Saturday, April 30, 2011

Inversion

I like to be a rule breaker sometimes. Okay maybe not so much a breaker as a bender, especially in this case. The list is two days from the end and it has really been a blast doing it. The challenge of the daily theme has me finding a renewed sense of my blog again. I’m back to really enjoying writing, it doesn’t feel like a chore and although some days might have been no more than mediocre, other days I know I wrote a quality piece of creative non-fiction.

So when I saw that the final request was going to be to share ‘someone I miss’ while the second to last day was looking for a smile, I knew exactly what had to happen. No way I was ending this fun thirty day journey on a sad note! So the final two requests I inverted in order for the whole thing to end on a smile. Today I’m going to share ‘A picture of someone you miss’.

*chirp* *chirp* *chirp*

I literally just sat here for about fifteen minutes, thought about what I would write, who I would post a photo of, and honestly I got nothing.

Yes it’s true that my grandparents have died so they could make the list but I have a completely different feeling about death than a lot of people and although it’s sad they aren’t in my life anymore I don’t miss them per se. I kind of feel like my life wouldn’t be what it is today if any of them were still here and vice versa. We had our time and place and my life is forever better because of it.

And I kind of feel the same way about anyone who is no longer a part of my life. For whatever reasons they’re just gone and in order to miss someone I kind of feel that one needs to experience a form of regret -- the person is gone but there was a sense of something unfinished there, so that’s where the ‘missing’ comes into play.

I don’t feel regret. Ever.

Truly what has happened in life is just what was supposed to happen; nothing is changing what happened ten years or ten seconds ago so to regret is to feel like something went wrong. And I don’t.

I love my life. I’m not trying to sit here and say that everything that happens to me is rays of sunshine shooting out of my ass, I think you all know better than that, but the daily frustrations or sadness just belongs to the past. See? Even writing that sentence is already in the past. Right now, in this exact moment as each finger comes down on every individual key I am fully in it.

Life.

So to put up a picture today seems like it would be forcing something that isn’t there. And that is something I learned long ago you just can’t do. So I’m breaking the rules. Again.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

This Title Brought to You by…

Today I’ve been asked to share ‘A picture of something you're afraid of’ but I’m having trouble coming up with a photo that represents plummeting towards the earth at a ridiculous rate of speed.

Sky diving, bungee jumping, skiing, toppling off the top of the Empire State Building… Don’t get me wrong, I really dislike bugs (especially when they show up in my sandwich at Panera) and those creepy ones with a billion legs actually make my spine shift when I see them on my floor, but I’ve managed to smash them with a shoe before (yeah, I know all those loving lovers out there will say whatever about that but I’m not apologizing. I just figure some giant in the sky will step on me someday in return. At least it will be somewhat quick.) so they don’t rate on the ‘afraid’ list.

For me, to be afraid means fear to the bone, even if the activity in question is something I’ll never do (or do again), just the thought of these things happening must literally make my palms clammy. That short list above? Yeah, it fits the bill.

Though I include skiing in the group it isn’t really the same because the real fear there is smashing into a tree or toppling head-over-heels because of my speed on slippery surfaces. I suppose I could try to fall backward onto my butt and avoid the tree to face. Hey, I’d rather have a broken ankle than be dead by tree. Of course it’s about as likely I’ll ever get on skis again as it was that I’d set my VCR to record the Royal Wedding this morning so it’s probably not much of a concern.

Does anyone still use a VCR? Or did I just date myself so fiercely that it’s clear I could have set one to watch the first “royal wedding of the century” that’s happened within the last 100 years.

Uh-huh.

But I digress.

The funny thing is that speed, and the thought of smashing into things in general, doesn’t really bother me. I’m dying to go white water rafting again and driving a racecar above 125 mph is on my bucket list. Both of those activities include the very real possibility that I could crash into a side wall of sorts but that doesn’t really frighten me like the idea of free-falling and being smashed.

Rafting I’ve done before so I know the basic gist of what to expect -- lots of hard paddling, tons of cold ass water in the face, possible tipping over, and a 1-2 dunk if you go in the river so don’t breathe on the first time you rise.

I’ve skied too and I also know what to expect there -- people coming down the mountain behind me telling me how awesome I looked and me asking if they picked up my heart on the way down because it managed to shoot right out of my chest somewhere just after the chair lift.

Think I’ll stick to on ground/mostly flat(ish) surface stuff thanks.

But truly all of that is just an underlying fear of dying and I don’t really have that fear. Its like, well, part of life so no matter if I jump off a tall building or get gang green from a paper cut something is going to take me out someday. I guess I just would rather not push the odds by engaging in raucous activities that’s all.

I’m a thrill seeker, it’s just that I usually seek those thrills from my sofa. Or behind the wheel.

Anyway, all that aside, I guess what I’m actually most afraid of is being invited to a Royal Wedding someday and having to wear on my head something that resembles a cat that crawled up there to die.


Sorry, but I just don’t get it.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Family

Holidays have always been an important time in my family, regardless if we were getting dressed up to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve or ordering from KFC on Easter (because my gramma was sick of cooking that year...and every year after), we always made incredible memories. Food and laughter seemed to go hand in hand and no one ever failed to get a whole bunch of good pictures.

Wait, did I just write that we always get a bunch of pictures during the holidays? Yeah that’s what I thought. Because I brought a camera to Easter dinner at my aunt’s house last Sunday but it never made it out of my bag.

And neither did anyone else’s after the family arrived. The only photo I saw from this most recent holiday was my aunt posting on Facebook a picture of the beautifully set table that had a caption something like “Ready for all those hungry animals to get here and wolf down in fifteen seconds something it took me 3 hours to cook!”

Or something like that.

But this puts me in a tough spot because I fully intended on using this holiday photo extravaganza to my advantage today. Since the request is literally for a photo of me and a family member, I didn’t want to have to intentionally pick someone randomly. That's why I was just going to go with the excuse that as the most recent holiday it was the "obvious choice" (feel my air quotes).  So what to do?

