Monday, December 31, 2007

Coming Soon

Last year I did away with resolutions and frankly, I'm glad I did. I'm knee deep in planning and organizing still but I kicked to the curb the need for a list. I'd find myself in May, then in August and then in December reviewing it and feeling disappointed if I hadn't accomplished things. Or worse - because this happened for so many years - something beyond my control threw a wrench into my plans. Discouraging.

So last December I was ready to move forward but over the whole expectation thing. What happened was pure amazement. When I let go, everything happened. I look back and holy smokes, I actually read books! How many years had that been on my resolution list? I got down and dirty and conquered my fear of gardening and my yard was stunning this summer and fall. It's primed for spring too. I did a very daring thing and left my job to be a nanny - something everyone thought was crazy - and of course it turned out to be one of the most fulfilling jobs ever. I decided to freelance as an arts marketer and scored 5 clients this year. I was even recruited for a performing arts position. Me! Recruited!

Most of all I realized in letting go I came to know myself...previous ways of thinking and behaving changed. I saw how when I wasn't thinking about my expectations or obsessing over anything many of those very things fell into place - at long last.

It's a wonderful feeling looking to next year (in 40 minutes) with the same outlook. And for the first time in about - I don't know - 7 years, I can truly say this was one great year. I can only hope 2008 is close to this.

The Ghost of Christmas Past


I posted this on my myspace on Christmas Eve and the aftermath of sorting through the photos on December 26 sends chills up my spine. The photo was taken at my mom's (Aunt Betty's) on Christmas Eve...right before my cousin Hannah left.

Christmas Eve
Every so often a holiday season comes around and I actually have my act together - decorations hung, projects completed and gifts bought and wrapped well before Christmas Eve sneaks up on me. This was one of those years. As I left the fumes of Pink Nail Salon in Broomall late Saturday afternoon, I realized I was finished. Whoo Hoo. What a far cry from previous years. For some reason my head went back to 1997. I distinctly recall framing a Nick Santoleri card of Barberlin Hall (at St. Joe's University) for my grandfather. He had studied there back in the day. I'm imagining I must have been working today - Christmas Eve (you know, time and a half is a big deal) so by the time I arrived home from Deck the Walls, it was time to get dressed - out of my grey cords and white zipped hoodie and little retro sneakers - and get over to my grandparents house. The framed card was not wrapped. I dragged myself and my unwrapped gift over there and stashed the gift on the second floor. After dinner I scurried off to wrap it and not a minute too soon. It was for him and he was in the living room below announcing, "Time to open the pressies!" Quickly I taped a bow to the front and tore down the steps and dropped it on the top of his gift pile. Some time later (because it always took Nana and Pop Pop the longest amount of time to open their tower of gifts) my mom nudged me and pointed to Pop Pop. He had opened the gift and was staring at it with nostalgia and then looked over at me and said, "Thanks, Chrissie...this is great!"

Four years later after he passed away my grandmother handed me a few things. "You gave these to Pop Pop and he'd want you to have them." Within the stack was the framed picture of SJU. I had forgotten about it. He'd kept it in his Media law office. I held it for some time and then looked on the back where I had written, "Dear Pop Pop, Merry Christmas, Love Chrissie" and beneath it the date: 12/24/1997.

Of course now it means more to me than that Christmas I gave it - since I studied there and in many ways was his gift from beyond to me. I have it with my tassel from graduation day next to the framed letter he wrote me in 2000 congratulating me on my time at St. Joe's and wishing me well on my trip to Greece.

Tonight when we go to my mom's house for Christmas Eve I know it isn't quite the same as when we went to Nana's for all those years. It was his favorite holiday though for bittersweet reasons: his mother passed away on Christmas Eve. Being around his immediatate family took his mind off his loss. I think for everyone there tonight this evening has a similar aura. But then there is Hannah, my 8 year old cousin, born only 18 months before he passed away. Hannah tells us, "I see Pop Pop all the time at Aunt Betty's house." So I have faith he is with us, especially on Christmas Eve.

Sad Sight

Every year I find this the saddest sight after the holidays. For us, this happened sooner than later: December 27.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Club 30

Today is the day. I must admit - I'm a tad relieved. For about 2 months now the thought of turning 30 spooked me like it never had. More and more I would find myself in a situation where I was the baby of the bunch and thinking, "Dude, get over it...you aren't old!" but I wasn't completely satisfied with that answer. Like it wasn't fully answering whatever question lingered in my head. A few others said with excitement, "This is a great age! It's a great time - your 30s!" and that made me smile, almost as if I needed a reminder that one's 20s aren't the only time of craziness and fun.

I think I'm coming full circle in my feelings about being 30. I'm (almost) back where I started at this time last year - excited about it. Although then I was quite happy to peace out the 20s and in a few months my sentimental self reminded me how attached I was to myself...I realized I wanted to hang on just a tad longer to some of that very familiar 20 somethingness.

It'll be a different kind of crazy and fun. Welcome, Chris, to Club 30.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Tree Hill Is Back!!!

When I thought I'd never watch TV again - when I wondered what? why? how? about my favorite program and decided after 3 months of nothing and no clue as to its whereabouts (and having assumed the worst), I read on the CW's website that it's BACK!!! One Tree Hill is back, baby! January 8 with new episodes. I'm sensing an end in sight due to the whole "fast forward 4 years" nature of the programming, but I'll take what I can get. This gives me something to look forward to in the crappy winter months when nothing goes on.

BITCHIN!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Light in the Attic

We installed florescent lights in the attic and now the real project is underway: Sorting through a few years of stuff and reorganizing and purging. Most stuff is self explanatory and just needs to be grouped with other like objects. The hardest subproject involves the sorting through of photos and memorabilia. I started with a few boxes and bins and have been grouping them by era: Chrissie very small, Chrissie grade school, Chrissie high school, Chrissie College, Post College. It's a little sad that eventually all our memories make their way to a box in an attic. Eventually, my kids will sort through it all and love it but then in 80 years it becomes part of a lot at an estate sale and my personal history will either be up for auction on eBay, thrown out, or maybe, just maybe, in the hands of someone like me who reads the details of someone's ledger, photos and journals, never having known them but feeling the overwhelming need to preserve someone else's history somehow.

I unearthed cards from my college graduation party...letters dating back to 2000 and 2001...photos of my bedroom in my Philly apartment...I see all this and I remember what was going on then. One day our wedding will be a distant memory.

Frankly I'm just depressed. I'd wander away except I've put this project off for a few weeks now I just want it to be over. I think I'll just rubberband everything and put them in their appropriate boxes, label the box, and walk away. Some day I'll be able to handle it but not today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reflections on an E-Commerce Paper

10 years ago in my MIS class I joined forces with several others on a collaborative paper. The topic? E-Commerce. What was that? I remember in those early days of the web (with Telnet and Polaris still our email clients) being mystified by electronic commerce. I didn't understand it...couldn't wrap my head around the idea. I didn't even grasp really that it meant being able to buy online in its most basic sense. I know I did an extraordinary amount of research - I'm not sure what sources I pulled from since there was nothing really in publication about this new technology yet - but I whipped together some mumbo jumbo and gave a presentation on the allusive topic. I think I got an A-.

Fast-forward to 2007. I'm holiday surfing online and much to my dismay these tiny downtown boutiques tout their web presence only to be met with my discerning judging eye. Me, the girl who raised an inquisitive eyebrow when reading about e-commerce in '97. I'm a HUGE supporter of the local scene but I cannot for the life of me comprehend how a small independently owned shop can possibly compete even in its own local realm without a favorable online site. By site I mean a clean, professional looking site, easy to navigate, sharp crisp photos of actual inventory updated daily, and your tried and true About Us, Contact Us, Products/Services. If you can't pull that off then don't even bother having a site. Front Page is inexcusable today. What infuriates me, the buyer, even more are those sites that advertise the ability to shop online. I'm greeted with little or no inventory, mediocre photos, barely there descriptions, a layout that screams unprofessional (and reflects badly on my perception of the brick and mortar shop) and shopping carts that never work. Finally, where is my payment going? Unless I see that little lock at the bottom right of my screen, forget about it. I'd prefer to email the artist and do payment via PayPal. Just like the look of the site, if you can't do e-commerce right in its basic sense, don't do it at all.

Here are some sites I visited today that made me wince. I'm focusing on West Chester merely because I'm heading there on Friday (with a few other sad sites thrown in to convey my point). I've been to all of these brick and mortar shops and they ROCK (sans the NH Baby Bungalow). What if I'd never been? Their scary web presence immediately writes them off as not worth my time exploring.

