Monday, February 28, 2011

Gather 'round children, it's vintage time with Auntie C

So last week The Nana and I went to this Parisian flea market. It wasn't really a "flea market" per se, nor was it Parisian in that it was set in Paris, but it was basically a couple small warehouse rooms crammed full of antique French things like ceramic poodles, dainty pillbox hats, little Eiffel towers, jewelry boxes, lace everything, rings, bracelets, framed art, the list goes on and on. Imagine a Francophile having an orgasm and it would look like the innards of this warehouse. 

A group of ladies runs this "Parisian flea market" and they only open it to the public once a month after they've scoured the land for new trinkets and baubles and restocked their warehouse. As you can imagine it's a Big Deal with the antique crowd when this place opens its doors. (And of course, needing to be in on every Big Deal, I was there.)

I bought a few things, most notably this (prepare to be jealous):

And was ready to drop serious bread on a tiny empty glass perfume bottle, when Nana stopped me saying she had "a bunch" at home she could give me. "I didn't know you were into those kind of things," she said. "You can have mine." 

Um, okay. Since when do I not seem like I'd be "into those kind of things?" I die over vintage anything, even hideous carved wood wall art circa the Witco movement. She of all people knows this. Anyway, I was stoked about these alleged perfume bottles she owned, but also took her offer with a grain of salt. After all a few months ago I mentioned that I loooved vintage fur, especially mink stoles, and lo and behold, turned out The Nana owned a mink stole that she'd kept wrapped in the back of her closet for the last 60 years. 

She took it out and let me try it on and then said "no one could have it" (meaning my younger cousin had first dibs on it).

Concerning the perfume bottles Nana actually came through with her promise. She picked me up for lunch on Friday afternoon and handed me a little bag with these four perfume bottles:

These two specifically are my great grandmother's (her mother's) perfume bottles that were bought in the early 1940s and never opened:

The brand is Sortilege by La Galion and my great grandmother gave them to Nana as a going away present when Nana moved out to California with her husband and children in 1962. Since 1962 they have sat in the same house, in the same room, on the same bureau, until now. It's amazing to think that in the last 70 years or so of two womens' lives, these perfume bottles have been a constant. And now they enter my life and hopefully, when we have kids and they're grown, I'll pass them down and they'll be a constant in one of my daughter's lives.

But the best thing of all? After she handed me the perfumes, she pulled a little bag from her purse and said that she also wanted me to have her pearls from high school. Real pre-WWII pearls set on a swatch of satin with a little tag underneath that says Made in Japan. I just about died. They're exquisite and I can't wait to wear them:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

House hunting begins

Confession: I am mildly (read: insanely) obsessed with real estate, and my obsession has kicked into high gear in 2011. I am on a mission to find a house, people. This hypothetical house does not need to be The Perfect One (if we were going for perfection here my dream home would then look a little something like this:

Straight up Cribs status (and highly unattainable at the moment). Basically I want to be as disgustingly wealthy as this guy from those Direct TV commercials:

But for now I suppose I can do without my own private backyard vineyard, heated marble bathroom floor, and miniature pet giraffe. All J and I need right now is something with a roof, some semblance of a backyard (patio, even?) where I can enjoy a glass of wine outside, located in a relatively safe neighborhood. I'm not picky, but I also haven't let go of all my standards...yet. Things I know I don't want in my first home:
  • High HOA fees. This means that most condos/apartments/town homes are out.
  • Located on a busy street. There's almost nothing I love more than hearing buses and big rigs blaring by right outside my front window. Almost. I don't need iron gates or tall stucco walls up around my estate, but I do want a little privacy for my starter home, which means living across from a McDonald's is out.
  • Located in a dangerous neighborhood. I would like to steer clear of areas with ample amounts of hurricane fencing, barred windows, plaid shirts buttoned only at the collar, and sketchy dudes hanging out on street corners in the middle of the day. (Hello, obvi drug deals.) I really don't want my life to turn into one long, unedited scene from Friday (though I definitely would have gotten my bike back if Deebo stole it. Just saying.)
  • No parking. I'd like an attached two-car garage since J has a vintage '60s Volvo we need to garage, but I'd also like a driveway and street parking for when friends and family come to visit for one of my fabulous Breakfast at Tiffany's-style parties, where women in pearls and men in suits need to crawl out bathroom windows and down fire escapes once the po-po makes a grand appearance due to noise violations. Because this is clearly a common occurrence in my life.
  • The best house in the neighborhood. I'm concerned with the resale value of any home I buy since it is just a starter and not something I see myself in long-term if we want to keep moving up. Once we're ready to relist on the market I'd be pretty disappointed to find out that our house's value is being dragged down by our neighbors' properties.
  • Rot, mold, termite infestations, cracked foundation, et. al. I am all down with a fixer upper, but there's a difference between special ordering granite countertops at Home Depot to replace existing linoleum ones versus hiring a contractor to jimmy up the entire home and fix jacked structural issues for nearly $100,000. Nope, not so keen on the latter. I fantasize about house flipping but the thought of actually having to do it (especially with my first) is somewhat that's out. Same with other, lesser problems like termite infestations. Yuck. I don't do bugs.
So there is my list. I did find a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home nearby that was just listed for a scant $238,000 ("Unbeliebable!" exclaim J. Bieb fans worldwide), but by the time we contacted our realtor (yes, we have a real live realtor!) she told us there were already 11 bids on the place -- after only five days of being on the market. It's a short sale so that price may not even hold once the bank gets in on it, but I'm convinced there's something seriously wrong with the place since it is practically brand new (built in 2001) yet is by far one of the cheapest properties in this area for what you get. I'm going with someone might have been murdered in it, or perhaps it's haunted.  "Neither of which is true," my realtor tells us as she gives J a worried look that his wife seems slightly deranged. 

"But that's what was said about the Amityville Horror house and look what happened to that couple," I gently remind her, my pointer finger flailing around all matter-of-factly. 

Haunted or not, our search continues....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interest vs. Commitment

Came across this today:

via Bits of Truth

Hadn't really thought about it till now but it's so true. I think so many (myself included) think they're more committed than they actually are to things -- vocations, hobbies, people -- when in fact they're merely interested in them...not committed. And the Lie continues to dissipate...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dolce far niente

A quick check-in post to say that for my first week off from work I have done absolutely nothing productive the last five days. Absolutely freaking nothing. 

I can't say whether this feels good or just "is." Not to get all yoga-ey and spiritual (let's not pretend I'm one of those hardcore yoga chicks, though big shoutout to them; I envy their wholeness), but I guess I'm just finding my center again, my balance. In another life I'm convinced I was meant to write novels and make cheese and wine at a farmhouse in the South of France -- totally low stress occupation, especially when imbibing on the job -- and I need to find that now. My cheese and wine life. I want to just "be." Live in the moment. Dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. After the last seven months of stress, this week I've wanted to do absolutely nothing productive. It's my vacation and I'll do nothing if I want to. 

I hung out with my Nana this afternoon and of course the first thing she asks is "Have you heard from any jobs yet?" NO I haven't heard from any jobs yet, I wanted to bark at her, and I don't plan to since I haven't exactly been applying to many (read: I've applied to three freelance positions, total. And freelance doesn't constitute "real work" in her book). 

"No," I answered instead, politely. "It's only been less than a week since my last day at work. Jesus, lady. Give me a break," I wanted to say (clearly I am losing it). But I didn't because she's my Nana and she still owns a rusted old hammer from 1953 that she uses around her house to hang up art hooks and for her the world stopped spinning in the '80s when all her grandchildren were born and -- hello? -- she only recently got a cell phone that she still doesn't know how to check voicemails on. And using The Internets? Forget it. She currently uses my deceased grandpa's old boat-anchor of a computer monitor as a shelf to display her ceramic figurines.