Why post a completely non-related photo of course!


This is me with my grampa Ed on the day he got his high school diploma.  He fought in World War II and gave up graduating to defend the country instead.  Back in the early part of the new millennium, Massachusetts was the first state to institute Operation Recognition and the program allowed my grampa to get his diploma sixty some-odd years after he originally should have.

It was a cool day but, of course he wasn’t about to get all emotional about it.  He was way too much of a comedian for all that.  So it looks as if he’s in a really contemplative gaze here but it was all a show for the camera.  In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t grab his lapel with his free hand and dramatically toss his chin up just to give the extra punch.  And yes, that is a bucket hat which reads Cape Cod that he's wearing with his suit and tie.

Not to say he wasn’t honored, because he did come thisclose to welling up a little bit when he actually walked across the mock stage to get the diploma in his hand.  But in true grampa fashion once it was over there was no need for all the dramatics and pomp and circumstance anymore.  He just wanted to get back to his chair to watch the Sox game. 


I’m thinking it was probably because they held the thing in a cemetery. 

Way to go there Massachusetts.  The irony of 80 year olds receiving their high school diploma in a cemetery is so outrageous I can’t even find a way to mock it more than it already mocks itself.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose!

The photo here is representative of ‘a picture of something that means a lot to you’ and I know what you’re all thinking -- ‘A duck? Really?’ but let me assure you its not just the duck.

I don’t know exactly when my mom knitted the ducks in question, possibly before either of us were born, but this red white and blue duck was mine and my sister received a pink and brown duck. If Wendy weighs in over here I’d love to hear if she still has her duck somewhere. Let’s just say hers got a little...um, floppy.

This little guy was probably one of the only stuffed animals I ever had that didn’t have a name, he’s just duck. And he’s definitely a he in my mind. Not sure why but to me all ducks are male. He used to live in my doll cradle.  Sadly, I have no idea what prior learning experience I lost the cradle in, but I somehow managed to hold onto the duck.

When I said it means more than a stuffed animal its true. It’s something that’s always been in my life, a constant, and something that my mom made with her hands that lived in something my dad made with his. It’s kind of the representative of the short number of years that my parents were still together and happy with that arrangement. Before the fighting, the divorce and the moving of lives.

Namely ours.

So we moved from Humarock to Arlington. We moved into a second floor apartment. My mom paid rent and we frequently had babysitters at night. I had to make new friends at a new school, had to wear hand-me-downs because we were so poor there were food stamps involved, because of that I got picked on and bullied, I introverted something awful and started to hate life.

A shake up in your home life at age seven will do that to a girl.

I stopped sleeping with the duck at night. There was something about it that I felt needed to be preserved. Something that said, if I just left it happily sitting in its doll cradle, everything would turn out okay. My sister hugged hers to death I think. She wouldn’t even let my mom wash it, and believe me, the pink had all but turned to brown so it really could have used the wash.

When we moved to the house the duck of course came along for the journey. But here’s the interesting thing…beyond that, I have zero recollection how I still have this duck.

In the many (read: many, many, many, many, many, many…) apartments I’ve had over the years there have been a bunch of items lost forever to the prior learning experience apartment gods. For some reason though, duck managed to stay by my side through it all.

Obviously older, and happier for my parents not being together (which of course is a whole other blog for a whole other day), the same kind of significance I put on the duck doesn’t apply daily anymore. But it's always a good reminder of where I’ve been, how much my life has changed since then, and where I aspire to be in the future.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Picture of Your Favorite Day

Totally chintzing out today and posting the shortest post ever for the request. Way too busy to be stressed about that though so as the brief explanation, not that you really need it if you know me, my favorite day is in fact my birthday!

Hey, it’s the anniversary of the day I popped out; if I never popped out I couldn’t have a favorite anything, so it seems quite appropriate.

That's me and my grampa Steve.  Not exactly the day I was born but pretty close to it!
Hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday and cheer on the Bruins tonight for the win in the first round of playoffs! Yea!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

All Rise

Today I fully intended to come home and write up this insanely long post about the day’s request -- A picture of something you wish you could change -- to say how much I wished I could change the fact that I was called to jury duty this morning. But you know something? It wasn’t all that bad after all.

I was originally called to serve last November, the notice came in September sometime, but with NaNoWriMo in November I knew there was no way I could get put on a trial and still finish a manuscript. So I promptly got online and learned that in Massachusetts you’re allowed to postpone your service for up to a full year. Sweet.

Taking winter considerations into account (and after this past winter’s insane snow I’m happy that I did!) I decided that moving it to April would be a smart move. When I had to get up at six o’clock this morning to get ready to go I was kicking myself that I hadn’t postponed it until this coming October. I would have been able to tell the court ‘oh sorry, I’ve moved’ but begrudgingly I showered and got dressed in my pretty business casual khakis, white collar shirt and purple corduroy jacket, zipped up my brown boots and headed out.

With a half hour to get there I anticipated a little traffic, it was eight o’clock in Boston on a weekday after all, but I made it to the courthouse and was parked by 8:12. With nothing else to do, school books, a big jug of water and snacks packed in a bag, I headed for the door.

It was locked. Guess they take that 8:30 thing pretty seriously because a couple other people were milling about out front, also ready to perform their civic duty. Within a couple minutes a court officer let us in and brought us through the metal detectors.

Unlike at the airport she didn’t ask me a word about my water or food, I wasn’t told to throw away my lighter or hand lotion. All she asked was ‘Is that a camera in your bag?’ I responded with a yes and she informed me I had to go put it in my car. I collected my stuff and headed out to the glove box about 900 feet back in the parking lot and thought ‘My cell phone has a camera, how am I allowed to keep that but not this?’ but I didn’t ask and just deposited the camera like the good citizen I am.

