Friday, July 31, 2009

Let Us Weigh In On Performance Enhancements

Yesterday a document was leaked (or more likely outright released) that included the names of 103 - 104 baseball players who allegedly tested positive for steroid use in 2003. is, in my opinion, hungry for amping up their Sitemeter stats because I am quite sure after this “oops” occurred yesterday more people visited their site than I mean their website tag line is: “All fantasy news all the time”; there are definitely two ways to interpret that one.

Now as pretty much all of you know I am a Red Sox fan. No, I am not a fan of baseball per se, just the Red Sox. (For the remainder of this paragraph the words “us” and “we” will refer to the collective known in these parts as Red Sox Nation) I do not follow stats and frankly could care less about what any other team is doing, short of us kicking the proverbial asses of the Evil Empire. If you know anything about us then you know exactly who that is. Since we won the World Series in 2004, and a whole bunch of the players on this list were members of that team, well, you can imagine what was being yelled out in the Cask’n Flagon last night.

This really got me thinking a lot about so called performance enhancements and I suddenly became extremely defensive of any athlete who uses anything (especially Michael Phelps). Why the hell should athletes be deprived of any and all advantages to do the best they can possibly do? No other profession stops its workers from using.

Don’t believe me?

OK then here is what I suggest you do. Hop in your vehicle of choice and head on down to your local purveyor of Adult Entertainment, purchase (or rent if you don’t feel like having it in your collection past my requested research period) a film of your choice, just make sure it has at least one guy in it. Next, hit the local convenience store and pick up a stop watch. Come home and toss in the flick. Pay no mind to the plot, because, you know, that is not the important part here. What I want you to do is keep that watch running for as long as the guy is.

Impressive huh?

Now try to tell me there are no little blue pills hanging around. No one seems to give a crap that all those guys are possibly using some kind of performance enhancer. Nothing kills an adult film faster than a sorry case of ED. If I was the director of one of those films it would probably be something I encouraged since it might even boost sales.

My landscaper puts on sun screen. That’s a chemical and enhances his performance because he can stay out in the sun longer to really pull those weeds like the pro he is.

Stay at home moms might imbibe a cocktail or two in the evening although their job is technically never done. A drink certainly lowers the level of stress and reduces their feelings of inadequacy or pressure to perform.

I can not honestly say that I have never partaken in a mind freeing substance now and again when the words were just not flowing. Then again most of the time I simply fall back on the all time favorite performance enhancing crutches of every writer -- the dictionary and thesaurus.

Someone should fine me 3,000 words and make me sit and watch all my fellow writers type away their own lunacy for the next ten articles, but totally ban me from participating. I will just call it a vacation; I mean at least my carpel tunnel can take a rest while I sit these next few out.

If doctors can use them to help treat their patients who suffer certain ailments then why should we begrudge an athlete from learning all the facts about them and saying yea or nay on their own to using them?

I say make them legal in sports, let them all use them and finally just level the playing field back to zero. After all, if everyone is on them it will provide no real advantage over another player.

Just like when mom said nothing about the guy you were dating simply to spite her and so it came back to bite you in your own ass, if one random hitter will be just as awesome as the next there is no fun in doing it anymore. All the players can then just quit and go back to the good old days of only winning or losing when a bookie says to.

Photo credit, click picture to be taken directly to Photobucket site.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Broken Thoughts: A Tasty Thursday Treat

Wow what a week, it is spinning by once again but this time I don’t feel as if it’s out of control at all! I wish every week could be like this -- take Friday “off”, go do a ton of research taking notes and video and photos all weekend, come back Monday and share it all with everyone. Ah yes, to be a travel writer. Perhaps that should be a goal of mine; both are certainly in my top five things to do of all time.

So my friends gave me this amazing little video camera for my birthday called a Flip. It comes in a few different versions with storage capacities ranging from this 30 minute one that I have up to 120 minutes and it comes in a handful of different colors too. I love it!

I made a documentary video while we were in PA by editing down twenty-ish minutes of raw video into a little ten minute film including photos and text transition slides. I am now addicted to making videos. I’ll just try not to talk too much because I hate my voice haha. If you haven’t seen it and want to you can check out the YouTube link, it’s about Centralia.

Finally getting caught up on reading blogs, news and all kinds of other wonderful stuff after being away. Geez, that was only 3 days I can not imagine what it will be like when the week long vacation comes up this fall. Guess the laptop goes with. Maybe.

For some reason all I really wanted to do yesterday was curl up on the couch and watch TV. That is very odd because in general I am not a fan of TV at all, just Lost. Other than watching movies or playing Rock Band, our TV is almost never on especially in the summer.

Ugh, so much laundry. By the year 2000 weren’t we all supposed to be flying around in spaceships and wearing stain free, dirt and odor repellant suits? How come they feel the need to invest so much money into male enhancement drugs and nothing into the Future Suit?

My horoscope gets delivered to me everyday in my email. Most days I read it but never truly absorb it. Today it was so nice I really wanted to share.

Your horoscope for July 30, 2009
This is a good day to spend time with your family, Jenn, as you already love to do. Try to get the chores out of the way as quickly as possible and schedule something fun for this afternoon. Maybe you would enjoy an outing to a park or the cinema. Or perhaps it would be fun to stay in and bake chocolate chip cookies. Whatever you decide, may warmth and love permeate the atmosphere and bring you closer together as you create wonderful memories.”

Aw! Now I really want some chocolate chip cookies.

There is something seriously wrong with me I think. I was just out grocery shopping and it is 86 with about 90% humidity and I’m wearing jeans. Not only that but I’m not sweating or uncomfortable at all. Maybe I was meant to live in Hawaii. Or Miami.

I hope some more thunderstorms roll through tonight, the ones this morning were too short lived.

Current love -- Garden of Eatin’ blue corn tortilla chips. How do you spell delicious? Y.U.M. of course!

Well I have about 3 posts to write for over at the other place, so once again I can relax this weekend, so I had better wrap this up now. I am kind of enjoying this front loading blogs & scheduling to post thing, it frees up so much more time than I would have thought!

OK later peeps.

Speaking of peeps, here's the rest of the crew...Read them all. Do it, seriously.
Ginger, Bridgete, KC, Kate, Bree

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Navigator’s Log, Earth Date 2009.07.26, Sunday

I will admit it, I was a little bit nervous of our smoking buddy showing back up at our motel step especially after learning there was this prison right up the hill in town.

But that was not the only driving factor in my rising early Sunday. Truthfully I was excited to get out and explore where we stayed in Pottsville and the surrounding geographic area. We weren’t planning to even get home until 10:30 or later which left us with about six hours of solid zig zagging all over we could do. We began the journey in town.

Um, is this steep of a grade even legal? Emergency brakes are working triple overtime in this town.

Since most of PotHead (as we affectionately dubbed this laid back little mountain town) was boarded up or closed on Sunday morning we were on the road early. We started seeing signs for Bushkill Falls (the ‘Niagara of Pennsylvania’ as they call it) about twenty miles before the Delaware Water Gap. We both decided it would be fun and prepared to go after checking out the Gap. Sorry but, um, really? This is the hype?

I guess being in the river is probably much more impressive as there were tons of rafters and whatnot; this was the only and best view of the Gap we came across.

So we headed back up Rt. 209 for the Falls.

Now we have been seeing signs for this attraction for a while now so when we discovered the road was closed within sight of the blinking light we were supposed to turn at to get there, it probably should have been our first clue to skip it. But we don’t listen to first clues. When we got lost on random back road for twenty minutes after the detour it should have been the only other clue we needed. Sometimes with us it takes the harsh lesson of reality to smack us around however. We finally get on track and make it to the location.

We are promptly greeted with tour busses, concessions, outdoor sporting activity areas and a ticket booth. I’m sorry, a ticket booth? You mean I have to pay to see a waterfall? Um, eff that! We chowed down leftover pizza in the parking lot for lunch before promptly turning to leave without seeing the much hyped Bushkill Falls. Neither of us were disappointed because I simply said to Matt “This just isn’t us” and he fully agreed.

