Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I Didn't Have To Pay NYC Rent...

As written for fashion blog iheartheels.com

I would be adorned in jewels all the time. Recently stopped by the Yasmin & Jazmin press preview, and I must say... this jewelry is to die for! Stunning. Gorgeous. The items are a little pricey ($250-$900), but they're well worth the investment if you want a statement piece of jewelry that will last until eternity. I fell head-over-iheartheels in love with the Black Onyx Square Pendant, as well as the Citrine Circle Ring. The line has a huge celebrity cult following, boasting fans such as Lindsay Lohan (Tethered Cuff, above), Nicole Scherzinger (Stone Tip Cuff, above) and Lo Bosworth from The Hills (Black Drop Earrings, above). Ex-couple Audrina Patridge and Ryan Cabrera were also spotted sporting matching Unisex Tag Necklaces from the line... you know, back when they were trying to be an item.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Dad Questions My Sexuality

I am at work. It occurs to me that I haven't spoken to my dad in 2.5 days. So I call him during my lunch hour. We discuss menial things like the weather, our weekends, work... I mention a friend's wedding that I am attending this weekend in Seattle. Our conversation unexpectedly takes a queer turn (literally):

Me: Yeah, so I'm going to a wedding in Seattle this weekend.
Dad: You are?! As in Washington? How much was that plane ticket?!
I love how at 29 years old, my dad still asks me about my finances. In my usual fashion, I knock off about 30% of the actual cost.
Me: About $400. It'll be a bit expensive, but I'm excited. I've never been to Seattle.
Dad: That's great, I want you to experience new things.
Me: Yeah, I'm sharing a room with two of my guy friends.
Dad: Tina, are you gay?
Me: ...
Dad: Oh, f--k, I'm sorry. But you have all these guy friends. And you go camping. But you don't have a boyfriend.
Me: ...um... (wondering how I can address this in close quarters with coworkers nearby)
Dad: Tina, if you are gay, it's really OK. I don't mind!
Me: Dad, I'm not. (whispering) I like boys. I'm not attracted to girls!
Dad: I don't mean to be offensive!
Me: I know you don't, and I love you. But, um... I'm honestly a little hurt that you asked me that... are you being serious?
Dad: Well! It's crossed my mind... but I guess you are more hetero than homo.
Me: ...
Dad: I'm sorry, really, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked.
Me: It's OK, it's kind of funny... I mean, I do want to have a husband, and a child...
Dad: When?
Me: ...um...
Dad: So you're not gay?
Me: No, I'm not.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Holiday 2010 Fashion Preview

As written for fashion blog iheartheels.com
Is it that time already?! The only thing about working in fashion, or in publishing, or I guess working in any industry other than burger-slinging at McDonald's (be jealous — I was once the Mickey D's Employee of the Month, complete with engraved plaque), is the fact that you can rarely live in the moment. You're always looking ahead at least three months.

I recently attended the Holiday 2010 Preview for Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, which brought back memories of working at Old Navy during the holiday season of 1998. I was a greeter/bag passer-outer, and the only thing I recall is that the cheesy '70s-inspired holiday tunes got old real fast. The painful recollection quickly dissipated when I laid eyes on the season's upcoming styles, set to hit stores this October.

Banana Republic doesn't disappoint, with chunky jeweled accessories and plenty of sparkle on everything from sequined clutches to peep-toe pumps, perfect for that holiday party. In terms of ready-to-wear, the slightly pricier Gap, Inc. brand was all about the cardigan — cable-knit, oversized, boyfriend, fur-trimmed, you name it — all available in muted, season-appropriate hues.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 3: A New York Ass-Kicking

Significantly easier. This is likely for two reasons. 1. COB was not there, so I was not as scared nervous. 2. The DI had us sample various obstacles, thus, I spent a few minutes waiting for other recruits to finish so I could take my turn. After some laps and stretches, we were split into two groups, namely, those in fatigues (the old-timers) and those in black pants (the Groupies, aka me). My platoon was taken into the middle of the pit o' hell, where the DI selected a girl (NOT ME!) to crawl up onto this semi-uphill net made of rope. Said girl hopped up onto this net of sorts and began to flap around like a dying fish crawl through this rope, while six of us watched. When she got to the top, the DI instructed her to flip head first onto the ground via a somersault, landing on her feet. She looked at him like he was crazy. I looked at him like he was crazy. She did it, though he essentially had to manually flip her body and lift her down. I got in the back of the line.

The DI moved on to the next device while one girl at a time crawled through the rope-net. Up next? A rope swing near a log and a pit of water, that resembled an oversize tupperware container. The object? Swing over the log, taking care not to fall in the water. Hoping he wouldn't notice that I did not crawl through the rope-net, I got on the rope swing. I didn't get very far. I tried again, and got on the other side of the log! Hallelujah! "I did it!!" I squealed! "No, you didn't," DI said. "The rope was between your legs; it should have been to the side of you." I picture Tarzan. "Oh." I walk back to the rope-net and try that. I start crawling. I flail around in the middle of the net. I feel like a giant bass. When I get to the top, I wait for DI to assist me with my somersault. "Tuck your head, bend your legs," he instructs. I am frozen. Somehow I do a flip of sorts and he lifts me down. Later, I find that this rope-net gave me rope burns and bruises on my arms (above). No pain, no weight loss gain, I guess.