Back inside I was directed to the jury assembly room which was at the literal furthest point in the building from the front door. It was eerily quiet inside and all the doors to courtrooms or other offices were closed. As I traversed the incredibly brightly lit halls I was surprised to find that the appointments were not totally crusty but instead seemed fairly new and well taken care of. It didn’t smell like bodily fluid and no one was handcuffed to a bench. It was moderately encouraging but it certainly wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy either. But at least it didn’t smell.

I checked in with the court officer in the jury room and was given my little jury card. I was number eight, which struck me as an omen that I might just be in a stark, institutionally appointed room for infinity. Locating a seat among the other five or so people who must have entered during my camera incident I got settled and pulled out my forty pound text book so I could at least get some school work done while waiting to see what would happen.

At the dot of 9:00 the court officer announced to all of the potential jurors the basic rules of the day -- no cell phones in the courtroom, a Judge would be coming in to speak with us soon, then we’d watch a seventeen minute video about how to be a juror and we’d get a break -- and I went back to reading when she finished. At about 9:30 we heard ‘All rise!’ and in walked a Judge.

I knew she was a Judge not only due to the request to stand but also because of the black robe she was wearing, solidifying the part she was playing that day. It suddenly hit me as she said ‘Hi everybody! You all can sit down’ that a) Things were way more casual than they try to make you believe on TV and b) this was the first time in my life I’d ever been inside a courthouse.

That fact struck me as a little bit odd because as a late teen/early twenty something I had a friend who was, let’s just call him a bit of a rebellious spirit, and although I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a Bail Bondsman for the first time to get my friend out of the clink, I’d never gone to a trial.

I don’t think anyway, all those years are a little fuzzy.

At any rate, my heart began to race and I started to feel a little (read: a lot) nervous. Someone’s life as they knew it up to that moment might hang in my hands. It was all too much to take and I was totally freaked out.

So when the Judge finished speaking and asked if we had any questions, who do you think raised her hand? That’s right, me. And what do you think I asked?

‘If we are picked for a jury and sit for a trial, what do we do if we have to use the restroom?’

I couldn’t help it. Sorry but I have the bladder of a 76 year old and drink about 60 ounces of water a day so this was going to be the single most important thing she could ever answer as far as I was concerned. As soon as the words fell out of my mouth though I was taken back to seventh grade when I had to stand up in front of my Spanish class and give a presentation on the fly. My entire body flared red as I felt the other would-be jurors turn to look and see who asked about something so silly as having to pee.

But then one of them said ‘Hey that’s a great question’ and the judge not only answered with a straight face she echoed the sentiment of my peer. I sighed and returned to typical pale face as we were again instructed to rise when she left. I wondered if she got to do that at home too. How cool would that power be?

Now it was about 9:40 and the court officer came back in to let us know we were permitted a break until 10:15. Really? Geez, that was pretty cool! I’d packed up about 6 pieces of nicotine gum anticipating hours of entrapment. Instead of going to Dunkin Donuts with the rest of my peers (remember that part about having to pee? Yeah it would be all over after a second cup of coffee…) I went out front to have a smoke and text Matt about my uber brilliant question. He sent me back the text equivalent of a chuckle. I expected no less.

I arrived back a little earlier than requested and once everyone was back they played us the aforementioned movie.

It took every single ounce of my cynical, dry-wit being not to laugh out loud during the entire thing.

The movie was most definitely filmed in about 1982, if the awesome hairstyles and shoulder pads were any indication, and they could not have picked more cheezy people to read the script. You know that monotone voice that’s supposed to keep a person calm but if you listen really carefully can sound a little condescending? Yeah that’s how they sounded. It was like an infomercial for court.

There was one part where the monotonously enthusiastic woman was reading her scripted line and an awkward pause ensued, followed by the “humanization” of the male lawyer in the video when he took his glasses off the top of his head and put them on with an incredibly stern look that said “now you listen to me” before he started speaking. I am not lying, I know I heard someone across the room snicker. Wish I knew who it was, we’d probably get along great.

The video was of course informative as to how the process works, but I was so twisted up at this point thinking how I’m way too jaded and opinionated to sit on a jury that I was just doing my best not to hyperventilate.

The thing came to an end and almost within seconds we were being instructed to get our butts out of the chairs as the Judge made her way back to the front of our room again. Like good little students we continued to stand until she told us to “Go ahead and take a seat again’ while she explained that everything on the day’s docket had been resolved and as soon as the court officer came back we’d be free to go.

Now here’s the kicker. She had told us earlier that she predicted the sun to come out and wrapped up with ‘Now I’m not gonna call your boss, or your significant other or anyone to let them know that you got out of here early. I suggest you all go out and take advantage of enjoying this beautiful day off!’

Everyone laughed.

I got about three quarters of my reading for the week done while I waited for exactly two hours to be told I wouldn’t have to go through this again for three years if I didn’t want to so you know what? I’m taking her up on the offer.

You may be excused.


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Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Picture of Your Favorite Book

It’s weird because I was just thinking about reading a couple days ago, in fact I have to get my butt to the library and get Reading Lolita in Tehran for our book club selection, due at the end of April! Yikes!

At least school has died down a little bit so reading a non-school book is actually possible right now. Slim chance I’m going to finish it on time but the gals are cool and I think (hope) they’ll forgive me if I don’t. But it’s in transit and should be at my local library within a couple days, I plan to read every night until I finish. I promise.

