Saturday, November 25, 2006

It Happens in 3's

It happens in 3's...or so they say.

Yesterday and today, I helped Alice TV star and film actress, Celia Weston. I normally let entertainers come and go in the store without saying anything film/TV/music related. I feel that they’re technically ‘off’ and are just going about their day.


I just watched the amazing independent film, Junebug, a couple weeks ago and I had to tell Ms. Weston what a remarkable job she did in that project.

So I did.

She was pleasant and gracious and a little embarrassed with what she called her “dirty, day-after-Thanksgiving hair.” It just made her all the more charming and personable.

Interesting side story...

Tonight down at our store in Chelsea, my roommate Elizabeth was waiting on a lady that looked VERY familiar to her. Elizabeth spoke to her as she was helping her check-out her order but couldn’t place the face or the voice - though both seemed memorable. Elizabeth finally asked the lady if there was a reason she should look so familiar. The lady smiled and said, no. Elizabeth continued working on her order and then before she finished asked the woman one more time if she should recognize her from somewhere or for some reason. The woman again said no. The woman then collected her bags and left the store. Elizabeth’s co-worker said simply, “That was Jody Foster.”
Celia Weston THEN and NOW.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Celebrity Sighting #2

It’s feeling more and more like winter.


It was colder in Nashville, TN than it has been here. But a change (and some cooler weather) is in the air.

There’s a chilly bite to the air and it has arrived just in time for the holidays. I love this time of year and I LOVE it here in New York. Lights are up. Christmas music is playing. Christmas just feels different here.

Celebrity Sighting (again).

Don’t know how/why it happens to me...but a co-worker of mine asked me to help a customer today with our gorgeous gift wrap (if you haven’t seen it, check it out. It is beautiful and 95% exclusive to The Container Store). I agreed and I was introduced to the View’s co-host, Joy Behr.

I helped her find some papers, gift totes, gift tags, etc. that would not only look nice but match the color of her home’s decor.

She loved the store and our stellar service (of which I was delighted I could be a part).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Celebrity Sighting #1

Back to work.

And while at work, a celebrity sighting...

Clue: I helped a customer who’s voice has the power to kill you softly with her song.

Answer: Roberta Flack.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last Day in Nashville...Quiet Time and Waffle House

My last day in Nashville.

Very low-key. Just Antuan. Just me.

We slept in. Hit Waffle House one more time. Watched TV. Talked about Christmas Lists.


Before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport. When I checked in I discovered my flight was slightly delayed. That bought us another hour.

I rode with him to fill the rental car up (so it would be returned FULL) and then we dropped the car off.

We shopped around the airport gift shop and then sat down across from a photography exhibit entitled, Obscured View. Very clever. It was a mini-gallery of photos taken at National Parks, out of car windows, etc. where the main focal point of the photo - let’s say Mount Rushmore - is obscured by someone’s elbow, a random family passing by or the car’s outside mirror.

Basically, all of the photos you usually throw out or delete, have their own showcase.



Anyone who knows me, knows I never do goodbyes well. If I cry at commercials for coffee, you can bet I’ll tear up when saying goodbye to someone I care about.

I settled into my seat on American Airlines a man very aware of my blessings. Not just aware, but grateful.

Day Four in Nashville: Thankful

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bowling with the Rockettes...Yep, You Read that Right

A lazy Sunday morning...afternoon...evening.

Before Antuan’s show, he and I met up with one of my dearest friend’s, April. She’s no stranger to this Journal - having visited NYC back in the Spring. She had sessions to attend during the morning, so we met up with her for a late lunch/early dinner.

When April and I use to have mini-reunions in Lakeland, FL, we would usually wind up at The Olive Garden. Trying to keep in tradition, we asked where the closest one was, were given directions and then loaded up in the rental car.

Over lunch we were able to catch up, talk books, share life lessons, and April and Antuan were able to get to know one another. Last night, when trying to make plans for today, Antuan said, “I want me some April time.”

And they both had it.

It was great being able to introduce them and let them discover their common bonds (outside of knowing me) and begin building a friendship of their own.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and Antuan and I rode back to his suite. We did some napping and then he was off to the theater. I stayed at the hotel and caught up on reading and card writing.