Then the grand old Universe said ‘Good for you for sticking to your road trip guns but did you say you wanted to see a waterfall?’; about fifteen minutes up the road we saw a sign for Raymondskill Falls. No one was going up the road. There was only one tiny little brown state park sign for it, no billboards, no glitz. We knew it was perfect and headed up the hill.

Despite the fact that I was not intending to workout there was a good two mile hike up, down, then back up again to see it all. Totally worth it.

When we got to the base to see this view with only 3 other people even in the vicinity, Matt just said “Now this is totally us”.

To complete our day of exploring before the sun went down, we headed off to the Pennsylvania / New York state line to check out the oldest suspension bridge in the country, Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct. A landmark Matt had wanted to check out for years because it was built by John Augustus Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge.

This thing was insane. Back when it was first built, where you see concrete ground there was water. It was built as a canal that ships could pass through in order to alleviate traffic at the Delaware and Hudson canal. The bridge is suspended about 30-40 feet above the river and is reported to be 535 feet long.

We got in a lot earlier than we usually do on a road trip, mostly because we both had lots to get caught up on today; namely work. But overall it was a weekend full of car fun that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Navigator’s Log, Earth Date 2009.07.25, Saturday

After not getting back until well after 1:30 AM Friday night and then enjoying a little post-Dave lovin’, we slept in a little late on Saturday. Luckily the only agenda we had was getting to Centralia, PA, a place where the term ‘light a fire under your ass’ should be the town motto for its literal and figurative irony. Well, a motto for what is left of the town anyway.

Just as a little background here is an excerpt from the website that details some of the history behind this little town:

The story began sometime in 1962 along the outskirts of town when trash was burned in the pit of an abandoned strip mine, which connected to a coal vein running near the surface. The burning trash caught the exposed vein of coal on fire…The coal then began to burn underground…Over 47 years and 40 million dollars later the fire still burns through old coal mines and veins under the town and the surrounding hillsides on several fronts.

After reading this information our desire to explore the town arose about two years ago, so when the concert date appeared, the day two trip to Centralia was set. (I should probably explain this is the real reason for sketchy motel, the town we stayed in was about halfway between Hershey and Centralia.)

We got to the “center” of town and realized we must have passed the entrance to the closed road somewhere a way’s back. So we doubled back and found the seven foot high dirt berm at the end of the “highway”, located a walking path around it and started out trek up the road.

Here are a couple photos from the road. Walking up it I commented to Matt that I felt like we were in that movie I Am Legend due to the peculiar quiet due to a complete lack of people and the fact that we were walking right down the middle of one lane of a former four lane divided highway; it was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.

That crack in the road as well as the fall of the sink on the shoulder (about 2-3 feet) is due to the underground fire. Unfortunately the photos didn’t pick it up but there was actually steam rising from the crack.

Once we finished our couple mile round trip hike back to the car with photos and video in hand we headed back to the town center. On the way there we turned left up another gravel street only to come upon some of the largest sinkholes I have ever seen. Vegetation was scarce and the fire was still burning. Here is a shot of me feeling the heat of the steam rising from a “vent”. Imagine a boiling pasta pot. It was also just as humid as your kitchen gets after that pot boils away for about an hour.

Nothing in town looked like the photos online from offroaders. I don’t know when they took theirs but about 80% of what they have up doesn’t even exist anymore. I think it was even weirder to see stairs leading up from a sidewalk only to end at wildflower filled fields than it would have been to see the formerly existing boarded up homes.

Here is a typical shot from town. If you didn’t know any better it would look like nothing more than a country road. Being there, and seeing that every street in the town’s original grid looks the same as this, is eerie.

So we could only spend just so long soaking up toxic levels of carbon monoxide and since we had seen this cool wind farm from the highway on the way in we said “get me there” and took off to find it. On the way, as per usual we stumbled across some amazing scenery.

And in the long standing tradition of our travels, I am the one to snap any shots of us together. I didn’t do too badly this time; usually I tend to scalp him to about mid forehead.

Because we always tend to find just what we are looking for, the Locust Ridge Wind Farm presented itself in grand fashion. Here is a shot of me standing about 300 yards in front of the base of one of them. Matt was about 100 feet away from me in order to get the full height of the spinning turbines. If you want more on this story check out my other blog Green Leaf Reviewer.

We quickly buzzed back down to Hershey after this just to get a few photos I was unable to snap the night before but then after so much walking, excitement and fume inhalation we were both beat. I suggested that when one is in Pennsylvania they should acclimate themselves to the local customs so we grabbed a Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza and cinnamon sticks and headed back to the hotel to have dinner and crash with some cheezy cable.

After we ate there was a pretty intense thunderstorm that passed by with lots of excellent lightning that we sat out in front of the motel to watch. We must have been wearing our “hi we’re nice, approachable people” signs because a kid sitting in a chair down the way came over to ask Matt if he could bum a smoke.

And then instead of leaving like most people would, he plunked down on the ground right next to me and proceeded to tell us all about his having been fired that morning, the pit bull bite he had gotten Monday that was getting redder by the day and how he was just forced out of his former living situation but that his girlfriend’s mother would not let him move in. I felt for the kid, really, because we’ve all been in tough spots in our lives, but my intuition kicked in as soon as he walked over and I knew he was going to ask for money.

I wished I had some, in fact I wished I had a lot because I would have sent the kid to school to learn something so he could achieve a better life for himself but as it was we carried almost no cash on our trip since pretty much everywhere but the parking lot at the show takes a debit card these days. So when it started to down pour and we were heading back in he asked if we had a dollar, it was not a lie that we didn’t.

About a half hour later there was a knock at the door that (begrudgingly) woke Matt up from his nap and it was (unsurprisingly) our new friend asking to bum a couple more smokes for his walk down and back up the hill the following morning. I later commented that I was happy at least he didn't ask for a ride because that I will not do, not in these crazy times. Matt obliged with cigarettes and we then shut out the outside world altogether until the following day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Navigator’s Log, Earth Date 2009.07.24, Friday

At 0730 we officially dragged our under caffeinated asses down to the local Dunkin Donuts to begin a fun filled weekend road trip, something we have not done in far too long. With coffee in hand, BBQ from the night before and the loaf of applesauce bread safely packed in the cooler, and tickets to the concert firmly affixed to my other hand, we were on the road and heading south west for our motel in Pottsville, PA.

Ginger will especially appreciate this; I had been running around making up my own “I can’t wait” song for the three or so days before Friday. I frequently burst out into song or dance, yes it’s true, and I find it perfectly acceptable, everyone should try it. Anyway. We get in the car and hit the road. I pull out my iPod and hit shuffle songs. The first song to play?

Fate, destiny? I don’t know but I will say a whole lot of Dave played on the seven hour ride so I think Oreo just knows.

The road is always a fun place for Matt & I, we love road tripping so much that at one point we even considered becoming a trucker team. No, I am actually not kidding. We are both gypsy souls and love to travel so it sounded great. The part where you sometimes have to shower at strange gas stations was what really stopped us in the end.

We got to the hotel in about eight hours (not bad considering morning rush hour in Boston). My first reaction to the room was “Huh. I think I’ll take pictures of this just in case the cops ever call to collect evidence for the probable homicide which occurred here. Yeah.

But it was a roof, bed and shower not in a rest stop so it would certainly do for two nights. We got ready and headed for Hershey.

It is not exactly a secret that I am a fan of Jason Mraz, I mean, his name is one of the most used labels on this blog, but seeing Dave Matthews Band live is like a spiritual experience. There is something that happens when those guys take the stage that is literally inexplicable. You just have to be there to feel it. And I have never seen him indoors; being in the air under the stars definitely enhances the overall amazing vibe that reverberates through the Universe when he is up there. There were about 30,000 of us who were sharing in the love that night and it was spectacular. This is a shot of the crowd just after Jason finished his set.

Some notable stuff from the show:

☺ We were not front row after all, AA - EE were in front of us and we were actually about a football field’s worth away from the stage in section 25. The place was immense!

☺ Dave emceed his own opening act and came out to introduce Jason. Very cool.

