Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Airport Etiquette

If I added up all the time I spent in airports, airplanes, terminals, gates, security lines, airport magazine stands and coffee shops, I would surely be a time millionaire. That said, this is a lifestyle I choose, so I can only complain but so much. However, is it too much to ask that the ticket agents come to work with a half smile on their faces and some pep in their goddamn step? I'm not even asking for a whole smile. Listen, I know working in customer service can suck at times. I have worked retail, I have waitressed and I have bartended. I'm sure in all those years, somewhere in there, I have had a bad day or ten, but I bet you I was never a witch to any of my customers bc of it. If I can suck it up, so can you, and if you can't I'm gonna need you to get a new job. Until that happens, I'm gonna need every airport employee who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or got in an argument with their significant other/teenage kid/mother-in-law/neighbor/dog/car/coffee maker, or just found out every person they ever said hello to is an incompetent ass, to get it together and put a half smile on their face and do their job, politely and efficiently. Please don't make me stand in line for 30 minutes, only to get to the front and hear you say "Oh, this is not the line for Detroit" and then point to the other line that just so happens to be about 40 feet long, bc trust, I will not be going to stand in it. Especially if the lines were not labeled in the first place, bc guess who wasn't doing their job?

On the flip side, airport personnel aren't the only ones holding things up. Is it too much to ask that everyone in the security line, who I'm sure has done this at least once before, do what they need to do quickly and efficiently, without making the security agent repeat him- or herself 57 times? How hard is it to take your shoes and jackets off, put them in a tray (or is it put the jacket in a tray but the shoes on the belt bc now, the new thing is that the shoes don't require a tray, but the jacket still does), take out your laptop without dropping it (which I've done) and put that in a tray, pile all your other crap on the belt, walk through the metal detector which beeps for all kinds of stuff but not the metal in your bra, so kudos to whichever genius thought of that. And by the way, I've gotten through security with a Swiss Army knife (it's my key chain) and more than 3oz of hair products on more than one occasion; does that make me a criminal? Maybe the security agent can tell me as soon as he/she is done droning on in a monotone about what goes in a tray, what goes on the belt, and how he/she won the argument with the coffee maker earlier this morning.

Last but not least, airplane passengers, can you please, for the love of everything and everyone up in heaven, but more importantly, for me and everyone else on the plane, can you please, please brush your teeth and wash your feet. On the first leg of my red-eye last night, the man next to me smelled like dirty bathroom and dirty dog. At the same time. My nostrils were so shocked they didn't know what the hell to do. They tried to run away but they really had nowhere to go. Every time he opened his mouth, all I could think was "Oh, my God, his breath smells like dog breath. Dog breath! Baaad dog breath. Good God, close your mouth!" Sleep finally took over, and hours later, on the 2nd leg of my flight, I was delighted to be treated to the smell of dirty feet. "OK," I thought, "this is just ridiculous. Is good hygiene just too much to ask for?"

Oh, and I did ask the steward to figure out who it was and kindly ask them to put there shoes back on, since my whole row was on the verge of throwing up. He smiled apologetically, then laughed nervously and said he couldn't do that. Sigh. Really? This is not where I was looking for the service with a smile to begin.

Wordless Wednesday: Heart

Milan, Italy - Nov 2009

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Picture Me This

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

Perfect Moment Monday this week comes in the form of realizing that I crossed something off my To-Do List that has been on there for... years. I recently registered for a photography class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and I'm pretty excited! I'll finally learn all the technical things I feel I need to know to take better photos. I've always loved photography and want to turn my hobby into a business, and this is another step in the right direction.

16: number of years I've been 'that girl' that always has a camera on-hand to capture all the important/candid moments
9: number of years I've wanted to take a photography class but was put off by the expense of the equipment
3: number of months it took me to decide if I was going Nikon or Canon
1: number of years I've owned a DSLR* and since I missed registration for the Fall 2009 photography class at FIT
6: number of weeks until my first class of Fall 2010!!

Look out for Wordless Wednesdays which will be coming to Living This Life soon!! Here's a photo of the Manhattan bridge I took last summer to start us off:

*a DSLR camera is a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera; in super layman's terms, it's one of those bigger, black ones with the interchangeable lenses you see hanging around people's necks more and more these days since they've become more affordable, and produce much better quality photos than your average point-and-shoots. For a much better comparison, check out this article from one of my favorite photography websites.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bikram Yog-uuugh!

