"The Golden Lion"

"The Golden Lion"
The "Golden Lion" ("Gouden Leeuw") on the IJ at Amsterdam, 1686

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Norwegian Independence Day

Are birthdays becoming obsolete?

Of course, all the good wishes I received on May 17th (my birthday) from family and friends and acquaintances both near and far made my day. It was touching to realize so many people cared to think of me …. on “my” day.

Nevertheless, when your birthday roles around, congratulations are in order: you have been metaphysically doused with a cold bucket of water.

The older you get, the more you realize you’re approaching your “scary age.” Your “scary age” is the age in which you feel you have arrived, i.e. you are no longer a “youth” (a term which, ostensibly, must and is defined differently by each and every individual). You no longer have the benefit of feeling your life is ahead of you, but you still aren’t more at the end of the line rather than in the middle.

You suddenly feel more in tune with your own mortality. You start to feel more than ever that this life is definitely temporary. And it goes quickly. Very quickly.

Word of advice: You better start getting in all those things you wanted to do sooner rather than later.

You notice facial features which weren’t there before. You have to work out more frequently to maintain your “32” waist. It’s more difficult to stay up as late as you used to. The average age of the clientele at your typical Happy Hour is younger than you are, and you can’t help but wonder you are now at that certain point in time you thought you’d never be at … ever, because time would continue to stand still. It wasn’t moving. Things were happening all around your so-called life, but since your life was levitating or hovering more than it appeared to be moving forward, you took no notice of it.

From this day forward, welcome to the age of introspection!

The dictionary currently offers the following definitions for “age.”

Age: Noun. 1225–75; (n.) ME < AF, OF aage, eage, equiv. to aé (< L aetātem acc. of ae(vi)tās age; aev(um) time, lifetime + -itās -ity) + -age -age; (v.) ME agen, deriv. of the noun.

1) a period of human life, measured by years from birth, usually marked by a certain stage or degree of mental or physical development and involving legal responsibility and capacity.

2) the length of time during which a being or thing has existed; length of life or existence to the time spoken of or referred to.

And my personal favorite:

3) the particular period of life at which a person becomes naturally or conventionally qualified or disqualified for anything.

Translation? You’ve arrived at that period in life where:

1) you are conventionally qualified to dole out advice to those who care to listen (I don’t tell anyone who doesn’t listen to me how things are going to turn out for them, mainly because, well, they don’t listen);
2) you are naturally qualified to sit on the sidelines rather than participate fully;
3) you are more often than not disqualified from being carded (the ultimate insult).

What’s the message here? The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
– C.S. Lewis

Friday, May 14, 2010


I’ve noticed the increased part emoticons are playing in everyday e-mail correspondence.

However, there is a definite disparity between the frequency with which my guy friends and girl friends use them. :->

Firstly, let me be frank: I don’t use emoticons. I’ve never used emoticons. I’ll never use emoticons. I'm an "emoti-conscious" man.

Call me conservative (which I pretty much am). I’ve never thought emoticons are particularly appropriate for men to use (we are less prone to acting on our emotions in all situations. You know that, Ladies). So you can imagine my relief when a German colleague of mine confirmed he felt the exact same way. :-)

On the other hand, it’s amazing the frequency with which my female friends or colleagues use them, even when addressing clients on company e-mail. This behavior leaves me utterly :@

For example, imagine my dismay when I was cc’d on this e-mail a female colleague sent out:

Locating in-house colleagues who are fluent in Italian; my two semesters of Italian will not be that helpful. :(

Or this one:

Flight was delayed at LaGuardia. Will miss meeting as rush hour traffic is heavy :.(

Now I’m not the type of person who wants to be overly disparaging [T_T]. My belief system is firmly rooted in the inalienable right to speak without censorship and/or limitation.

Nevertheless, I draw the line when (men) use emoticons in a business context (hint: Guys, please don't use emoticons when writing me.)

What ever happened to one’s choice of words to relay one’s happiness, sadness, frustration, anger and the entire gamut of human emotions? And is it too much when one goes overboard with the exclamation points?!!!!!

I shall concede that emoticons can help disguise overcoming one’s shyness, particularly during the early stages of corresponding with a potential love interest. But will the recipient necessarily understand the difference between a flirtatious :-{} or an even bolder show of :-><. ? (notice I had to separate the emoticon with a space before the ?)

Is it possible to convey, as directly as possible, the one doing the flirting might just leave you completely -_-? In that situation, you might just be saying to yourself: “Man, I wish this person would just (_X_)”

If that’s the case, I’m not so sure I’d be able to understand the more surreptitious signals someone may or may not be trying to send. It would probably leave me feeling 8-|

IOHO, I’ll just remain :^D when someone :-{}me. d:-o!

Now excuse me. I have to go feed my (=^;^=), ^_- !

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New York Jaded?

I have a great colleague who's an attorney. Knowing great attorney friends does have its perks. They are usually almost always ready to take a 4pm Starbucks break (because by that time, your brain is so fried from the law, you have to get away from your desk). And since they're almost always ready to take said Starbucks break, that naturally entails they always tend to invite me. I'm trying to figure out whether I should: 1) allow them to purchase my drink of choice once we get downstairs -- namely a "Grande Skinny Java Chip Frappucino" (no whipped cream, naturally) -- or 2) feel concerned they would rather pick up the tab because they may think I don't make enough to be able to afford a little Starbucks indulgence myself. I usually just let them pick up the tab.