Now we move on to a giant wall with a rope attached to one side, some pegs on the other side. As DI demonstrates, I am scrapping my jaw off the rubbery pit. He scrambles up the rope/wall all GI Joe-like, only to peg his way down the other side. I recall thinking to myself, "If I can go up and over that wall before my two weeks end, this will all be worth it." He motions to a recruit. After  a couple of tries, she makes it to the top. I am scared for her; I can't hold back. "Oh! Be careful!" I shout. Another girl looks at me and laughs, "You're such a mom," she says. I do not know what to say to this. The girl on the wall makes it down in one piece. DI suddenly looks at me. He wants me to go up the wall. Uhm... I make a run for it, grab the rope and try to scramble up the wall all Spiderman-like, only to slide back down. He teaches me how to use the rope to get up to the top. I do this. I am scared. I am now holding on for dear life to the top of this wall, legs dangling, trying to scurry my legs up to meet my hands and get on the other side. I am frightened of falling off the damn wall altogether. I hear a recruit shout my name, "C'mon Tina, you can do it!" Somehow I pull myself on top, now belly-side down. Where is the f**king peg on the other side? DI instructs me. Scared. I place my foot on the peg. Still scared. Another peg. Now I am low enough that if I were to fall, I would not break a limb. I make it down! On my feet! I feel good. I am Power. No. Wait. I am SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 2: A New York Ass-Kicking

Suffice to say that Day Two was worse than Day One. I wasn't planning to write a blog series on my two-week stint at Pure Power Boot Camp. But the absurd situation I've put myself in, combined with my incessant laziness, kind of makes for laughable material. *face palm*

I arranged to arrive to class at 8pm on the dot, body in pain from the first class — the lady at the desk said I could skip my push-ups, as class was starting. (Success!) I ran my laps and met up with my platoonmates for partner stretches. I did not mention these in yesterday's post. Partner stretches consist of sitting in two lines, pushing our partner's back/legs/arms/what-have-you so you get a painful nice stretch. The recruit nearest me (aka my partner) was a guy; I could tell he was a frequent boot-camper. You can easily differentiate the old-timers (clad in faded camo fatigues) from the Groupon newbies (black pants). I held his legs down during the butterfly stretch and did my best to keep my hands as far away from his, um..., as I could. *awkward* After the stretches, my Drill Instructor (a different guy from Day One), whispered something in my stretch partner's ear, who then ran to the front of the line. I guess I was slowing him down. Now I was the weird girl at the end of the line with no one across from me. Our DI silently walked down the middle. He turned to face me. "What's your last name?" "Smithers?"

Side Note: I was scared because Commanding Officer Brenner (aka the hot ab chick PPBC owner) sent me a "new recruit" email saying I could email her with any love/questions/etc., and my coworker suggested that I email her a link to my blog. So I did. She did not respond. So when the DI asked my name, I assumed that I was in big trouble. /end note

"WHAT?" "Smithers? Smithers." "Smeeters, are you confused?" "No! No." "OK, Smeeters. Good." (ShitIoffendedCOBwithmyblognowI'mscared.) Jumping jacks. I do about 50 and then take a break, continuing to count and wave my arms. The DI spots me. He laughs. I relax. I laugh. COB takes the old-timers. The DI takes the people like me. Only they're not really like me, turns out I'm Still That Girl. More hurdles. I straddle. (But I spotted another Straddler!) Over the huge walls. Only this time we have to go up the side without a ledge. So it's like... a flat wall that we have to crawl over like f-cking Spiderman. DI sees me struggling. He gives me a boost. Now I am belly down on the top of this wall with my arms and legs dangling over the sides. I kind of fall off and somehow land on my feet. I may not be Spiderman, but I am a cat!

Now we are instructed to pick up a rubber tire. I get my tire. We're told to do 50 of these tire lifts over our heads. My tire is heavy. DI says I can trade with another guy who's tire is lighter. I want to prove that I am badass, and I say no, I can handle my tire. After three lifts, I regret it. He says I can switch. I still can't really get past 10. My legs are shaking. I am seeing spots. He tells me to go get a bar and lift that instead. I run by myself to get the bar, while my platoonmates all have tires. This is embarrassing.

Now we do dips. I can't do these either. I feel like I am going to die. Did I mention that I haven't worked out consistently, oh, EVER? My body is in shock. I meekly ask if I can get water. He lets me. We do sit-ups. I am told to get an 8-pound barbell and to do 60. I do a shitload. I lose count. "SMEETERS! What number are you on?" "I don't know. But I have been doing them!" "No. Start over, Smeeters. You can do 20." I start counting from 5. He laughs. He is going easy on me. I appreciate it. But I am also ashamed.