Lately, I haven't done much working out, Ive been really stressed, and I have more knots in my body than a boy scout's practice rope, so I decide to take some yoga classes. I google the nearest studio and the only one that comes up is for Bikram Yoga, aka Hot Yoga, aka being in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) and 40% humidity. But I don't know all those details when I go to the torture chamber.

What I really want is a standard yoga class, not a hot one. I haven't practiced yoga regularly, but remember taking a few classes here and there and just being very relaxed afterwards. That's the feeling I want now. And I want those pesky knots to go away. Alas, I have no choice but to go to Bikram, bc I'm not traveling more than a few blocks for class, so it's that or nothing.

I make my way to the studio, and as soon as I find the entrance and peer up the stairs, I am accosted by the stench of incense that comes charging down at me. I'm already not looking forward to this, and the incense is the perfect, legitimate reason to go home, as it instantaneously gives me migraines. But I decide to woman up. It takes everything in me to suck it up and trudge up the stairs, but I do it. I get upstairs n it's not only smelly (incense and candles smelly, not sweaty smelly, oddly enough) but it's also really hot. Kinda like what 105° would feel like. Add that heat to the soaring temperatures of the 2nd heat wave of the summer that's going on outside, and we've got ourselves quite the combination.

A friendly lady talking to her coworker checks me in. She is dressed in a black athletic crop top and matching shorts, and she's sweating. Can't say I blame her. I am easily coerced into signing up for the intro week which is a 7-day unlimited pass; makes sense to buy since it only costs $20 ($2 more than a single class). The free towels they throw in for intro week don't hurt, either, as I'm soon to learn I'm really gonna need them. Angela - crop top chick - tells me I'm all set and sends me off with "OK, your goal for today is to stay inside the class". That's an odd and very small goal, I think to myself.

We all go to the heated room and wait for the instructor, who turns out to be Angela. Seeing her standing up, her body is to die for. Is Bikram how she got that body?? Sign me up for a yearly membership please! I'm taken away by thoughts of how much awesomer (yes, I make up words from time to time, and I just made that one up) my own body's gonna look in a month when my fantasies are interrupted by Angela saying something about "90 minutes" as she's closing all the windows, and then the door. It's pretty toasty in no time.

I'd like to say I whizzed through the class with flying colors. I'd like to say the heat didn't bother me, I knew all the poses, I didn't even need a sip of water, and I want to go back every day. The fact of the matter is, 5 minutes in, I am dying. I can't breathe, it's so damn hot in there its like the Sahara, and the air is ridiculously heavy with the recycled breath and sweat of 20 other people. There's this one chick in the front row (of course) who knows all the poses and then some, and I spend much of the class hating her.

Who exactly thought this hot yoga was a good idea? That would be one Bikram Choudhury. And which idiot thought they should partake in this in the middle of a NY heat wave?? That, my dears, would be me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Lost and... Found!

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I stand at the edge of the Atlantic. Most of the guys have run in already and are neck-deep. I hang back with a few of the girls and a couple of the men who haven't ventured in yet.

"Um, not happening. Mid-calf is deep enough for me. This water is freezing," I say matter-of-factly. "Hell no."

I step in for a few seconds, step out, n do this dance for several minutes.

"I'm gonna go put my sunglasses in my bag," Rathi says, and walks away. I think about calling out to her to take mine, too. I even think about following her. Then I figure, I'm not going in, so why bother?

The water is a murky brown at best, nothing like the clear, beautiful, postcard-perfect waters of St Thomas that I am now used to. The waves are gigantic and, I would soon learn, the strongest I have ever been in. The temperature outside the water is a million; inside the water, negative 1 million.

Rathi is gone for a few minutes, tops. In those few minutes, I get ballsy and decided to wade in a little further. Before I know it, I've really grown a pair and I'm thigh-deep. The water is so cold it feels like a thousand razor-sharp shards of glass coming at me from all directions at once and stabbing my body mercilessly. I think about turning around and taking the sunglasses perched on top of my head to safety. They are my expensive, and currently, only pair. I decide against it, since I'm still convinced that I'm not really gonna go in.

Next thing I know, I am a little deeper in. I see a massive wave coming at me, I turn my back to it to protect myself, not realizing yet that there is no way I can stand up to its sheer power.