Why would I take my frustration out on said sweet old lady who asks these questions not to frustrate me but because she actually thinks that's the way the world works? It did, after all, in her day. How could she know what I'm going through if I just came right out and said I need a serious break and a serious cocktail? Why can't people just leave me alone about my career plans and support what I want to do? I don't want a traditional job; I don't need a traditional job. The last six years of my life spent in myriad office positions weren't who I am, it was what I did. There's a difference. And I get that she (and when I say "she" I mean 75% of those I know) don't get that, but I'm so short-circuited from my last stint that I need to detox and recoup. And the last thing I need are people judging my choices and giving me their two-cents. I'll take their two-cents and raise them one whole dollar. Because at the end of the day I feel that I'M the one that's got it figured out. (Though I'm sure they probably think the same exact thing about themselves.) And therein lies the conflict.

Who's right?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A different perspective

My view last Wednesday morning over lukewarm office coffee:

My view this morning over an espresso:

Vive la différence.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I love you

Just finished my spur-of-the-moment Valentine's creation for J, who's due home in about an hour...

Turned out 10 times better than I thought it would! Nothing says "I love you" quite like 50 freshly baked mini cupcakes. (Confession: I ate 3.)

Every day is the 14th

Yesterday I was driving through town with my sunroof open, all happy and content that I could stay up late watching Californication episodes Sunday night without feeling dread in the pit of my stomach about work the next day, when I passed by Trader Joe's, the front door of which was flanked by handfuls of metallic heart-shaped balloons on tendrils of red ribbon.

"See that?" I said to J, motioning at all the red and helium and ribbon to our left. "And people say they don't like Valentine's Day. How can you not like hearts in every entrance?"

J's put up with my Valentine's Day obsession for the last 4-plus years, so his response was (obviously) "Yes, yes, I know. Hearts everywhere, even coming out of your head."


Marcello Mastroianni had it right when he told Roger Ebert in 1985 that “My favorite movie love scene is when Mickey kisses Minnie and pop-pop-pop, little red hearts appear in the air between them.” This, coming from the man who in Rome kissed Anita Eckberg in the Trevi Fountain in one of cinema's most iconic scenes of all time.

Today I have been given one of the best Valentine's Day presents ever: the gift of ridding myself of That Job. (The second best V-Day gift ever was a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera that J gave me our first Valentine's Day.) I'm so grateful and appreciative that hearts might as well be coming out of my head. To celebrate I'm going out for a two-hour massage this afternoon, buying a mini-cupcake maker, then spending hours shamelessly preening and primping for Valentine's Day dinner tonight (J made reservations for us at a cute restaurant nearby).

Even though I celebrate love in its varied forms every day, I especially love today because it's a reminder that if you look around

Friday, February 11, 2011

Good times, noodle salad

Finally, the day has come to pull up a trash can, drag my arm across my desk and clear out all my papers for the next poor sucker who gets to sit in my office chair.

It's a euphoric feeling, much like the ending of The Shawshank Redemption, when Tim Robbins spends two decades using a rock hammer to dig a tunnel from his prison cell through feces to freedom outside of the penitentiary walls.

Not that I am two decades deep into this job (thank God), but there are people here who are and I can't imagine what life would be like 20 years later at a place like this. I would probably end up having a hardcore drinking problem as I dabble in other excesses and promiscuities and slip deeper into depression, like some poster child for an upcoming Intervention episode. In other words, I'm saving myself by leaving. The last seven months have been (un)comfortably numb, and it's time to wake up from being comatose.

Plus I don't want to find myself one day in a car with a bunch of people complaining about the problems in our lives. I want good times and noodle salad, and these I will have.

I am officially Audi 5-thou!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And so it begins

J on Sunday night, preparing a case for his first potential client (yes, I am fully aware that my Christmas tree is still up):

 Yesterday was J's first day at the firm, and it went very well. I was hoping he'd be able to pick me up from the subway station near our apartment after I got home from work, but he texted me an hour beforehand with: 

"In a deposition, won't be able to pick you up. Sorry! Love you."

In a deposition. It sounded so official, like something right out of Law and Order -- if I actually watched that show. It didn't sink in last night, nor did it today, that J is officially a lawyer now. It's crazy -- kind of like planning for months to go to Europe, then it being surreal when you're finally there sitting on the Spanish Steps after sunset on a warm night in Rome. After three years of law school and months of studying for the Bar, J was in a deposition. 

Though I had to walk home from the subway stop last night, I couldn't help but smile. And so it begins.