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Showing posts from 2011

We need a little Christmas.

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics to that song?  I hadn't until this year.  The melody is contagiously upbeat, so I was surprised at the desperation hidden in that song when I finally took the time to listen to it.
The past several holiday seasons were lost on me.  I didn't even bother decorating or trying to get pumped up for the big day.  To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I’ve truly enjoyed Christmas.  Sure, I’ve had fun times, and I have good memories from holidays gone by, but I've felt more anxiety, dread, and regret than anything else.  This time of year always makes me second-guess the choices I’ve made in my life, and the last few years I haven’t been where I want to be – both literally and metaphorically.  As the holidays approached this year, I expected the same feelings and was prepared to muddle through the month of December with my usual balance of annoyance and indifference.
On Thanksgiving (actually, even before that), the Christmas commer…

It's okay to be creepy on Thanksgiving.

I deliberately take time during the days leading up to Thanksgiving to reflect on everything for which I am thankful.  I know I said that last year, but it never hurts to repeat it.  My "thankful" list is always long.  I do not take anything for granted, especially since the last few years have been so turbulent for me.  I've realized that it doesn't take much to lose something (or someone) precious, and that is something that always comes to the front of my mind at this time of year.
This year, I've been reflecting in a different way.  I've noticed that a lot of people are doing the "30 Days of Thankful" lists on Facebook (mentioning something every day for which they are grateful).  I, personally, have been avoiding Facebook for the past few weeks after my hometown imploded with the scandal of the century, and I couldn't stand the shallow-mindedness and hatred anymore (but that's an entirely different blog for a different day).  Rather tha…

The Paper Anniversary

I love when Daylight Savings Time ends, because I wake up and realize, “Oh!  It’s only 6:30 instead of 7:30 so I have plenty of time to enjoy the morning!”  So enjoy it I did.  I went downtown as usual for a coffee, a stroll, and a photo.  I came home and leisurely hung out until the Redskins game came on.
I also love, on that first day back to Standard Time, when you start feeling hungry in the afternoon and you realize, “Oh!  It’s only 1:30.  It feels a lot later than that!  I have the whole afternoon ahead of me!”
Well, that didn’t happen to me this time.  I just now looked at the clock and said, “Holy crap on a cracker, it’s 2:00 already and I haven't even had lunch?  No wonder this game is almost half over!”  What a disappointment.  I was taken aback once again when it occurred to me, “Whoah!  It’s November 6th!  I think that date is significant!”  Then my brow furrowed.  “Why, oh why does that date ring a bell?  I’m not forgetting any birthdays because Facebook reminded me of …

Bandolier

[Warning label:A friend suggested that I refrain from blogging about this topic because it isn’t a “Chrome Phase-y” subject.I think it is, though, because for better or worse, it defines me.I think said friend was also afraid that it might offend people, but when has that ever stopped me?]
As soon as I graduated college, I was transferred from one demographic (student) to another very different demographic (single woman without a husband or children).There was no transition period.I had to learn how to field the questions immediately, on the fly.“Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”“Don’t you want to have kids?” “You should date so-and-so, don’t you think he’d make a great husband?” “Don’t you hate going home to an empty apartment every day?” And my personal favorite, “Are you a lesbian?” (Yes, I guess my lack of a boyfriend and the fact that I had a female roommate when I was 23 years old made people assume I was gay.In retrospect, it probably would have been a better idea than hanging ou…

Ten years.

Everyone has a story.  Fundamentally, everyone's is the same.  Reactions and emotions drive every story, and we were all feeling pretty much the same thing that day and the week that followed.  I won't bore you with my experience, because the nuances that differentiate my story from all others are much too personal to share in this format:  Those who know my story either experienced it with me in some way or heard it during a mutually reflective moment.  Instead, I will share with you a photo I took on my birthday in 2001.  It's always been one of my favorites, and there's even a bit of a story behind how I actually managed to get this shot.  But I won't bore you with that either.

It's important to remember this day for so many reasons.  Remember not only the heroes, but also the inconsequential people who were just putting in another day at the office and never made it home that night.  Keep your memories fresh in your mind.  Remember the fear, pain, strength…

Underpaid & Overpriveleged

In the midst of this ever-growing blog about trying to make myself happy (whatever that means), I can’t help but wonder how my life would be if happiness simply wasn’t a choice.I mean, I have so much handed to me that I take for granted.It’s strange to think that my current financial situation and standard of living would garner sympathy from a lot – and I mean a LOT – of people:I don’t make that much money and most of it goes to my landlord, Toyota, Verizon, and BGE.My apartment is tiny (although that makes it super easy to clean).Comparatively speaking, I am worse off than nearly all of my friends as far as take-home pay and stuff that I have.Still, I have more than everything I need, and even quite a few things that I don’t need but really enjoy having.After the bills are paid, I still have enough money for food, wine, cat chow, books, music, a tank of gas, and a few fun pairs of shoes.The gas is the most valuable for me lately… I’ve definitely been enjoying my summer road trips!
Bu…

Remembering Uncle Merlen.