A cute vintage jewelry shop - What is this?
Handmade Bags - The name itself makes me think of Scarlett: Fiddle Dee Dee!
Handcrafted artisan jewelry and furniture - Wait, isn't it winter?
Maternity and Baby - The home page is deceiving I soon figured out.
Seeking a Baby Shower Gift - Uh...where's my cousin's registry???
Known for its MOMA like gift shop - I swear they actually sold design books.

Hiring a professional designer or developer can be expensive, but how many college students would die for the chance to build their portfolio pro bono or for pennies designing a boutique's site? How many freelancers are out there, posting ads to Craig's List daily for work like this? Having worked for a small business, time is scarce especially when it's just one or two people. Scouring Craig's List isn't the best use of their time. Or is it?

I say the following as one who started a small arts marketing agency, as one who worked at small boutiques, and as a discerning web savvy shopper: You either have a good site or you don't have one at all. End of story. If you don't have the skills or it isn't the best use of your time, you don't have a site or else surround yourself with people who know what they are doing and are willing to work with you and your budget.

Half assed anything doesn't cut it anywhere - not with the big boys like GAP and not at a small local independent level. Small, cozy, intimate shops and businesses with darling missions are the backbone of our economy but at the end of the day, it's still business. Small businesses outnumber the others in this country but if you think your customers will cut you a break because it's just the two of you, think again. There are plenty other small businesses to frequent who have a competitive edge over others, whether it's online or customer service and experience.

I look forward to my local shops for holiday gifts. I will still visit these shops in the flesh. But which online sites will I buy from this holiday season? I'll likely be at Etsy because honest to god, it's the do-it-yourselfers of my generation who know what they doing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rhett & Scarlett

I walked into Borders about a week ago and to my astonishment (and perhaps just for me?) I see Rhett Butler's People staring right at me. I never buy books new but I had no idea this was in the works and pending publication?! Of course I snatched it. I'm nearly finished the book.

My Pop Pop introduced me to this legend when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I was young. I didn't read the whole book because it was too descriptive and over my head. I watched the movie probably 50 times in a 2 year period. I knew EVERYTHING about the movie and in 8th grade my English teacher encouraged us to push boundaries and explore theater and much to the dismay of the kids who loved the tried and true (let's diagram this sentence), I embraced the project (a little too much) and motivated a group of my friends to perform scenes from this movie. It was fun, challenging and I have to admit - I truly took on the likeness of Scarlett - a total bitch. But hey - I was 14 and I did get the play on stage in front of our whole school.

Now I have the deluxe DVD with the movie, extra features, and I saved my 8th grade GWTW scrapbook. Reading Rhett Butler's People, I'm immediately sucked into this other world again...I can't help it. I want to run out to the library and snag copies of the book and the sequel and reread them. I even searched it on You Tube because I wanted to add one of my favorite "scandalous" scenes to my myspace profile. Then I found this. For those of you out there as obsessed as me - and who will ALWAYS be obsessed - and who hated Ashley, had a love/hate relationship with our protagonist, Scarlett, and adored Rhett and desperately wanted to see them together, the love story lives on...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Whah

My poor party. All my great intentions...squashed like a bug. My lofty party plans derailed.

From earlier blogs you know I had my heart set on a fun 30th party - a roller skating party, some dancing, good food. All this screeched to a halt in the last month as scheduling conflicts and pricing issues reared their heads. Who'd have thought this would be like planning a wedding? I'd need to book a year in advance? My $350 budget was blown out of the water when the price per head became $20 and I would need to guarantee a certain number of people. This was also the case with the bowling alleys. I understand that parties over the age of 10 and with numbers toppling 10-15 need special attention and/or venues need to be certain of the number of people if they are going to the trouble to serve you. But more and more there just isn't a simple party, a simple booking. Like everything else today - it's all professionalized and micromanaged.

I am sad. I'm trying to make the best of it all and just gathering a few close pals to bowl and eat. I don't know. If all else fails I'll just escape to NYC.

Favorites

Four jobs I have had in my life:
Nanny
Freelance marketing specialist
Performing arts agent
Framer

Four places I have lived:
Wilmington DE
Smithtown NY (Long Island)
Philadelphia
Swarthmore

Four Places I have been on vacation:
Jersey Shore
Mexico
Greece
Florida

Four Favorite Foods
Indian
Mediterranean/Moroccan
Sushi
Anything with veggies

Four places I would rather be right now.
A Greek island
NYC
London
The shore

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Box

I unearthed a box in my parent's basement about a month ago. It's been in my car since then and last night I finally decided to haul it's heavy ass into my house. I knew it enclosed old photos, cards, yearbooks, stuff dating back to the early 80s and usually I love sorting through it all. But this in conjunction with my slightly chaotic attic meant major reorganization and was why I let it collect more dust in my car for the last 5-6 weeks.

I'm looking through old stuff. I found some old sticker books and back packs and photos from my days in kindergarten. I found letters my 3rd grade class on Long Island wrote to me after I moved back to PA. Just now I went through a stack of letters - they were all from 1996 and 1997. Letters from Becca, Aileen, Beth, Brian, Chris, Cameron, the gang at Deck the Walls...all of us talking about our first year at college and wishing each other well. This was prior to web enabled email, when we all had our .edu addresses but it required hauling across campus to a computer lab or calling on a network admin to connect one's desktop to the university's server and then we might access Polaris or Telnet. This was when letter writing was still an art form.

The old 80s stuff is cute...but the college stuff is still fresh in my head. It was 10 years ago. A decade (which seems frightening) and yet I recall so vividly how I felt that first year...the excitement of receiving a letter...the time it took for me to feel safe and secure in a new place...the trips I took...the friends I had...some I wonder - where are they now?

Now that I've resurrected these treasures, I may need to scan a few and post them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fall Photos


I snapped a few photos of my festive home - eye popping pansies, a purple plant that I brought back to life earlier this year is still kicking, mums and violas that have been going strong since July (whoo hoo) and my handmade paper mache pumpkins.



Sunday, November 04, 2007

Restless

I listen to this CD a bunch now that my brother burned me a copy of it. I mentioned in an earlier post that we rocked out as children to Elton John's Breaking Hearts. At 7 years old, I more or less enjoyed the melody and sang along to meaningless words. At 29 I sing along but now I understand the lyrics. This one particular tune, Restless, amazes me since it was obviously written in the early 80s, probably about the Cold War and other global issues. Twenty to twenty five years ago. It's uncanny that despite its references to political issues of days bygone, so much of the words resonate in 2007 (and certainly in the years since 9/11).

Restless
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
Available on the album Breaking Hearts


It's a hot summer night in the blackboard jungle
Crime sits heavy on the city shoulder
Can't get no work, I can't get a job
I just sit and play my radio in the parking lot

Well they're breaking down doors in foreign countries
Everybody thinks somebody's hiding something
There's talk on the street and the nation is worried
But you can't talk back when you're dead, when you're dead and
buried

(chorus)

And Everybody's restless
Everybody's scared
Everybody's looking for something that just ain't there
Everybody's restless

Everybody's scared, they think we're all in danger
Everyone's taking cover from someone else's anger
The walls have ears, Big Brother's watching
They tell us that we're poisoned from everything that we're
touching

(chorus)

Well we could be children from the way we're acting
We feed ourselves lies and then we scream for action
We just breed and we lose our nerve
And there's bombs going off in every corner of the world

(chorus)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tax Evasion

10 a.m. this morning and Vince flips to the local section of the Inquirer and what screams out at him but my previous employer (among others listed) as one of the top Philadelphia corporations evading city taxes.

Top story on the front page of Section B, peeps.

Friday, October 19, 2007

21

Today at the Franklin Mint, as I pondered multiple credit options, the woman there insisted on looking up my birthday - she did not believe I was almost 30, married and owned a home. Sure enough the 12/17/77 screamed out that I was indeed the age I said and she just stared at me. "My god. I thought you were 21."

I usually get pegged 6 years younger than my age, but 8, practically 9 years? Wow. That's like a decade. After my emotional pre-30 cry the other day (after I wrote my last entry), I'll take the 21 year old compliment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

So Much

So much is going on...

I'm overwhelmed. I want to go to Linvilla and buy some apples and pumpkins and take some photos.

It's time to switch clothing and pack up summer gear. Each year I sort through my winter wear and donate a few items, think back to when I purchased this or that.

I'm putting finishing touches on the second bedroom and I leafed through my old Lisa Frank trapper keeper - the one that I hauled to and from SJU my junior and senior years (and still has a paper or two tucked away inside it) and then turned it into my job search trapper keeper. I pulled out JDs dating back to 2001 with notes scribbled across them - send rez 5/3/01, follow up 5/12/01. I set a few aside because I always had this vision of immortalizing my job seeking 20s in a mixed media collage. I'm a tad nostalgic looking through it all. You know when you get so used to a particular feeling? So much so that it becomes you and defines you? And even when you move to a better place, you feel a bit empty because you knew that other feeling for so long?

