Thursday, January 31, 2008


No, I'm not talking about the Spice Girl. I'm referring to the stores and hotels that are rising into the downtown skyline every day.

But when is the Meijer Thrifty Acres going to be built, I wonder? My kids miss the penny pony and their "Eat your donut and be still" bribe while underwear hardware toys home decor grocery shopping.

5 Star Power at WTC


By TOM TOPOUSIS of the New York Post

January 30, 2008 -- Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein yesterday unveiled plans for a Four Seasons hotel and luxury apartment tower a block north of the World Trade Center - part of a building boom that will double lower Manhattan's stock of hotel rooms by 2012.

The super-luxe hotel - the Four Seasons' second venture in the city - is expected to open in three years and will include a mix of swank hotel rooms and high-end condominiums in an 80-story tower at 99 Church St.

Designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern, the 912-foot-tall building will be the tallest residential tower in the city and is designed to serve as a bridge between the futuristic style of the planned Freedom Tower and the classic Woolworth Building on the same block.

"The task was an architectural challenge," Silverstein said of the effort to make the building fit in with its surroundings.

The Four Seasons, which already operates the city's most expensive hotel, on 57th Street, will include 175 hotel rooms and 143 condominiums in the downtown venture, which is being billed as the first five-star hotel in lower Manhattan.

It will be the first luxury chain hotel built downtown since the Ritz-Carlton opened at Battery Park City six years ago.

Construction of the hotel tower, clad in stone, will begin in June and is to be completed in 2011. By then, the five office towers at Ground Zero are expected to be nearing completion. Silverstein is building three of the new World Trade Center towers.

Silverstein said the arrival of the Four Seasons comes as the neighborhood is going through a transformation from a stodgy financial center that shut down at 5 p.m. to a mixed-use community brimming with new residents, stores and restaurants.

"Downtown has emerged as a prosperous community where the average household income is $242,000," Silverstein said.

Lower Manhattan is now home to 10 hotels with a total of 2,474 rooms. Officials at the Downtown Alliance said there are now eight hotels under construction, with a combined 1,972 rooms. Another 10 hotels with 1,700 more rooms are planned.

"The amount of investment pouring into downtown's hospitality industry is further proof that lower Manhattan is now New York's most desirable and dynamic destination," said Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance.

Kathleen Taylor, chief operating officer at Four Seasons, said Silverstein approached the company about three or four months ago to pitch the site.

The expansion of several financial firms downtown along with the booming residential nature of lower Manhattan was the key selling point for Four Seasons, Taylor said.

"The overall mix of what's happening in this exciting part of the world - exciting part of New York City - was really an attraction for us," she said.

The Four Seasons will go up on the site of the former headquarters of Moody's Corp., which has relocated to Silverstein's 7 World Trade Center. The site is now being cleared and construction of the hotel is expected to begin in June.

Silverstein will own the building and Four Seasons will operate the hotel and condos.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hint Not Taken

Dear Grocery Delivery Service,
I don't know what not-so-subtle suggestion you were giving when you sent me
organic brown rice and peas baby food
instead of
the spaghetti noodles that I ordered,
but please know that our family will have no need for baby food in the foreseeable future.


Scenes From a Sunday Morning

While the kids eat chocolate peanut butter toast
and sit way too close to the TV watching My Friends Tigger and Pooh,
Steve and I talk about my rather strong reaction to a certain televangelist that I watched this morning (on no less than 3 channels concurrently).
I'm re-reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning
and the televangelist's message doesn't jive with my favorite reformed-alcoholic ex-priest's message.

"Here's what it boils down to," says Steve, my husband, my pastor, my friend.

"Some people will say that the gospel tells us that no matter how bad we think we are, we are actually worse. But for all that, at the same time, no matter what we think of God's love, He loves us more than we can ever imagine or know. Nothing we do will cause God to love us more; nothing we do will cause God to love us less.

Other people think that the gospel message is this: No matter how bad we think we are, we actually aren't that bad, and if we just try a little bit harder, God will show us the love we know we want and think we deserve."

It's the first one.
The first one.

Scenes From a Sunday Evening

Welcome to City Fellowship Church
(See? There's plenty of room for you)
(And food)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The laundry room on weekend mornings is often not a pretty sight.

(the abundance of
coffee breath,
sweat pants,
fuzzy slippers,
bed head,
the last clean t shirt in the drawer, circa 1995,
absence of supportive undergarments)

All of us, slinging piles of dirty laundry and trying to rub the pillow creases out of our cheeks. It belies the stereotype of the sophisticated, sleek, and aloof New Yorker and reveals a common humanity that I find endearing (I have dirty socks; you have dirty socks. Same, same!)

Still, there is a laundry room code of conduct. Avoid eye contact and avert your eyes, lest you rest them on someone's underthings. Remove your items from the machine as soon as possible, to make room for the next person's load. Clean your own lint from the dryer ('cause no one wants to do it for you). And it seems the consequences for ignoring the code are fierce: Today I saw a pair of red lace underpants tacked to the laundry room bulletin board, right underneath the "Meditation Group for Middle School Girls Starting Soon!" sign. Ouch. What offense did my fellow launderer commit to deserve that?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Outcomes Management

This past weekend Steve and I took the R train to Queens to join some friends for dinner.

