Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal

Only an insider can detail the lifestyles of the Recessionistas with such accuracy, vividness and humor.  A tale of the times, anyone who works on Wall St. or lives in New York City, can relate. Focusing on how females have been affected by the recent financial crisis, the book offers a unique outlook to a once rich and powerful group of people. The author herself is part of this exclusive circle of wealth centered in the lavish Upper East Side. Her experiences, acquaintances and friendships influence this work of fiction based on historic events. Grigsby Somerset, the woman everyone loves to hate along with Mimi Cutter and some other friends depict the ugly side of being a wealthy wife and mother married to a Wall St. superstar. Their lack of connection with reality, lack of emotions and over selfishness is what ultimately brings to their demise which they are able to rise above. From haute couture and plastic surgery, frivolous spending and lavish charity events, social climbing and private schools, they are faced with the realities of this century’s recession.  Their husbands, scrambling to make ends meet, keep their companies afloat and keep out of jail, end up slapped with divorce filings for not being able to support their wives’ extravagant lifestyles any longer. The characters struggle with their new reality and yet come together in an attempt to make sense of the crisis that has affected them all so deeply.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

A book as moving and inspiring as this hasn’t come along in a while. Tears flowed down my eyes periodically as this book within a book evolved and I was swept away to several worlds outside my current urbanity. The world of Alma and Bird Singer in New York City, the world of Leo Gursky and Bruno in Poland and Brooklyn , the world of Alma Mereminski and her son the acclaimed author Isaac Moritz and finally, Zvi Litvinoff’s demented world. Leo is a wonderful writer who unfortunately never gets the proper credit. His “best friend”, Zvi Litvinoff publishes his book in Chile with minor modifications for fear of not getting recognition from his wife and the world as an author. The book “The History of Love” written by Leo Gursky gets some exposure but eventually reaches the perfect hands of an Israeli backpacker, David Singer. His daughter, Alma, named after the author’s undying love interest; Alma Mereminski decides to search for the real Alma while searching for her own identity as a lonely and troubled teen, creating a parallel story. After several trials and tribulations and with the help if her insightful younger brother, she is able to get to the source of it all, bringing Leo Gursky to several realizations along the way. This novel tells of love, hope, belonging, insecurity, history, loneliness and death. Each character’s inner thoughts are brought to life and the reader gets a rare window into their feelings. Sadness and happiness intertwined make this page turner a book to be read slowly and spread out over time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Social Network...

Intrigued, excited, awkward, fast, bumpy, angry and sad. I felt all of these while watching the new movie "The Social Network". The movie tells the story of how Facebook as we know it came about beginning at how the idea originated and formed in the mind of the founder Mr. Zuckerberg. It is interesting to note the actual social awkwardness of the founder Mark and the somewhat superior likeability of the co-founder Eduardo. Together they built a tool to overcome the awkwardness of being college nerds and enable people like them to hook up with beautiful girls. This revolutionary idea has transformed the social experiences most of us have and has reached the furthest of countries. It is amazing to think that one, or five, as the movie suggests, people, have been able to make such an impact on how people interact with one another.

The concept of Facebook was so well-received it was as if we were all yearning for something to help us be social without the awkwardness. I tend to wonder the merits of all this. Where did the good old days of talking to people, introducing yourself or even picking up the telephone go? Our every form of communicating and sharing with one another has digitized and with that our social skills have decreased. Mark, as depicted, is indeed a brilliant guy with few friends or people he can trust. He may have difficulty approaching someone and striking up a conversation but that doesn't mean the rest of us should...Or is this really a solution for all of those who are weird, shy or just lazy.