☺ Jason rocked an electric guitar during his “I’m now writing jingles for porn movies” 1970’s-esque instrumental intro. It was groovy.

Billy was there walking through the crowd and I could swear he was with Jon Marro from Blend Apparel. I wanted to chat with Jon because I’ve interviewed this guy for Green Leaf Reviewer but by the time I realized it they were heading into the VIP area and I never would have caught up. (So, Hi Jon if that was you!)

☺ The smell of cow poo hanging in the air was so bad Dave said at one point ‘I thought I smelled chocolate for a second, but no, it was just cow shit’.

☺ Apparently “Satellite” is out of retirement (YA-FREAKING-HOO!), they did many new songs (at least 6 I think), he also pulled out “#41” which they turned into a total jam session and played for, what felt like 41 minutes (one of my top 5 so that rocked), and they closed the show with “All Along the Watchtower” which they do an amazing rendition of (and he turned it into a Hendrix/Dylan slash Zeppelin “Stairway” montage which was freaking amazing). I frequently say there are some bands that should not be touched for covers due to the sacrilege of the situation. I think that rule falls away when one of them covers another and pulls it off like it’s their own.

Luckily all the threatening looking storms passed us by and although we saw a couple very cool lightning strikes early in the night under sprinkly skies, the rain let up and we got to enjoy about a half hour of setting sun, stars and a very cool sliver of the moon.

☺ We heard Don McLean’s “American Pie” on the radio on the way out of the parking lot. I know that sounds kind of odd but how often do you hear the entire song on the radio? Plus, Matt & I are two of the only people I know who can sing every single word to that song, not just the chorus. And we did. It took us about an hour to get out of the lot and another hour to get back but DMB played for about three so how could we ever complain?

Day one, done and perfect.

Tomorrow’s Road Trip Earth Log will include details on all things Saturday -- the underground burning city of Centralia and a little on the wind farm we happen-stanced upon (over at Green Leaf I’ll be posting an extensive article on the Locust Ridge Wind Farm project [read: I am so writing off the mileage from this trip] if you’re interested come on over and check it out.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Makes Me Wanna, Makes Me Wanna

The oil change is complete, cabin filter and all other filters in perfect shape. Tires and all subsequent fluids under the hood have been filled. I am about to go make a big honkin loaf of applesauce bread for breakfast tomorrow. Tickets are in my purse and laundry is in the dryer. My camera, video camera and hotel reservation are safely tucked in a bag pocket.

I wanted to start packing clothes three days ago. And I would have if it wasn’t for having to do laundry today. Well that and Matt talking me out of it by chuckling and shaking his head at me. What? I asked. What is wrong with that?

We are off to Pennsylvania, more specifically the cocoa flavored part of the state, for the pinnacle of all experiences. Well at least for me. At least in the past sixteen or so years since purchasing Remember Two Things and immediately realizing there would be a musical revolution of love through the revival of brass instruments in lyrically pertinent pop. Then less than a decade later, a similar wave of auditory joy washed over my little ears when I heard the laid back and chill folk/bluegrass/pop/rap stylings on Waiting for My Rocket to Come. Now seven years later some amazing force of awesomeness has brought these two acts together.

Jason Mraz is opening for Dave Matthews Band in the land of chocolate Friday July 24, 2009 and we are road trippin’ all the way to the front row, stage left, out in the open air, under the stars.

I. Can’t. Wait.

I do not think I could conceive of two more suited bands to share a stage and audience. Seriously, my life will be complete at the end of this weekend.

And that is just Friday.

On Saturday we are planning to take a detour through Centralia, PA which we have both wanted to see for a very long time. The coal in the mines under the town caught fire some thirty years ago and it has been burning ever since. Based on scientific hoopla it is slated to burn for another 100 or more years. There is no way to put the fire out from the surface and the entire town has been abandoned due to the toxic levels of carbon monoxide released from the fire.

I am looking forward to putting my hand on the surface of the road to see why they don’t let cars park there, allegedly it is over 100 degrees and tires would melt if left too long. Freaky.

Too bad there is that certain health risk or this would be like the perfect place for me to live. I would get to watch the pretty snowfall in winter but see it melt before it ever hits the ground. Nice. It will be interesting to see what a modern ghost town looks like. The last resident of the town was just forced to evacuate due to the rising inhalation concerns.

Who knows what we might see on Sunday. Man I love road trip!

It has been ages since we have gone on one. In fact it is likely the last minute, random trip to Quebec for two hours was the last one. That was in February. Totally unacceptable!

I can’t even form an appropriate run on sentence, my excitement level is just too high.

Something tells me we might hear both of these songs tomorrow night.

They’re gonna need a spatula to scrape up my heart when it explodes with joy all over that stadium. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is the Lost Art of the Mix Tape Reclaimed in the Playlist?

The year was 1991. I had a perm, a tan, and perfectly highlighted hair from countless days spent with Sun-In sprayed on while I hung in my second home of Humarock after graduating high school. A good friend had a car so we trekked down on a random Thursday in August because I was finally going to have sex for the first time with the guy I had been with for two years and pseudo dating for the year before that. The whole summer leading up to that moment had been a hazy array of beach trips and first love set to culminate the 29th.

It was about friggin’ time; no way was I going to college a virgin.

I had all these visions of grandeur like stars would fall from the sky and twinkle down onto my freckled shoulders as we had this private, perfect night of love on a dry, sand free blanket in the dunes. Then in the morning we would wake up together to watch the sun rise, his arms would wrap around me, and I, without morning breath, would kiss him like we were in some Hollywood chic flick.

They made it look so romantic when Point Break was released that year; that was the way it would go right? Not that I consider that movie a chic flick but hey, I was girly-ish back then -- I still believed in romance. And there was the magical, albeit impalpable, something that the night sky on the beach held so I figured why not.

In the end however, we did not have sex on the beach; nor did we get hammered on drinks of the same name to work up the courage to enjoy our night of first time awkward fun. On our way up the road to the dunes we ran into his friends jumping off the Julian Street Bridge into the river below, like all the guys did (really at sixteen there was just nothing else to do down there). A friend of his alerted us to the fact that his parent’s cottage was empty of parents and just in case we happened to care, it would remain that way until the following day since he would be sleeping over at another friend’s up on the cliff. His cheesy grin said it all so we scrapped our beach plans.

It was a good thing too, all my boyfriend had with him was a tiny little beach towel. I know this because I have photos of the two of us from that night and it’s tossed over his shoulder. So much for campfire and fluffy blankets like Keanu and Lori had in the flick.

Not only would I have frozen my little butt off, I imagine sand would have inevitably ended up where sand should never go. I didn’t exactly need the added challenge if you catch my drift. We headed up the hill, found the key and let ourselves in.

Now mind you this guy was a sweet guy. So sweet in fact it took him about two years to kiss me for the first time. In 1991 I was eighteen years old. I had been with my boyfriend for long enough that we should have been having sex by then. I was so ready but it wasn’t like I was good at the being forward part so I suffered in mock silence. Mock of course because my friends heard all about how frustrated I was but he sure never knew; just like every teenage relationship.

Without any props or silly movie stuff we just kind of sat in the living room for a few and chatted. Most guys, nervous or not, would probably be on top of their girlfriends making out on the couch at this point but not him. Like I said, he was, sweet. Since it has been just shy of twenty years, remembering details about what we talked about would truly take some talent; considering I never wrote it all down that is. He asked if I wanted to listen to the radio and I said sure. There was a clock radio in the living room and he turned on the classic rock station.

So I lost my virginity to “More Than a Feelin’” by Boston in the bed of my boyfriend’s best friend’s parents in their summer home. It couldn’t have been more apropos if I had scripted it for the silver screen. Yeah, so how do you like that Keanu!

On and after that night, just like so many moments before it, my life experiences were punctuated by a song. A song that every time I hear it, I think of the moment in time it signifies. In 1991 I made a great mix of various tunes released that year or ones I fell in love with around that era and had to have with me on my Walkman at all times.

