Moving to NY weeks before Sept 11

by Christine on September 12th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Just three weeks before September 11th, 2001 I moved to New York from my hometown in Illinois. I moved out to New York to go to graduate school. I got a full scholarship + teaching assistant (TA) position worth $30k a year, and it was an ivy-league quality school, so I was pretty stoked. I was basically getting paid to go to school. It was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life.

My TA position landed me as an editor at the Writing Center. On the morning of September 11th, I woke up in my teeny tiny little studio apartment and used AOL dial-up to check my email. When I logged in, I saw photos and an announcement about the plane flying into Tower 1.  I shrugged, thought to myself, “Crazy terrorist crap happening yet again. What a violent world we live in,” then continued on my way to check my email. I showered, got dressed, and went to work on campus.

When I got to campus, several people came in to say, “Did you hear about the plane?” Yes I had, whatever…just a bunch of moron terrorists. The Center was pretty quiet, so I used the computer to log in again. I saw the notification about the 2nd plane hitting Tower 2.  That’s the first point when I thought, “Huh. Maybe this is worse than I thought.”

But then I remember the secretary of the department coming into the center. She had tears running down her face. “My husband left home at 4 a.m. to do business out of town. He had work in the World Trade Center today. I can’t get a hold of him!”  I felt her panic.

A student called on the phone. “I’m from NYC,” the student explained. “My dad works in the World Trade Center. I have to cancel my appointment, I”m sorry. I’m trying to find my dad.”

Two hours later the President of the school closed campus. I walked down to the campus center to find a HUGE crowd of students grouped around the one TV in the lounge.  It was dead silent. Most were looking stoically at the TV, but a lot of the students had tears running down their faces. I heard a few people murmur about the people they knew that worked in the World Trade Center or at the Pentagon or somewhere in Pennsylvania.

My school wasn’t in NYC, but it seemed like everywhere I turned, someone knew someone that had a link to the WTC.

It took me several hours to really understand the gravity of the situation and to understand that the attack happened on our soil. But there’s always been a big part of my brain that wonders why this particular terrorist attack has had such gravity and world-wide impact when there is fighting in the middle east every day, innocent people dying, but that news doesn’t rock everyone’s world the way that September 11th did.  What about Rwanda? Darfur? Burundi? Most people haven’t even HEARD about the genocide that happened in these locations. Shouldn’t we mourn all innocent people that die from terrorism and hate? Isn’t this a global world, where everyone is our brothers and sisters? I never really understood why September 11th was more tragic that other terrorist events, but that’s just me.

Later, when I worked for the architectural firm, I was so excited to get work on the World Trade Center/Freedom Tower reconstruction project. (The work involved doing the interior design of 24 floors of Building #4, where the Port Authority’s offices will be located.) It was one of my proudest work moments.  The client invited me down to NYC one time to get a personal, behind-the-scenes tour of the “bathtub” that was the pit of the two towers.  It was really awesome to see all the reconstruction work.

(That staircase in the 2nd to last picture…that’s costing them $3 million to leave in place and work completely around. It will be one of the focal points in the September 11 museum.)

September 11th is one of those moments in history where you’ll always remember where you were, how you heard, and how you felt. What are your memories of September 11th?

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Walking a marathon in NYC…

by Christine on August 9th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

This weekend a good friend of mine, Peter, and I went to NYC for a relaxing weekend away. We had a hotel reservation and that was it…no plans, no destination, no schedules to adhere to. I love that kind of weekend!  I guesstimated that we walked a marathon over the course of the two days. That’s 2,349 calories burned (walking at a pace of 3.0 MPH)! Poor Pete’s legs were killing him, and my feet were acutely aware that I was on them for two full days. It would have been much, much worse if I were 90 pounds heavier. I remember dreading weekends like this when I was heavier. I knew that no matter what shoes I wore, I would be sore and in blistery and in so much pain.  This trip was so much different. I wore sneakers and although my feet were weary yesterday, I wasn’t in pain. What a great feeling!