When he came home, still high on the adrenaline of the show, phone calls were made and we were off to a local bowling alley.

A relationship is a journey and a discovery.

Tonight I discovered that my boyfriend is quite the bowler.

Toward the end of his first frame he bowled a “turkey.” Do you know what that is?

Neither did I.

It is when you bowl 3 Strikes in a row.

Wow. Who knew?

He bowled with the cast and I cheered him on (I also played the role of evening photographer). It was a fun, fun night and a great way for the cast to wind down from the evening’s show. It also was a low key way for me to get to know some of his cast mates better (half of the show’s cast was back at the hotel watching a taped copy of the night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.).

Day Three in Nashville: FUN

Bowling with the Rockettes and the Cast of Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular (that's a mouth full). Ryanne taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. Antuan and _____ , his leap frog, Rockette/Santa. The TV monitor showcasing Antuan's "Turkey." And Rockette ____, celebrating her Strike with a Strike Dance.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Day 2, Show 2

I worked for Peachtree again today. The day flew by and once again it was good to see customers and clients that I hadn’t seen or worked with in over a year.

When I left the trade show, it was back to the suite where Antuan had made another delicious dinner (pork chops. YUM!).

Then it was back to the theater. I dropped Antuan off and went over to the Radison to pick up Peachtree’s Alyssa, my date for the show that night. We rode over to the Grand Ole Opry. There were complimentary tickets waiting for us at the door. We went inside and found our seats half way back in the orchestra section.

The show was just a beautiful the second time around. It was nice seeing another perspective and being close to the stage.

After the show, Antuan took Alyssa and I backstage. The moment we turned the corner I was greeted by warm hugs, handshakes and introductions all around. Everyone was excited to be meeting me, having heard a great deal about me from Antuan.

Antuan took us to his dressing room, where Alyssa went right to the costumes. She had been very taken with the craftsmanship of the costumes worn during the Nativity and this was her chance to see the work up-close.

He took us through the Green Room and then on to the stage, where the curtain was lifted and the whole house revealed.
After we left, we said our goodbyes and dropped Alyssa off. We rode back to the suite and turned in for the night.

Day Two in Nashville: WONDERFUL.

Antuan and I with Peachtree author and friend, Myron Uhlberg. Alyssa Jackson backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. She inspecting the needle work of Antuan's Nativity costume.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jason in Nashville

Well...3:30am came VERY early.

I was up and out of the apartment before 4am. I walked up to 125th Street and looked for the first M60 bus of the morning, the 4:16.

Around 4:20 the bus rolled up. Packed front to back. There wasn’t room for me or my suitcase. The second bus, the 4:36, was next. It showed up on time and had some room.

I piled on and headed to the airport.

My flight left on time and I arrived in Nashville on few minutes early. I claimed my bags and waited by the rental cars for Antuan. I heard a familiar voice behind me asking if I was waiting for someone.

I was.

I was waiting for the one standing in front of me.

Our reunion and the beautiful flowers he’d brought me, garnered attention from the ladies working at the Budget Rental car desk. There was some pointing and giggling.

I didn’t care.

I was standing beside the guy I love AND I had an arm full of flowers. When was the last time they could say that?

It was great to see Antuan. I had missed him terribly. We settled in at his place, a Residence Inn several miles from Opry Land, and then we made our way to the Waffle House next door. We’d both been craving Waffle House for months. New York may have a lot of things...but we don’t have a Waffle House.

Then we made our way to Opry Land where Antuan dropped me off to work with Peachtree Publishers at the NCTE conference. My trip to Nashville happened to coincide with a book show that I’ve worked for years with Peachtree. This is the show where I always see my good friend and childhood friend, April.

I hadn’t been in the trade show booth for over a year and half but it was great to step back in and start selling books again. I saw former co-workers, Alyssa and Barbara, and many of the educators I’ve worked with before. April stopped by and Peachtree author, Lester Laminack arrived for his scheduled book signing.

All of the above were so excited to meet Antuan, who’d parked the rental car and come inside. He met and charmed everyone in a matter of seconds.

After a little bit, Antuan left and I stayed to work for a few hours. He picked me up at the end of the day and we went back to his suite.