As far as favorite of all time though, that’s a toughie. Somehow I feel like I’ve already written about this particular topic, having a slight déjà vu moment. Anyway, obviously as a young child I probably had some favorites but other than the Nancy Drew series (yes I owned them all, maybe my mom still has them in the attic??) I can’t really recall any others. I do have a few favorites that I used to read a lot when I was a teenager:

• The Annotated Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
• Call Me Anna, by Patty Duke
• Different Seasons, by King
• The Goonies, the book based on the movie
• Sybil, by Schreiber

All but Poe & Schreiber I still have on my shelf. Which is saying something because I pretty much only keep books that have strong meaning and significance to me. That’s not to say that Poe and Schreiber weren’t powerful influences in my teenage years of course, it’s just nowadays with sites like Poestories.com, that I visit frequently, I hardly need to own his work right? Sybil I should take out of the library again, that book blew me away as a kid.

As I grew up I moved into other genres and grew to appreciate an entirely different type of writing. I own the unabridged version of The Poetry of Robert Frost and as you can see from the photo, it has gotten quite a healthy bit of reading done to it since I first got it. There are 4 bookmarks currently holding places for “October”, “The Road Not Taken”, “Fire and Ice” / “Dust of Snow”, and, “The Lockless Door”.

“Dust of Snow” is one of those poems that always brings a smile to my face on days I’m feeling particularly stressed out or sad. If you’ve never read it I recommend looking it up because it’s short and simple. Here’s a good site to find a lot of his work.

At any rate, this is a book I really treasure and those places are held because I’m feeling them right now, but the placeholders rotate often. I probably go back to this book at least once a month, sometimes more often than that, just to get lifted.

Not to say that all his work is peppy and happy, not by far, but there’s something about his voice that just feels light to me regardless of the subject matter. I suppose compared to the organized chaos I get from Poe’s work anything would seem, I don’t know, I guess subdued.

Now as an adult I’ve found quite a few authors and books in general that I’ve really enjoyed but there aren’t many that I hold onto anymore. I suppose with the knowledge that I could get any text I could ever want in some form of electronic media makes me both happy and sad.

Happy that I don’t have to hang onto all these books in my collection forever.

Sad that I don’t have to hang onto all these books in my collection forever.

You know what I mean? Readers who are also writers will most definitely understand.

There is something about holding a book in your hands, feeling the thickness of the paper, smelling the ink inside, or smelling the other books it was squished between for the last fifteen years while it sat unread on a library shelf. A book touches on all five senses regardless if it’s a technical manual on how to restore old cars or a hardcover copy of “The Works of Shakespeare” that’s so old it has no publication date printed.

(As a side note, I inherited the above mentioned Shakespeare book from my grandparents and it’s pretty awesome, but I’ve never been able to get through the entire thing because the typeface can not be more than a 3pt [at best] and after a while the eyes start to ache, ya know?)

I could include pictures of all these books but for today’s challenge I’m going with Frost. As I looked through the other books on this list his was the only one that had even one bookmark. I guess its time to hit the books!

In the first paragraph I mentioned the Book Club, I can’t recall off the top when my next selection is but I posed the question if anyone would mind going back to the classics and so far I think everyone is in. Yea! Now…what to pick, that is the question!

So what’s your favorite book?

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Improving My Station

‘A picture of something you wish you were better at’ is the photo that the challenge requests today. Oh man, they have no clue what they’re asking. You do not pose this question to a self diagnosed bipolar perfectionist with OCD. You just don’t. Not unless you want a really long drawn out diatribe about all the many things they need to improve.

Wishing I was better at just about everything hasn’t been going on forever, probably just the past 4 handfuls of time, but that doesn’t make it any less ingrained now. So I’m going to try my best to reign it in to just a small list. In fact, just one thing in particular -- even though I could say letting go, dealing with stress, cleaning my house, keeping fresh art in my online shop, editing my last manuscript, coming up with a title for my last manuscript, saving money, quitting smoking (again), eating healthier, working out more, etc -- I’m simply going to make them all mesh into one.

The one thing I really, truly wish I was better at (as long as I’m being honest here) is time management.

I’ll write up a blog post and suddenly it’s close to 9:30, well, if I got up on time of course. By the time I’m done reading email and responding to all that stuff I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to, asked about, etc I see the clock creeping up on 10:30. Next it’s off to organize the day for school work and leave comments in the discussion forum so I can get my full credit; by then we’re looking at lunchtime. If I’m smart I stop myself and go eat. Most days I’m not so smart.

So then I start reading or writing depending on the day and assignment. Eventually my body tells me it will pass out if I don’t put some nutrition in it because as awesome as words are, they don’t really satisfy. This means I’m way too hungry to make anything super healthy most days so I toast up an English muffin with peanut butter and cheese because it only takes 10 minutes and is packed with protein for my evening workout burn.

I sit and eat in about 7 minutes and get back to the order of school. By the time I wrap up I realize I still haven’t showered and I hop in at about 5:00. Out with hair dried by 5:30 and I’m ready to start dinner as I text Matt to say 1) No, I’m not in the mood to work out tonight so he’s solo if he wants to go and 2) I’m pretty hungry so what would he like me to order out for him.

Getting the return text I head out front to have a cigarette, because now that the sun is setting the clouds have finally broken, so I “enjoy” the 2.36 minutes of sunshine while the wind whips at me at 35mph. Yes as you could probably surmise those are air quotes.

So its time to do stuff around here like vacuum, dust, move stuff out of the middle of the floor, put dishes into/run the dishwasher and spray the air because a potential renter is coming to see the place and we want to fool them into thinking that not only is it huge but it is the best apartment on the flipping planet and they must rent it. By the time I’m done with all that Matt has made it home, my stomach is chewing itself out of my body and we’re checking to see if we’re going cash or credit on our take out.

My brain has turned to mush as I longingly glance at all the half started paintings, projects, faux samples and printed stories to edit that sit patiently waiting for me in a pile in the office.

Yeah get in line, that stack of mail and filing being ignored has been around a lot longer than you have.

I wrap up posting/reposting a bunch of stuff on craigslist so we can get rid of stuff before the move and shut down my laptop.

