Category: Life of Spice


This post is a really great reminder to me of things I have forgotten. I realized that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more judgmental, more critical and less generous of spirit. This essay reminds me to step back and remember what I value.  May I always remember to see everyone eye to eye.

Eye to Eye.

“The opposite of a ‘nice girl’, I learned is a ‘good woman.’ Being a good woman means trading the safe, passive, people-pleasing behavior of niceness for the dynamic power of true goodness. It means moving from the weakness and immaturity of girlhood toward the strength and maturity of womanhood…A good woman knows she cannot be all things to all people, and she may, in fact, displease those who think she should just be nice. She is not strident or petty or demanding, but she does live according to conviction.”

“I was thirty-nine years old when I walked into my counselor’s office and said, ‘I’ve been working so hard to keep everybody else happy, but I’m so miserable I want to die.’ I spent the decade of my forties digging out of that hole. Now, nearly midway through my fifties, I’ve discovered that growing up is an ongoing process – I have not yet arrived. Still, I have learned some things on the journey to becoming a good woman.” – from ‘nice girls don’t change the world’ by Lynne Hybels

Sunny morning brunch - and the first day of the rest of Grace and Jim's life together...congrats!

I was in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend for a very good friend’s wedding and had the opportunity to spend some quality time with college girlfriends whom I never quite realize how much I miss until I see them again. From them I get the comfort of family, but also the encouragement and wisdom of a sisterhood that I easily forget I need as I go about the busy-ness of my daily life. Similar to the Spice-sisterhood, but of an older vintage, which also means I’ve drifted from them a bit further in time and distance. But not in spirit and love. It was such a lovely time. And an amazing wedding. I cherish weddings in general, but most especially those of people I have seen grow through the awkwardness of all the relationships that came before “the one”.

I stayed an extra day for time to myself and this morning, I wandered into the bookstore of one of those mega-churches – I was a few minutes too late to attend service, but looked around at the books and tapes to see if anything caught my eye. I’ve lately been thinking a bit about what I’d like to do about the spiritual and religious aspect of my life, so it was rather timely and appropriate. I ended up picking up a book by Tim Keller, whose sermons I remember fondly from when I attended his Manhattan church in the mid-90s. I was surprised to read the bio on the backflap to find that he had started Redeemer in 1989, just a few years before I attended my first service there in 1994. And now, they have thousands of congregants, five services weekly, and several spin-off churches! I look forward to reading his thoughts as I always enjoyed his direct, logical, and meaningful messages.

The other book I picked up was from the “women’s section”. A short and sweet book by Lynne Hybels, the wife of another mega-church pastor. I read it all within 20 minutes during my flight back to Chicago. The first quote above sums up the basic idea. About growing from people-pleasing to being true to yourself. In Lynne’s case, being true to herself is all about following God’s will. Maybe it is for me, too, in a way – or maybe it’s something slightly different. Either way, it’s a hard thing to remember and understand for many women – that being good doesn’t always mean being nice. From that I extrapolate a little and would also say, sometimes being a good woman might make you a bit of a b*tch in some people’s eyes. So, if I’m committed to being good and true to myself, I can’t keep stressing about being that other thing that offends some in society.

The second paragraph I included, too, because it reminds me that as much as I sometimes regret the youthful years that are so far behind me, there still really is so much ahead. And Lynne’s journey that came at a stage in her life further along than I have even yet reached, reminds me that – the best is yet to come. We learn more, grow wiser, and our lives become better, richer and more rewarding. I will try to remember to look forward to that! Even as I know I’ll still occasionally look back to the lighter years of youth. I realize now that the reason I can now look back and value the simplicity with which my younger self viewed life and, yes, regress a little and try to recapture it’s essence through pop music and young adult blogs, is that I am looking at that era through my older eyes. Older eyes that only now recognize how truly lovely girlhood and it’s promise of the unknown future really is. But it doesn’t mean I want to go back, if going back means losing all that I have experienced and learned since.

Whoopie Pie Drama!

Who knew this controversy was brewing under our very noses this year…Click on the link; check it out. Then note the site to which your click brings you. And realize that I am still surfing the gilt sites on a daily basis. And now, with gilt taste also there to tempt me, I think I am truly lost. Fortunately, I do not have much opportunity to entertain these days, and I am not one to spend on fancy vittles just to satisfy myself, so I have yet to click on “buy” for gilt taste. Until I feel like I really need to experiment with some fiddleheads or juicy-looking white asparagus, I will just surf their articles and columns (which are entertaining in and of themselves!)..but some of those cuts of meat and sausages do look amazing!

However, this post could have been subtitled “Intervention, Part 2”. Because I am continuing my weekly online shopping habit. One thing that is now perpetuating my habit is that I have discovered the ease of free returns! At least, when it does not require me actually going to the post office. My last return (a pair of jeans and a top) went back into a packable envelope, which was easy to leave at a postal drop box. Then, suddenly, two days later – nearly $200 credit in my account! Anything I bought from credit, is basically free, right? So, I got these crazy watches. We’ll see how I like them. I bought two, because I couldn’t pick, and figured I could return it if I didn’t like it.

