Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday To Me

I know I'm really a bit late to post this but it happens...

On the 1st of August I celebrated my 33rd birthday.  I didn't have any qualms about turning 33, I guess when "they" say that once you hit 30, you stop caring.  Well, 33 came and I rang it in with style!  I had quite a memorable birthday due to some cheeky planning by my flatmate.

My great day began when I woke up to drawing on the mirror in the hallway.

Then two dear friends of mine (Caroline and Laura) had given me gift cards to Zara to purchase this dress I had been lusting after so the weekend before my birthday I got the dress and planned to wear it on my day.  Its a beautiful, bright orange, tennis-ish dress that made me stand out and makes me very happy as my friends knew how much I wanted this dress, but couldn't work it into my budget.

After work I met up with Tom who had given me a choice of three options the week before.  The options were, comedy, a musical or a classic film.  I told him that I would pick either comedy or a musical, but he gets the final decision as I wanted to be surprised.  We met up and I followed his lead to an undisclosed location. Along the way we "bumped into" my friend Emma and come to find out, the two of them were conspiring via Facebook to make plans.  We headed to Jamie's Italian where I heard Tom say he wanted a table for five.  I'm thinking "there are only 3 of us here, who are the other 2?"  So we head to a pub to get a drink and wait. As we are waiting in walks my friend Michael (who I was chatting with on Facebook earlier and I had no clue he would be there.)  Tom hands me a card which held a Groupon voucher for 8 sessions of boot camp which made me very happy as I am trying to lose some weight and get back into shape.  We finished our drinks and went back to the restaurant, but the wait was over an hour so we headed to Browns and when we walked in, Tom already had a table booked (as a backup to Jamie's which doesn't take reservations) my fifth guest arrived (with flowers!) and it was Adrienne, one of Tom's work friends and we indulged in a lovely meal.  However, that was not the end of the night, we were still booked to see a show...a comedy show above a local pub.  It was quite intimate with only about 25 people and the acts were good, well minus the very angry American ex-war journalist who thought dropping F-bombs into his rants about the Daily Mail were funny.  We parted ways after the show and when I arrived home there was a box sitting at my bedroom door.  I opened it and found the newest member of the flat, Cecil (pronounced Cee-cil) inside.  He props my door open each day and does an excellent job at it if I do say so myself!

Before calling it a night, Tom tells me I have one more gift and places another wrapped package on my bed.  I go to open it and notice its really heavy.  Upon opening it I see that in contains a bag with Tip Tree Tomato Ketchup and Tip Tree Barbecue Sauce.  You are probably thinking, what a random present, but there is a story.  Long story short, I went to a restaurant one night and they had Tip Tree Ketchup on the table.  This ketchup is DAMN good and in fine fashion I borrowed* it from the table and brought it home.  Much to Tom's chagrin he realized that the nicked ketchup was really good. We were running out of it so I decided to "borrow" another bottle the week earlier. Well, in order to put an end to my thieving, he purchased another bottle of it.  I cannot tell you how much I laughed as I opened that gift! 

I went to bed that night a very happy girl.  Tom really went out of his way to make my birthday a memorable one.  All my friends and family made it a special day and turning 33 was a piece of cake. It was a great start to a new year and I am really looking forward to whats in store for me!

*I do not condone stealing from restaurants.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

I can recall so much about September 11, 2001 as I look back 10 years later.  At the time I was living in Massachusetts. That morning I woke up early as I had a dentist appointment. I went about my daily routine...took a shower, put on my makeup, tied my wet hair back in a low bun. I remember I put on a coral coloured halter top from JCrew, a pair of LEI jeans and my coral striped flip flops from Old Navy. I headed out to my electric blue Dodge Neon, started the car and the Britney Spears Oops I Did It Again album was playing on repeat in my CD player.  I drove the 15 minutes to the dentist...for my 9:30am root canal (yep, root canal) appointment, got out of my car, took the lift up to the dentist and sat in the waiting room. I was the only person waiting that morning and as I waited, I flipped through a magazine while I waited to be called and tried to ignore the talk radio that they were listening to. I thought it was NPR or something 23 year old Jean found very dull.  As I waited, I heard the 2 women behind the desk saying things like...
"I cannot believe that this is going on"
"It just doesn't seem real" 
"It has to be a terrorist attack"
It wasn't until I was eavesdropping that I decided to tune into what was being said on the radio.  It was at this point that the Pentagon had been hit, I still did not know a thing about the Twin Towers.  My ears immediately perked up as my cousin Michael, who was in the US Air Force at the time, worked at the Pentagon.  I listened intently trying to find out what was going on and it wasn't until a few minutes later that I found out about the Twin Towers having been hit. My level of nerves went up! It was then that I vividly remembered hearing my friend Emilee talk about how she had the most amazing view out her dorm window of the World Trade Towers.  Needless to say I was sufficiently freaked...my cousin and my best friend affected by this!?!?

I was called into the office and prepped for my root canal. Meanwhile, the dentist and the dental assistant were talking about what it going on, but I couldn't ask any questions as I had all sorts of needles, tools and hands in my mouth.  I was forced to sit there and listen to the events unfold and I was completely helpless.  I kept thinking, what if my cousin is dead? What is something happened to my friend?  Then as I was laying there I hear the words over the radio "The South Tower is collapsing!!!" 

I listened to reports of both towers collapsing, I listened to the news reporters talk of people jumping out of the windows 90 stories up, I listened to the report of the plane crashing in the field in Pennsylvania.  I listened for 2+ hours and it wasn't until I got home that I SAW the what was happening in my country.  On my way home from the dentist I called my mom to see if she knew anything about my cousin and she delivered the good news that he was OK.  We later found out that his office was in fact in the area that was hit, but that section was being refurbished so he was relocated somewhere else.  I was able to get in touch with Emilee, who was audibly shaken.  I remember her saying "Jeanie, I watched it happen out my window. I watched it happen."  I knew she would be getting inundated with calls all day and I didn't want to clog up her line, but I told her I loved her and we hung up.  I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that these 2 people were safe.

When I got home I remember making myself a bowl of instant mashed potatoes (it was soft so I could eat it) and I sat in the green chair in my living room and was glued to the television for the rest of the day.  I watched in horror the images of Tower 1 burning as the plane flew directly into Tower 2, the images of the Towers collapsing are images I will never forget.  I couldn't pull myself away from the television.  I had to watch it over and over again.  And not once did I ask what is wrong with me...because I knew that everyone around the country was doing the same thing as me.

It was a day I will never forget.  It happened 10 years ago and it's one of those things where I feel like it happened only yesterday. I've only ever been down near Ground Zero once, it was the second winter I lived in New York City.  I was on one of those hop on/off bus tours with a friend in town and it drove down that way.  I always felt like it was forbidden area to go to.  To me it was never an attraction.  I just seemed taboo.  I can recall the first time I took the subway downtown and the stop I needed to get off as was World Trade Center, it just seemed a little spooky.

I was one of the lucky ones.  I didn't lose anyone I know on that day, but every year on the anniversary I think about the thousands of innocent lives lost.  September 11th is a day I will never in my lifetime forget.