I eat dinner and have a beer and flick on some mindless television or scream at a hockey game because my brain actually feels like its swimming with all the stuff I didn’t do yet, all the stuff I did get done in order to ensure my 4.0 and all the stuff I need to do tomorrow (READ: will write in my day planner and put little x’s beside the following morning [as usual] when I don’t actually get them done because I’m too busy doing other stuff like 25 loads of laundry, researching what stuff is listed for online so I can price mine accordingly, taking pictures of all the crap we have to sell, or trying to figure out how to comment on someone’s work when they didn’t actually answer the questions in the assignment).

I need a fucking Assistant. A life assistant. That’s what I’m going to wish for here.


The original of this photo was found here on Flickr because I frankly just didn’t have the time to sit and wait for the clock to change to take one myself.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

I Wish I Could

We had a power outage here this morning, right when I was in the first few sentences of writing up this blog post and, not knowing how long it would be before it came back on, I figured it would be a good idea to fly through a shower before all the heat went out of the little hot water in the tank. Once that was over I had all kinds of errands to run and then came right back to dive into a bunch of necessary life stuff, but I wasn’t really stressed about not getting a post up, it’s only a blog right? Besides, I’m supposed to be posting ‘a picture of something you wish you could forget’ but I just remembered I have more school work to do.

School.

So this week is the first of my new class, American Literature from 1865 to Present Day, and compared to the last class, Lit through 1865, I already feel a little calmer. Rather than 300 pages a week of reading we have 30. Manageable and reasonable for adults returning to school who have more priorities than just reading. But the paper due this week is another story.

I have to write a narrative essay on something I’ve experienced that was completely American. Now I know what most of you are probably saying ‘that’s a no brainer for you Jenn, just pull up something you’ve already written, tweak it and use that’ and I’d agree with you. But I already asked and I’m not allowed to use something I’ve already published.

Oh no, that’s not good.

Considering I’ve been writing this blog now for three and a half years I’ve shared almost every experience that would make for a really good narrative essay. So I’ve been sitting here instead, wracking my brain, trying to figure out what to use as a topic.

I really wanted to use my post on 9/11 as I felt it could epitomize the narrative style, as well as comprised of all the elements we’re supposed to include, and nothing could be more American of an experience. But being brutally rebuffed on that, I literally went blank.

Instead of freaking out, even though I have plans all weekend and will find it difficult to find time to write it other than today, I started reading back through the last three weeks of this posting challenge. I figured maybe I briefly mentioned something I could use. But nothing is ringing as a good topic that could hold up for three succinct pages.

Stupid academia! If it wasn’t for the fear of plagiarism I bet I could use my formerly written piece. Sigh.

Once I got finished rehashing the past month, I turned to reading everyone’s intro posting in class thinking that maybe someone mentioned something about themselves that would resonate with me and spark a memory where I’d yell ‘YES!’ and start furiously typing out my three page, double spaced masterpiece.

But I got nada.

I turned on the television for background noise and the super campy “Adventures in Babysitting” was on. As if I could change the channel! Of course that started me thinking back on being a teenager and doing stupid teenager things. I mean, I never climbed out onto the side of a skyscraper in Chicago or anything but maybe there was something there to use.

But the movie’s been over for a couple hours now and still, zilch is coming to mind.

I texted Matt to ask him what I’ve done. He basically wrote back the text equivalent of a shrug.

That pretty much brings you current in my day.

Chirp…chirp…chirp…

Maybe I’ll write about baseball. Don’t they call it the All American game? If only I could remember my first trip to Fenway and caught a foul ball while sitting next to Pesky’s Pole or something. Now that would make for a great essay.

Think writer’s license to, let’s just call it, embellish, applies to school work?

Wait...what was my post supposed to be about today?  Huh, guess I "forgot".

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Somewhere I’d Love to Travel?

So today wants to know the answer to the title’s question and of course the customary photo must accompany the answer. Didn’t I just cover this a couple days ago in my Bucket List? I did but I guess other people’s lists include stuff like paragliding, swimming with sharks or chasing a tornado.

All stuff I failed to actually put on my Bucket List unfortunately, but all stuff I really must do. I’ll definitely be alone for the sharks, after that episode of “When Vacations Attack” the other night where the shark actually broke through the cage, I think Matt will be holding some rosary beads, and praying for my safe surfacing, while firmly planted on the boat. And he’s not even a Christian. And has no idea what rosary beads even are.

Anyway, in order to do those couple things there are clearly some places I’ll need to visit -- a mountainous region for the running & gliding off, a tropical local where sharks swim and I won’t freeze in the water and of course Oklahoma. I’ll be getting OK out of the way on the drive out to Phoenix and though seeing a tornado from the rental truck isn’t my most ideal situation I certainly won’t turn it away if it happens to happen.

Like 10 miles from where we’re driving, close enough to get good photos but far enough away that we don’t have to dive into a ditch or something.

Funny though, I think we actually lived through a tornado once. We were living on Long Island at the time, and if the thing wasn’t one then it was the strongest, most lightning filled, windiest thunderstorm I’ve ever experienced in my life. We were off to run errands and had to go back to the house for something. Next thing you know the camper down the street is showing signs of lift and we’re watching as a whole bunch of tree limbs go sailing down the street. The lightning was OVER the sun roof and though we’re both extreme weather freaks it was a pretty terrifying 5 minutes even for us.

Of course when it was over we were both yelling ‘that was AWESOME!’

So since we’ll be living among the mountains to do the parachute glide thing, driving through tornadoes on the way to the mountains, and I put it on my list twice the other day, I’ll go with Hawaii as my want to see travel destination of choice. Mostly for the beach but hell if I won't do the shark dive there too!  Ah paradise!

And maybe I’ll add volcano exploration to the bucket list too…


Photo taken by Vincent Khoury Tylor - please click the link to access the artist’s website. No seriously, do it right now because his photos are so stunning I FEEL like I’m there!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Polite Request?

