOT the One That I Want.

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy rolled through and made landfall in the New Jersey/New York region.  It was a huge mess.  We all expected our power to be out for a week or something, so everyone raided the stores in preparation.  Obviously, I followed suit.  How is it that impending power outages inspire you to make food purchases that you never would otherwise?  I mean, I bought Teddy Grahams, for crying out loud.  They are good and all, but I would never buy them.  It was like the need to buy food that didn't need to be cooked gave me license to buy some serious junk food.  Weird.

Monday, October 29th, I stayed home all day, and just listened to the wind and rain.  It was pretty insane, but we were totally fine; in fact, we didn't even lose power.  Truth be told, I was a little disappointed that nothing happened at all, not even for a few hours.  But I am more grateful than anything, especially after seeing what happened in other areas of New York, just a few miles away from me.  The destruction was incredible; people lost homes, some lost their lives, and even more people were evacuated and are still, two weeks later, just barely getting to go home.  And to what?  A damaged or destroyed home.  So many homeless from this disaster.  Really sad.  I have felt so helpless, up here in Harlem in my own little world, just fine.  The trains were down for a few days, so we really couldn't get anywhere.  So, my friends and I just laid low or spent time together, honestly.

I went out on a walk on Halloween morning, and found that the storm did not actually leave my neighborhood untouched.  But there was some great beauty to the receding storm as well.

St. Nicholas Park

This tree pulled up tons of sidewalk, and destroyed this car.  That is some strong wind.
St. Nicholas Park
Harlem Piers

Riverside Park
Kristin and Jeff on the train on the way to Brooklyn to catch our bus to Rockaway.
Today, I finally got to do something.  My stake was mobilized, and I went out with a bunch of other members, mostly single adults, to the Far Rockaway area of Queens, which was particularly hard-hit.   It was odd in a way,  at the beginning of our journey we had that little kid excitement of just going on a field trip.  But as soon as we got there, we saw the reality of what these people are facing. 

My team was sent to an area called Breezy Point.  We helped a man named Frank clean up his basement that had flooded from the storm surge.  We walked down into the abyss, and I couldn't believe what I was looking at.  Everything was destroyed in that room, and still wet, with standing water on the floor, after two weeks.  The water line was about 7 feet up on the wall.  There was nothing else to do but just get to work.  We cleaned out his basement, took the paneling off the wall, and also got rid of the sheet rock and insulation.  It was a huge job.  Frank had lived there for 40 years; he had grown up in that house.  There were 40 years of memories in that basement.  Frank is a writer.  The books I found!  So many books, and writings, of whose, I don't know.  I hope/think he had most of his work digitized by now, but still.  It broke my heart over and over again to find things and throw them away because they were in-salvageable.   Books and notebooks.  Encyclopedias (remember those??).  An old train set, probably from Frank's childhood.  Everything waterlogged, even the things that we could salvage.  His mother's china.  Really old, beautiful tea cups.  So much history.  I just couldn't believe it.

I wanted to take so many pictures because I was just in awe, but didn't because I thought that might seem a little insensitive.  But in the end, I got a few, with Frank's permission.  I also got a couple of shots of the neighborhood.  There was sand, just... everywhere.  Everywhere. 
Jamaica Bay, just over the rise.  The bay met the ocean on Oct. 29th. 
This was just on a break.  We weren't even done.
Our team with Frank and Mary.
I had many emotions very close to the surface all day.  Sadness, for Frank and his sister Mary, who was there, and for everyone who's lives were so affected by Sandy.  Humility, that I was so lucky when others weren't.  It didn't feel right.  Gratitude, for the privilege and ability to be there doing SOMETHING.  I have wanted to help since this happened, and have been frustrated and helpless.  It was so good to get in there and take some action.  And pride, that I belong to a church that knows how to mobilize its members in this way.  We can be part of the first response to an emergency, but we also are in it for the long haul.  I know we will continue to help.  I am just so proud to be a part of that.  This all sounds really pretentious, maybe.  But I really mean it.  I don't feel like I can adequately describe what this day has meant to me.

I was there with two friends who also sing, Jeff and Kristin.  Kristin had the idea to sing a song for Frank and Mary.  So the three of us sang "How Great Thou Art" for them, impromptu fashion.  I was so glad we did, and they both really liked it.  I think the Spirit was present, and it just felt good to leave them with one of my favorite hymns about Christ.  They are Catholic, so I am pretty sure they knew the song.  Probably a better option than "If You Could Hie to Kolob."  Probably.
Dirty and happy.  Rockin the Helping Hands vest.
It was a great way to spend my sabbath.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Judging from the amount that still needs to be done, I am sure I will get another opportunity.  Hopefully.