I gave up my Walkman ages ago of course and for a long time I felt as if something was lost because I was not able to engineer the ultimate mix tape anymore. The perfect collection that captures the very essence of what it is made for -- the time, place, person.

Sure there is iTunes and playlists, but it just isn’t the same. There was something so great about knowing just when side A was coming to an end so it could be flipped without skipping a beat. Or when the levels were way off all the way through the tape because the songs on it came from radio stations, records and other tapes.

Then again it isn’t as if that will stop me from downloading digital versions of the songs on my Summer 1991 mix tape, if I can find them, and recreating that rockin’ mix. And it’s fairly likely that list will get a lot of play every time I go to the beach. Regardless if I’m planning to get some or not.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool Stuff and Right Around the Corner No Less

I’m not really much of a historical connoisseur where anything outside of sports or pop culture is related. In fact even with sports I am a fast learner but an even quicker forgetter. Go ahead, ask me who won the Super Bowl last season. It would take me ten minutes to pull it out even though that night I was more into it than I expected since the teams held absolutely no meaning for me. (Although really, who didn’t want to see Arizona take down the Steelers?)

Aside from this kind of stuff, there is very little I pay attention to from the annals of time. One might ask what I am doing in the northeast then, especially since it is so ‘rich in history’ and I would repeat their question back to them and finish with something about the importance of family and friends being geographically close by. A couple years ago Matt, my mom and I all did a Boston walking tour and it was the first time since grammar school I went anywhere near the Freedom Trail.

OK to be fair I probably walked some of it while bar hopping in the Faneuil Hall area years ago. It is lucky they don’t use that thing for sobriety testing. If any of you have ever walked the Trail you know this would be an exercise in futility since most of it is two rows of bumpy red bricks ambling down the middle of hilly concrete sidewalks. And it’s just so long to boot.

So last night during our nightly evening walk, we decided to traverse the brick free, hilly sidewalks in our own neighborhood and we headed up towards Main Street in lieu of our usual flat, lifeless, and extremely easy, route. As we rounded the corner to Main, Matt mentioned there was a house a ways up that was of historical significance which he had wanted to check out for a while.

Now mind you, in Matt speak ‘a while’ could actually mean anytime within the past twenty four hours. Here is how that can work -- he sees something about this house in an article in the Metro on his way home from work. He gets home and boots up Wikipedia to read all about it. He discovers it is within walking distance of our house and must see it immediately.

So we headed in that direction.

There is a little park on the corner of George and Main and inside we came across this:

It was intriguing to read that the bell was such an integral part of the history of my current city yet I found some irony in the fact that it was shoved into a hidden corner of a park that, from the outside, appears to be someone’s side yard. When I looked over to the house next door to see whose yard it might be we discovered this, the house Matt had wanted to see:

One of the few pieces of history that has long fascinated me is the Underground Railroad. I think the abolitionists who assisted in freeing thousands of slaves from the southern part of our United States were amazingly brave souls, so to see a house where slaves were housed for almost seventy five years is still standing here in the northeast, shocked me. Over 200 years before my personal hero Rosa Parks made her quiet stand (or sit, as the case may be) this small residence, called the Isaac Royall House, was reconstructed to house twenty seven people while the main house held only one, Royall, Jr.

There are small gardens and a short walking path with a few benches surrounding the house but I felt slightly awkward being there as there were people hanging out having a barbeque on their deck next door. A woman at that home and I caught sight of each other for a brief moment and exchanged polite smiles but the entire scene felt extremely surreal so we left quietly with a good number of photos and knowledge we could always go back for a tour anytime before early November.

Matt will surely drag me back some weekend afternoon so we can check out what is inside. All I can say is he had better do it before football season starts.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Does It All Mean?

Last weekend involved driving out to Fitchburg to start on a fairly hefty sized paint job that my dad has hired me for. The job will be a super easy one because it is straight up paint everywhere -- prime it all, flat white ceilings, semi-white trim and linen white eggshell on all the walls -- plus there is carpet almost everywhere to be ripped out later so it is acting as a drop cloth. The point however is that there is a whole lot of road between my house and Fitchburg, a lot of music that can be played and a lot of sky to be seen.

A really freaky fleeting thing happened. We were just about in Leominster when I happened to glance out the driver’s side of the windshield (Matt was driving). Suddenly I noticed a cloud in the bright blue sky. There were not too many around so it stuck out as prominent before the tree line rose up to somewhat hide it again. Just as I was pushing the radio dial scan button I thought to myself ‘huh, that cloud is shaped just like Africa’. No sooner did the thought go through my head but I hit the button to go on to the next station and what is playing but Toto’s “Africa”. I just started laughing and Matt asked what was up so I told him the story and pointed out the cloud. He agreed it was very Africa esque.

So then I am catching up on blogs I enjoy and on Tuesday I come across this post by Experiments in Mediocrity. Are you serious?

I suddenly felt like “Preston Meyers” in Can’t Hardly Wait when he hears “Mandy” on the radio and thinks to himself that it must be a sign to talk to the recently single girl he loves named Amanda because he hadn’t heard the song in about a decade. Then the radio announces it will play the song every hour to celebrate Barry Manilow’s birthday and “Preston” just sinks.

Symbols and their meanings can be interpreted in just about any way we really want them to, whichever fits best into our convenient definition of ourselves, and that means that no matter how I interpret all of this it is going to be the most convenient way to fit into my life right? That is why when two people share the exact same experience, they really don’t.

Currently, I am pursuing a writing career and doing not too bad a job of it I might add. I start thinking, well, Africa is where everything allegedly began so maybe I am supposed to go back to the beginning. So I pulled out the dusty old, barely hanging on, Crate and Barrel box where I keep all my handwritten stuff and begin unloading the fifteen or so half full journals, loose leaf papers, tiny little scraps of paper and small random notebooks that contain all of the writing I have kept; dating back to at least 1986. I wonder if I should be transcribing the oldest one I can find. I wonder if I should be transcribing all of it.

Then I remember I saved my date books back to 2004 so I could go through and start writing stories based on the things I had done. Kind of like a modern memoir. I locate them and clip them all together and put them in the box that is now bursting at the seams. It is time for a bigger box.

Since music is such an inspiring factor in my life I decide to look up the song lyrics and see if there is some deeper hidden meaning within them that really speaks to me. After all, when the song came out I was about nine years old and while I likely enjoyed it for its gratuitous 80’s keyboard solo, I am fairly certain I didn’t understand what the song was about back then.

By Toto

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, hurry boy, its waiting there for you

Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro
Rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside,
Frightened of this thing that I’ve become

Chorus (repeated)

Huh. Nope not really screaming out to me about anything other than the fact that Africa sounds like a pretty cool place to see and the song is cool; I like drums, I like ancient words, I always wondered what a Coyote sounds like at night. And I still don’t really know what the song is about.

The last bit of the happenstance in my freaky little scenario is the sky and cloud. Now, I am a big lover of the sky, there are times I wonder how I never pursued a career as a Meteorologist because weather and anything that is a direct result of the sky fascinates me. Clouds and the cool shapes they take on are no exceptions to this.

I don’t think there has been a moment in my past when I have seen a cloud that looks like Africa before that moment. However I have seen countless clouds that remind me of the shape of one of my favorite islands, Martha’s Vineyard. I see them everywhere and it always makes me smile because that place is where time has no meaning. For a person that is somewhat rigid, but at the same time believes time is a totally crap concept, getting there is like coming full circle; it is difficult to explain. Sometimes I enjoy the fantasy of dreaming of becoming a whole new person in this new land. Most of the time I just dream of lying on the beach at Long Point though.

This year we are not going until September, when typically we would have just gotten back recently because the week after the 4th tends to be the time we go. This year S & B wanted to wait until the twins were a little older to really appreciate it and also so they could enjoy it without having to mix formula and all that ‘still under one year old’ crap. We are going in September also because it is going to save us over $1000 each. Luckily we will not be there when the Obama family hits East Chop for their August vacation. I suggested they should hit Ben & Bill’s for the best ice cream on the island since they will be so close by.

So what does any of this really have to do with each other?