This is how my habit works: I get home at night, pull up the internet, check gmail, stalk facebook status updates, check cnn.com if I didn’t get to it at work, maybe surf some job postings to see if there’s anything interesting, then…nothing else left to do but look at gilt.com! I don’t always look at the other ones, because, even though gilt does not always have the best deals, it does have the more attractive and easily navigable site. I am a sucker for form over substance. Someone take away my credit card!!!

La Sola Vita

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Here it is, my Spiceladies (and Spicestalkers, if you exist). An image of my solitary life. My patio cafe table, just assembled today, and a salmon dinner for one. I bravely ventured out for my solo meal, despite the fact that my balcony is a bit of a stage, overlooking the pool, where gaggles of young and sunny folk have been partying all day. I should have felt self-conscious, that they would look up and judge my solitude, while the dozen of them are partaking in a shared meal just below. But, I built my table today. And the weather is lovely for al fresco dining. And this is MY balcony for goodness’ sake!

The prelude to this image, is the task of building the table. The top is a very heavy marble mosaic. Instructions recommend that assembly be undertaken by Two Adults. However, in my life, it’s just me and my mini-poodle. He did a heroic job of providing moral support and mostly succeeded in staying out of my way so he didn’t get hurt. The task was a bit unwieldy, but, as you can see from the photo – ultimately successful! I have become very good at building things that are recommended to be assembled by Two Adults. My leaning shelves. My Weber grill! That actually took about five hours. After which I discovered that, if I had bought it from Ace Hardware, instead of Home Depot, they would have assembled it for free. Anyway, just to say, I’ve gotten good at going solo.

I am not sharing this to make you feel sad for me! The fact that I’m willing to share publicly reflects that I’m completely content and, even, happy with this state. In fact, I am trying to find ways to remind myself that two or more still really is better than one.

I rewatched About a Boy last night and tried not to identify with the caddish Hugh Grant character who was all about himself with no attachments, and instead sympathize with the boy, who really believed that more was better than one, even with all the complications and imperfections he had to accept in those relationships.

I don’t know. One is easy. And surprisingly angst-free. However, if you look back at my photo above, I bought two chairs for my cafe table…

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.
— Gilda Radner

The Mission

I’ve been waiting since July 2010.  To be exact, that is 11 months of WAITING.  Excitement and anticipation turned into agony and frustration, which turned into excitement again as soon as the boarded entrance came down and Rockefeller Center Facebook and Twitter accounts were created (of course, I immediately subscribed).  Even then, it took another month of patience until the doors officially opened.  It was the new Bouchon Bakery in my work building.  Why do I care so much?  At first, it was the simple idea of being able to conveniently indulge in Keller’s famous pastries without trekking to Columbus Circle or Napa.   But the long wait slowly turned into an obsession for having  a fresh baked flaky croissant or a macaron or a Bouchon Ho-Ho at any given minute during my work hours.  Its like the very long wait at a hip restaurant and when you are finally seated, you are so hungry that everything you order is so delicious that you go home, give a raving Yelp review or tell all your friends you must dine at this place even though you must starve for an hour plus before being seated.  Yea…. or maybe I just really needed something exciting at work to look forward to.

So now that the bakery is open and to keep the excitement going, I have a personal mission to try everything available at this bakery.  This will definitely result in a lot of unnecessary cash and calories but heck, you only live once.  Hope you will enjoy sharing my indulgence (at least visually) with me.

What took you so long to open??

Flash Sale Mania

I’ve spent my share of time and money on online flash sales.  I wouldn’t say I am obsessed with them but they have become a primary source for my shopping.  If I needed a new cross-body or a cute dress, I go straight to all my favorite sites.  Bored on the bus?  I will start my sale app on the phone and take a look (maybe purchase).  I consistently visit some sites, and occasionally browse through others.  My friends and I even considered about going into the business of flash sale. The idea seemed simple enough and look at the founders of Gilt.  But boy is that market saturated!  Did you know there are specific sites for wedding gowns, kids/babies (Zulily and Totsy), wines, music, and men’s fashion in India?  (I guess men in India like some good bargains too)

I really shouldn’t be anymore, but each month I find myself shocked at the items that go “on sale.”  Shocker of the week:  Buy your Wedding Day on Gilt City.

Wedding for party of 100 at Del Posto. A lovely four course dinner, with all the drinks your guests desire. Includes a live band and we even throw in a cake!  All just for $30,000!

The bargain tickle your fancy?  Better think quick.  Put it in your cart while you consider about a minute longer.  Read the fine prints.

Awww, its all sold out.  Better luck next time.

What is a workaholic?