I am knocked off my feet before I even have a chance to react. I am shoved forward, put in a horizontal position very quickly. The wave takes hold of my bikini top and bottom, and pulls in different directions. I think about reaching up to secure my glasses but am more concerned with the fact that I can't breathe bc I'm still immersed in the water, so I make a split second decision to abandon the glasses, and choose life over a possession.

I'm sure this whole episode lasted a mere few seconds, but at the moment, it truly felt like time was stretching. But accompanied by an awful sense of urgency since I... y'know, couldn't breathe.

I emerge alive and the first thing I do is look around the brown water for my glasses. Fat chance. Then I realize the whole beach is being treated to a free peep show and I quickly adjust my suit. I'm upset but at that point, I figure I might as well just stay in the water for a while and play in the waves. I'm already soaking wet and freezing. I try to act like it's all good, but in my head I am non-stop berating myself.

"I really should have known better. Those were my expensive sunglasses. This is exactly the reason I should never buy expensive things. This is exactly the reason why I don't buy expensive things. I've only had them for a couple of months, too. Took me forever to find a pair I liked, they were perfect! They're just material things at the end of the day, they shouldn't matter... But they're my material things, dammit. Sigh. I guess I can go buy another pair. I'm not working, dude, there's just no way I can justify spending $145 plus tax on a pair of sunglasses right now, that's just ridiculous. At least I bought them on St Thomas where there was no tax. Crap."

And so it went.... A couple of us still scanned the water, hopeful. For a second, I thought I felt them with my foot, but then common sense kicked in; I put my hand out in front of me and, inches later, it disappeared. I might as well just suck it up.

Twenty minutes of crashing ocean later, we are all ready to get out, and Rathi says she is going to jump back in for a rinse. I wait on the sand, wondering what's taking so long, staring in the other direction.

"Ziggy, look what I found!"

I turn to my left and if this was a movie, I swear there would be a halo of light and angels singing. Rathi emerges from the big, bad Atlantic, one arm raised in victory, her hand clutching my rescued designer sunglasses, her smile as wide as the one that slowly crept onto my face as the realization hit me.

"No frickin' way! Oh, my God, no way!!"

I hugged her and thanked her. I'm pretty sure I even jumped up n down a couple of times. I checked for damage and saw none. I put them on and besides being a little loose, they were honestly no worse for wear. Unbelievable.


I know this is not a huge deal in the large scheme of things. However, at that moment, it was what I called "a small miracle that feels like a big miracle". I instantly knew it was a Perfect Moment.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Perfect

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I had just walked 13 blocks south and what felt like a million blocks crosstown. It was a chilly night in June, n even tho I yearned for some socks, I welcomed the cold; a sweet respite from the debilitating heat of the past week. I stood in line at a busy Starbucks. "I should've asked to use the restroom at one of those hundred fancy restaurants I passed by on 5th avenue," I thought to myself. But if the old man in front of me could be patient, so could I. It was finally my turn. The bathroom was hot n heavy w the smell of too many users n not enough ventilation. I hung my purse, did my business. I looked up from washing my hands and caught a glimpse of myself.

The wheals of my most recent hives episode had faded significantly. Just this morning I swear I looked like an alien. My left eye had lost most of its puffiness. My hair hung down in 1, 2, 3, 4... 5 messy clumps, dreaded at the ends, almost impossible to untangle after spending a few days w no washing or brushing (curly hair was not made for brushing). A light grey cardigan thrown over my salmon colored tank, my bra straps showing, silver necklaces dangling from my neck, one of them backwards. My make-up scarse. My hair so light, a recent change from my brunetteness, that I looked like a stranger to myself.

But my eyes were... clear. I can't remember the last time I looked in the mirror n was literally struck by their clarity. I moved back n kept my eyes on my pupils, noticing the different shape they took. Was that a play on my eyes made by the less-than-stellar quality of the mirror itself? Or do my pupils really take the shape of black squares sometimes? I moved forwards again and stared. Still.

I knew there was a line of ppl waiting outside but I didn't want to leave. I may as well have been standing there naked, no enhancements on my face, natural as anything, kama khlakanee rabbee*. In that moment, I was beautiful, but it was more than that; I had been beautiful before. In that moment, there was a solid calm where there hadn't been any for days and weeks. In that moment, I was at peace.

*As my God created me in Arabic