Maybe I am looking for someone to tell me all the cool places to go in Africa? Maybe I am in need of my annual vacation and do not want to wait another two months to take it? Perhaps going from a month of rain right into mid 80’s and muggy sun was too much for my brain to wrap around? Should I pullout Can’t Hardly Wait and watch it on this lazy Saturday afternoon? Maybe I am simply sad because I got no iTunes gift certificates for my birthday this year so stocking up on 80’s pop is going to be a slower process? Perhaps I should learn the keyboard or how to write a song?

In the end, I chalk it up to the fact that there really was no nuance of semblance behind these random things, except to provide a truly sporadic, yet somehow cohesive, blog post just shy of 1400 words.

Either that or it really is time for a long road trip far from home full of big sky and fantastic music.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Broken Thoughts Are Handy on Friday

Another week gone. They fly so fast I have no idea what to even do with myself anymore! Last weekend we painted and this weekend will be all about relaxing over some super yummy meals with family. It should be a nice time all around. On top of that we have both decided it is high time to go sit out in our yard so we are both grabbing a book and will be doing just that.

I’m still reading On the Road, Jack Kerouac. It isn’t a very tough read per se but he is so erratic sometimes it is hard to follow along. Considering I have a similar style of writing you would think I could but strangely I like to have an entire land built for me when I read; a place I can “travel” to in my imagination and I don’t want that place to be too broken or I just can’t get into it. His voice is casual though and he isn’t too pretentious from what I can gauge so far so I will definitely finish the book, it just might mean I read the same paragraph three times before moving on so it might take a while.

I’m kind of feeling like Kerouac today; I’m eating pie and ice cream for lunch.

Last night I made the coolest dinner out of fridge scraps; better known as the random stuff left at the end of the week. I baked some salmon steaks in the oven then placed them on top of a killer salad made from baby spinach & basil leaves, seedless red grapes, walnuts and diced apple. Then I cubed some crusty Italian bread, marinated garlic in butter on the stove top, saturated the bread with the liquid then baked until they were crouton crispy. It was sort of Waldorf-y but I drizzled blue cheese across the top. Matt was impressed. More importantly, we were both full. Here is the plate because I told him he was not allowed to eat it until I took a picture haha.

Then after dinner we headed out for our evening walk and this was at the end of the street just as we walked out the door.


Tonight I read about a cool thing going on in Davis Square in Somerville called Art Beat. Apparently there is going to be all kinds of artistic stuff, a wind powered car parade, food and some other randomness. Hopefully Bridgete is still up for meeting us there but Matt and I are planning to go either way. Should at least be interesting enough for a blog post so stay tuned

Man I am totally dying for a cannoli.

Today S and I did a little over two miles going from East Arlington, to Arlington center and back on the bike trail. Because of where they are it added a little extra on. I’m really tired now and downing lots of water. It seems to be starting to work I think. Well my butt feels tighter even if it doesn’t look that way yet. Guess I’ll keep it up and hope for the best. If nothing else it’s a nice way to get out of the house everyday for both of us. And it means I can eat pie for lunch and not feel too bad about it. Of course it is Chocolate Overkill Pie so it’s actually good for me. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

I’m just not feeling it today. I don’t know what “it” is exactly but I’m feeling very fatigued and I fancy crawling back under the bloody covers, turning the fan on and just napping the rest of the day away.

Clearly I’ve turned into a British person; maybe that’s why, the trip from England to get into my skin over here across the pond was far too long and now I’m exhausted.

Maybe it was watching Sense and Sensibility the other day that has me talking like that. Perhaps it is because “Desmond” is back on the season we’re on of Lost. Or it could be from playing Jethro Tull on Rock Band.

Yeah, that’s it. I’ll sod off now. Safe Friday night to all.

The BTP All Stars

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Am Just Not One of Those Women

The blocks in the city are long and straight and
I have walked them numerous times.
There always seems to be the flawless woman
Perched on every street of my travels. A woman
Who turns heads of both sexes with each step
Of her impeccably pedicured feet hugged by designer shoes.

She is the one with hair that shines bright;
Tenderly sun kissed monthly, in a salon down the street.
Lustrous and perfectly groomed are her tresses
And the clothing she wears. Her outfit in ivory
Is custom tailored and unblemished; not a slight mar
On even one thread of her 5’9”, 135 pound frame.

This woman walks in three inch heels as if she floats.
Her steps provide just enough bounce to gently toss her hair
And her bag never slips to knock into her coffee cup;
Held by a hand showcasing something huge from Tiffany.
Her conversations include plans with fabulous people.
She is on her way to an important meeting or a gala.

This woman is an apparition, a figment of my
Formerly envious imagination when I used to lament over
Never having been a girly girl, owning more sweats than skirts,
Always spilling red sauce on my white cotton tee shirts.
Never the woman who commands the attention of a room
Due to nothing more than my sheer presence as I enter.

Instead my petite self wears flip flops with chipped polish,
Clothes with huge paint splatters smeared across my ass and I
Drink a beer right out of the can while I watch sports.
I have never been one of those flawless head turners,
And that is just fine, perfection is too much pressure.
I’ll take the me I am, the cute but clumsy girl next door.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All the Things that Kick Ass, Today

Since I am seriously lacking inspiration to contrive an awesome story, I am going to follow suit with a few posts I’ve read recently and create my list of all the stuff I am thankful, grateful and happy to have in my life. By no means is this list complete, in fact it will probably change tomorrow as I tend to enjoy expanding and contracting with the current flow of the day. But since it is still today, here goes nothing (in no particular order of course).

The notebook and pen that I always have with me
Amazing friends
Fruit smoothies
The beach
Flip flops
Pasta salad
Corn on the cob (buttered and salted) with a beer on the back deck
Matt loving me despite the fact that I am a cranky bitch in the morning
Matt loving me despite the fact that I am a cranky bitch, period sometimes
Summer veggies
Dinners and laughing all night with family
My sharp mind
Inspiration in little everyday things
A full belly
Pictures from great days spent with great people
A steady hand even after cutting in 2500 square feet of ceiling
The ability to read and write
Writing that I am recoculously proud of having done
Quiet days alone
Evening walks around the neighborhood
The Farmer’s Market
Freshly washed sheets and towels
Snuggly sweatshirts on chilly nights
Snuggly snuggles on warm, or chilly, nights
Being open to new experiences
Hardwood floors
A roof over my head and a bed to sleep in every night
All six of my senses
Hot showers with a low flow shower head
Everyone who reads my blog
Everyone who writes a blog that I love to read
Having the coolest sister on the planet
Anxious excitement for an upcoming road trip
Seeing two amazing musicians smack in the middle of that road trip
Travel and exploration
Feeling grounded at home
Everything Else

Friday, July 10, 2009

Scrabble Games Just Got A Lot More Interesting

The new dictionary is out. Or rather, the codicils to the Merriam-Webster American dictionary have been officially released and I don’t want to sound like a dork or anything but since I don’t really hide it all that well anyway, what the hell, I love when Merriam-Webster appends their tome with additions. It makes me giddy to add even one word to my arsenal let alone fifteen or more at a time. If anyone ever wondered what to get me for a gift think huge, antique, hard cover dictionary (an 1828 first edition would be great, especially if it smells like a 180 year old book).

This year, thanks to popular culture, I can finally add frenemy and staycation as official words. There are others but these two are my favorites at the moment. Their irony of existence pulls at the very strings that attach my heart to my keyboard. Funny, of course MS Word does not yet recognize them, what with that little red squiggle underneath. Let me go ahead and fix that now. Right click, add to dictionary. Ah, that’s better. And I can do it without feeling as if I have added some made up word because they are not. They are real, Webster said so.

Okay truthfully they are made up, completely fabricated in fact but aren’t all words just something someone said once and it caught on? I wonder how many words were even in that originally printed version of the Merriam-Webster’s in 1828 as compared to today’s version. In the past half century alone I imagine the dictionary to have at least doubled due to all the rapidly changing technical terms out there, never mind all that stuff having to do with the Green movement and hip-hop.