Dear Universe,

I know at times it may seem that I ask you for a lot.
I know at times it may seem I don’t appreciate what I do have.
I know at times there are times I’m selfish.
I know that sometimes I should be more giving.

But I also know that the truth is you don’t really care; for you
Everything is something and nothing
All wrapped in one giant package with a bow.
What we give and what we get is up to
Both of us, not just you,
Not just me.
It’s a collective splash, a thunderous wave in the middle of the sea,
A swirling whirlpool that drains into each of our souls.

If I’m an asshole does that make me any less likely
To receive? No, I will get
Whatever I want,
Not necessarily what is coming to me based on the world’s view
Of how I live my life.

If I’m a good person does that make me any more likely
To give? No, I will give
What I can afford to,
Not anything more than what I have based on the world’s view
Of how much I can spare.

Do either of these scenarios
Play out differently if the roles reverse?
Do the assholes give?
Can the good people get?
I believe there ends up being a common balance.

It’s like the Titanic, what you had meant nothing when
No one had anything. Not when they were approaching the lifeboat of life.
A time when the rich and poor all at once became
Equal.
No one cared who had what.
Where one came from; where they were going.
What they were listening to as they moved on.
Who they had to lean on in order to ensure their own survival.
Why that other soul drowned in the process.
As long as they got on the rescue boat.
As long as they lived to tell the tale, to anyone who would listen.

Everything was looking up.
Everything was a fresh beginning.
Everything was what it needed to be.
Everything is only ever what is made to be.
With a little guidance, help, from You.

So in the spirit of the sinking ship
I am calling out to the Universe.
I ask you to provide
The way out of the everything, the way into
Something.
I must be released because the sinking feeling
Is inside my soul and
It is splitting apart in the middle.

Dear friend, if I could just have one moment,
A slight glimmering of the whole, a new light to balance on,
I will run with it into the ever after of time
And space.
Lots of space.
Not a whole lot of time.

With eternal gratitude (even if I don’t always show it) for the lesson,
Jenn



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P.S. today was 'A picture and a letter'

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It Was Bound to Happen Eventually

A picture of your biggest insecurity.

Sorry, but for the first time since this whole challenge started I’m officially stumped. Yup, that’s right, stumped. How in the heck am I going to photograph an insecurity? Do I even have any insecurities, really?

I can think of things that I have trouble wrapping my head around (like public speaking or saving enough for retirement), fears I’ll likely never get over (like cliff diving or being a rodeo clown), and things I very much dislike doing (like leaving the house without makeup, skiing, or wearing yoga pants with briefs), but insecurities?

The definition of insecurity is: lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt.

How would I even photograph that anyway? Crap! Is coming up with an insecurity, an insecurity?

I briefly thought about going the same route I had back on Day Five with Barry Manilow and include the first song I could think of with the word ‘insecurity’ in the lyrics, but he’s already gotten a healthy dose of attention this month, so moving on…

I considered faking it and saying my greatest insecurity was the fact that I’m insecure but truthfully you all know better than that and I could never get away with it.

I thought about just posting this video to see if you all laugh as much as I do while watching it. Considering most of it is about the insecurities we all face, or the basic life situations we all go through on a daily basis, but of course set to a rap backbeat with a thug-esque video to match, the irony of it just gets me every time. (Caution if you’re not comfortable with strong language, then don’t watch the video! Of course, if you’re reading this blog then its pretty likely there aren’t any issues there…)



I guess, bottom line, I just have no clue what to post today and time is getting late and I got stuff to do and my life is passing me by while I try to determine my self-doubts and frankly I'm pretty excited that I can't really come up with anything.

So this is what you get.


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Monday, April 18, 2011

Whoever You Are, I Want to Thank You

About a week ago I started putting together a playlist for my iPod called ‘Driving’. Matt and I are going to need about forty hours worth of music for the ride south and west, so I got that started and found that just off the top of my head, there were eleven hours of music readily available for our listening pleasure. That should get us to Dan’s place no problem and possibly into Virginia depending on the traffic.

At any rate, if you know the band Geggy Tah then you likely recognize the lyric in the title today. So what does this all have to do with today’s picture request --A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently -- well the lyric itself has a lot to do with it but I should back up and start at the beginning.

We live in a four unit house and there is one washer and dryer in the basement that all the apartments share. Of course it’s a coin-op because, well, that’s just how it goes. Other than one apartment in New York, since Matt and I have been together, neither of us have had the use of a washer and dryer that you didn’t need quarters to run.

The set up is fine but if change ever starts falling by the wayside in this country landlords are going to have to start scrambling. Thankfully we’ll never have to deal with this as an issue again once in Arizona but for now I make the monthly bank run for $40-$60 in rolls of quarters.

When I do wash it’s an all day event and it’s like that for all of us in the complex, we each commandeer the appliances for about 6 hours, get it all done then release it for another two weeks for the other tenants to do their own. Last year sometime, I can’t recall exactly when, I did my usual $40 bank run because I desperately needed to wash some jeans and only had two loads worth of quarters at the house.

So I ran to my bank to deposit a check from a paint job and withdraw the funds to buy the quarters. It seemed innocent enough, I requested the quarters, the teller handed them over once I gave her the $40 and I drove home. I got the first load in and, in anticipation of the other 4 loads I already had sorted on the floor, I started to peel open the paper around the quarters I’d just bought.

What the…?

They were all silver, they didn’t look real and I was just about to go back to the bank when I figured I might as well open the next one first seeing as though I had a lot of laundry to do.

Same damn thing.

So I pulled the paper off the other two rolls too and wouldn’t you know it, they all looked like fake quarters. I thought I’d been had, that I’d spent my $40 on a bunch of washers or something that some clever genius crafted to make a quick buck off the bank. But then I started to look a little closer.

And then I started to sort them out.

And then I grabbed a pen and piece of paper.