It has come to fill a whole in our society and has created a void where face time once was. An idea this good must indeed be a combination of several ideas executed so well by one!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


You know those people at work; they’re small, perky and bossy? I do, and they remind me of squirrels with their quick moves and barked orders. Their high-pitched voices and annoying mannerisms; always sneaking up on you when you least expect it. Just like the squirrel that pops out from behind the tree and plops himself smack in your way. The same one that acts just as surprised to see you and stops for just a moment before leaping back into his quick stride. You would think they would get used to people, living in Manhattan, just like after over two months I should get used to the human squirrel in my office but, I guess I never get a chance since he is so quick to move on to his next victim…

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The feeling is familiar, yet refreshing. First time I felt this way was towards the end of my service, last time was before I moved here and now there is this time. Ten days left before I enter the silver cage, I call it silver since our cages are no longer allowed to be gold. I’ve made a list, crossed most things off but I still have a few loose ends to seal. People to see, Broadway shows to experience, restaurants to dine in and of course shopping!!! I think that’s the best part of the list, the greatest part of the countdown. I’ve waited so long for this and how better to reward myself then with material things? What will it be this time? Prada? Gucci? or maybe the understated Mr. Marc Jacobs. An ounce of guilt pinches my side every time I think of the price tags or mull over the need for these material things. This is how I’ve always been rewarded, how I’ve always marked a special occasion or accomplishment. So why should this time be different? Repeating that thought in my head helps wipe out that ounce of guilt, making room for the retail therapy to kick in.

Every moment of freedom is relished, even the hours spent cleaning my apartment, walking the streets of New York, or zapping between trashy realities. I wonder what my new life will be like. What will the people be like? How should I act in order to avoid making crucial mistakes? How can I protect myself from getting hurt and trampled on? These reflections are enough to keep me up at night, but unfortunately I don’t yet have the answers. This makes the countdown less enjoyable, since there is a cloud of uncertainty above my head. I stress when I think of my old job and pray my new one is entirely different.

I make some new additions to my list, knowing I won’t be able to get them all done. I figure I will still have time; my life will not be over. Of course it will, I conclude, smirking to myself. On to the new beginning and until the next countdown…

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I let a huge “Phew” be released from my throat as I started to take in what just happened. I was so relieved! The search was over. The ongoing tests, telephone calls, emails, inquiries and pitiful faces were all going to be wiped away. I had emerged victoriously! After 11 months, but victoriously! I had managed to find something better, brighter and more promising. As the minutes passed, I contemplated who to call first. Of course, my husband but then who? Who deserves to know first, who will react in the best way, and mostly who do I owe the most. Naturally, my parents were next on the list…

I have about two more weeks of freedom before I return to producing again. I must quickly make a list of all the things I want to do, all the places I want to see, and all the people I need to meet up with. Two weeks in New York is nothing. It flies by so fast but I pledge to make the most of it.

I feel pride and accomplishment. I’m proud to have gotten this far and not have gone mad. I’m happy that I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever expected to. I’ve emerged healthier in mind, body and soul. I’ve invested lots of time and money in fitness and it’s finally starting to pay off. I have a better understanding of who I am and what I want from life. And finally, I have managed to overcome one of the greatest challenges I have faced yet.

I leave you with one word, gratitude. I’m grateful to God to have made this possible, to my husband for his constant support and to my friends and family for their concern and help.

May we all be so lucky!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Oh, how I missed that feeling, the warmth that surrounded and filled me with glee and reassurance. Yes, I belong in this celebration, I'm part of this holiday, this is my occasion too, and one I can finally share with New York. Standing in Central Park nearing midnight, the excitement thickened the air and it was penetrating me. The DJ played the last upbeat song causing the crowd to jump and cheer in the snow-filled rain. My feet were soaking wet, my hair a mess, needless to say we did not bring an umbrella but we were overjoyed, drunk and highly anticipating the next few minutes. I looked around me and saw many tourists, heard many languages, recognized no one but realized we were all here for the same reason. We wanted to ring in the New Year in a unique and chilly fashion. The outdoor dance party, laser show, amazing fireworks and then 5k race were definitely a special way to welcome 2010!

We proceeded to go cheer on the runners. After all, they were running in the rain in costumes and skimpy clothing. Loudly rooting them on, I tried to locate my friend within them. She was a great runner, a New York runner and I was determined to take a picture of her during the race. As the minutes passed, we became wetter and more and more sober. We were becoming more aware of the cold and outdoor circumstance we were in. The champagne we drank before and during our celebration had kept us warm for about an hour, but all good things come to an end. "Dona, Dona", she called out and I spotted her in the large sporty crowd. We followed her to the finish line and embraced when it was all over. Happy New Year Twenty Ten!