Both of these newly contrived words that I love are catchy. Both of these words were flung into the annals of popular culture as meaningful. Both words are what happen when oxymorons get in on in the back seat of their father’s Caddy, while enjoying some Reggaeton, and then produce a love child. In this case, when they say opposites attract they are truly accurate.

Frenemy. A word birthed by the contrasting parents of friend and enemy. Its definition is when someone acts to be a friend although they are in truth an enemy. One might not understand how this word even came to be or what caused it to enter popular speech. Off the top I can remember a Sex and the City episode entitled “Frenemies”, looking it up the episode aired in 2000 but, according to the Wiki on this word, it may have been in print as early as 1959. Way to celebrate your golden birthday by being officially added to the dictionary, frenemy. Way to go!

Then there is staycation. This word, the bastard child of stay and vacation, is possibly the grandest of all oxymorons. When taken literally that is. I have taken plenty of vacations from jobs where I fully intended to do nothing more than enjoy a week at home catching up around the house making scrapbooks or other things I never have time to complete otherwise, its just that someone finally granted this activity with an official name. This one has apparently only been around for six years; just a babe in linguistic terms.

I suppose that attempting to play either of these words in Scrabble will be a challenge if I were to play with my Mom who is a stickler to the official Scrabble dictionary but by next year I could have my very own copy of the shiny new Merriam-Webster edition which shows them plainly in black and white; undisputable as real words to even the most hardened player. Worth fifteen points each in their pure format, I will surely do my best to ensure I land either of them on a triple word score. And hey, if frenemy comes in one fail swoop I get that bonus fifty. Now that’s a score worth vlogging about.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Well Look at That, BTP on Thursday This Week

It just occurred to me this morning that we will be in Pennsylvania seeing Dave Matthews Band in fifteen days. Can not wait! It has been a couple years since seeing them on Randall’s island and admittedly it will be odd without LeRoi but I have a feeling this is going to be one of the best tours they have ever done because a big component of it is about honoring the man himself. So excited to be able to be a part of it.

Twitter is still holding my interest somewhat but I fear this might be one of those things I drop eventually just because of the strange time commitment involved. Time will tell on that one though I guess. For now I’m still there but posting / reading only about twice a day.

Hello sunshine, thanks for joining us again. We have certainly missed you’re cheerful disposition these past five days.

I’m not sure just how it happened but sometime in the last year I have become a stay at home mom without any kids. Suddenly I’m like a little chef and I even sometimes do Matt’s laundry. WTF? It isn’t entirely a bad thing (especially on nights like last night where I conceptualize the most amazing garlic butter and white wine breaded scallops, coconut rice and maple glazed carrots) but it is just such a far departure from the person I have always thought of myself as being it will take some getting used to that’s all. Understand, he doesn’t force me to do any of this stuff, I take it on myself, and cheerfully at that, so I think that is why I am mystified.

In Arlington we had attempted to grow herbs and flowers on our balcony but it only got a little bit of sun everyday. Here we have this awesome shelf built right onto the railing just outside our back door so a couple days after we moved in we planted basil and repotted a flower that was still living (despite being in the house with me) since my mom’s party back in April. I am happy to report the flower is doing well and the basil is beginning to sprout already. I am totally looking forward to using it in homemade sauce later this summer and into the fall.

When we went to the liquor store down the street on July 3rd to pick up beer for the cookout on the 4th, I laughed hysterically when I read the sign over the building.

OK Cable Guy…you can show up any old time now. Matter of fact you only have an hour and a half to do so and I would love if you actually made it on time. (Edit since first writing this -- dudes have come and gone, network is set up and cable too woo hoo! I like being legal but Matt is going to have to reprogram the clicker I think, nothing is turning on & off like it used to. We have so many components it is not a shock, but that is just not my area).

In order to work off some of this spread which magically showed up after eating, well, too much spread, Matt and I started an early morning workout routine. Early as in 6:00 AM. Yeah, that lasted exactly one day. I am just not a morning person. So now we are walking in the evenings instead. He gets home a little before 7:00, we eat and digest then about 8:00 we head out to pound the pavement. We have gone every day this week so far and I really have been enjoying it so much more than trying to drag my tired, albeit jiggly, ass out of bed at that ungodly hour. I never understood why gyms aren’t open at 1:00AM.

Do you ever get the sense like you were born to do something; that your whole life is an effort to work up to fulfilling one specific goal or purpose? I wonder this kind of stuff all the time but in turn it scares the hell out of me to consider that once that life purpose is achieved, what is left to live for? Does a new goal or purpose just magically appear to pursue or are we just supposed to ride the wave of the one true thing as long as possible and then live happily ever (though possibly bored) knowing we achieved our allotted success in life?

I have a couple paint jobs coming up this summer, in fact one starts tomorrow, and I am really excited to be doing this again. Not only is it going to be another great way to stay in shape both physically and financially but it will be nice to get back out in the world of contractors again. Sometimes it gets awful lonely working as a writer, enjoying nothing but my creativity for conceptualizing adjectives. So it will be nice to be able to do something less brain and more brawn for a couple weeks, where I can also have an actual conversation with another person every once in a while too.

Can someone please explain to me why banks charge money for dipping below a minimum daily balance? Um, hello, if you charge a fee isn’t the account going to continue to remain below that minimum? Perhaps that is the point, bleed the customer dry so you can pay your enormous debt back to the government right? I guess it is really us paying back the debts then huh? Not to mention how can you do this to a person who not only holds five separate accounts with your institution but someone who is a small business owner and has had an account with your establishment since 2000? Not like they charged my personal account of course, they hit me in the business account. So I called to inquire why I was charged the fee in the first place, due to the fact that I had received a letter indicating fees were waved for June and I was charged the fee on June 3. Apparently from what the Customer Hindrance Representative told me, the billing cycle for June ends on June 3. Say what? Oh and gee isn’t it a bummer that now you have been charged the “maintenance” fee for July as well since today is the 9th; looks like you never put any more money in there. Well thanks for letting me know that my business sucks this year. Apparently yours is thriving now on my loss right? I can only imagine how many other people are going through this exact same thing with TD Banknorth. Sucks for them, my money will be coming right the hell out of their institution by tomorrow morning and going into a local bank instead. All over $30. You know that is a gallon of paint I just lost. Totally not cool.

OK and shake it off…

I posted a vid over at GLR today showcasing Kermit the Frog singing Its Not Easy Bein’ Green and in my travels to locate it, this one popped up too. Freaking hilarious.

Visit all of the BTP Crew:

You? If you’re doing BTP Thursday (or any day) link back to here and let me know so I can give you the appropriate holla!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

I am not sure about other places in the country but here in Massachusetts where I grew up one of the most anticipated rites of passage was fifth grade camp. Every class from every school in our general neck of the woods were put onto busses during various weeks throughout that school year, with suitcases and bug spray, and shipped off to Caribou, Maine for seven days; for many of us it would be our first trip away without our parents and we were psyched.

The main theory of getting that many different schools together at camp was that we were supposed to bond, to make new friends and to learn “survival” skills from our camp counselors. The week our group made the seven hour journey up to the literal and figurative middle of nowhere Maine the only thing any of us really learned was fortitude in the rain; that is unless of course treading water suddenly became one of the basic skills of woodsmen everywhere.

We arrived fresh faced and excited to try new things. We learned that while we were there we would all have the opportunity to canoe, take part in other fun water sports, learn to properly use a jackknife, sleep in rustic cabins, light fires and on the last day we would be making the trek through a swamp -- this was considered to be the pinnacle and most looked forward to (as well as most talked about) part of camp. All of us were jazzed.

The lake at twilight the first night was a peaceful and tranquil stillness of periwinkle, sapphire and dusty blue plus a healthy dose of pink and purple from the reflected, setting sun of the night sky. Huge birds flew low over it just as the sun was going down and we inquired as to what they were. We were told that the birds were loons. They were majestic and looked magical to me. Having this scene burned into my memory is a special gift because it was the last time I saw sun until returning home.

