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Let's pretend I'm pointing at "Favorite" instead of "Google"

July 26th was a Sunday.  It was also really important day, because it was the one-year anniversary of Hello Favorite Store!  It’s less than common to undergo a name change before reaching the one year mark, but Hello Favorite Store, formally Favorite Store, is not like most blogs.

There is only one appropriate way to celebrate this anniversary, and that is with a cookie cake.  My childhood was filled with cookie cakes.  They marked birthdays, end-of-school celebrations, and the one dinner party my house has seen since its construction in the late eighties.

Cookie cakes are easily accessible and the most inclusive of all celebratory desserts, because most often they come from a mall.  Or at least they used to.  Now they come from Penn Station.  And because I try to avoid this portal that allows me safe access to New Jersey, I’ve decided to honor Hello Favorite Store in a different way:  I would like to take a look back at this day in history, the day Favorite Store took its first exclamation point:

On July 26th, 2008, I was in an apple orchard.  Or rather, the clubhouse of a community club within an apple orchard.  I was there to celebrate a friend’s graduation.  At the party I was asked to convince a hesitant mother that a nose piercing does not automatically send one down a path of rebellion, illegitimate children, and unemployment.  I can only vouch for the first two.

This time last year I was in the market for a hostess position.  Unfortunately this career objective never materialized because I lacked two things: restaurant experience and headshots.  Apparently, one is unable to be a successful host if he or she is not in possession of headshots. This seems to suggest that taking reservations and seating parties require a fair amount of posing.  “Your waitress will be right with you!” (sultry pout).  “The wait is around thirty minutes” (piercing stare with intensified jawbones).

Needless to say I quickly gave up the hunt for a hostess gig, and instead spent my time last summer in the Whole Foods Market café, writing essays about the anonymity of the urban environment.  Of course I did have an ulterior motive.  I was determined to end up on Craigslist’s infamous Missed Connections.

“Petite girl with temporary tattoo and messy brown ponytail.  You seemed in the midst of an intellectual quandary.  Or maybe you were just hungry.  I was by the window, dressed in a plaid button down and moderately skinny (but incredibly masculine) jeans.  Are you out there?”

No.  I never made it on the site.

But back to happier things! Like blogs!  Because this is the anniversary of my blog, and not a Manhattan eatery, I can host my cookie cake and eat it too.

Happy one year Favorite Store.  Let’s say hello to a few more years.

I’m going to move past the fact that it’s been forever, and just give you what you’re here for: PICTURES OF DR. UKE AND ME AND JACQ. At a dive bar. In our New York City debut at Otto’s Shrunken Head.

Everyone looks silly singing. But everyone looks awesome in photo booth pictures with a zebra background!

So, to sum up, I like Otto’s, and Otto’s likes ukes. And Dr. Uke had such a great time that he’s promised to play more gigs in the city with us!

STAY TUNED…OR DIE.

Take these from my hands! Please!

Take these from my hands! Please!

Moving can be depressing.  Rooms that were once adorned with lantern lights and holiday decorations are suddenly void of any character.  Arms grow sore from strenuous box lifting, and voices grow loud during the inevitable who-gets-to-take-what conversations.

The most depressing point of my recent move came when I visited the old apartment after the movers drove away.  I entered my room, expecting it to be empty save a few dust…friends.  What I found was more disturbing than any rodent or mountain of dirt.  Sitting on my floor, now unearthed due to the removal of my bed, was a box.  A box given to me by my mother.  A box I had been trying to forget I owned, and had successfully done, until now.  A box labeled “Breast Enhancers.”

I was depressed on moving day.

Speaking of busts, moving day wasn’t a total one, as I was able to bond with the movers.  There were three of them, one Russian, one with a ponytail, and one who was rather ambiguous.   The pony-tailed mover stole my heart just a little but it was the Russian with whom I forged a special bond.  He liked my new apartment, I liked his accent, and the fact that he could lift a couch with the greatest of ease.

Unpacking is worse than packing because the options for where items can go are endless.  In order to get through this nightmare, I have developed a system I refer to as “unpack one or two things and get a sizable reward.”  My rewards are most often in two forms: movies, and carrots.  Unfortunately, the incredible amount of unpacking has left my hands more orange than usual, and I’ve no choice but to favor the movie option.

A lesson I learned the hard way: do not watch “Fatal Attraction” as a reward for a session of unpacking.  No, this movie is a punishment.  Glenn Close is terrifying, there is too much blood, and Michael Douglas is more attractive in his later films.  Should have gone with a carrot.

In order to complete the move, Sylvie and I need your help.  Aside from the normal things like pencils, quarters, and Breast Enhancers, we’ve discovered countless items we no longer need, but believe others do.  These items have been placed into a box, aptly named the “Free Box.”  To make things easy for potential takers, and to allow ourselves one final photo shoot in the old place, we put the items into categories, or rather “Collections,” and took pictures to display them to potential buyers.  Two such collections are the “Romance” collection, composed of  a single dried rose and a half empty box of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder, and the “Back to Skool” collection, a lunchbox I scored in a secret Santa exchange, a Japanese pencil case roomy enough to hold one pencil, and a  package of name tags.  My favorite collection is probably the “Random” collection because the photo for this allowed me to balance items on my head.  I didn’t drop them, and I felt pretty proud of myself for the rest of the day.