And then I went to change over the laundry because I had a feeling I might be a while.

Turned out I had four rolls of Washington silver quarters ranging in date from 1934-1964 including a few -D -S in the series.

Now immediately my brain got to work and I started to think if I knew any numismatists who could help me determine the value of these suckers, if they even had a value. I mean silver sure is a commodity and all but does anyone collect seventy six year old coins anymore?

I got to doing some research on eBay. Turned out the quarters could be worth something but the ranges were posted from $0.99 to $27 and some had bids, some didn’t. I found a few coin pages online but unless you know what PCGS MS-63 means you might as well pack it in.

So pack it in I did, into a little white box along with the list of every individual coin I had and how many of each year there was.

Then I put that box away and promptly forgot all about it for the most part except when I moved it around to dust my night stand. I figured it would be something I’d get back to in a year or so, something that maybe I’d do a little research in and maybe even learn about coin collecting of my own!

Yeah not so much. I like money, I have money, I spend money but learning about the history of money? Just not my thing. So like I said, in the box they sat.

Until last week when Matt and I were watching all the episodes of Pawn Stars that were on demand and we ran out. We discovered there was another pawn show on TruTV called Hardcore Pawn (where do they come up with these names seriously?) so since there were only two episodes we figured why not give it a shot. If it sucked we’d never watch it again.

During the second episode a guy came into their shop with a whole bunch of coins to be appraised and sold. This sparked the memory of what we had sitting in the box in the bedroom. And because Matt is just that kind of guy, he found a local coin appraiser, JJTeaparty, the next day while at work, emailed them and found out they would appraise and pay right on the spot. We figured even if all the quarters were worth $0.50 we doubled our money. They seemed excited to hear the type we had so this past Saturday we took a trip into the city with my 4lb. box of coins.

When the very, very, dry personality numismatist opened the box he looked over my list and said “Yeah, these are all common.” My heart kind of sank, but only because I imagined that $40 worth of laundry money had been sitting there all this time and who can squander $40 these days? Certainly not us! So I said “Oh.” And he started typing away on his calculator while he said “Yeah, it’s the 1932’s and 1934-D’s that are the big money coins, these here are only worth about $3.50 a piece but I can run ‘em through the machine and see how many you got and pay you today if you wanted to sell them still.”

Wait, I’m sorry. Come again? Did you just say that a “common” dollar figure is one that’s something like a 1500% mark up of the face value?

I pulled out my cell phone calculator and started doing the math. I also had a couple other coins I’d randomly been collecting from the bank over the past couple years, most of those dollars or half dollars he said to just spend because they weren’t worth more than face value but a couple of the others were a couple bucks a piece.

All told my math worked out to over $600.

For a teeny little white box full of coins? We barely had to think about it at all as we turned to catch the eye of the gray haired, glasses wearing 65 year old man in his yellow collar shirt and vest. He lifted his semi-excited eyes back up to catch mine and asked if we decided. Matt and I simultaneously said “Yeah, we’re gonna sell.”

We’ve just watched one too many episodes of Pawn Stars I think.

He dumped the coins into his machine, grabbed the ticket and started scribbling down numbers for each of the different types of coins we handed over. And when we left the store we left with a receipt and a bunch of linen that totaled a dollar value of $656.25

Yeah, the $0.25, can I get that in silver please?

He didn’t laugh. I don’t think the guy ever laughed in his life. Of course I couldn’t have been the first to make that joke so that could have been why, sorry about that buddy. At least he didn’t roll his eyes at me for being “that” customer. We thanked him and went on our way.

As soon as we got to the car we realized that the money we just acquired was
1. Totally found money that wasn’t even part of our original “sell stuff to move” budget
2. A total and complete fluke of luck that we happened to get those rolls
And oh yeah, flipping awesome!!

We did the exploding double fist bump and drove straight to the bank with one third of our moving truck budget firmly in hand.

So thank you to whoever turned in those quarters for only $40. Like I said on Storrow Drive on the way to Arlington, I seriously hope that through no harm to others you somehow come into $656 sometime soon.

And may the additional $0.25 be in silver.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

You’re the Inspiration

I kind of wish I used song titles or lyrics for every day’s title now, would have made coming up with something a lot easier I’m sure. Maybe that’s the challenge I’ll give myself in May -- an iPod song title shuffle and then I must write a story to accompany the first thirty that come up. Sounds interesting. But as usual not what today’s request is. Sorry about that, but you all know how my brain works by now and this blog isn’t called Random Lunacy for nothing. So today’s really is…

A picture of someone who inspires you.

Oh man, now that’s tough which is probably why I was putting it off up there. Anyone can be inspiring to me, everyone I know personally and even the people I pass on the street or read about in a news article have the opportunity to inspire.

And what is inspiration anyway but a muse right? Your favorite band may inspire you to pick up a guitar and start playing at age eight, an author might inspire someone to write their first book at age seventy two, an incredibly caring staff may inspire a career shift into a new field. There are a million and one ways a person can be inspired.

So I suppose the first question to break down today’s request is -- in what way do I want to talk about being inspired? Financially, physically, career wise, spiritually, in personality, etc?

The first thing that really comes to mind, backing up a little bit, is that when I feel inspired to paint or create art in that manner it generally isn’t a someone but a something that provides inspiration -- warm weather, sunshine, lots of fresh air and blue skies. So you can imagine how lacking I am in the winter here huh? But when I write I need a few different types of inspiration.

And I don’t mean when I just write a blog post (although if its creative non-fiction I do need a modicum of inspiration in order to reign it in story wise, much the complete opposite of this post for example)

First, I really need a female main character (FMC). Because I write sappy-pappy-happy chicky novels my main character is always going to be a woman. I’ve tried to write from a guy’s perspective before and considering I have so many “dude” like qualities you’d think it would be easy for me but it’s not so I stick to gals. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes that FMC is loosely based on someone I know.

