I’m getting married!!! The wedding is in September. It is mid February right now. And while that sounds almost-a-year away, 192 days does not feel too long to, well, plan EVERYTHING!!! Invitations to design, music to book, favors to make, food to decide on, chairs to find, places to reserve. Not to mention a dress to buy!

I am missing not being in Jo’burg for the planning with you, my troop of slaves/sisters/bridesmaid. Part of me conjures up images of us paging through magazines long into the night, giggling over dreadful ideas, collaborating over craft production, group cake-tastings, dress trials. Not to mention all the planning with the groom-to be: learning to dance, food tasting, musician testing… However, beyond the emotional tie, New York must be one of the greatest cities to be a bride-to-be. From trunk shows to countless bridal expos, deisgners at your finger tips, every vendor for every wish you can conjure up, an entire industry created for no-expense-spared weddings.  While I certainly do not fall into the latter category, the extensiveness of wedding frenzy in New York is almost palatable.

My fellow engaged work mate and I watched Bride Wars somewhat ceremoniously. The same engaged-mate and I attended The Wedding Party at the Palace Hotel, a mind boggling expo of all things wedding, from fashion shows to gelato carts, calligraphers and cakes. I realized engaged-mate and I are becoming bride-nerds when we signed up for a Victoria Secret focus group to discuss underwear and find out “what type of bride are you”. Flirty, natural or traditional? All brides of the world can be boxed into three categories. Nonetheless, we walked away with generous voucher so we were smiling.

This weekend marks my debut into the world of THE dress hunt. Accompanied by mom, we are paying visits to designers, salons and more designers in order to find THE one (read find THE one that mother-of-the-bride-to-be is going to make). I approach this weekend with much excitement and a fair does of anxiety. I mean, the dress is everything right? Well, no, not everything, but I am secretly hoping I will experience a similar legendary “When I met him I just knew” that I felt for the groom-to-be.

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One of the most ‘high powered/ important’ fashion journalists just came into the office today. He walked in as if he ruled the world, which I suppose according to him, and the rest of the fashion industry, he does .He had on jeans as tight as Karl Lagerfeld’s, an even tighter fuchsia tee (”its all about Fuchsia darling”) and funky Ray -Bans that he was wearing despite the typical grey and rainy London day and which he kept on for the entire appointment, that was held inside a showroom. He was fabulous. I would like to say I took the appointment, or showed him around the collection discussing key trends for the season and suggesting ‘must have’ pieces for his shoot, but who am I kidding – I followed him around holding the clothes, and picking up hangers as he selected his pieces while the head of the company, who had gotten dressed up, talked him through our latest garments. I was introduced, I’ll give them that much, but as an intern I did not get the air kisses- which I felt I deserved. He looks; my boss talks and I follow. Suddenly he turns to me and says in his ever so fabulous way ”poppet pop this on, I want to see”. So I took the top and started walking towards the door, to the bathroom , to ‘pop’ the top on, but he says with utter disgust and surprise, ”no, no, no poppet just do it here, quick quick, pop it on” . So right there I had to ‘pop’ my top off and ‘pop’ his top on, while sucking in as much as I could, thanking my lucky stars I was wearing a gorgeous bra and hoping like hell that nothing ‘popped’ out!

As an intern at a fashion house I have had my fair share of ‘firsts’, and ‘lasts’ for that matter and I am always over hearing interesting coversations about love, fashion, men, women, diets, clothes and everything in between. The latest conversation was about dieting, which I suppose isn’t a surprise since in an office of over neurotic fashion industry women a discussion on dieting happens as regularly as cigarette and coffee breaks or trying on each other’s shoes.

Listening to these women at work talk, apparently the ‘new’ diet is ‘THE COMPETITIVE DIET’. You find someone, for example your sister, and you see who can lose more weight , Quicker. Its quite simple, there are no rules and no limits to the extremes one can resort toone woman has starting smoking ‘Id rather live thin than die fat’ is her explantion . Another is only eating Miso soup for two weeks. Then you agree on a reward, for example (as in my boss’s case) a weekend at a spa resort and the loser pays! Many woman resort to this, not only because ‘really everyone is doing it’ but also because ‘it is the best way to loose weight, and if you the winning type (which apparently my boss is) you are guaranteed to look better than you relative at Christmas, which, lets admit, is better than any reward or Christmas present’.

I thought about this concept, thinking perhaps a partner in dieting, like a partner in crime, may be a good option, but I think of my sister as a ‘wingman’ who would spur me on or share the chocolate in the middle of the night binge… not as my enemy. I suppose it ultimately comes down to the fact that this sort of diet, or in fact (who am I kidding) any diet, would never work for girls who collectively call themselves ‘koeksisters’.
Heavens now I am hungry!

As I was waiting outside a quaint little health shop while my dinner was being prepared amongst alfalfa sprouts and gogi berry concoctions, I was imagining how I would describe the scene to you… In fact how I would describe the walk from my apartment, across two avenues, and down one street in order to pick up my health pizza (sounding decidely unhealthy sitting next to its menu-neighbor of homemade silky fofu). The route from A (my apartment on 11th Street and Avenue C) to B (the health restaurant serving, and I quote, “innovative organic cuisine” on 10 street and Avenue A) entailed a walk through Nigeria, past Hipsters Paradise (sidestepping the Middle East and Italy-ville in the form of cafe Vinieros on the way), with step or two in wonderland (or did the man in a full velvet suit, pointy shoes and a top hat and the lady in a bo-peep dress wonder into my land?) in order to get to the above mentioned oragically innovative restaurant in the heart of the East Village NY. I must say however, that while I waited for the above mentioned health pizza I sat next to a man on the bench outside who ordered three separate and consecutive servings of the same flavour soup, I thought I might have detoured through the nuthouse too (especially when I discovered it had been enriched with dulse, basil and a dash of propolis that boosts the body’s healing power…). And all of this in 15 minutes on Sunday while I pop out to get some dinner…

Welcome to my world. The inexplicable city of NY where the bizarre becomes the everyday and normality is but a rumour. It keeps you alive. On your toes. An adult’s playground which prevents you from ever submerging into the mundane. Nutcases are your neighbors and inspiration is your daily bread.