Please request these free items.  You would be doing a disservice by letting such gifts pass you by, as the state of the economy requires we be smart with our spending.  And what’s smarter than not spending at all and still coming away with a plastic frog and handful of dreidels?  Not a lot.

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After two years, six rooftop photo shoots, a few mice given the same name, a fennec fox blog launch party, one trip to The Edge and back (the bar on the corner, not suicide), and two untouched bottles of Manischewitz, it is time to pack up our humble abode and scatter elsewhere in the city.  For me, that means moving just a few blocks up the street.  For Sylvie, however, that means setting up camp in a new neighborhood with a new zip code.  Considering I have only recently begun to feel confident about the number of zeros in my zip code, I’m glad it’s her battle and not mine.

I’ve done quite a bit of complaining, what with the paper thin walls and eccentric neighbors, but as I take down photos, seal boxes, and pour the final bottles of wine, I’m reminded of all that I will miss.

Favorite Store.  I will certainly miss that.  The inspiration for this blog, Favorite Store has never let us down.  Well, except for that time we were in search of hot fudge, although I’m writing that off as a fluke.  The delivery truck must have been stuck on the FDR.  My new apartment is not far from Favorite Store, but there is another deli in its way: More Favorite Store.  I have never seen so many kinds of hummus.  Sorry Favorite Store, you may have my heart, but More Favorite Store has single Tootsie Roll Pops.

I will miss the comments from the quirky people on my street.  Being told that one hopes you get punched in the face when you turn the corner never gets old.  Luckily I am gaining a new cast of characters.  The other day on the walk to my new apartment I was told I have an “onion head.”  Onions…layers…depth…genius…I’m taking that as a compliment.

Despite the fact that the members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang prefer most activities to smiling, occasionally stumble out of their headquarters and narrowly avoid killing me on the sidewalk, and they’ve been known to throw people out of windows, I get a strange feeling of comfort knowing they are close by.  I think I’m beginning to understand them.  Just last week I learned that not only do they dislike people outside of their group, but they also dislike each other!  This was visible in their interest in ramming into each other’s motorcycles while impatiently waiting at stoplights.

I will miss the Super’s son’s inexplicable dislike for Sylvie.  He likes everyone else, and will even ask everyone else out on dates.  But not if Sylvie is present.  Her presence invites glares, coldness, and most often, complete avoidance.

It is really incredible how Sylvie’s room adapts effortlessly to the change of seasons.  Her window remains open year round, and one can never tell by looking out it what season or time of day it really is.

We own a signed photo from the Irish Tenors’s 2000 Christmas Show.  You probably don’t.

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It has been Chanukah for two years. Opening dresser drawers yields a bounty of small dreidels, and the windows are adorned with menorahs and star decals.  The freezer houses three boxes of frozen latkes which are just fifteen minutes away from complementing a joyous occasion. I’d venture to guess that there are very few other apartments so equipped for spontaneous Chanukah celebrations.

At any given moment there are more dead flowers in our apartment than there are real ones.

There is a dog on our floor named Baby.  This is a clever name for him though, because he is old.  Baby and I occasionally meet on the stairs, and he stops to let me ascend or descend first, as my legs usually move faster.  He is the only considerate baby I’ve ever met.

We live above a Hookah bar and still do not know its name.  We are also continually surprised when it isn’t empty.

No matter the level of political unrest, there is a constant war raging in our building.  It is a war that usually starts around 11 PM and really picks up by 1 AM.  It is a war whose proper name is either Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or Gears of War.  We’re not quite sure which.

I must now learn to live without the luxury of whispering through poorly constructed walls. I estimate that it will take several months to bring my voice back to normal speaking volume, as I’ve grown accustomed to imitating the cast members of Felicity.

Lots of other things happened here; the projector exploded and I thought I got shot, we watched every episode of MTV True Life, we cooked vegan meals with names like “Christmas Dish” and “Little Italy,” we fooled many visitors with decorative paper that looks like a Magic Eye but really isn’t, and we broke a whole lot of glasses as well as one toe.

Apartment, you were good to us.  I can only hope the next tenants will appreciate you and your quirks as much as we did.

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Go little bass, go!

Go little bass, go!

Where I’m from, Fourth Grade is the school year to look forward to, as it marks one’s ability to enter the town’s music program.  Perhaps I was a little more excited about this than my classmates.  After several failed attempts at sports, it was my final chance to join a team, the orchestra team.  I might not have been the fastest runner or the strongest swimmer, but I had the largest instrument.

I signed up to play the double bass.

