17 June 2008

United, Please Fall

Once upon a time, in a strange city called Washington, a young woman wandered out on a sunny morning to catch a bus to an airport called Dulles.

Being a smart, careful woman with lots of common sense, she took her single suitcase, carry-on sized of course, and her laptop bag, and left more than three hours before her United flight was scheduled to take off. After all, she didn't want to be late.

So she waited for the bus, which was scheduled to come pick her up at 10:10

But the 10:10 bus never came.

The 10:30 bus never came.

The 10:55 bus came -- at 11:05.

The young woman began to worry when the bus didn't arrive at the airport until nearly noon.

It turned out that her fears were well-founded. The evil airline would not let her board her flight, even though she arrived half an hour in advance.

So she picked up the phone and talked to customer service, who told her there was nothing they could do and that she should call the booking agent.

So she called the booking agent, who told her there was nothing they could do and that she should talk to the airline's customer service desk.

Finally the young woman found an airline employee with an IQ higher than their shoe size, and got a seat on the 4:50 flight.

It meant nearly 5 hours in the airport, but our young heroine didn't mind. As long as she got home today.

Thunderstorms shook the region, and the flight was delayed until 5:30, then 6, then 6:30, then 6:45, and then canceled all together. The skies cleared and the sun came out by 6 p.m., but still the evil airline would not reinstate the flight.

The young woman ran to customer service again, but they told her that the next flight didn't leave until 10:10 that evening. Since she was supposed to be on the 12:33 flight earlier that afternoon, customer service told her that she would be at the bottom of the stand-by list since they had to give first priority to those who had originally purchased tickets for the 4:50 flight. The young woman knew this was bull, and probably invented so that the customer service agent didn't have to say the real reason. But she held her tongue and waited for the 10:10 flight.

The flight was delayed until 11:15, then 11:45, then 12:30 a.m., then 12:45. At 1 a.m., after being at the airport for 13 hours, the airline began boarding the flight and announcing the stand-by passengers who had a seat. But at the end of the fiasco, the young woman was the only person who didn't get a seat on the flight back home.

Having learned by now that "customer service" was a contradiction in terms to the employees at United, the woman steeled herself for yet another pleasant encounter.

They were unable, they said, to put her on stand-by for either the 7:15 or the 10:30 a.m. flights the next morning, but they were able to put her on stand-by for the 12:33 p.m. flight; a full 24 hours after her originally scheduled flight.

Meanwhile, they said, because the cancellation had been due to weather (even though the skies had cleared before 6 p.m.), they could not give her a hotel voucher or cab vouchers. It was not their policy to give vouchers for weather cancellations, since, they argued, the weather wasn’t their fault. They only gave vouchers for flights that had been overbooked or canceled for some other reason, not for weather.

The young woman tried to argue; after all, she was the only passenger for Syracuse who still didn’t have a flight. It was nearly two in the morning; she didn’t know anyone who could come pick her up or offer her a place to stay. She was alone, a bit afraid, in an airport by herself and who knew what might happen to her?

But her cries fell on deaf ears, and she was forced to spend the night in the airport. So she took a shuttle back to the C concourse (the evil airline had, in the course of the day, sent her to 5 different gates at 3 different concourses) and was shocked to discover that ... they'd sent her straight back to her original gate!

And so here now our heroine sits, in the vain hope that perhaps, maybe, if she's lucky, she'll get on a flight today.

But she doubts it.

The end.

16 June 2008

Vogue Designers, Vogue Photographers.

The June Vogue beautiful photographs of Sarah Jessica Parker and her silver screen beau Chris Noth, photographed by Annie Liebovitz in some of the most beautiful dresses I've seen in a long time. All photos from Vogue.

Look at that gold and black Lanvin silk dress. The way it folds and bends makes what could be a quite dull pattern of extremely wide stripes into something mysterious and elegant. And of course, the Louboutin pumps don't hurt, either.

The Louis Vuitton luggage could easily steal attention away from Parker's beautiful Chanel suit that looks as chic and posh as if it were Audrey Hepburn wearing it. But for some reason my eye keeps wandering to the sparkling silver of the Chrysler building in the background.

The blue-ish, sea green of that Nina Ricci dress is incandescent. I feel like I could drown in it!

Raquel Laneri mentioned on her blog the "bondage criss-crossing" on this dress, and while that certainly draws your eye, what I love about it is rather the reversal of gender roles in the postures here. If you look at photographs of women, from catalogs to fashion magazines, you'll notice that women typically don't face the camera directly. Either they look at the camera (or subject) while their faces and bodies are pointed at a different angle, or their bodies or face are aimed at the camera while their eyes look elsewhere. Men, on the other hand, are photographed straight on, looking at the camera (or subject) at eye-level, no embarrassment or shame in the gaze. It's FemGen 101: Men look, women are looked at. But if you notice in this photograph, SJP faces Noth straight on, while Noth's body is slumped, his hands in his pockets, his body turned towards the painting on the wall. So interesting ...