I'm moving into another place...another decade. All this "stuff" from my 20s is making its way to the attic. It used to be only a few years ago that XYZ was going on...and we fondly recalled the memories...now it's 5-7 years ago. People have moved away, gotten married, are having children. New stories and memories are unfolding. Seven years is a long time.

But it's time. Time to move and shift some things around. Make room for new. It's been happening slowly over the course of this year. I'll be 30 in two months and almost as if my 20s were a book, tons of unfinished stories have been scribbled and told, like even though they needed years to develop and be written, now was when I could see full story and learn valuable lessons from it. Now, before the next chapter starts.

It's an exciting and anxious feeling. Most often I reflect and I think, WOW. I can't believe what's come around and how I've been given this amazing chance to know how important I was to people but also understand who I was then, how I've grown, why things happened the way they did. But it's also a sad feeling because that part of myself that I knew SO well is now the story of my 20s...I'm leaving her behind. Old ways of being and thinking. And like I said - I was so used to wondering what if? and waiting for clarity that such a mentality consumed me and defined me. But now I have it. It's just strange when you see yourself as a collective of parts, of ages, of stories and see a defining theme from the time you're 20 through about 28/29 and realize they've all happened for this very reason - for clarity and self awareness and self confidence - I've grown up but am now entering some other uncharted region, somewhat prepared.

I'm more complete and yet I knew all those thoughts and worries of yesteryear and now that they are gone, I'll sort of miss them.

What will consume and define me in my 30s?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Birthday Present

This would be the best birthday present EVER.

















With The Verve’s previously announced November tour totally sold out, the band can now announce a second UK Tour for December 2007. The dates and venues are as follows:

Thursday 13th December
Saturday 15th December
Monday 17th December
Thursday 20th December
London o2 Arena
Glasgow SECC Centre
Belfast Odyssey Arena
Manchester Central

Tickets will go on general sale at 10am on Friday 5th October

Subscribers to The Verve’s mailing list will have access to an exclusive advance ticket pre-sale. This will take place from 9am on Thursday 4th October via the above password-protected links. All registered users will receive the required password within the next 24 hours.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Next Dream Home

For shits and giggles, I surfed homes for sale in Doylestown. Look at this adorable little Cape.






I love it. I also realized, much to my amazement, that there are homes in D-town for under $350K.

Pooch

So if you're a woman over the age of 25 you've experienced the pooch. Eat too much salt? Pooch. PMSed? Pooch. Just a bad day? Pooch. That little poochy piece of belly that bloats out.

Despite having the occasional pooch issue, I've never in my life had anyone poke me and point it out and bizarrely enough, ask me if I was pregnant??? A good friend and mother of a 2 year old - who's party I was attending - asked this of me in room full of people. I inspected my cute outfit - black skirt and empire waisted turquoise tank that hung so the PMSed pooch was covered. Turn to the side. Hmmm...a little pooch...I think the size small skirt from 2001 when I was a size 4 was making it look worse. Possibly. But all in all, it wasn't protruding like I was in my first trimester.

Wait. What am I doing? I'm standing in front of my friend's bathroom mirror PMSed and crampy wondering if what I'm wearing hides my pooch? Do I really care? Hell no. This is a cute outfit dammit. And I'm the cutest chick at this party.

I decided I didn't give a damn, but it does raise the question - Why have so many of my pregnant friends or recent mothers asked me/insinuated/projected their motherly instincts - about my current place in life sans children: "Are you guys trying? When are you thinking of having kids? Come on, Chrissie, have a baby! Babies are great!! They're so much fun! Oh, you guys have time...there's no rush...oh wait - you fainted? I'm noticing the pooch. Obviously you must be pregnant." These are examples of what I've heard.

Sigh. I'm not really upset by this...I'm more or less wondering why on earth people care to the extent of constant conversation? I don't worry about when another couple plans on buying a house, having kids, moving, changing jobs...I just don't. Another older wiser friend of mine (with 2 grown kids) said "Well, Chris, I think it's because that's where their minds are...(OK, understandable, but still. Did I ask all my pals when they were getting engaged when I was planning my wedding? No. I was wrapped up with my own stuff). She continued, "and to some extent, they need to justify where they are in their life by asking all their friends why they aren't there yet."

Because most of my 20s were spent with antiquated measuring devices (old school thought) measuring all the wrong things (my jobs, my apartments, my friends, my life compared to others). Because that's what I needed to do in order to grow up. Because now I follow the beat of my own drummer.

Things happen when they do. Until then, I will embrace my PMSed state and don my yoga pants to hide the pooch.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Passengers

An appropriate song considering this is what we were every time we heard this song: Passengers. I'm not sure Elton John's 1984 album Breaking Hearts ever left the cassette deck of my parents Chevy station wagon. Everywhere we went - to school, after school activities, our friends houses, the grocery store, this album followed. When we made the 4 hour trip from hell from our house in Suffolk County Long Island to my Nana's house in Delaware County PA, every last one of us knew (and still knows) the words to this song (and all the others) because this plus Lionel Ritchie and Neil Diamond were played until all us passengers eventually fell asleep. I never could sleep in a car so I would listen and shove a sibling's nodding head off my shoulder until I couldn't take it anymore and then I'd climb into the back of the wagon and sprawl out over bags of clothing...since we were only on the NJ Turnpike and it was the longest leg of the trip and useless for me to wonder if we were there yet. We were far from the burnt out ghetto of South Brooklyn and Staten Island, but not close enough to civilization. It was me, plains, trees, a stretch of highway, and Elton. Passengers until we pulled into Nana's driveway.

Here's the video (this makes me understand why my mom forbade us from watching MTV in the 80s).



As I surfed You Tube for Elton's videos, I also unearthed this fantastic rarity:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bark Park Showdown

It's like when I took Jocelyn's bike out in the city many moons ago and I hadn't been bike riding in forever and careening down Kelly Drive felt awesome. I did the whole loop and things were humming along smoothly until I reached Spring Garden St. where we lived and attempted to jump the median strip (it's similar to how Boulevards are set up) and didn't quite have the upper body strength to get that front wheel up and over the 6 inch median so the front wheel colided with the concrete and the bike and I went down, sprawled across the grassy median and me, disheveled, sat up, looked around, and calmly picked myself up (with my now scraped and bloody knee) and grabbed the bike and slinked off (walked across the street and up the steps) into the dusk (my apartment).

Such was Juliet's experience yesterday at the Bark Park when she got in the middle of a scruff - thinking she's bigger and bolder and cooler than she really is - and went down. Some black lab that really didn't want to be there was all freaked out and snapping at another dog and in runs Jules to get a piece of the play and my poor doggie was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got bit. There was a pinch, blood and a yelp. Then she went charging after this black lab, teeth (fangs?) showing, snarling and barking. Vince snatched her before she could do herself anymore damage and whisked her away.

She's at home now, the pathetic wounded injured dog (it's really not this dramatic - a tiny cut on her inner lip) but of course we're making a big production over her recess showdown and giving her toys and treats and attention. Just like me and the bike - these spills are bound to happen when we are little dogs with big attitudes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Alternative Gear

The Salvation Army in downtown Wilmington was a favorite thrift store jaunt for years. There was also the Goodwill in Swarthmore, the Bryn Mawr Thrift and the Salvation Army at the Delaware beaches. I scored some of the coolest shit there: 1970s vintage track sneakers, my grey-purple wide wale cords that were several sizes too big for me in high school, my red cords that were also too big for me my freshman year of college, tons of 80s tees (that would well with dark denim), little snap up blouses like the brown plaid one that I wore so much it ripped and I couldn't part with it so I sewed it back together and the rainbow checkered one I wore my sophomore year of college, velvet blazers, grey cords, crew neck sweaters that hid the back pockets of my cords in high school, adorable cardigans like my tiny red one that rocked with Jocelyn's red and blue striped shirt and my navy cords. And my Docs. I wore those blue 8 hole boots everywhere from 1996-2001. Even to shovel snow.

Over the last 12 years, I slowly parted with these items. At 18, I was about 118-120 lbs. A size 4. My body also just looked different and stuff fit me differently. The cords that once hung so low now fit at my waist. The sneaks that were a comfy size 8 now didn't fit my size 9 foot. I may have even grown an inch. It's hard though to part with these fabulous duds. They conjure up tons of memories from the moment my eye caught it and I had to have it, to days of high school and college gone by. I had to have those Docs because my crush had a pair in red. Had to be as cool as him. My purple grey cords that I'm certain I wore twice a week to school my senior year saw me through the never ending hell of Physics class. I bought the red cords in Newark DE with my equally fun and funky boyfriend that summer and that fall, I wore my sewed up shirt and my ivory cardigan to my homecoming and remember being all distressed because that beau and I were on dire straights. My little red cardigan I wore to the City Line Diner with my family before it closed...the bad ass bell bottom jeans in a dark rinse with a big ol' star on the back pocket. Fabulous duds with tons of stories echoing from their threads.