On Saturday we checked into our hotel in Midtown, a block from Times Square. We went to check out the new planetarium building. (Pete is an architect, and I used to work for architects, so architecture is one of the commonalities that we both enjoy.)  The new planetarium building isn’t exactly unique (after all, the Apple store is a glass box. And EMPAC at RPI has the suspended/interior theater-in-a-circle thing going on as well) but the building was quite beautiful nonetheless! I bet it’s is amazing lit up at night. I’d love to see the nighttime lighting design sometime.

Afterwards we went to the Guggenheim. I had never been there, and Pete wanted to show me the circular exhibit space inside. It was indeed a really cool floorplan, although the stark, cold whiteness left a little to be desired. Plus, it just kind of felt old and outdated. I didn’t enjoy the art inside — modern/contemporary really isn’t my thing, although they had a nice impressionist exhibit that I liked, but it was a delight to see the building!

We did a lot of walking through Central Park! We walked from one side to the other, then zig-zagged our way down. We saw one of the lakes, the castle, the Bethesda fountain, Strawberry Fields, the Rambles, watched the sunbathers and baseball players in the field, etc. It was a perfect, beautiful day, and we walked for miles and miles!

We “grazed” all day long. We had a short lunch, and I had tomato soup that was so light and delicious! it wasn’t like condensed tomato soup — this was pure and authentic tomato juice, with some cucumbers in it. Unfortunately it lacked calories, so I was starving a few hours later. We found an Italian bistro later, and we had two appetizers: a shrimp dish and some mozerella and tomatos with pesto. Both were delicious!  In the evening we got another fish appetizer, but I didn’t enjoy the fish so I ate a few potato chips. Not healthy, but that’s the way it goes. That was pretty much all I ate all day, but we drank (alcohol) all day long, including a 2-am bender at a few Irish pubs, so I consumed my fair share of calories. It just wasn’t very healthy, you know?

Sunday I wanted to shop a little bit! I had never been to SoHo, so we decided to check it out. I loved Soho! It was a great combination of cute boutique stores and name-brand stores. We went into Hugo Boss and gasped at the $600-for-one-shirt price tags, then dived into a no-name boutique store where shirts were $12. Much more in my price range! I bought some cute headbands with feathers and sparkles, a cheap bracelet, some Lush Karma soap, and two baby presents for my expectant cousin.  I could have shopped more, except that Pete’s legs hurt.  We had lunch at a little bistro and I had the gazpacho soup that was out of this world! I loved it!  We sat for a while in Washington Park and watched the kids play in the fountain. Then we braved the Times Square crowd (there was some Puerto Rican pride parade going on that was INSANE…trying to get our car and get out of there was a nightmare) and headed home.  I doubt I ate more than 400 calories all day yesterday.

On Friday I zoomed up to Lake George (upstate NY) to meet my husband’s company for dinner. My husband works for a great little company. They are small and family-sized, and the boss really cares about the work my hubby puts in. For instance, for Christmas he gave us a 60-something inch plasma TV and a Sonos speaker system w/remote. One day we woke up and boom, there was a ginormous tv! It was just a little bonus, a way to say “thank you” for all my hubby’s work. In the summertime they take a day off to get together, play at the lake house, go for boat rides, etc. This year they did an extreme challenge ropes course (with zip lines, copes course, etc), then played on the lake afterwards. Check it out at Adirondack Extreme Challenge. I can’t wait to try this course myself and see how far I get!

A few short years ago they bought two adjacent properties on Lake George. They tore down the waterfront property and built a house. I don’t want to call it a mansion, but I’d certainly call it a “great house.” It’s in authentic Adirondack style, and it’s absolutely beautiful. My favorite features are the smart windows that know when it’s raining and automatically close; the home theater in the basement with the staggered/elevated seating; the patio area and two-story boathouse and deck; the wood elevator that brings wood logs from the basement up to the fireplace on the first floor; and, oddly enough, the powder room sink that has a hand-carved rock and countertop to look like a running stream. It’s quite beautiful! (The last picture is their neighbor’s house.)