Class is almost over. We get in a circle to say our kindergarten-classroom Words. It is my turn. I debate which Word to say. Strength? Honor? I try Power again. "POWER...?" "Are you sure about that, SMEETERS?" "Yes! POWER! POWER! POWER!"

On the way out of class, I meet two fellow boot-campers in the elevator. "I'm so embarrassed," I say. "It's OK! Is this your first day?" "Second." "Honestly, your second day is worse than the first. I don't know what it is, but it's brutal." They both agreed. "Really?! So you felt nauseous and faint and death-like?" "YES," the girl said. "It gets better!" Gosh. They're so nice. I will not quit this. I can finish! I am a cat!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A New York Ass-Kicking

It's no secret. I have commitment issues. I am easily distracted. I have been known to join multiple gyms, go for a month and then lie to get out of the contract. (I once "moved in with my grandma who lives in southern Missouri" and even had my cellphone bill sent there for two months so I had change-of-residency "proof.") So when I saw this Groupon for 75% off six classes at Pure Power Boot Camp, I figured what the hell. I was sold when I saw that it's located two blocks away from my work. I enlisted for two weeks of classes in early August (um, now).

The day of my first class (um, yesterday), I looked at the website in detail. Torture devices stared back at me — things like Barbed Wire Crawl and Belly Robbers scoffed in my face. I was getting nervous. I calmed my nerves with an iced coffee and a small cookie the afternoon before class. It's my birthday week. I can have a cookie. I arrived to class 15 minutes early (gasp! have we met?) as instructed in my "platoon uniform" of black pants and sneakers. Upon arrival, I filled out a waiver for new "recruits" stating that sprains and fractured bones are possible and that I will be added to some sort of "KILL BOARD" if I fail to arrive in uniform. Then they tossed an oversize army T-shirt at me and ordered that I do five push-ups. Done. Sort of. I changed into my shirt and joined my "platoon." We were surrounded by ropes and hurdles and torture chambers of all kinds stuck in a pit of what seemed to be an odd combination of loose rubber and styrofoam. The outskirts of the pit was swathed in camouflage and feel-good Words like POWER, INTEGRITY, STRENGTH and TRUST. It reminded me of those motivational posters in kindergarten classrooms. I liked it.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that my shirt was on backward — my dog-tag graphic was in front. Everyone else's was in back. Peeked in collar, sure enough, there was the XL tag starring back at me. Quickly switched shirt around and got in line for jumping jacks. Everyone just automatically knew to start counting. I was confused. For every number they shouted, they did three or four jacks. They also seemed to be counting backward. I mouthed various numbers and waved my arms around.

Time for some laps. Now I like to start out with a nice, light jog. Many of my fellow recruits/platoonmates/soldiers were sprinting past me. Overachievers, I thought to myself. We then split up into two groups. Commanding Officer Brenner (aka the hot chick with the abs) took the overachievers. A drill instructor guy (I will call him DI) took people like me. We immediately had to go over these wooden hurdles that went up to my belly button. Those in front of me were sticking their left leg up and pulling themselves over all professional-like. I straddled it. Left leg up, straddle, right leg over, slide off. The DI showed me out to do it. I was scared and thought I was going to trip over the hurdle, falling on my face in the pit. I straddled it again. I straddled them all. I was That Girl. The Straddle Girl Who Slowed Down The Whole Platoon. Then we went to a wall of sorts that was much taller than me. We had to climb over it and jump down. I got up to the top, looked down and freaked. DI claimed it's not that far and to jump down. So I did. I landed on my feet! I did three more.

Then we had to do these box step-up things and squats. I went to grab my water. "PUT THAT WATER DOWN!" DI shouted. Jaw dropped, I did what I was told. He wanted us to count while doing the steps. I don't think anyone knew whether to start backward or forward. So we didn't speak. "You can't count, so then GET AWAY FROM ME!" he snarled. "Go run three laps." So we did. I was scared. A nice girl introduced herself while jogging, asked if it was my first day. "Yes. Is it almost over?" "You've got 20 more minutes. Don't worry about it, you paid for it, do what you can." I liked her. At this point, I was feeling faint. I must've looked pale. Vomit was rising in my throat. I seriously thought I was going to collapse. We were given a 10-second water break.

Then we did some 200 sit-ups of sorts while being ordered to scream things like "I AM A SEXY BITCH!" The minute my DI turned his back, I rested. Yes. I am a dirty cheater. At the end, our platoon sat in a circle, and we were ordered to shout Words. DI told me to say POWER. "Power?" I said in question form.

When I walked out, legs shaking, I felt like I'd accomplished something great, aside from swallowing my puke. I realized that I had a huge sweat spot that looked as if I had peed myself. For a split second, I questioned whether or not I really peed myself. I did not. Whew. I go back tonight. Five more classes. I can do this.
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