I just wanted to take a minute to remember my Uncle Merlen, who left us early this morning. I will never forget summers in Minnesota, during which we always spent a day or two at his farm. It was a foreign concept for my sisters and me (being total Pennsylvanian suburbanites), but he sure had fun showing us (and jokingly trying to scare us with) all the animals and equipment. "Those geese will bite you!" (No joke!)  I remember my sisters and I liked to play with the kittens who lived in the barn.  Some were friendly, and some were scared.  I also loved the goats, but the pigs really freaked me out.  It's funny, when I read Animal Farm for the first time, I envisioned that very farm and all the animals coming to life to act out Orwell's powerful message.  I wonder how Uncle Merlen would feel about that!

As is the case with so many departed relatives, I wish I'd had the chance to get to know Merlen better.  It was hard to grow up so far away from the rest of the fa…

Happy New Year!...?

We have officially completed half the ride around the sun since I wrote my New Year’s resolutions blog, and it seems only fitting that I check in to see how I’m doing.  Why make resolutions in the first place if you’re going to just forget about them in a month or two?  Oh, yeah, that’s the whole idea!  And it’s probably what I should do… but now that I’m halfway around the sun (and halfway through a Blue Moon), I figure a little bit of self-torture might be in order.

If you would like to read my original New Year’s resolutions, click here.

1. Diet and exercise.  Well, it's almost by accident that I’ve succeeded in this one.  I’ve lost a few pounds now that I’m cooking for myself, but that’s mostly because I don’t cook with butter, and the only red meat I’ve had since I’ve moved was a haddag or two on Memorial Day weekend.  With nobody to cook for, I make mostly small and healthy meals.  Exercise is easy, because the neighborhood is great for walking.  I also do my daily regimen o…

A picture's worth a thousand words...

… but I promise I won’t be that long-winded.


This picture was taken in October 1993, my first time ever in Annapolis.  There I am looking over the sunroof of Lisa’s Acura.  We’d just finished a stroll up and down Main Street and we were on to our next adventure of the weekend, a tour of the Naval Academy.  Behind me is, I think, Mike’s dorm.  If it’s not his dorm, it’s some building at the academy.  That same weekend, we toured DC and saw two concerts (oh, to be a college student again!), but Annapolis really stuck with me.  See how happy I am in this picture?  It’s been awhile since I’ve smiled that big.  I know it’s a dorky smile, but I remember how I felt that very first time in Annapolis.  I loved the water, the boats, the brick roads, the centuries-old buildings, and the small-town feel.  I think, when this picture was taken, I was actually thinking, “Someday I will live here.”  Either that or something along the lines of “Damn, look at all these hot guys in uniform.”

Never mind …

I am the next Food Network Star!

I’d like to think that I have the potential to be Julia Child, or Paula Deen, or Bobby Flay, or… (I could go on for awhile).  But, the hard truth is that I’m a single girl with a paltry income who simply can’t afford to cook like the celebrities can.  Maybe I’ll go nuts in the kitchen once every week or so .  After a day or two, all the good leftovers will be consumed, and I’ll be stuck with a fridge full of leftover rice, soymilk approaching its expiration date, a variety of condiments, and half a bag of baby spinach or salad greens.  I’ll come home from work on a Wednesday, not wanting to cook anything, but thinking that another PB&J might just send me off the deep end.  Creativity, I remind myself, is my strong suit!  Let’s make something up!

I’m going to confess this now:  I’ve always had a strange obsession with making meals out of available items, regardless of what they may be.  I recall working for a company that supplied certain pantry items such as canned drinks, instant…

The new way to dump someone.

I’m always the last one standing, it seems.  I will try to fix it, rather than end it.  Eventually the guy gets so sick of me that he can’t stand looking at me.  But enough of that.  This is not going to be a rant about past loves.  I’m actually talking about Facebook friends!

Before social networking sites, friendships came and went as life ebbed and flowed.  There were some friends that I stuck with because I loved them too much to not have them in my life, even if it was logistically impractical to continue the friendship.  Other friends drifted away gradually, decreasing in number of phone calls or letters (remember writing letters???) and eventually becoming just a memory.  “This reminds me of so-and-so.  I wonder what he/she is up to these days?”  And that was where I left it, because there was really no way to know.  More than likely, that person has turned around and walked the opposite direction to avoid me in the grocery store and hopes every day that I never white-out their…

Notes from the coffee shop.

City Dock has awesome coffee, but there are only like a half dozen seats in the whole place.  Panera has a million places to sit, but it’s a lot farther away.  I don’t even know where the nearest Borders or B&N are.  And, while I share walls with four other apartments (and am in the vicinity of dozens more), I can’t find one single unsecured network to… um… borrow.  Doesn’t anyone have poor networking skills anymore?  Gosh, when I lived in AZ I got through an entire summer without the internet because there was always an unsecured network available from a technologically-incompetent neighbor.  Sadly, those days are over.  Now, Verizon apparently secures your network as a part of your free Fios installation.  I’m sure they do this so people like me have to pay for service rather than stealing from the neighbors.  Oops, I mean borrowing.

So I spent three weeks mostly offline, which, I must admit, was quite peaceful.  I have always been rather anti-social, but usually fight off this …

Eat, Pray, Love... or other verbs.