When I hear the Cranberries play through my car stereo or I watch Reality Bites, I am reminded of these "alternative girl" days as I like to call them. Then I didn't think I was that weird or that hard core artsy. Now I look back and I see this great creative spirit that embraced so much - not just in the clothing but in how I felt, and how I perceived myself no matter how messy, artsy or alternative I looked. Who cared? I'm not a true hipster by any means but my inner old school college girl does come out and play when I get my hair highlighted now...when I decorate my office spaces...when I bust out my red furry boots with an otherwise business attire...or when I find the perfect Russian fur coat at a vintage shop in Philly.

In a way, it took 10 years for that girl to grow up a bit and splurge on the funky hair and nails and nicer vintage finds!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coming Home

We went away for a few days to the shore and left our doggie with Vince's cousin. I was heart broken when we left. I knew my dad was giving me a hard time about bringing her to the beach house, swearing there was a clause in the lease screaming NO DOGS ALLOWED. Of course after we arrived, there was dog evidence everywhere - little chew toys, a ripped comforter, and the big tell tale sign: a crate in the garage. No dogs, dad?!

Juliet would have behaved and been a delight. We could have taken her to the beach and walked her along the Wildwood board walk. As it was, she remained in PA wondering where her mommy and daddy were for a few days.

She greeted us yesterday with a combination of confusion and happiness. She's a real mommy girl but gave me a bit of a cold shoulder early yesterday afternoon. I guess seeing her arcade prizes made her forget all about being left behind and by the time I arrived home from babysitting at 7:30, she was all over me. She's a lap dog, a sleep with her face as close to your head (if not buried in your collarbone) sort of dog. Right now we are on the new king bed. I'm typing this blog and she's curled in a ball next to me. In classic Jules style, her whole body is pressed up to my thigh. Must touch someone. Make sure they are right next to me.

Silly dog. I love her to pieces.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Regrets Only

I come from a pretty big family and I was born and raised on social etiquette. I'm the one planning, scheduling, RSVPing, marking calendars with showers, weddings, birthdays, etc. and making sure the card is there with check or gift in tow and once at the social event, stay for an appropriate amount of time (at least 2 hours if it isn't a wedding) mingling and socializing before I gracefully depart.

Part of this is that I usually like get-to-togethers. I like people, I like to talk. Another reason is people have come to my parties (and I want them to keep coming) so I give back and go to their thing. 95% of the time, I can handle social obligations.

Today I joined a friend of mine at a wedding in Center City. It was for a young 20-something couple and it was very sweet. I'm used to over the top fancy $15-20K weddings, so in a way it was nice to experience something very chill. I still feel strongly that no matter what your budget, food/beverage and music are priority: It's what people remember and what makes a good time. When I planned my own wedding, I remember going through selfish moments and not wanting to care about my guests. It's our day, I thought. It's all about us. It is. To an extent. But my point above about the give and take, people coming to your events and bringing gifts comes into play. You do want people to have a good time and say thank you too.

So while this wedding was cute and I appreciated all the hard do-it-yourself work that went into it that made it about them and their moments and I was aware and respectful of their budget, I couldn't help but be bored and disappointed after 1 hour. Yes, 1 hour into the reception and I was ready to leave. Me. How did I suddenly become the bored guest checking the watch and fidgeting?

The crowd was OK. The food was nibble food. The jazz quartet was good but no one could dance to the tunes. There was one bar station with beer and wine and naturally, a line. There wasn't a logical flow - some tables with chairs were set up outside as were cocktail tables. Inside, aside from the food stations, nothing was happening. It made it difficult to converse. Aside from the actual museum and its gallery, things were boring and unstimulating.

I love my family but when I see them 6 times over the course of the summer -- enough is enough. I'm a great date when you need to bring someone somewhere who doesn't know a soul - I mingle, make friends, dance. I don't need a babysitter. But something has to keep this brain stimulated no matter what the scenario. Maybe I'm over the social obligations for some time. What would make things more enticing and interesting? Spreading them out over the course of a year? Different people? A guarantee that I'd come out with a new cool friend? Different food? I don't know.

I digress. I'm over it all until Turkey Day.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rip Off

I noticed the NY Times Urban Eye - an email newsletter to which I subscribe - had changed formats a few weeks back and coincidently, the content seemed to take a bit of a dip. This confirmed my theories - and clenched the need to remove myself from their mailing list.

Promoting a book stool - silly me for actually thinking it included books! For thinking it was a cool shabby chic a la Pottery Barn design. No, the NY Times editors and journalists have nothing better to do with their time than seek out, and promote/publish this ridiculous piece of NYLON sold at the Conran shop. For $40, you too can swap out your twine and buy this hideous black nylon book strap because all our magazines will look so amazing (and be so comfy for our sit bones) when we stack and them and tell our guests this is the new occasional seating.

Occasional uncomfy rip off and fire hazard seating.

First Reaction

Kind of funny. Here we go:

1. Travel: Overseas
2. Beer: Guiness or anything dark.
3. Relationships: Emotion.
4. Purple: A favorite color.
5. Power Rangers: Voltron reincarnated.
6. Weed: a drug.
7. Steroids: another drug.
8. Cartoons: Smurfs
9. The President: Waiting for the next election.
10. Tupperware: Clutter.
11. Florida: Hot.
12. Santa Claus: In the mall.
13. Halloween: Awesome holiday.
14. Alice: Brady Bunch maid.
15. Sitcom: 80s.
16: Myspace: Social networking.
17. Worst fear: Having so much I want to accomplish and never feeling like I do/will/have.
18. Marriage: I'm PMSed and annoyed with my husband at the moment.
19. Paris Hilton: Gross.
20. Pat: The boy Meaghan loved all through college.
21. Redheads: Wish I was one.
22. Blondes: Playboy (sorry?!)
23. Pass the: Buck.
24. One night stands: Bad news.
25. Abortions: Not for me.
26. Neverland: Peter Pan.
27. Pixie Stix: What is that? Sugar candy?
28. Vanilla ice cream: With Root Beer.
29. Music: XPN
30. High school: Drama.
31. Pajamas: Victoria's Secret Pink.
32. Woody: Toy Story.
33. Wet Socks: Take them off.
34. Friendship: Grateful.
35. Love: Everyday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My XPN Musical Moment

Another 885 countdown? AAARRRRGGGG. The idea was cool 2 years ago but now it's wearing on me. I wasn't into this whole Musical Moment thing but then the other day something made me remember when I "rediscovered" XPN and I thought - that was a moment. So I submitted this. Probably not as cool as someone's Live Aid experience in 1985, but it'll have to do.

Coming Around Again

My art teacher used to play XPN all the time when I was in high school. Of course, I was 17, 18 years old and was more interested in Top 40 (I know, shame on me). I would complain and he'd constantly say, "They play everything, Chris!" I'd give the station a chance and hear a few good songs one day and then hear something I didn't like and be back to my Top 40. Well, sometime in 1996, my senior year, a co-worker saved my soul and reintroduced me to singer-songwriter music and some independent stations. He was my go-to guy for all awesome music. In early 2001 we had this falling out and I remember grieving the loss of the friendship - on so many levels - but one being what on earth was I going to do for good music now? That summer I heard Pete Yorn's Life on Chain for the first time while station surfing on North Broad coming home from work and landing on XPN. WHOA. Who's this?! That was the moment. I was instantly hooked. But because I didn't know the artist, I went to the web site and tooled around and found SO much more than I ever knew existed - playlists, programming, Funky Friday, concerts, arts events. And right then - hot sticky miserable mid-July and still sad - I knew that I'd be OK. I came into my own, discovered XPN on my own, in my own time and I wouldn't fall apart without this friend and his cool artsy knowledge because now XPN was my new friend.

I became a member and have since volunteered and remained actively engaged in the music that's so important to me. Thanks XPN for coming into my life when I was 23 and despairing, and giving me hope again - in great music and in myself :) The chorus is so appropriate:

"And I was waiting over here for life to begin,
I was looking for the new thing,
And you were the sunshine heading my front-line,
I was alone, you were just around the corner from me."
-Pete Yorn, Life On A Chain

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Texas Fall

Jocelyn's thoughts on fall from down south:

I can't even think about fall yet, but here is my Fall compared to yours: :)

Yours: Cool 60-70 degree temps replace arctic air conditioning (and icky summer bugs).
Mine: Cool 80 degree days replace some of the air conditioning.

Yours: Rosy cheeks from crisp fall air.
Mine: Cheeks being rosy from the hot summer sun.

Yours: The smell of burning leaves replacing the smell of BBQ.
Mine: The smell of BBQ continues as we're able to be outside again.

