Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween! You know what this means…

The beginning of the 2006 Holiday Season! Start shopping now!!!

Christmas trees and decorations have been up at malls in the Northeast for weeks. It has only added to the insanity that my local mall has always been.

Willowbrook Mall has 3 wings. The “Trendy” wing features shops like Abercrombie and Fitch, Godiva and the Gap. It is anchored by Macy’s. “Posh” wing is home to the likes of Lord and Taylor's and Victoria's Secret, and is anchored by Bloomingdales.

The third wing is the “Ghetto” wing. It has the outdated kiosks, a puppy penitentiary shop and Spencer’s gifts. The wing is anchored by Sears.

The hub of the mall is the food court, featuring a Starbucks where baristas look down at you, and a Ben and Jerry’s where I found myself looking down at a guy behind the counter shamelessly scratching his crotch.

Diversity in vendors in a mall is fine and welcome. What is strange about this mall is the way that, for the most part, they have kept certain shops in certain areas. It seems as though a class system is being perpetuated in this mall, but change is afoot…

A Tattoo Parlor that opened in the “Posh” wing.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
When did tattoos become so suburban that they now are available in a mall in Wayne NJ?
The shop is sandwiched between The Icing and The Limited.

The irony is just as tasty as the the placement of the recently opened Old Navy, on the left as you exit Bloomingdales. Talk about two extremes. I go from feeling dirt poor to uber rich in a matter of yards.

Only at the Willowbrook Mall can you eat at a California Pizza Kitchen, forget your leftovers at Lindt, run past a woman getting a tattoo of a dragon on her leg in the window of the Tattoo Parlor, pick up a 10 dollar t-shirt and walk through Bloomingdale’s to get to your car.

And just like that, Christmas trees in October make more sense than they ever have.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I never reset my “Vacation Countdown Clock” after our trip to Japan was cancelled. It is now taunting me, blinking all zeros. Today was the day we were supposed to leave. Avoiding a discussion about my distrust of Cowboys (the main reason for our change of plans) is probably best at this juncture.

My bosses recently came back from a trip to China, and brought me back a delicate white gong fu tea set. The tea that came with it, an oolong called Ti Kuan Yin (which is traditionally drank in the style of gong fu), was packaged in shiny airtight pouches inside of colorful metallic tins. When I opened the first pouch, I was overwhelmed by how lovely the tea was inside, and after brewing it found the leaves to expand to epic lengths and the infusion to be both intense yet easily palatable. When my husband saw it for the first time, he verbalized the sets best feature – one that I had been overwhelmed by as soon as I had received it. The set was once in China. It is now here. These leaves once grew in a plantation in China, and now they are floating in a cup somewhere in the New York suburbs.

Of course, much of the ”stuff” we have around us has made global journeys the nature of which few of us will ever have the chance to make. But often these objects are not made to reflect the culture of the manufacturer, so we loose sight of where it is from. That’s one of the things I enjoy about the tea industry. My company imports mostly from China, Japan, Taiwan, India and Africa. The containers look native to these places. The teas inside are the crop from the following season, often plucked and rolled by hand. Tea is a true ”objects” of the eastern hemisphere, and it both teases and sooths my wanderlust.

My grandmother fell in her home yesterday, resulting in a break in her femur, which will require surgery this morning. It was hard going to sleep last night, thinking about her and my mother, and what the next few days could hold for them. Today of all days I am so happy to not be getting on a plane.

At work yesterday, I was chatting online with a customer about types of tea – a fun part about working for an Internet tea business. At the end of the conversation, he told me he was off to bed, and wished me “Good Night from Spain”. At once my heart was swept away in the romance of chatting with someone so far away. How beautiful it must be there. But if I cannot be there, at least I am someplace where the world can come to me. Where I am now is just fine – it is where I need to be. I responded to the foreigner, closing our conversation by wishing him “Good Day from New Jersey”.

(picture from www.mistymorningtea.com)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I saw lightning strike the other night. Driving home, about 20 yards away from my car. It hit a telephone pole. Its color was a bright white blue. It was not as loud as I expected it to be. It hit the pole, and sparks flew down to the asphalt below. And as soon as it happened I had already passed it. One moment I was thanking God I was not hit, and the next I was thanking God for having seen it.

Two weeks ago, I was in Target on a Sunday. Always a bad idea. People were everywhere, and I was close to loosing my mind. Even a short trip for a quick errand had turned epic. Barreling toward the exit, a child darted out in front of me. “Holy crap” was the first thing out of my mouth, then I realized I had not hit the girl. A mother chased after the child, grabbed her by the arm, and shouted at me “you should have hit her. Then she may have learned something” – then smacked the little girl.

Last Friday, while approaching an intersection and entering a left hand turn lane, a car coming in the other direction across the intersection drove directly into me. I saw him coming just in time and was able to swerve out of the way without hitting someone else. No harm came to me or the other car.

Know that I am quite afraid of jinxing this, but for some reason I think the powers that be enjoy positioning me just close enough to trouble that nothing happens except for inspiration for a decent story. So yeah, because of quick reflexes and paranoia I tend to stay out of trouble – but regardless I’m sure I’ll continue to stumble close enough to feel the force of the lightning…and I’ll continue to write about it.