When it rains, it pours.  First, the governor proposed a budget that pretty much destroyed my chances of getting hired at Penn State.  Then, the top destination on my bucket list was nearly wiped off the map by an earthquake and tsunami.  Next, the Bald Eagle nest webcam I was following for weeks online suffered an intruder after the first baby hatched, and as a result both the baby and the un-hatched egg died.  And last but not least, the most annoying video appeared on YouTube, featuring a teenager singing about Friiidayyy, and every Facebook friend of mine posted it or mentioned it and glued it into my mind for at least two weeks.  I actually listened to “Mmm Bop” (remember that song?) to try to get “Friiidayy”out of my head, but all that did was create a montage of both songs spinning between my ears.  You have no idea how horrible that is until you’ve experienced it.

Things couldn’t get much worse, I thought, and hoped that I didn’t jinx myself.  Then, on Friiidayy, my phone rang…

Cupcake Wars!

I am not a baker.  Any time I’ve tried to bake something, even cookies, the result is usually edible but always a little bit “off”.  Being a perfectionist, and being in a family of wonderful bakers, I am always perplexed by the sub-par sweets that emerge from my oven.  I usually avoid baking at all costs and stick with cooking, which is something I am actually really good at (although a few ex-boyfriends may tell you otherwise).

I have a few hypotheses as to why I suck at baking. I have an unnatural, irrational hatred for eggs.I do not have a sweet tooth, and I am often found (and scolded for) scraping frosting off a piece of cake because it is, in my opinion, too sweet.I don’t like having to adhere to exact measurements when I’m playing with food; that is something that should be reserved for chemistry class.Baking results in high-calorie treats, which results in overindulgence, which results in a bigger butt, which results in a need for a trip to the Gap for a bigger pair of jeans.At …

Lead by example.

Sometimes I get the feeling that I was born in the wrong century.  Although I have excellent computer skills (according to my resume) and appreciate the convenience of gadgets, I resent the fact that they dominate the way we live.  The convenience of email and text messages has removed thoughtful letters and intimate conversation from our lives.  What had the potential to bring us together is ultimately what’s driving us apart.

My number one bone of contention is the ever-present cell phone.  Yesterday I was following a driver who suddenly, inexplicably, slammed on the brakes.  There was no car in front of them and they did not have their turn signal on.  I was disgusted, but not surprised, when they make a left hand turn and I saw the driver with her cell phone plastered to her left ear.  When did yapping on the phone become more important than properly operating a vehicle?

Let’s not forget all the people who chat while at the grocery store.  That’s fine, to a point, but if someone o…

I don't want flowers for Valentine's Day.

Saturday morning, my body fought against me from the moment I woke up.  My back, joints, head, and stomach were all telling me that I should stay at home and curl up with a heating pad.  I almost gave in, but I knew I’d regret it if I did.  The week before, we’d had a warm spell as a warning sign of spring.  That meant that my chances to ski were rapidly coming to an end.  I took an array of drugs to quell my various ailments, and then donned my under armor.

Upon arrival at the mountain, the weather turned against me too.  Although the temperature was a tolerable 30 degrees, the wind was fierce and cold.  It nearly knocked me over.  On my first run down the mountain, the gusts were actually strong enough to bring me to a complete stop.  On the next several runs, a snow squall impaired visibility so much that I couldn’t see five feet in front of me.

Once the sun set, my fingers and toes started to throb from the cold despite my best efforts to keep them warm.  I went into the lodge for…

From Swan Lake to Rock 'n Roll... and back again.

I’ve been meaning to write blogs on at least three other topics, but once I saw “Black Swan,” I’ve become a woman obsessed.  I can’t think about anything else.  Never mind that this was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Never mind that Natalie Portman gave the performance of her life (AND did all her own dancing!).  And never mind that I lost an entire night’s sleep because the movie was psychological torture.  All I can think about is that I want to be a ballerina again, complete with blistered feet, starvation diets, and long hours in dark, chilly dance studios.

In high school, especially the earlier years, I went to as many dance classes as my parents could afford.  I certainly wasn’t naturally talented, but I couldn’t get enough of it.  It felt amazing to dance, to move, to fly through the air, to push my body beyond its limits.  I always strived to be better, because I was never quite as technical as this girl, never as flexible as that girl.  Although I was best …

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in reference to the position of [insert typically vague and meaningless job title here] which I learned about from your website.  My experience in [whatever remotely qualifies me for this job] is entirely applicable to this position.  It includes [my most impressive skills]…

Ugh, I am getting tired of seeing those words today, so I’ve decided to put the next cover letter on hold for a few minutes.  Through my elegant and professional b-s, I think I have successfully conveyed that I am perfectly qualified for every single job that strikes my fancy based on my previous career experience and education.  Now, if only a potential employer would agree.

I love reading a completed cover letter.  It’s only complete when I can sit back and say to myself, “Damn, I’m awesome.  I would hire me.”  Unfortunately, I’ve learned recently that I’ve been making myself appear TOO awesome.  Did you know that job candidates are just as unlikely to get an interview for a job they’re overqualifie…