At 34th street, a man stepped in and started asking people for money.
His method was unorthodox.
No song or dance, no dramatic story of love and loss.
He simply walked over and held out his hand.
It wasn't all that successful.

When this person reached the man across the aisle from us, who turned his head and looked at the floor without placing a single coin in the outstretched hand, it was time for a new approach.

He began throwing a penny in the direction of anyone who did not give him anything.

Disturbing, but
decidedly more effective.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Case in Point

Imagine with me, if you will, a quiet afternoon in our apartment.

Chloe begrudgingly pulls out her violin for her daily practice session.

"Mom, what should I play?" she asks.

"Please do an A Scale, as perfect as you can make it," I tell her. "Remember to keep your-"

"Well," she interrupts. "NOBODY is perfect. Only God."

Touche, my precocious PK daughter, who so often is a mirror reflection of me.
Only God is perfect.
You and I--we certainly are not.

Now go practice your violin, for Pete's sake.

Mellow, Minorly Melancholic Monday

Might I suggest a few songs for such a mood?
Straight from my iTunes "Mellow" playlist:

Through to Sunrise - Girlyman
You Had Time - Ani Difranco
Lullaby - Jack Johnson
Power of Two - Indigo Girls
Anna Begins - Counting Crows
Such Great Heights - Iron and Wine
You Are the Sun - Sara Groves
For the Widows in Paradise... - Sufjan Stevens
The City - Joe Purdy
Winding Road - Bonnie Somerville

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

He Had No Other Choice, Really.

When it's 6:03 in the morning,
and High School Muscial 2 is in the DVD player,
a boy's gotta move.

Now, Listen Here

City Fellowship Church now has sermons available on-line...

Listen Here

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And Again and Again

If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try again.

Somewhere in our apartment building, there is a maintenance man who lives and breathes by that motto.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Split Second Insanity

I acknowledged today that
every time I'm on the subway or walking down the street
and I see someone having an animated conversation with the voices in their head,
I do the briefest of double checks--
Wondering if someone is really there holding up the second half of that conversation, and I don't see them.
(Which would make me the one with perception of reality issues.)
It happens so quickly, barely a glimmer of thought, but I still do it.
Every time.
Lingering effects of working as a psych nurse for a summer, I think.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Somebody stop this train of thought before it derails completely.

Got some catching up to do, don't we? Hope you all had a great holiday.
We had an action-packed holiday, including a trip to Michigan to see the fam and friends. Remember last year, with the stomach flu that wreaked so much Christmastime havoc? We had some panic-filled fears of a repeat round when my nephew awoke with the flu the morning after Christmas. We all hunkered down and tried not to cry with anticipatory dismay when Chloe came down with it the next morning, but a Christmas miracle happened and no one else was stricken. Phew. Still, isn't it an odd phenomenon when you learn that someone around you has the flu, and suddenly, you don't feel so well yourself? (You, of course, dismiss the fact that you've been eating massive amounts of junkfood all day, and that could be the contributing factor to your, you're quite certain you're coming down with the flu, too. Until you don't actually.) My brother-in-law and sister, Steve and I--we all confessed to the same paranoia (not absolutely unfounded paranoia, I don't think, but paranoia all the same).
It was beautiful to share in the ceremony as Steve baptized our nephew on the night of the 30th, then we hopped into the car and drove through the night to arrive in the city the morning of the 31st.

Anyone want to guess what time I called it a night on New Year's Eve?



That's right.
New Year's Rockin' Eve hadn't even come on the TV yet.
I woke up when the thunder of the fireworks over the Statue of Liberty at midnight shook our building. I craned my neck as I looked out the window in an effort to see them, but the best I could get was their reflection on the windows. "Happy New Year to us," I thought blearily.

The next morning, we were out and about at 9:00. The streets were empty. Of people, that is.
I saw plenty of, erm, how do I say this delicately.... regurgitated merriment on the streets, which made for an interesting sidewalk obstacle course.
And I felt sorry for the lonely, discarded party favors that littered the streets.
I was glad to see that Gristede's, the grocery store on our block, is getting on the green train.
Yesterday I picked up a few of their entirely functional yet not so attractive reusable grocery bags. Seems that going green is right up there with losing weight at the top of the New Year's resolution lists these days.
I'm happy to do my part.
Plus these bags hold a ton, which comes in handy when toting purchases back to the apartment. Good for the earth; good for me.
And, finally.

I listened to Fergie's The Dutchess yesterday afternoon whilst preparing a meal for our evening guest.
It made me laugh out loud. I'm talking belly laugh guffaws, here.
Was that the effect the album producers had in mind, do you think?
(I danced a little bit, too).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2007 Year in Review

City Fellowship Church has a new website!

Check it out here.