This photograph, by comparison, resembles more closely the norm of what you'll find. SJP shies away from Noth's gaze, which is reinforced by the use of that video camera.

If I had that Marchesa dress, I'd look back at anyone who was checking me out. Uh huh. That's right.

And then there's this stunning photograph taken at the Metropolitan Opera. Liebovitz likes to arrange the dresses in this flowing way, like an unfolded fan. This scene is eerily reminiscent of the scene in the SatC movie where Mr. Big properly proposes to Carrie while they're lounging in their couture outfits and Bradshaw's $525 shoes. The placement of the programs, forgotten on the stairs, is a nice extra touch that shows Liebovitz's attention to detail, and the lines of the stairs that form a nice contrast to the folds of the Versace dress make this my favorite picture from the collection.

10 June 2008

Musings on a Summer's Day

Summer is, was and will always be my favorite time of year. Something about the feel of the sun warming my hair just reaches down into my soul and makes me smile.

Yes. I have a smiling soul.

In California, summer can be measured in two ways - hot and hotter. There's 85 degrees hot, there's 95 degrees hot, and there's 105 degrees hot. Head out to Palm Springs or Lake Havasu, AZ, and you get 115 degrees hot.

Sunscreen is a necessity, but there's nothing like it. For me, it's almost like the feeling I get when I'm sitting with a cup of my mom's fresh hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, watching the orange and red flames in their glowing dance. But there's one big difference between the two. Feeling the fire warming my skin and hair makes me feel like an old soul; even when I was seven or eight years old, I felt as if I'd been sitting watching fires for a thousand years (in the most non-pyro way possible). Getting that same feeling from the sun, though, makes me feel unabashedly young. When I'm seventy or eighty, I imagine that I'll feel the sun warming the hair on my head, and the skin just below my eyes, and I'll close my eyes and imagine I'm seven again.

The east coast, though, has another way of measuring the heat - humidity. If you walked down the street with a gigantic fist closing in around you, it couldn't be more stifling than a day of 91 degree temperatures coupled with 98 humidity.

Today I walked around in D.C. from the Glover Park neighborhood down to Georgetown. Half an hour after I got to my sister's apartment, the skies turned gray and I expect any moment now the deluge that inevitably follows several days of sweltering humidity will begin. But it'll only last an hour or two. The clouds will fall away in time to go out and watch the sun set over Virginia.

And tomorrow, the sun will come out again.

08 June 2008

Moving House

I never realize exactly how settled I am in a place until I move from it.

Suddenly, the small things I've bought out of convenience - the tool kit, the set of dishes, the photo albums, the filing cabinet - suddenly I have to put it all into neat little boxes, label them and send them off to some other place.

It's only then that I realize that I have five sets of shelves than four feet high - for the kitchen, the laundry room, DVD and video storage, and two for books. This on top of the bookcase that's covered in books (six feet high, six feet long, one foot wide) and the small shelves that sit on top of my desk to provide extra storage space. It's only at this crucial moment that I actually realize exactly how many pairs of shoes I own. Only then that I see that buying endless picture frames from Ikea in an effort to get rid of the boxes of loose photos probably wasn't a very good idea, since the bubble wrap to pack them in will end up costing more than the frames themselves did. And it's only in this sad little moment that I stumble across a box of paints and brushes, bought during my college years as an intended mode of stress relief and forgotten almost as soon as the receipt was lost.

It's rather sad when I realize that my funds over the years can be summed up in a pile of junk large enough to fill an apartment, while my relaxation techniques fit into a box that could barely fit a loaf of bread.

02 June 2008

And Then There Was One

Confession time once again. I went with some friends to see the 'Sex and the City' movie on opening day. I am not ashamed.

I am, as ever, insanely jealous of the wardrobe and accessories those four women get to enjoy. And of course, I certainly am jealous of those hunky, hunky men.

Out of a crowd of about 30 at the 3:15 showing at the Carousel Center in Syracuse, a whopping three, by my count, were men.

When we left the theater, people were already lining up for the next showing. Easily 70 people, most of them women, and most of the women in their fancy cocktail dresses, with perfect hair and make-up, and of course, really beautiful shoes. Like out of a show from Fashion Week. This show was sold out.

The line trailed around the escalators and back to the ticket office - a good 50 yards at least. This show was clearly sold out.

Only one man was in the line. His girlfriend stood next to him, looking around to see if they would open up the theater soon. The man met my gaze as I walked out and turned red.

It was quite cute, actually.