He made dinner and then it was time to head to the Grand Ole Opry. I dropped him off for his call time at the theater and then I met up with Lester and his best friend, Reba, to see the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. Lester and Reba got us amazing seats in the Mezzanine looking down at the stage. The view from above was perfect. Looking down at the stage provided the a great angle to witness the famous precision of the Rockettes.

The show was AMAZING. From the moment the curtain rises, Antuan is right there - front and center. He did a great job. I was impressed by the entire cast. I had never seen the Rockettes perform live, so the whole show was new to me.

Afterwards, Reba, Lester, Antuan and I went to Applebee’s to catch up. It was great sitting there with Antuan as Reba and Lester got to know him better.

Day one in Nashville: GREAT.

My alarm clock when I woke up to head to the airport and the interior of the Opry Land hotel.

Waffle House in Nashville, TN! Our first and the most highly anticipated dining venue of my trip.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Unexpected Reunion

A bittersweet reunion today with two of my oldest friends, Ben and Shane.

Shane lives here in New York and earlier this week she lost a quick, harsh battle with Cancer. Ben, who lives in Phoenix, flew in for the funeral.

Before I went to work, we met up for breakfast at a small diner on 56th Street not far from my store. We ate, looked at pictures, shared stories, etc. and then walked over several blocks and went into Central Park.

Finally Fall has arrived in New York. The leaves were changing and people were skating. We walked through the park, down the mall and to my favorite spot: The Bethesda Fountain. We were running out of time and still had to walk back to my store.

It was a short but long over due reunion. It was great to see both of them and just being together for a couple hours reminded me of why we became friends and the bond we each share.

Central Park in Fall Colors. Ben Lentz and Shane Driscoll.

Friday, November 10, 2006

When We Last Left Jason (Part 3)

When we last left Jason...the 3rd and Final installment.

The same week I was saying goodbye to Antuan, I was flying to Richmond, Virginia to see my Mom & Dad who were in the States on a month long furlough.

My trip to Richmond also marked my maiden voyage on JetBLUE airlines. I was very impressed with their service, planes, staff, etc. I wouldn’t normally write about an airline or company but I had such a good experience that I thought I mention it in the hopes of sending some business their way. JetBLUE was recently connected to The Container Store in a TIME magazine article. Both are known for their unique customer focus/service. I experienced the connection firsthand, I was extremely pleased. From buying the ticket over the phone to watching DirectTV during the flight - it was a new and positive trip.


I arrived in Richmond and it was a sweet reunion with my Parents. I hadn’t seen them in over a year and half. As I was claiming my bags, I turned around to see my Mom snapping pictures from the moment she walked through the sliding glass doors.

I had 4 days in Richmond. We had no real plans. Every day we just did whatever we wanted.

We drove around Richmond. Finding unexplored roads, looking at trees still holding onto their colored leaves. We took a road trip to D.C. - making a side trip through Alexandria, Virginia and stopping over at a Container Store. I had a good time showing them around the store and giving them a feel for the style and spirit of working for such a unique company.

We arrived at the store in Alexandria as they were unveiling Gift Wrap Wonderland. A huge campaign for our stores across the country. As the holiday season approaches the store presents the most amazing, exclusive gift wrap as well as different types of stocking stuffers and boxes. People wait all year to see what kinds of paper will be displayed and sold.

It was beautiful.

As I walked around the store I spotted and employee, Josephine, who was key trainer for me when my store in Manhattan opened. I spent many hours learning the ropes first hand from her. I didn’t know I was standing in her store when she came walking down the stairs. It was unexpected reunion.


From the store when drove into D.C. and had a great time taking in the sites from the comfort of our rental car. We took our time and just enjoyed being together in my brother’s favorite city.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating out, driving around town, and shopping. Before we knew it, I was needing to fly back to New York and Mom & Dad were preparing to fly back to Africa. Our last night was spent opening beautiful gifts Mom & Dad had brought from Uganda.

A hand-carved Nativity, a wooden carving of a family, woven baskets, and a small leather box containing a check enabling us to fly to Africa in 2007 to see them. Tim, Janet and I were all speechless and excited. Looking through their pictures and hearing their stories creates a burn to experience it for yourself.

I look forward to sharing entries in this Journal from Africa.

The Container Store in Alexandria, Virginia. Just outside the store I posed for a picture with my former trainer, Josephine.

