A New York State of Mind

Times Square

Growing up in Ireland when we had only 3 channels ( I am not making that up – 3 TV channels – that was it!!!!) I watched a lot of American TV shows, the result being that I always feel like I am in in my own TV show when I go to New York.

Over the years, I have been to NYC dozens of times but always for business which means although I have seen a lot of the city it has always been in stolen snatches of time between work demands and I still have many things on the list to see.

The city is noisy and a frequently smelly, seething mass of humanity – but there is no denying it is alive with energy and the people watching is always fantastic. You are elbow to elbow with all types of people from the haughty fashoinista to the bum on the street, the urban hipsters with their iPods firmly planted in their ears blocking out the world to the awestruck tourists, staring at everything around them and falling off curbs.

I love to go but I am usually traveling alone so don’t want to alert anyone to my non native status so I try to blend in and look like I belong. Basically walking with confidence – striding purposefully along like you know where you are and “nothing could surprise a jaded New Yorker like you” look on your face seems to work. So much so, that I am always being asked for directions or information about Subway stations (Interestingly enough a friend and old colleague just blogged about traveling alone as a single girl here) That and wearing appropriate footwear – Ballet Flats are your friend on the crooked, cracked streets filled with subway vents and drains that eat your finest high heels and they look much more stylish than sneakers which scream tourist. Go with wedges if you need to rock a heel – trust me you will thank me later – I have learned this through hard won experience!

This last trip was all too short and my poor husband didn’t get to go (next time babe – then we will do the tourist thing for sure >8) But I did get to stay in midtown Manhattan right accross from Macy’s Herald Square location – Miracle on 34th Street anyone?

I spent some time in our NYC offices which is on the 35th floor of a building right next to Ground Zero and has the most incredible views of the city and of course the newly opened memorial which I have had the privilege to watch being built slowly each trip I take.

After rocking my client presentation – I got to do some shopping at Macy’s – did you know that as an out of state visitor you get a 10% discount? Now you do – thank me later! It would be a crime not to take advantage of it, so of course I did – scored a fabulous dress with a bit of a Mad Men vibe to it.

Then I headed to the theatre district for dinner with the client, wearing the new dress of course. Hailing a cab in New York alone always makes me feel empowered, like I should have my own theme song playing in the background – I want to throw my hat in the air or something because “I’m gonna make it after all” –  right ladies?

We ate at a great Italian place called Tramonti on a beautiful street filled with brownstones and restaurants open to the street – I felt like I had walked into an episode of Sex & the City – I am sure I have seen Carrie & friends on that same street. After dinner my colleagues and I walked back through Times Square, which is always a treat at night – full of the theatre crowd, gawking tourists and all those amazing animated billboards and signs.

Although I couldn’t wait to get home I am already looking forward to my next date with NYC and a new episode of my long running, but sporadic TV show  >8)

How I became a crazy dog lady….

We have four small dogs which I have to attribute to my general love of animals and also some sort of mental weakness when face to face with cute puppies…. In my defense my husband is just as bad and my son has a tendency to egg me on – so much so that I can’t be around puppies any longer in case I end up taking them home.

However I had always prided my self on not being the “crazy” pet owner – despite many pleas from family I put my foot down when it came to clothing. My dogs had dignity –  they did not wear outfits and so therefore I was not crazy – indisputable logic! (Of course this did not apply to putting a tiny sombrero on the cat – because that was clearly hysterical)

So what happened? To be fair 3 of the 4 dogs do not wear outfits – we have 3 King Charles Cavaliers which are my favorite breed of dog – they are sweet natured and very lovable – they are also incredibly girly and cute with long flowing ears, silky coats and big brown eyes – they need no adornment so perhaps that has been my saving grace…slowed my descent into crazy dog ladydom…..

Exhibit 1 - this is a cavalier

Exhibit 2 - Gizmo and the dried soup incident










But then a couple years ago our beloved old man beagle Buddy passed away – it was his time –  he was very old – completely deaf and very sick – but it was devastating for us all and to ease his loss Jonathon got to pick out a new puppy. Enter Gizmo – the Chorkie….

For those of you not in the know, a Chorkie is a Chihuahua/ Yorkshire Terrier mix – I know – who comes up with this sort of crazy hybrid? But she was so cute with giant radar dish ears and fetch as a built in feature, we brought her home…. Now you have to understand that Gizmo is a scrappy, scruffy little thing – cute a a button – but the polar opposite of the “Girly Cavaliers” While they are universally perceived as female dogs by everyone, despite 2 of them being male –  Gizmo is always mistaken as a boy… In fact we thought she was a boy dog until faced with obvious lack of an important appendage during the purchase process. We just bought a pink collar instead of the blue one and all was well.

Once we got her home, we noticed she was a little shivery at night – perhaps it was the Chihuahua in her and so I took the first tentative step towards madness – I bought her a t-shirt….I can’t begin to tell you how stupid I felt bringing my small shivery dog into one of “those” stores and picking out an outfit for her. In my defense it was not for decoration, but for warmth but I still felt like and idiot and ran hurriedly for the car, eyes on the ground after the purchase.

The funny thing was she seemed to love wearing it and over time we picked up a couple shirts for her that she wore when it was a little colder – I slowly came to terms with the fact that we had a dog that sometimes wore “clothes”. The embarrassment faded a little – supported by the fact that poor Gizmo was the odd man out and everyone seemed to treat her differently.