Yours: Eating indoors again.
Mine: Starting to eat outside again.

Yours: The changing color of the leaves - and all the old school days for which it reminds me.
Mine: What colors?

Yours: Opaque tights, tall boots and Mary Janes.
Mine: short sleeve shirts, maybe a little blazer at night if it's really cold.

Yours: Sweaters and other new fuzzy fall wardrobe staples.
Mine: Will still be unworn until January/February.

Yours & Mine: No guilty feelings for wanting to curl up indoors, all day, with a book.

Yours: Fall sports (for me this means watching collegiate rowing on the river and occasionally checking in on a hockey game).
Mine: Fuck sports.

Yours: The arts kicking into gear with the Fringe and September season openers.
Mine: Going to Dallas and Fort Worth for outdoor concerts.

Mums, gourds and hay decorating our front yards.
Halloween.
Dark beer, pumpkin spiced coffee and other seasonal foods and beverages (replacing drinks involving crushed ice and fruit).
Purple, orange, yellow, red, brown.
New beginnings.

The last part of that works in Texas too. :) My aunt just bought be a cute pumpkin metal container. I want pumpkins year round.

More on fall

A recent conversation.

me: I guess you're leaving for the conference this weekend...it's early this year. I wanted to come by and say hello but it appears as though conference season is upon you, so I'll check ya when the temps (and travel) drop off in October.

him: Leaving on Tues and then it's pretty much non stop for a month. Hope you're well.

me: You'll blink and it'll be fall and holiday season for you. We'll chat in October. I'll take you out for coffee. There's sure to be pumpkin flavored something on the menu by then. I know how you love those flavored fru fru girly drinks.

him: I only drink those with you.

Reasons to love fall

It's hands down my favorite season. We endured hurricane like rain and wind last week (that only cooled things off for a few days) and now we're back into icky hot and humid August days (and nights). I wait anxiously for fall.

Cool 60-70 degree temps replace arctic air conditioning (and icky summer bugs).
Rosy cheeks from crisp fall air.
The smell of burning leaves replacing the smell of BBQ.
Eating indoors again.
The changing color of the leaves - and all the old school days for which it reminds me.
Opaque tights, tall boots and Mary Janes.
Sweaters and other new fuzzy fall wardrobe staples.
No guilty feelings for wanting to curl up indoors, all day, with a book.
Fall sports (for me this means watching collegiate rowing on the river and occasionally checking in on a hockey game).
The arts kicking into gear with the Fringe and September season openers.
Mums, gourds and hay decorating our front yards.
Halloween.
Dark beer, pumpkin spiced coffee and other seasonal foods and beverages (replacing drinks involving crushed ice and fruit).
Purple, orange, yellow, red, brown.
New beginnings.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Famous

Bethann and I visited Estia (fabulous Greek/Mediterranean restaurant in Center City) a few weeks back for a ladies Sunday brunch sponsored by Rachel Inc. Rachel is a marketing gal (her specialty restaurant and nightlife) and always hosting swanky (but unpretentious) bashes. We sipped our yummy drinks and sampled a tasty array of Greek specialties. Yum Yum.

You can see us in all our cuteness here.

Vote for Media!

Local film maker Rich Hoffman entered a video short about Media in the Ikea Small Businesses Big Dreams contest. It stars a few people you may recognize (Go Earth & State)!!

Media made it into the top 10 & now we need your vote! Click here to see the video and vote.

Scroll down to Media's, watch the cool video, sign in & then vote for it. The stores featured in the winning video get an Ikea makeover. Voting ends 8/22. Please forward this to your email list, we want Media to win!

Bathroom Clutter

You've probably heard me rave about Christine Kane's music when I worked at Baylin Artists and she toured with North Carolina Dance Theater. What I might not have mentioned is she is a fantastic (and hilarious) blogger and to list all my favorite posts of hers would take forever, but here is a very recent favorite. For those of you with pack rat spouses (like me) and significant others who stare at a very simple chore list like a deer in headlights (me? You want me to actually do these 5 tasks? Today?)...you will appreciate these words about decluttering your bathroom.

And if you scroll through the comments, you'll see mine - I love pitching old crap.

Crowded House

So I did something the other day I haven't done in forever: I saw a concert. Last spring I saw Coldplay with Richard Ashcroft but it was at the Wachovia Center and while the music was fantastic and light show out of this world, the experience itself is like being at Penn Station in NYC - crowded, loud and a tad intimidating.

But Friday night I had my ticket to see Crowded House perform at the Mann Center. I'd heard good things about the Mann. It's tucked back in Fairmount Park (all of 5 min. from my alma matter) and even the drive and parking experience were a delight. As it turned out, the Mann Center is quite possibly the cleanest outdoor venue I've ever witnessed and while the acoustics might have been a bit better for opener Pete Yorn, they proved terrific (despite being an outside amphitheater) for Crowded House.

2 hours and 2 encores later I left, throat slightly raspy from the bizarre cold weather that graced us and from singing my heart out to Don't Dream it's Over, Something So Strong, Weather with You, and ton of other hits. I love that the band was decked out in suits...love that they not only engage with each other on stage, but invite the audience in as well. I was surrounded primarily by people in their 40s but scattered among them were still tons of young folk like me. An unpretentious band playing for a fun unpretentious crowd.

Besides the Mann, I also visited World Cafe Live earlier that day since they were on 88.5 WXPN's Free At Noon show. This would be a treat - intimate setting, a few songs to get me in the mood for the evening. If you didn't catch it, NPR posted the show on their site. In the meantime, I'm scouring You Tube for some video of the Mann Center concert. Someone had to have taken some footage. It was truly a great concert.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Where are they now?

Vince found this site detailing the whereabouts of my best friends now. You know, since we all went our separate ways back in 2000.

Also, until all 10 seasons are available on DVD, my brother located this site whereby we can throw ourselves into the 90210 drama once more.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Diary of a Dog

It's been so hot and I haven't been able to go to the bark park in days so I'm a tad more rambunctous than normal. I need stimulation so I wander around my house and look for interesting stuff - a baseball hat, a photograph, an ear of corn. These are all new and exciting and I can chew on them.

Except yesterday I snatched a photo and ripped it and when my mommy saw it she started crying. I don't think I have ever seen her cry like that. I don't think I ever did something so bad it made her cry. She wouldn't even talk to me (she usually tells me I'm a bad dog if I pee or poop in the house or do something else like rip toilet paper) but this time she was too upset to speak to me. I went in my crate for a while and then she let me out to pee and wander the backyard but then I stayed in the kitchen with my bed and bowls for the rest of the day. All alone. I hate being alone.

But then, I did rip a photo of her mommy and Pop Pop from 1969. I heard her say she put it back together and it isn't too terrible looking. I think I'll try to be a better dog today.

Love, Juliet

Monday, August 06, 2007

7 Worlds Collide

The last time I physically saw you was on Rt. 3 driving a Beemer in May 2004. I had pulled up along side you at a red light thinking you were someone else and about to shout hello when I stopped short, my eyes wide, and my heart pounding as I frantically looked around me, grabbed my phone, pretended to have a conversation with someone as I slumped in my seat. Finally you got an arrow and made your U turn and the moment was over. It was a horrible moment. I was traumatized for days.

Today I drove down Gay Street and looked to my left at the shops when I realized it was you were there on the sidewalk. I actually didn't believe it was you at first and then said out loud, "Oh my God, it is." I was past you by this point but my head was computing all this information. He's with someone. Go around the block. Do I yell out the window "HEY!" and see what you do?! Do I park? I looped the block and saw you again and this time I slowed down. As much as I knew it'd be OK to stop you and run over and say hello, I didn't want to spoil your moment. I didn't want it to be weird for you. Or me. I drove off, thinking about this. I'm not sure why I needed to think...why I was making something out of nothing. It's not at all like it was years ago, afraid of running into you somewhere for fear you hated me. It wasn't that.

It may simply be that I'm OK not knowing, not being the one to reach out and trusting that things have a way of working out when they are supposed to...if they are supposed to.

"7 worlds will collide whenever I'm by your side and dust from a distant sun will shower over everyone."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Today

It was 2 years ago today. It was Friday August 5, my last day at BAM. You know what made me realize it? I was sorting through files and out fell my good-bye card. I had saved it. I stared at it a moment. It falls into a long line of recent Baylin memories. Like yesterday driving from Lambertville to Princeton on some tiny back road through farm town NJ. We passed an intersection and I did a double take. Wait just a moment...in the dark, with a lot of January snow already blanketing the ground, and in the middle of a blizzard in Marc's Infinity, this is definitely that creepy road we took to get to New Brunswick to see the Princely Players!?! Funny because we just remembered that bizarre evening 2 months ago and how surreal that drive was - like something out of a Robert Frost poem. But I digressed. Despite my memories and days of wondering - what if? - I put the thoughts aside, throw out the card (because after 2 years, it's time, right?) and move forward.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Where's Your Boyfriend?