What IS puzzling some times is that from time to time my attorney friend does not get anything for himself.

Answer: he's just an all around great guy.

Case in point , two weeks ago he and I were talking. He proposed that if I ever felt like going to New York, he could try and get one of the Firm apartments in his name. All I would have to do is take the key from him and not tell anyone I was going to be the one staying in the apartment.

The next day (Friday morning), he called my extension.

"Hey what's up?" he queried.

"Not much." (I had an inkling he was calling to tell me he was able to get the keys to one of the NY apartments and was inquiring if I wanted to take them off his hands.)

"Listen, come down to my office. I've got a surprise."

"Be right down." (Please let him tell me he's got the keys.)

Five minutes later, I was sauntering back to my office with the keys. I was taking the rest of the day off. I was going to New York. To stay in a doorman building on E. 63rd and 2nd (I know this building; I went to a party there once at the apartment of some 70-year old Senator where a caterwaitress went around serving cheese balls and champagne. Steely Dan's "Aja" album was softly playing in the background.). 3 blocks from Bloomingdale's. And Moulton Brown just around the corner (I dig Moulton Brown 'Cool Buchu' bodywash).

On the way home (I had to throw a bunch of stuff into an overnight bag and catch the 'Vamoose' bus), I e-mailed my former colleague Jade, whom I hadn't e-mailed in probably over a year.

Jade recently moved up to New York from Washington, DC following the break-up she had with her erstwhile boyfriend of 4 years. She found out he had been cheating on her with at least two other women. Scumbag. I remember once she dropped off the Gucci purchases she was able to get me half-off. She was driving his Volkswagen convertible. Jade looked like she was driving to the Hamptons for the weekend with the famous "copper" Gucci-embossed shopping bags taking up the space in the back seat.

"Coming to New York this weekend. Would love to meet up and buy you a drink!"

"You shut your mouth when you're talking to me! I'm so excited!!!! My parents are coming in this weekend but what are you doing Saturday night after dinner? They're old so they'll probably go to bed early."

The next day, a few more e-mail exchanges between the two of us (I couldn't chat live on the Blackberry. Can't figure out how to do it. Maybe I should ask Jade. She's much more tech savvy than I). "I have a funny story to tell you."

I responded with "What's your story to tell? Did you meet a hot 18 year old Republican (Note: Jade votes Dem -- on Facebook she has a picture of herself standing next to a portrait of a smiling Hilary in The White House) with a trust fund wearing John Varvatos linen pants and the new Hugo Boss after shower splash and/or Christian Dior Homme Sport moisturizer?"

"Ugh, I'm not seeing anyone under 32. What's your night look like? Want to meet up around 9?"

9 pm sounded perfect. I'd be able to get in a work out in in the afternoon, meet up with a good friend I hadn't seen in almost 3 years and take in a martini (or two) with him at Compass, one of his favorite bars.

I end up having this friend drive me down to the East Village to pick Jade up. Poor thing. We don't want her spending all her lunch money on a cab going to Chelsea when we can pick her up instead. Besides, my friend's Mercedes-Benz C class has great manoeuverability down Second Ave. in rush-hour Saturday evening New York traffic.

To make a long story short, Jade and I went for drinks (frozen cosmo's seemed particularly appropriate given the excellent weather. I knew Jade and frozen cosmo's would get along famously).

During the time I spent with Jade Saturday night comfortably ensconced on faux Cassina bar furniture, it struck me how in such a city like New York, where we'll all surrounded by millions of people on a daily basis, the sad fact is that we all live our own compartamentalized existences. New Yorkers work in offices, New Yorkers live in small apartments for the most part and buy their groceries from the Chinese-owned bodega on the corner (Note: the Chinese-owned bodegas are always the best run and best stocked. They usually only charge about $1.49 for a bottle of Perrier with lime).

Now, at the expense of sounding sophistic, to my mind the dynamic of New York is that everyone is so busy trying to survive, they have been forced to live out separate existences surrounded by everyone. That is the conundrum. As a result, New Yorkers are indirectly forced to put themselves in boxes. They are too busy to cook (New Yorkers usually eat out or order in). New Yorkers are too busy to go to the grocery store (they frequent the bodega on the corner much more often than the closest Food Emporium). New Yorkers more often take cabs than the subway (which makes them avoid having to interact with everyone else taking mass transportation).

Yet, through it all, they can also unknowingly become isolated. And the longer one lives in Manhattan, the more that premise holds true.

I admire Jade. She's putting herself out there (which is more than a lot of the rest of us can say). She's trying to interact. She's living her life and taking chances. She's going on dates. She's chatting up men at the gym (despite the fact she may feel terrified in the process for fear of being rejected. Who knows?). She's tweeting while waiting in line at Chopt'd (or some such place). Maybe she hasn't been in New York long enough to want to sequester herself at the end of the day rather than deal with the world happening right outside her apartment door. Is the inevitable New York-jaded feeling ever going to set in?

I wonder if I shouldn't move back up to Manhattan. Life certainly was far more interesting in New York. What I do know is that if I do, I'm not going to live in a box. I'm going to put myself out there. For good.