The double bass is an excellent conversation starter, particularly in elevators.  It turns out it’s difficult to remain silent while sharing a small, enclosed space with a girl who may, at any moment, be swallowed by a musical monster on a large wheel.  The most popular comment inspired by the sight of my beast and me is, “Wow! That thing is bigger than you are!”  My tried-and-true response to this is “Yea…I really should have gone with the violin.”  Another possible response, which I admit I use less often than I’d like, is “No, it isn’t.”  I prefer this because it results in great confusion.  Clearly my bass is larger than I am, and when I refute this obvious fact, the comments seem to stop because I appear curiously out of touch with my spatial reality. There are times when strangers like to switch things up and catch me off guard.  A prime example being the twenty-something guy who offered, “Have fun with your trombone.”

I can fit in the case.  Yes, I’ve tried.  It makes a great Halloween costume when stuck in a rut.  I can also fit in my bass locker, which means that as long as I have a locker, I will never be homeless.

Although I’ve been playing the bass for about eleven years, it wasn’t until this past January that I gave in to the bass wheel.  It took an NYU security guard to convince me to make the switch.  This man, who reminds me of Detective Stabler on Law & Order SVU, and for all I know might be a head with no body (for three years I’ve only seen him behind a desk), took it upon himself to yell “STILL?? NO WHEEL??” every time he let me pass through the special exit gate.

Since adopting the wheel into my life, I’ve noticed a curious absence, following orchestra rehearsals, of the feeling that my arms are broken.  Also, the number of strangers who laugh at me struggling on the street is noticeably lower.  The downside is that my—previously—intimidating arm muscles are becoming less impressive by the day.

things have happened. which I have documented, but not mentioned here. so without further ado, I present a photo catch-up post the length and breadth of which will blow your mind all over your face!

jacq graduated.

some lady took a picture of it with her iphone.

some people wore silly hats.

jacq suddenly and quite without warning became desaturated.

sisters! …happened.

sisters, mama rose and dr. uke congregated under a portrait of the great avery fisher.

things of obviously great import were discussed.

pugs were very nice!

so was this pup.

and this one!

liz had big hair and looked bored.

a team was born and its photo taken!

and jacq and I brushed up on our corporate slang.

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This is a big day for my dad, for my family, and for ukuleles everywhere. You may remember my dad, the infamous Dr. Uke:

He’s a great dad, a stellar tandem biker, and the best uke teacher this side of the ‘ssippi! Now he’s also a Facebook superstar!

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Click the image above, or click here, to become a fan of Dr. Uke!

THE DOCTOR IS IN.

Sometimes there are nice things on the way to work, and even in my office. And sometimes I make s’mores.

This is how I deal with rejection.

This is how I deal with rejection.

Last week I was rejected by Kaplan.

In order to weed out the weak teachers (me, apparently), candidates with qualifying SAT scores are invited to audition. Unfortunately, the Kaplan audition does not encourage musical numbers and monologues, but instead five minute “how to” presentations. Too bad, my Phantom of the Opera solo will have to find a different audience.

In brainstorming topics for my audition, it occurred to me that I have very few skills to teach. I’m not great at doing laundry, I can never get the sheets to fit just right on my bed, I follow recipes when cooking, and my list of mastered sports is shorter than I am. So I prepared a five minute audition on the one topic I do know, wine. I attempted, unsuccessfully it seems, to present tips for the amateur wine taster. I covered the basics: the preparation for a wine tasting, the steps in the actual wine tasting event, and most importantly, wine-related phrases that would undoubtedly impress the individuals pouring the wine. Speak of the herbaceous tones, the hints of citrus and green apple. Compare it to last week’s Pinotage, the signature grape of South Africa, a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.

Kaplan believes in consistency. If you fail to pass the audition round of the hiring process on your first try, that’s too bad. Because that first try was your only try. You are forever banned from the program. Your future does not include the possibility of working for Kaplan. This strikes me as a rather hypocritical practice for a company that seems to promote excellence in trying. Didn’t ace the SAT’s the first time around? Not a problem! Just sign up for a classroom course or some private tutoring, and do practice tests until you genuinely like analogies and bubbling in letters. Turns out the practicing is only for the student.

The most enjoyable part of my evening at Kaplan was spent observing the auditions of others. When people have the opportunity to speak for an uninterrupted five minutes about any topic they so choose, it makes for a good night. We started off with an initiation into the world of golf, and in particular, a successful swing. I will be trying out a new technique come mini golf season.

Golf practice was followed by “How to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.” I think the entire presentation could have been simplified to one word: safely. The next candidate attempted “How to make a paper airplane.” I say attempted because it didn’t work. All audience members were left with unrecognizable pieces of white paper that will never know the joy of flight.

Also notable was the presentation on hair removal options. Laser hair removal is less painful than electrolysis and it can target a larger surface area, but it requires more sessions for upkeep. I think. Next was the woman determined to prove that Betta fish make for great pets, despite the fact that they eat their young. I suppose we all have our flaws.

The evening concluded with a man eager to enlighten us with his secrets for fighting off stress. They involved addressing the issue, coming up with a plan of attack, and practicing time management. Sadly he was the one candidate who failed to finish in the allotted time.

I may not have a future as a Kaplan tutor, but I sure as hell know to swing a golf club like a pro. And that is a much more valuable skill than being able to teach others the tricks of standardized testing.