One day, picking up all the dogs from the groomers, this was clearly illustrated by the staff bringing out 3 shiny, glossy Cavaliers and one bedraggled looking Gizmo with a crooked pink bow they had tried to attach to her wiry coat – one shake of her little head and the thing flew across the room. “We just wanted her to look pretty but we can’t get it to stay in” proclaimed the distressed groomer.

The old Sesame Street song started playing in my head

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time i finish my song?

Poor Gizmo

And so it began – for Halloween we bought her a biker jacket and gave her a faux hawk – which she was not too happy about – the jacket was too stiff so she wouldn’t move – the following year we got her a shark costume because the dog in the picture looked just like her and it made us all laugh – I am still kicking myself about not purchasing the pink pig costume that we spied in TJ Maxx for the same reason….

In the meantime we moved to Florida and Gizmo got a new nickname G6 (because of the song constantly playing on the radio at the time)  “Looking so fly like a G6” became her theme song –  so much so that as soon as anyone sang it she came running over – proud as punch. (I know this is clearly the second stage of madness – don’t judge me!!!!)

We were having a New Year’s party and it suddenly became clear to me that Gizmo needed a party dress – I am not sure what I was under the influence of – perhaps the full moon – perhaps a Grey Goose Slushy  – but that was obviously the point of no return….

G6 in her LBD

Gizmo - the pirate wench

Suffice to say Gizmo was now the proud owner of a LBD (Little Black Dress with polka dots and a ruffle on her butt – remember I said not to judge me!) She was the hit of the party and loved all the attention. Perhaps because of this as soon as you say “Party Dress” she comes running over immediately….

But it didn’t stop there – just this weekend in St Augustine – home of many people inexplicably dressed up as pirates, I bought her a pirate dress…..

So reader beware – this is how a previously sane woman started buying outfits for her dog. That’s ok I have mostly come to terms with it  – but if I start dressing them up and reenacting scenes from Gone with the Wind you have my full permission to shoot me….

The “interwebs” were clearly made for cat photos

So this weekend, together with friends, we decided to take a quick day trip to St Augustine which is the oldest town in the US and not far from where we live. However instead of regaling you with tales and photos of this historic and beautiful place I am going to tell you about Cat Paint…..

If you know us well, you will know that we are a pretty techy family and all of us should be in 12 step programs to help us with our app addiction. It is probably no surprise to know that most of our friends are complete enablers when it comes to this –  so while enjoying a lovely lunch in historic St Augustine, friends of ours alerted my 14 year old to a “can’t live without it” app for iPhone called “Cat Paint” Thanks Raina – I really owe you for that one LOL

This awesome use of technology allows you to add images of cats on top of photos you have taken, complete with laser beams coming out of their eyes should you be so inclined. Of course this completely consumed the rest of the day…. Instead of marveling at the historic reenactment of Spanish soldiers shooting off cannons form the top of the fort, my 14 year old and I spent the day “bumping” photos back and forth so he could plaster them with cats and entertain us all with his comedic artistry.

Spanish soldier bayonetting cat....

Cat Cannon

Bump is another app that is probably really useful for exchanging important info like business cards and contacts however my teenager and I use if for sharing photos and stupid videos – which is a clearly a subversion of its intended purpose but so much more fun…

Yes we could probably email the photos to one another, but it is much more satisfying to use the good old Hezzbollah fist bump. Besides technology is full of such subversions (not just referring to porn here, so get your mind out of the gutter…) Think about it –  I am sure that when the internet was invented people expected this would change the way the world connects, but I really doubt they expected it’s main focus to be the sharing of funny cat photos.

Kittness Protection Program

We ended the day at a lovely outdoor restaurant where Raina’s husband Matt ordered a seriously girly cocktail that the waitress was kind enough to add a pink umbrella too –  thus magnifying the manly effect. Clearly his identity needed to be protected – so thanks to Cat Paint we entered him into the Kittness Protection Program. Technology to the rescue again!

Matt, Raina – you are most welcome!

Hello world- It’s too damn early!!!

Full moon setting not the sun rising

So my 14 year old son just started high school  – don’t get me started on how old that makes me – and to our mutual horror high school in Central Florida starts early – way early! In order to be at the bus stop on time he has to be up at 5.30am – yes I said AM – that is practically the night before if you ask me. I have been to parties that went later than that…

Of course that means I also have to get up at 5.30am, which is clearly cruel and unusual punishment since I already survived school and should no longer have to bend to the educational system’s evil will

Of course being a typical parent I tell my son he has it easy – when I was his age I walked 5 miles to school uphill both ways in the snow etc etc. Being smarter than the average kid he clearly does not believe me and pays no attention to my fascinating tales of schoollife in the middle ages in Ireland

In an effort to make the most of this situation I thought it would be a great idea to take the dogs out for a walk before it gets hot – get some exercise – start the day out right – turn myself into one of those morning people or something. I am not sure what made me think this was a good idea

My sweet husband agreed to join me so this week after getting up at 5.30am we take a couple of our clearly confused dogs out while it is still dark and walk briskly round the neighborhood for 30 or 40 minutes – carefully avoiding the bus stop so we don’t embarrass our 14 year old – hopefully my parent of the year award is in the mail for being so understanding of a teenager’s needs.

Sunrise - I know it's blurry consider how early I was awake

It is a slightly surreal experience –  for one thing I saw a live armadillo – usually they are already roadkill  -but apparently pre dawn they are safe to move around without fear of being hit by a car since everyone else quite sensibly is still in bed

I also get to see the sun rise and yesterday the full moon setting, which was really pretty and since it is quiet my husband, Eric and I get to talk about nothing in particular but it feels good to find the time to do that – perhaps I can turn myself into a morning person after all….