I always used the word “workaholic” to tease friends who worked a lot. So many of us have jobs that demand countless hours, keeping us at the office way past quitting time. I definitely considered it a negative to be a workaholic. Tonight, I was explaining to someone how many hours I typically worked and he called me a “workaholic.” And it made me think…I really AM a workaholic. That I may actually have a real addiction to work. Yes, I work a lot, but I like it. After drinks today, I headed back to the office, did a bit more work, then headed home. And I felt happy. It was a busy day of work – I checked off multiple items from my to do list, successfully solved problems and answered questions. The addiction to work is the addiction to the sense of accomplishment. It’s one of the parts of life where there is a clear cut cause and effect. I work hard, I do well, I am rewarded. Well, the reward part doesn’t always happen. But it often does. Even if it’s just that sense of getting something done and done well. How great is that?

So, what to do? I really do want to balance my life – have more of a social life – develop interests and hobbies – build a deeper social network. But how to cut back on working when I am so addicted??

New York City got its first peek at Spring this past Friday.  It reached over 70 degrees and it was absolutely beautiful.  What made this day even more beautiful was that nyuchick and I, in rare form, was able to get out of work at 5 on the dot (in case you didn’t know, we work together!).  We were so flabbergasted at seeing daylight after work, we knew we had to take full advantage of this occasion.  So we strolled up Madison Avenue for a trip of indulgence.

To explain our first stop, you must learn that usually at this hour in the office, a typical conversation between nyuchick and I would be:

MacchaMe:  Gary just started knocking on my door and won’t stop

nyuchick: Gary just punched me in the stomach!

MacchaMe:  How rude, we need to get rid of Gary

[nyuchick and MacchaMe proceeds to eat a snack.]

To explain this conversation, Gary is our hunger pain nemesis, derived from the word hungry –> hungAry —> Gary!  (I know, it doesn’t quite make any sense).

Anyway, making my point unnecessarily long: in the office or not, we needed a snack!

Our first stop was on 59th street at Macaron Café.  I was shocked to learn that nyuchick never tried a french macaron before because she had always associated them with macarOOns, which she was not crazy about.  Who knew what a big difference an extra O made!  I was very excited to see her try these sweets.  The cafe was small but filled with a large variety of round meringue treats, arranged beautifully behind a glass pane in many different colors.  It seemed like they had at least a dozen flavors!  My eyes jumped immediately to the unique flavor of honey lavender and nyuchick jumped immediately to what she knows best is good in everything: Nutella.  As we are both peanut butter junkies, we decided to get that to share.

Honey Lavender

Nutella

Peanut Butter

The flavor of lavender was unfamiliar to me and was so delightedly intense that I didn’t want my two bites to finish.  The honey flavor was mild against the lavender but blended quite well.  However, I thought that texture of these macarons were very dense.  I typically like my macarons very light and delicate.  Although I did not prefer the dense texture, I did not think a lighter macaron would have brought out the nice intensity of the lavender flavor.  The peanut butter also had the same dense texture but with a gooey PB filling.  We were more intrigued why it was colored teal green for peanut butter.  I had decided that despite the density, I would return to try other flavors.  (I will let nyuchick speak to her thoughts on these treats.)

Energized by sugar, we continued north on Madison.

Our next stop was the family business of a fellow New Yorker, David Yurman, on 63rd Street.   Our visit started out really as an errand, cleaning nyuchick’s ring.  I said I would tag along to window shop.  You must know, I am a ring girl.  Rings are the only jewelry I wear and I love wearing them.  Ever since my apartment was robbed several years ago and I lost my mini collection of rings, including my beloved Bulgari ring, I’ve been trying to rebuild one.  Yurman has always been a contender but I never made the jump.  Browsing online, I could never figure out what kind of stone I liked.  Diamonds are my first choice but I didn’t want this to be mistaken for a certain type of ring.  I also know I don’t like anything too big. What better than to browse in person?

I was eyeing the Noblesse for its size and its single band.  The salesman, Keith, was extremely nice and let me tried on every possible stone in this style.  The store definitely had more variety of stones than what was online.  After narrowing it down to four stones from about nine, I looked to nyuchick.  For those of you who know me, you know that 1) I have trouble making decisions and 2) I like to “forever” research before making any purchases and do a lot of “should I? Should I not?”.   Having nyuchick there with me, she helped me decide on one stone in record time.  It felt easy!   As I was watching nyuchick give her autograph to the salesman for her purchase, I screamed, “I’ll take it too!”  I am not sure if it was seeing daylight after work, the beautiful weather, or the intense lavender meringues, I made an impulse buy and it felt great. No, it felt awesome!

 

Noblesse in Prasiolite

In Lima, there is a park called Parque del Amor – the “park of love”. Right on the coastal cliffs, it is designed with beautiful mosaic tiles and an erotic sculpture titled El Beso. Ok, not exactly erotic like some ancient Peruvian sculpture – that’s another story altogether! Lima’s location on the coast affords an amazing view of the sunset from everywhere. Some travel reviews I read said that the smog in Lima tends to obscure the view of the sunset, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. The sunsets in Lima were gorgeous. We visited the park on March 11, the evening that the coast of South America was on tsunami watch. I took two videos – this one is the shorter one that shows the moment when the glowing dot of the sun just falls below the horizon. I suggest watching the video with the volume down. Perfect for a one minute meditation.