I had the option to stop at the nice (and cheaper) Wawa in Glen Mills but no, I decided to wait it out and hit a gas station on 322 because I was lazy and didn't feel like getting out of my car so soon after piling groceries into it at Giant.

And for this stupid decision, I paid. Severely. I pulled off at the Citgo - the ghetto Citgo - in Chi and barely got out of the car when the WT boy at the pump next to me in his POS late 80s Cutlass sedan walks around to my pump and asks, "Where's your boyfriend?!" all smug.

WHAT THE F?

"I'm married," I say in my snotty bitch tone.
"Oh. Where's your husband?," mouths WT boy.
"Home," I say matter of factly, turning around and ending the conversation.

He muttered something else which I ignored, started to fuel my tank and watched as he drove around the parking lot to leave, obviously to take another look at me.

I sigh loudly. "Can't a girl get gas without having to deal with that crap?!" I shout to no one. Who does this?! Who says something like that? Did he even for one second think that's a class act opener? He only said something because I was wearing a tube top. What goes through their heads?! So white trash. And obviously I'm not, so WHY bother? WT boys who think they can pick up cute classy girls at a gas station with lame ass lines in their disgusting wife beaters and POS cars DON'T EVER HAVE A CHANCE.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ten Year Reflection: Part 1

Excerpt from July 13, 1997:

Best friends...what constitutes a best friend? It used to be a group of people to each lunch with, laugh with, be ourselves with. Then something happened...what was it? A selfish inconsiderate act? Immaturity? College?

Were we really ourselves? Or did we pretend to be something, want something that we never could be or have? I have watched friends change since freshman year. Even the way people were junior year was not who they were senior year and not who they are now. Actually, I don't know who anybody is right now. All I know is that I don't like very many people.

##

I wrote that at the shore the summer after my freshman year of college. Everything and everybody (including me) had changed and was continuing to change and I was lost somewhere in the middle of it all. I was drifting away from high school pals but those bonds of friendship hadn't yet matured with my college girlfriends yet so I felt alone. It was July and I had one more month before school began and I had that bittersweet feeling that comes when you realize it's time to move on, move forward, but in doing so, essentially must leave people, places, things behind you. I was excited to go back to school, to focus on my now familiar college environment and embrace that life, but I was sad at the challenge before me - to let go of the past and stuff I had hoped to fix or change or be what I wanted, but over which I had no control, so therefore, had to accept (and/or supress) and get on with my 19 year old life.

My next entry doesn't come until November 1997 but in the months leading up to it - I worked at the Gap that fall in Springfield and at the Deck the Walls in Granite Run, immersed myself in my Photography class, in visiting Linvilla (pre barn fire), listened to the Smiths, went to a few parties at B3, had my hair chopped to a shaggy pixie, still embraced alternative 90s girl style (thrift store cords, shirts, velvet blazers, vintage Puma sneaks or Docs) and tried my damndest to look like the cute Winona Ryder indie chick I wanted to portray for the cute boys (there were 2) I so adored at the time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Behind the wheel of a large automobile

The Versa has gone missing. My poor red Nissan Versa has been held captive by the service peeps at the dealership for over a week. Over a week? Yes. Body work? You'd think. No. It's that bastard fuel pump. I know...It's a brand new car. Barely toppling 10K miles. The fuel pump went south in the Focus when it hit 80K so I've had plenty of experience with cranking starts, rough idles, the occasional stall, and me upset, crying, and cursing in the middle of an intersection. Typically replacing this would take a few days. Apparently not when your car is so new that the actual parts aren't even in the country. This stinkin fuel pump is still overseas in its country of origin, Japan. Who knows when it'll arrive in Concordville PA.

Meanwhile I've been cruising around in a Sentra (OK until the engine started knocking and I had to switch it out) and then the only vehicle Enterprise had available this past Monday was a crazy minivan. A Chevy Uplander. What the hell is that? I soon found out. It's a massive beast. I stared at it and then looked around to be sure no one saw this cute 29 year old in her Step Up outfit - sans kids of her own and soccer practices - get behind the wheel. For 2 days I drove this minivan. One that barely got over 70 miles/hr. and who's AC was never cold enough and who's back end continuously felt like it would bounce off when I put it in reverse.

For 2 days I felt like Sam in Who's the Boss when Tony unveiled her "new" car. You remember - the yellow 70s Olds with brake lights galore and the plate that read SAMS CAR. You probably also recall how mortified she was driving it and in the episode parked it miles from school until it was stolen! Well that was me parking that damn minivan clear across the Dilworthtown parking lot to trudge into Starbucks. If the van was blue and slightly older and boxier, it could have passed for the famed Tony Micelli van we all know from the opening credits.

My friend Melissa and I joked that I needed to pretend I was at SJU again, hauling a group of volunteers down to the Appalachian region of KY. That brought back good van memories. The kids I babysit, while appreciative of the roomy interior, were shouting at me from the back of the van "WE CAN'T HEAR YOU CHRISSIE!?!" When I retrieved Matt from his music lesson Tuesday afternoon, he greeted me (laughing) with "I was waiting for your big ugly dumb car! Even that's better than sitting outside in this heat!" I almost died laughing - it has to be bad when an 11 year old is making fun of you. Their dad, a 40 something car buff, I knew would kill to see me in this machine and enjoy every second of torturing me. I managed to slink off Monday evening undetected (and was SO hoping to do the same Tuesday) but we pulled into the driveway just as Chris was leaving - and staring and laughing - at me. Caught. Behind the wheel of a large automobile.

Embarrassing.

Finally Enterprise was able to get me out of the crazy minivan and into a Subaru Impreza. I'm on the fence about this sporty little sedan. It's not nearly as swank as the Sentra but I gladly sacrificed all that room and awkwardness for conversation and coolness (literally and figuratively). I just hope Japan can get my fuel pump here this century. I miss my Versa.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Misbehaving Munchkin

Juliet decided in the middle of crossing MacDade that she wouldn't have any more of this walking business and this highway was a prime place to drop down and refuse to move. Thankfully we were standing near the median and it was a green light so there was no oncoming traffic headed straight for us but after a few seconds of unsuccessfully getting her to stand and walk, I had to pick her up and carry her across the road. People in cars making right turns from Fairview onto MacDade stared. My dog is practically throwing a stubborn tantrum in the street and I'm yanking on her leash, she's on her back, thrashing and looking like she's dying and refusing to move! I must have looked like a horrible mother. Safely on the other side I hold her panting and racing body and calm her a bit. She won't talk about this episode and what prompted her to choose the street to misbehave and put both of our lives in danger. The rest of the walk home was just as stubborn. Twice I had to carry her. She refused to go more than 20 yards before plopping down and giving me that "I'm not moving, Mommy" look. So much for taking her to Dunkin Donuts with me.

Is it possible she was pissed because I didn't buy her any munchkins at Dunkin Donuts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fashionably Socially Responsible?

You know once upon a time Acme used to inquire whether I preferred paper or plastic. I always said paper. With the little handles, they are easier to carry, they are sturdier and my groceries never spilled out over the seat and floor of my car, and they were recyclable. I only ever tossed chicken in the plastic bag. Sometime in my mid 20s between sampling a host of other socially responsible markets (co-ops, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods) and a few gourmet places in and around the city, Acme (and quite possibly the rest of the supermarkets) stopped asking whether I wanted paper or plastic. Suddenly, baggers assumed plastic and before I could get a word in otherwise, half my groceries were thrown into environmentally hazardous plastic bags. Untied. Lumped together in a cart. Rolling across the floor of the car. Half of which I tossed once I arrived home and unpacked, the other half I saved for trash (and in the last 5 months, a nice amount of them have been reused to pick up doggie droppings).

I even poked around the last time I was at my local Acme since I assumed control of my own bagging. There wasn't a paper bag anywhere. What the hell?! The problem with the big boys is that you almost never go for a few things. Like us, you hit that 6 week mark and realize there isn't anything in your fridge, pantry or cabinets. So off we go for an hour long trip to the supermarket marching up and down every aisle tossing in paper towels, canned vegetables, poultry, ice cream, toiletries, milk, yogurt, coffee, you name it. So we'd need about 10 of those canvas bags. We'd need to bring them with us each and every time. I'd like to think I'm responsible and motivated to do that each time. I'm not too sure about my husband. I can't see him remembering to take the canvas tote with him to the market. Let alone be seen carrying it.