Our sleeping quarters were small cabins with bunk beds and we shared with a bunch of other kids, many if not all were kids I had never met before. I was a shy kid who embarrassed easily and meeting new kids was not easy for me. Not to mention that fifth grade was probably one of the worst school years of my life since it was the year our teacher told us there was no Santa Claus. I was looking forward to getting out of the cabin and hopefully spending time with my friends but they set it up so activities were done by cabin; I was stuck like glue to these people until free time.

During free time we were allowed to do anything we wanted from exploring the campgrounds to swimming or, what quickly became my favorite, learning how to whittle. As the daughter of a Carpenter wood totally fascinated me and I was excited to learn how to manipulate it. Because it was constantly raining I never had the chance to take my swimsuit out of my suitcase anyway and since I was a shy girl I found it much easier to chat with the grownups on the big porch while I shaped and carved my way through this wet week of hell.

I grew up as a Catholic and it was beat into our brains by every single boring priest and Sunday school teacher that God made it very clear “he” would not destroy the Earth again through either fire or flood. I never fully identified with this particular religious sect but as each day passed and I watched the swamp and puddles everywhere rise like the Red Sea I prayed that the no flood thing was factual. All my letters home probably sounded just like an Allan Sherman song. I tried to conceive of how I could just disappear instead of having to do the swamp walk; would they even miss the girl who rarely ever spoke? I was almost out of clothes already and it wasn’t like they were drying by slinging them over the end of our beds. It seemed like they just became breeding grounds for larger and larger mosquitoes. I was in full on panic mode as we came to the last day.

The morning of the swamp walk it was still raining but it had slightly let up from the downpours of early in the week. I was so grateful for that little reprieve. Our group got there and we started out no more than ankle deep, I was elated to think this was the walk! I had been so worried about having to walk through a pond of water that could hold anything from snakes to, well, snakes. Then we kept going.

We trudged on and the swamp kept getting deeper and deeper. I immediately patted myself on the back for putting already wet clothes on to do the walk; I had somehow managed to save one dry outfit for the ride home. The water level had risen so high that the top of the swamp was hovering somewhere just under my chin. Now my greatest fears involved something having to do with swallowing swamp water or drowning at camp. Even the counselors made a note that it was unusually high and typically only came up to our waist.

They laughed it off. I was not so much finding the humor in my soggy fears. We emerged from the other side of our walk and then everything is a fuzzy blur until we are on our way out. I can only imagine that the endorphin crash caused me to black out as I packed 100 pounds of wet clothes into my suitcase and ran to the bus. But there was no bus to get on. We had actually been rained in; the road was impassable and they were trying to figure out a way to safely get us out of there.

After what felt like the longest day of my life I stood with fellow classmates and other sodden kids as we waited for a solution to the ‘how do we get these kids out of here now’ problem. I have no idea how long we waited but I do remember we were very late getting back home because they had to truck in a flatbed tractor that could traverse the moat that had built around our little campsite. In very small groups and at painfully slow speed we were driven out of camp.

It was like a Barry Manilow song when we emerged on the other side. I ‘kept myself protected’ by sitting on the inside of the tractor’s flatbed. After being poured on and having to walk through a swamp when I was down to my last semi-dry outfit, the last thing I wanted was to fall back in as we bounced along as if riding the rapids. The water level was within inches of the top of the tractor. It was quite wild and a fitting end to a week I was happy to see come to an end for so many more reasons than a week’s worth of rain.

The bus ride home seemed to fly by despite the complete lack of comfort from being waterlogged. I believe I read a Nancy Drew book and enjoyed checking out the whittled carvings I brought home. Once we were back in our comfy homes the rumors started to fly. Seems that the group of kids slated to go up the week after us had to be cancelled due to the rain. Those kids got to go to sixth grade camp instead. I simultaneously felt bad for them and wished I was one of them. I bet those kids had the chance to get wet in the preferred method -- in a swimsuit on the lake as they watched loons fly by overhead.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Indeterminate State

The ceiling fan lazily spins on the slowest Speed, so
I watch a movie that begs us to stay above fifty
In lieu of actual movement.
Matt is in the kitchen cooking dinner and
I am really in the mood for a glass of something but
He would never hear me if I yelled to ask for it.

Then as if he is reading over my shoulder
In he comes and asks cheerfully
If I would like water, wine, beer or something else.
Since its pizza for dinner, beer sounds like a fine choice.
I tell him the same and he clicks the fan chain
To increase the air flow in the living room.
Another day of rain and clouds left it a bit chilly
I ask him to please turn it back down, so he does.

The traffic is heavy at late rush hour
On our cut through street.
Cars and people both fly by
At a pace far too quick for my lazy temperament.
Townies walk by, caps on backward,
They hold hands and smile,
Freshly rinsed vehicles with loud music playing
Traverse asphalt that resembles Swiss cheese.
The pizza is crispy and Matt places
Beside my typing fingers, a piping hot plate
Of spinach and feta goodness.

Twilight dims and the light inside
Turns far too difused to continue to write.
The glow of the laptop screen causes wide, worn eyes and
I click on the floor lamp for incandescent illumination
But it is just not enough and I realize
The evening has fully set in.
Its time to give these fast fingers a rest
And fill my belly instead.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Play that 1812 Overture like Tchaikovsky Intended

After a day like yesterday I wonder how I ever tell people my favorite national holiday is New Years (of course I am petitioning to have my birthday recognized as a national holiday, but it will likely only pop up on the radar now since it was the day Michael Jackson died; I wonder if that is better than celebrating it because it is the day George Michael was born?). New Years is an excellent holiday because it allows for new beginnings, kisses at midnight, drinking of champagne and just a whole lot of random and non-religion based celebration, but the 4th of July has actually been my favorite holiday for a very long time.

Most importantly, it is a day right in the middle of summer. Now anyone that knows me understands how I feel about this season. Sunshine, beach, ocean, surfers and coconut scented suntan lotion to cover up bright red noses goes just perfect with bright blue skies, bucket hats, sunglasses and flip flops. I like to drive barefoot with sand between my toes. In fact I love to have sand make its way into the rug of my car because when I finally get around to cleaning it out the little happy smile that creeps across my face is solely because I am thinking back on why there is all that sand in the car to begin with. Summer is my most inspired season and the 4th brings about some of its most enjoyable attributes.

No matter what day of the week it is no one judges each other for starting to drink beers at ten in the morning. And then continue to drink beers for the rest of the day. Everyone is just so congenial and friendly. It is easy to meet people on this day because everyone seems to be smiling. The common purpose of course is to celebrate the fact that we are living with the freedom to drink beers at ten AM. That we are able to run around and do whatever we want at whatever time of day we want to do it is truly a blessing. There are far too many places in this world that do not get to enjoy this so even if we get wrapped up in the food and drink it is nice to stop for just a minute and remember why we have the choice to consume them.

Oh yes, the food. As crappy and Westernized as possible please. Yesterday we grilled chicken, steak tips and Vidalia onions then we piled on pasta salad, potato salad and corn on the cob with lots of butter and salt (but it was Smart Balance and sea salt so you know it wasn’t too bad for us). A joke was made that the only way we could have been more “American” was if we had apple pie for desert. Then again, our desert of ‘smores was a great way to end a great meal.

The 4th is always a day to hang out with awesome people. Last year Wendy was in town and that was a blast spending time down in Humarock for her week long vacation. We did the standard beers in a Solo cup on the beach with all the crazy characters who light bonfires and fireworks. This year we wrangled the fire into the firepit, drank beers out of the bottle in the backyard with our best friends S&B and played with Hammer and Anvil all afternoon. We all laughed the entire day away and had such a great time, as always when we get together. After the babes went to bed we played a couple hours of Rock Band and took off because our friends turn into pumpkins at 9:00.

We scooted home from our friend’s place and then took the ten minute walk up the hill a little ways to stand on the bridge looking down the commuter rail tracks. There was a perfect view of the John Hancock Tower, the Pru and just the blue light from the top of the State Street “weather” building. Matt rides past there a lot and figured it would be the perfect fireworks viewing area. When we arrived at about 9:45 we knew it would be because a family was already set up in their lawn chairs. But there was plenty of space to spread out so we set up a few feet from them and as the next half hour went on people and cars began to fill in by the barrel full. A few kids even wandered past playing some bongos and tons of people walked their dogs up. It was super community feeling and I was instantly happy to have moved here.