Anyway, I zoomed up north after work and fought the ridiculously bad New Jersey drivers. It took twice as long to get there as it should have. The traffic was awful! However, I still beat them there. I had a cosmo at the bar while I waited. For dinner I got the “queen sized” prime rib. I had about four bites and I was done. I still have 14 ounces or more left over in my fridge!  It was ridiculous! Look at the size of this “King size” prime rib!

Prime Rib

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148.5 (76.5 pounds lost): Weekend Getaway

by Christine on May 17th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

Yale University - example of buttressed cloistersThis was a very busy weekend! Living on the East Coast never ceases to amaze me; there is so much to do! I grew up in the midwest where it takes a minimum of 8 hours to get to another region/city of worth visiting. Around here, I’m: 2 hours from NYC, 4 hours from Boston, 3 hours from Montreal, 20 minutes from the mountains and Vermont, with 30 minutes of Massachusetts and Connecticut, etc.  As far as I can tell, I have about 100 day trips just calling my name! I feel very lucky.

St. Paul's Cathedral in LondonOn Saturday we decided to take a drive to Connecticut.  First we drove to New Haven to visit the Yale campus. I wanted to look at the Gothic architecture. We went to the Yale Center for British Art (free admission) and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they are doing an exhibit on the “tools of the trade” used in architecture, surveying, and masonry. There were many old documents, including original plans of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London! I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the painstaking efforts that the artists took to focus on symmetry, ornate decoration, high and lofted ceiling, buttresses, etc. What a wonderful exhibit and a pleasure to stumble across! I brought some almonds to snack on in the car during this leg of the trip.

Then we drove to Foxwoods Casino and Resort located in eastern CT.  Together with the MGM Grand, it is one of the largest casinos in the world.  We gambled there for nearly 8 hours! That sounds like a lot (and it was), but we are not big gamblers; we always play the penny machines. (There are even 1/2 and 1/4 of a cent machines these days!) Leann Rimes was there, and we stumbled across her doing a press shoot before the concert. I waved and said hi like we were old chums.

We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  I scoured the menu and had a conundrum: I really wanted a salad, but all the salads were $15-or-so dollars.  I would only have 1/5th of what they gave to me, and I didn’t want to walk around the casino with a box of leftovers.  I could get an appetizer or a sandwich-minus-the-bun, but neither of those options were healthy and had vegetables with them. Shoot, what should I do?  Then we found the perfect solution! Aaron ordered a hamburger, but he could add a side salad for $3.  He ordered me a Caesar salad, and I ordered a “side” shrimp skewer, which I added to the salad. The perfect meal size and it only cost $8! Plus I didn’t have to deal with leftovers.

Plus, all that time at the casino meant 8 hours of nonstop walking. Oh, I’m not going to go so far as to call it exercise because it didn’t elevate my heart rate one iota. However, it was nonstop movement, so that was good. I didn’t feel guilty at all for skipping the gym that day!  At the end of the day we were up $20 (winners!), and we didn’t get home until almost 4:30 a.m.!

Iron Man 2. Rawr!I set the alarm for 10 a.m. I got up and, despite my urge to go back to sleep, I hauled my butt to the gym. I got a tremendous leg workout (weight-training) in. Today I am sore and have leg DOMS all over! (Click here for a conversation about DOMS.)  Then we saw Iron Man 2. I brought almonds with me to the movies for a healthier snack alternative. Yum!  Afterwards it was a dash to the mall to meet a friend for 2 hours, then home to cook dinner.  It was such a busy day that I couldn’t get a gym workout in during the evening (the gym closes at 7 p.m. on Sundays), so I was very glad that I made the effort to go to the gym in the morning.  It was…empowering!

Later today I will add a post about polymetric exercises, so stay tuned!

Namaste, Revolutionists!

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