The NY Times article this week about London fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, promoting social responsibility with her line of cotton totes got me thinking about this. On the one hand I support what she has done - brought the idea of recyclable grocery bags more into the public eye while spinning it with some fashion sense. However, I'm somewhat suspicious of a bag that literally screams I'm Not Plastic, and of the designer's remarks that it has to cool before the world catches on and does the right thing. For one thing, this article illustrates hordes of shoppers trampling over each other to get their greedy paws on one of these bags. To be socially responsible? I doubt it. Moreover, it means nothing to me if this one bag has the best intentions but the rest of your line is being mass produced in sweat shops under not so socially friendly conditions (note: I don't know if this is the case, but my point is to hold people accountable).

I'm also a tad insulted because not all of us are clueless and not all of us need to buy your brand and your tote to show off what we're already comfortable conveying and doing, and not all of us will feed your ego and say it was you who brought fashion and a socially conscious product and mindset to grocery shoppers. I know the goal of the article wasn't to insult my intelligence or insist that we are all trend followers. I was to make us think. I still support the idea of using cotton or canvas totes and recycling as much plastic as possible. Enough so that I will flock to Trader Joe's and snatch up a few reusable totes and (try) to remember to take them with me to Acme in another few days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gardening

For most of my life I've hated -- and I mean loathed - gardening. I couldn't walk on grass in bare feet until I was a teen. I shaded out when my mom needed help weeding the front or back gardens or I offered to clean all 3 bathrooms so I didn't have to weed or plant. Even when we first purchased our home, I insisted Vince do the real gross part of the gardening chores. He hated the hostas so much, he could remove them...and all the snails and worms and strange bugs that made their habitat beneath them. My best friend Jocelyn was in town for our friend's wedding the first autumn we were here and she and Vince weeded and planted mums. I went to Home Depot and loaded the mulch and supervised.

So it's been 18-24 months now and I'm finally getting past my prissiness of grass, soil, some bugs.

Some people are petrified of the ocean...of swimming in the sea for fear of what's beneath them and they either wear those embarrassing water shoes, enjoy life on a floaty, or don't put more than a toe in the shallow end. This doesn't bother me. A crab? A jelly fish? Seaweed (which does creep me out -- it's like grass. Obviously I don't like it)? But I swim around them. I can paint and throw a pot or smudge charcoal over paper and paint, slip, and charcoal covered hands and nails don't bother me one lick. Something about bugs - snakes, leeches, spiders, worms, the frightening ground creatures I learned about in Bio class...Gross.

But I'm armed with cute gardening gloves, the weed fork (which is effing fabulous), and the desire to make my house pretty and give it some curb appeal. The other day I cleaned out the shed and everything was humming along well until I reached this old piece of wet, rotted wood on the concrete slab. I knew...KNEW this was going to be bad. I gingerly lifted it from one corner. I peeked cautiously underneath. Instantly I dropped it and jumped back. Scary scary creatures under there...the kind that only exist in damp dark places. There was a white spider crawling around that I'd never seen in my life. I surveyed my organizational work - it was swept, clutter free. Sans this one piece of wood, my work was complete. I left it for Vince to haul.

These moments still find me. I'll be laying brick and suddenly a worm is staring straight at me. I weed and a snail surfaces. I back off and collect myself. Then I return. People make fun, but it's OK. They laugh that I still cannot touch dirt without gloves (but you paint?! Isn't clay the same thing?! -- NO, it is not. Clay and paint are CLEAN). But it's progress. At 29 I've come a long way from the prissy girl that would rather touch bathroom grime than the earth.

And after this week, my front and back yards will have petunias, lilies, and a host of other flowers. Good for me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Juliet

Most of my Juliet pictures are on myspace. I thought she needed some representation here as well.









Monday, July 09, 2007

Paradise By The Dashboard Light

It's taken me a few months to get to speed with this Comcast Digital Cable. Finally I can operate the remote. Finally my brain memorized a few favorite channels - The Soap Net, VH1 Classic and know generally where Bio, Travel and Hallmark fall (because they run reruns of Little House, Murder She Wrote, and some other classic shows).

Right now I am watching a behind the scenes/making of the album of (drum roll)...Meat Loaf. Bat out of Hell. And the craziest thing occurred: I realized why so many of us LOVED this album early in my high school days. This album is (and was built to be) and theatrical, opera-esque collection of rock. A rock opera like The Who's Tommy (but not nearly on the same level). Duh. Why didn't I see that then? It makes perfect sense. I was a theater girl for a year and then a theater goer for my remaining high school years. But Paradise By The Dashboard Light was played over and over in the Green Room before, during and after our productions and subsequently requested and played at every formal dance. And we rocked it. Obviously. Weren't we all aspiring actors, singers, Broadway stars?! We could assume the role of some character (like the backup vocalist) and appreciate the extreme mingling of electric guitar, tambourine, piano, drums, and overall dramatic layering of the instruments and vocals.

I totally forgot about this song's appeal and legacy. And up until now, didn't get the connection (I'm sure the fact that it's about sex was also appealing to hormonally charged teens). This is a funny reminder of days gone by when I LOVED musicals...before I became bitter and spewing venom at all musicals and operas. (Yes, there are issues here. It's a long story). However, to this day, I still prefer Paradise to any Greece song. That's for another blog. Long live Meat Loaf, especially in the world of high school dances.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Thank You For Being A Friend...

It's like the Golden Girls theme song...

We hung out the other night and I remembered how much I adore him and how much I learn from him. For so long I focused on moving forward, moving on, priding myself for always knowing when the writing is on the walls and getting out, not being afraid to embrace change and that everyone needed a little Chrissie inspiration in their lives.

I don't think I affect people that much. I just try to give little boosts of confidence here and there and share stories, good and bad. But it was still me focused on me and in some ways masking internal sadness that I never truly found job security and had to take matters into my own hands. I know to many it's ballsy and commendable, but it's scary too. Regardless, I always believe we have some control over our destinies and for a long time now, I've tried to be a positive influence and motivator for him.

In his presence the other night, I am humbled because he is older and wiser. He can see in me the deeply rooted burning issues and will laugh with me but also understand that they do exist and it's OK...but he gently reminds me to not over analyze situations, to relax. He allows me to be here now. He's that kind of person - I can tell him anything and he knows me well enough to talk me off ledges and call me on any BS. At times I've questioned the friendship, if it was real enough to withstand people moving on, but interestingly, it's made me more self aware. Once upon a time I would have projected unrealistic expectations onto him and onto the relationship and it would have imploded like a few previous friendships, but I suppose I am older and wiser too. I did that once last October - and we squabbled and I was so hurt I didn't speak to him for a week and cried - and then caught myself. Instead of internalizing emotions, I talked about it and I saw that for this to move forward I needed to relax a bit and let things just be. Accept this person for who he is.

And the best conversations and moments come out of me simply accepting and existing. It's a new thing for me :)

So I told him this. He tells me he's glad I feel this way, that he doesn't want to think he's the only one coming away with something. That when we sit and talk he forgets our age difference...except for when he sees all that I am doing in my life at the ripe age of 29 and what he has yet to do at 42. I smile and blush a little when I read that - I am my own worst critic, thinking what have I done? Most days I wish I was 42 with all that acquired knowledge. But I keep the faith - for me, for him, for others in my life. And I know the sense of awe we have in each other, for whatever our reasons, is real and sustains the friendship.

But then he offers me the biggest compliment anyone can ever give, one I heard once before, 10 years ago. He tells me "You do make me want to be a better man."

10 years later I am still filled with so much emotion that I can't find any words to express how that makes me feel.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bingo

This past Friday night I got roped into BINGO. Yes the game where letter and number permutations are drawn and called and one must get a row down, across, diagonal, and as I just found out, a postage stamp in the top right corner or all four corners.

Vince, his dad, his cousin, friends of our and I all played bingo at this smoke infused fire house down the street from us Friday evening. I stole glances at my phone periodically wondering if my friend Jon would call like he said he would and save me from this crazy night. It was not to be. Rather, this experience was meant to play out like something from of a movie. And not My Girl.

There I am, cute little me in a sundress sitting amidst old ladies, sketchy white trash folk, scary men with beady little eyes and tattoos, all puffing away, checking me out. They were all probably wondering what I was doing there. So was I.

The night goes on and I'm breathing in the toxic fumes, barely keeping up with combinations yelled and frantically stamping my 45th bingo sheet. Can I at least shout BINGO to make this night worthwhile???!!!

But the best would come when our family friend's 80 yr. old mother calls bingo just as the announcer is reading off another number (did she call bingo in time??) and all hells breaks loose because everyone thinks the old lady shouldn't be allowed to have her card proofed for bingo. It was fierce. These people were up in arms and relentless. For 5 minutes we went back and forth about whether Bernice called bingo in time. The troops were called in and finally they grant permission to read Bernice's card and here after all this hoopla -- she has bad bingo.