Lawn chair family had a radio on and as soon as I heard the beginning of the William Tell Overture I knew it was time. As a teenager S and I used to go into town almost every year to watch the show. Storrow Drive is closed to vehicles and opened to pedestrians and we would plant ourselves just west of the Hatch Shell in the middle of the street so we could hear the Boston Pops and have maximum viewage of the sparkly prettiness. So last night while Matt and I stood on the bridge waiting for the show and he told me he has never seen the Boston fireworks display live my jaw about hit the ground.

The fireworks display here on the 4th is rated as the top in the nation and there is no doubt why. This year (I read somewhere) over 20,000 pounds of explosives would be shot upwards and would reach heights taller than the John Hancock Tower. Oh hell yeah. And they did not disappoint. Our spot could not have been better unless we were down at the edge of the Charles River. Every color imaginable and all the super cool shimmering beauty lit up the skyline like a parade of lights. This is where I always turn into a kid because I simply can not conceive of anything more phenomenal than big exploding shiny sparkles in the night sky; I always jump up and down, squealing and clapping when they begin and continue to do so throughout the exhibition.

Last night’s display lasted about a half hour or more and as we walked back I told Matt there was no way we were not going right down to my old stomping spot next year. These were good but he deserves to see the full on show complete with the Pops in the background. We walked back home in the nippy night air and I smiled myself to sleep last night completely satisfied with my sunburned shoulders, chilly leg skin, full belly and remembrance of a fantastic day with amazing people. Oh yeah, and those squeal inducing fireworks.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Broken Thought Process Used To Be On Thursday

It’s a long weekend (Matt has today off) and I am so ready for some geographical space. In fact last night we even looked at hotels in Virginia Beach and considered making the 8 hour drive down there but decided to play Rock Band instead.

With the advent of so many things that bring us together across such large lines it makes me wonder what constitutes community these days. In addition to my local community where I physically reside, there are other areas where it seems community is key -- Facebook, blogger, anywhere that a group of individuals makes up a larger, like minded group. Is it possible to give to all of them? Or better yet, is it necessary?

So I’m lurking around Facebook the other day (which I really shouldn’t do because I’m still on borrowed time) and a friend asked where her best friend was. I knew she wasn’t talking about me but I responded anyway that ‘I was trying to type but my damn life raft just kept floating down the street’. She responded that she was in fact laughing her ass off, although she used the much shortened version of the expression -- lmao. In turn I came close to responding that I had nothing left but humor since my sanity had washed away weeks ago but I thought maybe it would have been a rain joke overkill moment so I just chuckled to myself and decided to use it as a broken thought for today’s post instead.

I would change this theme to Broken Thought Process Friday, since I always seem to post it on Friday, but then I know it wouldn’t get posted until Saturday.

It has been cloudy since June 11; our last day with any recorded sunshine. It is strange how much my inner self needs to see the sun during the day and the moon at night. Now I’m even happier I didn’t let Matt convince me we should live on that houseboat.

Target is the best for inexpensive DVD’s. I’m working on replacing all our videos to DVD and target had a whole bunch of movies at $4.75 and $5.00. Score! My Keanu Reeves collection is just about fully replaced.

By not having cable I discovered the coolest station -- RTV. Every night at 6:00 is The Hulk followed by Knight Rider, The A Team and Magnum P.I.. I’m just waiting to discover what time Hawaii Five-0 is on so I can come full circle.

I raised the height of my drums a little bit and it made such a difference in how I play. Last night I hit a 1313 note streak on a song I had never played before. Yeah-ya.

Recently I have been going through another very uninspired period with my writing. It really drives me crazy when this happens since it is what I am supposed to be doing all day, so when I don’t work on the books it makes me feel like I am not really working at all. In my head I feel like I’m not contributing to the family and I really despise that. Sure I blog or maybe write a HubPages article but those things are not why I stay home to work, they are not my goal. Blogs and articles I can whip out in a very short period of time with minimal edits and post them online, but the novels are completely different animals. They are living and breathing things and if I don’t feed them once in a while they will just wither away. I feel like it’s been far too long since I’ve tossed them any scraps. It is time to get my head back into those characters and complete their journeys.

Too much to do this weekend now that we’re sticking around close to home and not enough time to do it all if I keep writing so catch you all on the flip side home skillitz. Sorry, just bought (& watched again) Juno.

Um, yeah I totally forgot to link up to the other BTPT gurus...not cool man, not cool.
Ginger, Bridgete, Bree, KC, Kate

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Who Needs Shelter?

“Good day sunlight. I’d like to say how truly bright you are. You don’t know me but I know you. See, you’re my favorite star.”

That is the opening to the song title which is being borrowed as my blog title. I am using it as my mantra now. I have to. Thanks Jason.

As the moat around my new apartment grows, I am taking some time to put together an iTunes playlist which includes only songs that have lyrics about the sun, summer, good weather or the word sun in the title. Oh summer, how I will try to encourage you to show up by playing this wonderful collection of awesomeness at top volume.

It is also imperative that I follow the old adage ‘Jesus Saves’ and depress that little icon here in the upper left corner of my Word doc every so often. Normally a little rain (OK, a lot of rain) would not have me paranoid about losing power but earlier this morning I actually heard a sizzling sound outside the window and as my head reacted so my eyes could see what it was, I turned in just enough time to watch lightning brighten up the entire sky. Simultaneously thunder clapped and a car alarm only a few houses away went off. Fuck. That one even scared me a little and I love storms. Ever since that happened the lights have been dimming every five or so minutes, even though the lightning has, for now, moved on.

So for the rest of you who are also enjoying the throes of SAD, I present you with my ultimate “kick rain’s ass” playlist! Rock it with the windows down, it’s probably time to wash the inside of your car anyway and why not take advantage of all this free water right? Now if only I could figure out where to pick up some free soap…

Sunshine Day -- The Brady Bunch

Who Loves the Sun -- Velvet Underground

Summertime -- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Summer Wind -- Frank Sinatra

It’s Magic -- The Cars (“Summer. It turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer, it’s like a merry go round.)

Ain’t No Sunshine -- Bill Withers

Black Hole Sun -- Soundgarden

Summer of ’69 -- Bryan Adams

Staring At the Sun -- The Offspring

Cruel Summer -- Bananarama

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me -- Elton John

All for Me -- Melissa Ferrick (Standin’ on my front porch, sun in my eyes. Perfect iced coffee, smilin’ all over my insides.)

Sunshine on My Shoulder -- John Denver

You Are My Sunshine -- Elizabeth Mitchell (Might be original)

Ray of Sunshine -- Jason Mraz

Stay (Wasting Time) -- Dave Matthews Band (And it was so hot outside, oh, you could fry an egg)

Under the Boardwalk -- The Drifters (Where the sun beats down and melts the tar up on the roof)

All Summer Long -- The Beach Boys

Margaritaville -- Jimmy Buffett (This song is summer!)

Island in the Sun -- Weezer

Summer Nights -- John Travolta & Olivia Newton John

I Can See Clearly Now -- Jimmy Cliff (It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day)

Walkin’ On Sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves

Saturday In the Park -- Chicago (I think it was the fourth of July)

Boys of Summer -- Don Henley

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer -- Nat King Cole

Endless Summer Nights -- Richard Marx

Summer in the City -- The Lovin’ Spoonfull

Here Comes the Sun -- The Beatles

Blister in the Sun -- Violent Femmes

I could go on for about sixteen hours with everything I have in my collection within these criteria. Never mind the fact that I have a CD called ‘The Sounds of Hawaii’, tons of ukulele music and a library of other music that screams summer to me (think Brown Eyed Girl, the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffett, etc). Funny, since I started writing this the rain has stopped and it looks like it could even get a bit bright outside.

Here is to the power of positive music! What are your favorite summer songs? I want to add them and up the chances of that season making an appearance this year.