Last weekend while I headed out to the Mets’ stadium to watch them take on the Yankees in my first baseball game, I read Elwyn Brooks White’s take on the city on a poster in the subway. Being part of the category “the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something” this resonanted with my love for this place:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Who knows which were natives, commuters or settlers in my dash outside for dinner on this summer’s night, but the passion was as evident as the humidity.

According to the Chinese, the year of the Golden Pig occurs only once every 600 years. One could thus say it’s a significant year. 2007 was a significant year for me. I should have seen it coming because throughout 2006 I kept thinking it was 2007.

It was a year of extremes: I cried my eyes out and laughed til I cried. I had some of the best days of my life, and the worst day. There was no specific changing event: no deaths or births, or moves to another country. But there were many moments that changed me or at least revealed something new. I danced with with more abandon, I visited new cities. I became more adventurous. I got very little sleep. I had my heart broken. I lost my best friend. I fell in love. Twice. I realised that not everything is possible but also learned that you are never given a wish without the power to realise it. I spent my first Christmas away from my family. I made friends I want to keep forever. I questioned myself. About many things. And didn’t find as many answers but realised that’s life. I don’t know if I would say I grew up, but I got to know myself a bit better.

As you know I have just finished studying. I’m looking for a job. I’m moving apartments. And I have no idea what is going to happen. A perfect way to start a new year. I just have to figure out what I want to wish for…

Happy 2008 sisters!! Wishing you the wings to fly high, the vision to dream widly, the heart to love deeply, and the spirit to embrace all the beauty in life.

As you know, Husband and I just spent a week skiing in San Martin de los Andes in Argentina, which was a great ‘break’ in our trip. People-watching on the slopes is almost as fun as from a sidewalk cafe and I really had a few giggle while I made my way along the snow …

– No matter how much effort you put into choosing a ski outfit, it is really hard to look slim and/or glam in padded ski pants and/or goggles and/or a beanie that covers your ears as well as head … not to mention the ski-boot walk.

– You might think you look ‘experto’ (as they say here) and be confidently ‘carving’ but then, out of the blue and just to bring you right back down to the chilly earth (literally), you fall – and I have yet to see a graceful ski fall – and generally slide down the slope losing skis and/or poles and/or items of clothing, but definitely sense of humour, along the way.

– Ski freeze is a very real medical phenomenon that occurs when your legs and coordination stop working as you realise you are in way over your head on a treacherous red or black slope and there is no way down but to ski down … thank goodness for snow plough.

– Large groups of people dressed in matching ski outfits are not conducive to seamless skiing as one of them will always be falling of the ski lifts or lying across your path, invariably annoying everyone but carrying on completely obivious to the chaos they leave in their wake.

– People hate queues be it for ski passes or lifts and there will always be those that push in and/or shove from behind and/or jostle for position.

– Kids have no fear and while I am shaking in my boots on a steep downhill they come screaming past in packs, jumping and shouting for joy … other than the common lone one at the back with tears running down his cheeks, screaming for mommy. This makes me think – when do we gain a sense of fear? Is it when it suddenly looks a lot further to the ground than when you’re 3 foot?

– Teenagers travel in packs, enough said.

– At the end of each day, after hours of skiing and feeling cold we all love the feeling of taking of those darn boots and savouring a warm hot chocolate. Aaahhh!

I don’t usually discuss my vajaja with grown ups, or any males for that matter especially not family members so this is for purely entertainment purposes.

The other day I was given a gift voucher to The four Seasons Spa in Paris. The gift voucher was for 50Euro which, for a little South African who times everything by ten is quite a lot, but in Paris and especially in this top spa my 50Euro voucher could not get me very far actually, the only thing it could get my was a bikini wax. So I resorted to an extravagant bikini wax which was much against my “spending morals” as nothing worth that much had ever been near my vajaja let alone done to it.

I decided to make an occasion of this Spa day and dressed up, went early, enjoyed the sauna and swimming pool as well as the herbal teas and English speaking people around. I was greeted in French by Lillian and led into a beautiful, peaceful room where my wax would take place. Petals covered the bed, classical music played in the background and sweet smelling essence filled the room_ all making for the right environment for a 50Euro bikini wax. I lay down, Lillian applied the wax and ripped (just cause it cost more doesn’t mean it hurt less), she looked and repeated the procedure. At the end of the session, she applied a soft (apparently secret Four Seasons cream although I thought it looked like good old Vaseline) and poured me some more relaxing tea.

I went to the change room and put on my clothes not inspecting my new 50Euro piece of art, handed in my voucher and went back into reality of hot weather, grumpy Frenchmen and my room which is smaller than one shower at Spa. That evening I got undressed and as I looked down I saw what every women dreads: a lopsided vajaja! Yes that’s it right, after excruciating pain and 50Euro I was now lopsided..