Yes. BAD BINGO. There is such a term. It's for when you call Bingo and in actuality, you don't have bingo. So all that squabbling and poor Bernice doesn't even have bingo!! Bonnie, her daughter, is across from her and says, "Mom, I'm so embarrassed! How could you?!" Meanwhile, I double over in laughter. The crowd is still sneering at our table over the logistics of the call, some smug that Bernice didn't win, some annoyed that we delayed the game, and Bonnie is hiding her face ashamed of her mother. I was dying. Clearly this was why I stayed - to witness the sheer madness of Bingo.

Vince and his cousin won once and damn near scared everyone in the room (this is an experienced crowd -- they raise their hands and mumble Bingo while Vince and Rob jump up, send their chairs flying backwards and scream Bingo at the top of their lungs - naturally) and now insist on returning 2-3 days a week. I may return with a camera. This could make for some fabulous documentary photos. My sister and I got the best laugh out of this story the next day imagining our grandmothers calling out bad bingo and getting the population in a fury.

Monday, June 25, 2007

90210 -- Again!

I'll preface this blog with this: I am not obsessed with any other TV show the way I am with 90210. Hell I don't even watch TV much anymore. But I was 12 when it premiered and it followed me through an entire decade...

Every so often I go through these moments where I catch an old episode of my gang and I get pathetically nostalgic for my favorite show of all time and lament (again) that it's off the air. Wah. It didn't help that the episode I caught was the LAST one ever. I watched it Saturday morning. Now 7 years ago I had the fam record it because I was across the globe in Greece when it aired and upon my return I watched and sobbed. Saturday I made fun of certain scenes (like WHY were Donna and David's bachelor/ette parties SO goddamn lame???) but I did get teary eyed at the last scene.

And as if I'm not already nuts (and as you can see, I am -- besides my sadness over the last episode, my sister and friends, we can quote episodes, remember random characters, relate most life experiences to this show), now YouTube preys on my nutty vulnerable 90210 side and I can sit here for hours watching snipets of old episodes, video colleges of Dylan and Kelly, Dylan and Brenda, all the love triangles that made those guys my best friends. Forever. What's a girl to do??

Embed random 90210 things into her myspace profile, that's what. And play the theme song not just on her cell phone but here too. And plot ways of getting DJs to play the theme song at a wedding (or even How Do I Talk To An Angel -- Ray, you were great until you hit Donna). Something ridiculous like that. I still say it's a shame that Vince and his groomsmen weren't into acting out the whole opening credit/song/stance/dance thing they do. There's always my sister's wedding...

Long live Dylan and Kelly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Peace Out

Because I am not into the Sopranos, of course I have no idea tonight is the series finale. I have however witnessed grown men obsess over this show the last 8 years the way I obsessed over 90210 for 10 years. And just like the whole storyline there eventually grew old and slightly boring (I know, blasphemy) and it was time to peace it out, and tons of nonfans were applauding, I am the nonfan here breathing a sigh of relief...and while I don't know enough about the plot lines to know if they are stale (everyone gets whacked in the end, right?!), I do know I'll be happy to have a husband not revolve his life around HBO Sunday night.

Honestly, I'll be happy when One Tree Hill season ends this week and my Wednesday nights are free to take part in Powder Hour over at Plain Jane, the cute West Chester makeup boutique.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Intersections

I have specific places that when I am physically there, I cry. I have no idea what comes over me, but it's almost as if there is a presence from beyond that just seizes me and brings with it a flood of emotions.

My grandfather's grave is one such place. I could go to visit, leave some flowers and be fine. But the presence shows up and brings with it a few memories. Suddenly I'm vulnerable and recalling inspiring words and Saturday morning visits. I remember 2001 and all the loss I endured. Tears fall as the sun beams down on my face.

While the SJU campus brings a sense of peace to my heart and spirit, there are places there where memories and emotion intersect and a tear falls as I remember days when I was continuously pushed outside my comfort zones. 4 years is a long time to be somewhere...

Oddly, there is this one intersection - 309 and Lower State Rd. - that by forces unknown to me, unleashes a tidal wave of nostalgia and emotion. It's not just that I am leaving Doylestown (because this only happens on my way home), but that I'm leaving anywhere due north of that intersection. But maybe that's just it - it's about leaving...or rather when I was leaving. I used to scurry away from the office back then and take refuge in the little mosaic park (or some back corner of a restaurant) and scribble in my journal, confused and upset about my life, and most days cry for 10 minutes before wiping my eyes, buying my latte with a forced smile and shuffling back to my tiny hole in the wall. It was about work, about stress, about death. Actually, everything was dying or leaving. Me included. So by the time the day caught up with me - 15-20 min. after I left the office at 5:30 - it would spill out in the form of tears right as I sat waiting for my left arrow. I was never sure how I made it down 309 to the Turnpike without an accident. Usually I pulled myself together by the time I whizzed through EZ Pass, but this one day in July after a party, when I knew I was giving my notice the next day, I started crying there and didn't stop until I got home. 45 min. later.

There are other places...other places where I'd been and left, perhaps before I was ready...places where people had been and left before I was ready to let them go. I find myself in these places, where stuff intersects, but really they direct me to someplace in my mind where someone or something or someplace had a profound effect on me.

Hello Kitty

It doesn't get better than this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's My Party...

On the heels of a recent wedding - just when I thought I was finally finished with important weddings - came the news that lady friends of mine are expecting. I wasn't particularly surprised. I'm pretty good at calling who will be the next whatever and I suspected this wedding would bring with it a slew of announcements. Of course I'm very excited for my dear friends and their new arrivals.

Selfishly though, tons of people are due in the fall and in early December which means I need to make some more friends who will not have just given birth and can still come to my 30th birthday party. Yes, I am being selfish.

For those of you who don't know about my dream party - It's ringing in 30 old school style: Roller Skating. We may compliment this by throwing in some bowling, some dancing, some drinks, some good food. Maybe even some goodie bags (like the kind you took home from those parties in 1st grade).

It's hard enough having a birthday in December. Forget the gyping. Yes, there are people who do that, but they aren't our real friends anyway. I'm merely talking about how everyone else got parties or dinners throughout the year - that I happily attended and provided a card/gift - but because my special day fell smack between exams, a semester ending, Christmas, holiday parties, a million obligations (most of which included emptying your pockets of cash), I was slighted.

So my big plan is to nail this 30th birthday party date down in October...and make it for late November, first week of December. By involving a few activities over a weekend, people can come as they please to what they please. Simple and fun. Of course now the pool of friends who are able to come is diminishing.

Vince asked if I felt any pressure to have a baby now. What? I WANT MY STINKIN 30TH BIRTHDAY PARTY! For the record, I'm just whining. I love my friends dearly...I am happy for them. But no babies for me just yet ;)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

High Heels

I need high heels just to stand up
got to carry some stairs to get near enough
I need some wheels to move you around
I've borrowed some tools to chisel you down
tie me up and I'll confess
a thousand ways that make you statuesque

There are moments, and they creep up, usually after the excitement and adrenaline associated with something dies down, when navigating the world of small business that "I need high heels just to stand up" and measure up to those I admire.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Suicide

4 times in one week my dog has tried to commit suicide. Let me preface the following with the fact that we live on a busy street. Let me also say we are extremely careful of anything in her plain sight. Jules' motto is "If it smells, eat it."

On Monday last week she yanked the leash from my hands and tore through the front yard and driveway before I dove and snagged it and her. The following day she escaped from the backyard through a hole in the fence...only to come scratching at the front door "Let me in!" Vince's heart was in his throat and within a half hour he and his cousin were at Home Depot buying up some new hinges and tools to fix the fence door. Later in the week I placed my newly purchased Bic Soleil razor on the shelf of the tub only to find the entire handle and razor in her mouth, chewed and ruined a few hours later. Attempting to slit her paws? Finally just now she got a hold of a Combat Ant Killer trap. She chewed through the plastic to the poison and Vince and I were on the phone with the Penn Vet Clinic (the emergency weekend vet) frantically wondering if we had to haul our suicidal dog into west Philly. Obviously throwing herself into oncoming traffic and slitting her paws had failed, so poison was her final straw.

This dog is under lock down until she gets herself under control.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Definition

The Starbucks barista may have been flirting with me the other day when he asked me if I was having a good day and what constituted a good day...but it got me thinking. How do I define a good day?

Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens? LOL. No. But let's see.

Sunny and 70.
Walking my dog/visiting the bark park.
Exercising
Having food in the house and being able to make something yummy for lunch or dinner.
Enjoying a good cup of 'jo (even better when I can be in the city for yoga and stop at the Green Line on Lancaster Ave.).
Doing something relaxing like reading or blogging or scrapbooking.
Hearing good tunes on the radio (or my iPod).
If I can accomplish a few things on the never ending to do list.
No traffic.
No drama.