Whether in Florida or Africa, my Mom always misses the changing of the seasons. We had a wonderful just driving around taking in all the rich colors. We discovered this small pond and pulled over to capture the gorgeous reflection.

My Dad, setting up his camera so he doesn't miss a moment. Regan, Tim & Janet's pup, posing for the camera. What a stellar profile. Tim & Janet walking around Patrick ("Give me liberty or give me death...") Henry's property.

When We Last Left Jason (Part 2)

When we last left Jason Part 2...
I don’t normally write or talk about dating or who I’ve met where and what my hearts doing. But since so many believe I've been MIA lately, this will provide another piece of the puzzle.

I’m making an exception now. The exception is being made because it has moved beyond just “seeing someone” and dating them to falling in love and deciding to build a relationship.

A couple months ago I met a wonderful guy, Antuan. He is an incredibly talented dancer and entertainer. We met and got to know each other on a two hour train ride home from one of his performances in the musical, La Cage aux Folles.

From that evening on we started getting to know each other and dating.

What I love about life is that it is always surprises you. I’ve always said that I would never date someone younger, someone who travels, another person in the entertainment industry. Antuan is all of these things. Surprise, surprise. Guess I’m learning to never say never.

I had to revisit what I really wanted from a relationship. When I did that, him being a few years younger (I'm 31, he's 26 for those who will want to do the math), him being an entertainer who has done alot of travelling around the world, those things no longer factored in.

My prayer has always been that I would be with someone who loves God and loves me. Antuan is that prayer's answer.

Between my work, his auditioning and life in general - we dated and things grew and evolved at the pace of our hearts.

Then the call came from a little place, Radio City Music Hall.

He had auditioned for them before we met and they’d been so taken with him they’d videotaped his audition when they found out his show schedule would keep him from coming back in for a Call Back. From the video they cast him for their Christmas Spectacular Show.




Enter the fine print.

Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular Christmas TOUR.
Tour meaning he would be on the road and not here. It would only be 2 months but he'd be away from NYC for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s - all magical times in this city and holidays I wanted to celebrate together.

I knew when I fell for him that this could be a possibility. I just didn’t expect it two months into our relationship. I thought we’d have more time. We didn’t.
We filled up the two weeks before he left with quiet Sunday mornings, seeing the Indigo Girls, experiencing The Color Purple on Broadway, walking through Central Park, eating at cheap neighborhood diners, shopping at the Union Square Farmer's Market, etc.

It was wonderful.

Then we said goodbyes for a brief time. Goodbyes that were harder than I expected. In just a couple months Antuan had become a fixture in my apartment and heart. It wasn't going to be easy to fill the time and space while he was away.

So...right now. I’m here in New York and Antuan has been rehearsing in Myrtle Beach and, just this week, he’s flown to Nashville, Tennessee. For the next two months he’ll be performing with the Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry.

I am so proud of him and I can’t wait to see the show. It has been a lot of fun talking to him as he’s gone through the rehearsal process (in Myrtle Beach, SC) and now as he’s settling into rehearsals in Nashville. They’re all working hard and it sounds like it will be a really great show.

The show opens next week and the weekend also coincides with a National Council of Teacher’s of English - which is a trade show I use to work with Peachtree. I’m flying down to be with Antuan for a couple of days and I’ll get to have a mini-reunion with my Peachtree family. I’ll get to spend a few hours a day walking in my old shoes and talking up Children’s literature.

I can’t wait.

So...the bottom line. I'm incredibly happy. He's wonderful and I'm enchated. Below

I'll post pictures so you can "meet"him.

There will be one more installation of When We Last Left Jason...then I’ll hopefully keep this journal more updated.

Here’s a hint about what’s to come:
I’m going to Africa.

A roof top photo shoot of Antuan and Me.

Outside Radio City Music Hall just after seeing Indigo Girls, one of my all-time favorite groups. They're currently criss-crossing the country on their Despite Our Differences Tour. It was a great evening and perfect show. In the weeks leading up to this concert, I was sending CDs over to Antuan's apartment by the bag full so he could start learning their music.

The Union Square Farmer's Market. Antuan picked up the most delicious, all-natural Apple Crumb Cake. Yum.