What do I mean by that? Are my friends or family going to read the character and say ‘Oh my goodness, I see myself in her!’? Well I sure as hell hope so because if they all see themselves in her then I’ve done my job connecting to the audience considering how different all of those people really are.

Anyway, for example maybe we’re out with Dianna having dinner or something and she says something particularly hilarious that I know I can either build an entire character off of or at least get a really good long scene from, I’m probably writing it down. But not just that line, the total package of the surroundings will be included, from the waitress/waiter to the look and feel of the restaurant, from the color of the napkins to the placement of the bar in the space, from the smells coming from the kitchen to the extraneous people at tables around us rambling on and at what decibel that chatter is permeating the place.

The inspiration came from one sentence but the total package is what will propel my fingers across a keyboard, trying to recreate and capture the magic of that singular moment in about 3000+ words.

After the FMC is decided upon I need a profession, a place for her to live, friends and family, relationship status, motherhood status, financial position, community involvement…you know, all the things that make you, well, you, I need to make her the “real” person she needs to become. That is all inspired by friends, family, people I pass on the street, people I see on television, etc.

People laugh at me when I say I sometimes watch shows like Jerry Springer but I’ll tell ya, tone down the subject matter and that show is teeming with fodder for good Chick-Lit conflict! You just never know where it will strike.

So I will conclude this morning by saying that because I feel inspiration exists anywhere and everywhere, my photo needs to truly reflect that sentiment.  Picture the someone as every single person on the planet.  Thanks earth dwellers!


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Something to Do Before I Die

Where do I even begin? This is one of those requests that makes me think that perhaps all my ranting that I don’t live with regret is not at all true. Would I die unhappy if I didn’t get to do x, y, or z? I guess I’d never truly know seeing as though I’d be six feet under all that stuff, but as a living, breathing me at this moment I feel like there are so many things I want to get to before I die that I guess the good news is I still have a bunch of awesome stuff to live for right?

Of course I’ll probably think of 100 more as soon as I post this but…

In no particular order here’s my list of stuff that would be fantastic to experience before I die.

The Bucket List

• Be on the New York Times best sellers list, “The” list not one of those offshoots
• Travel to Spain, specifically Barcelona
• Travel back to Amsterdam (with Matt this time)
• Travel back to Ireland
• Travel to Hawaii
• Travel to Portugal
• Live and make a living in San Diego
• See the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway in a game 4 for the sweep and kick their sorry asses right back to the Bronx where they belong (if this season is any indication I’ve got a couple years before this occurs)
• Settle for seeing the Sox beat the Yanks in any regular season game at Fenway
• Sit beside my Aunt at the finals when the Bruins win the Cup for the first time in 38+ years (yes, I mean this year damn it!)
• Settle for seeing them win the cup at all (either in the stands or on my sofa next to my Aunt) and getting to go to the parade
• Becoming a millionaire, not through inheritance or anything like that, my own blood, sweat & tears
• Graduate college
• Be in a big budget movie (I’ll even take a small part like “Friend’s neighbor” or something but it has to be a speaking role [one line will do] and I must be credited
• Make my living as a published author (book tours, readings/signings, etc included)
• Get to see all 50 states & spend time in each of them seeing sights (20 down -- MA, NH, VT, ME, CT, RI, NY, NJ, PA, OH, MD, DE, NC, FL, TX, AZ, CA, DC, LA, GA -- of course the only time I really spent in Delaware was at rest stops but what else is there to see, really? I imagine we’ll knock at least 7 more off the list just driving out to our new home and probably another 5 within the first year we live out there. That only leaves 18 more!)
• Drive a race car around a track at over 125 mph
• Go white water rafting again
• Get Matt to Disney World



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Friday, April 15, 2011

My Life Would Suck Without You

Today I’m supposed to post ‘a picture of someone you could never imagine your life without’. There is no question that person is Matt. We’ve known each other for twelve years now, (almost to the day in fact!) and it feels like five minutes ago that we met out on that smoking patio at Flagstar.

My life has been forever changed because you’re in it, I really couldn’t imagine slipping on a banana peel and roller-blading into a Sasquatch with anyone but you.


I’ve dedicated a whole lot of time and stories galore to my husband on this blog over the years, so today I’m going to leave you with a link to the post I wrote on our anniversary in September of 2008.

Easier

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Dynamo of Volition

Today’s picture shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise if you’ve been hanging around here a while. Hell, even if it’s only been a day and you checked out the links I’ve got over there in the left sidebar you’ll know who it is, seeing as though his is the only musician’s blog I follow regularly. The request is for a ‘picture of your favorite band or artist’. Do I even have to say it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So a couple days ago I shared the brief story of the first time I ever saw Jason live. It was at Irving Plaza in NYC back on July 21, 2006. I had no camera, don’t ask me why, but I was all ready to experience the fun live show I’d been exposed to online so many times; his ability to laugh and joke with the crowd and make an audience feel like they were part of the show was something he was famous for.

Okay, wait a minute, I should back up for a second. When I say “famous for” I mean among his fans. And when I say “fans” I mean the up to 200 people who would go and see him play every night back then. He wasn’t selling out multiple dates in Boston at the Bank of America Pavilion or headlining an enormous all day festival. Nobody knew him, so to speak.

Not yet anyway.


Matt and I had moved to New York already when he played Irving and it was really the first time he’d come through town close enough to us that we weren’t totally poor and could make it to the show. (As a side note, there had been a show in Boston in 2005 where he actually opened for Alanis Morissette. No I’m not kidding. Yeah I’d never have put those two on a bill together either but it isn’t the strangest pairing I’ve ever seen him in…Sadly, what really bums me out about not getting to see him open for Alanis has little to do with Jason though, Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the Foo Fighters, was still playing with Alanis in 2005 and I would have been able to catch him in his early career. But this is about Jason, so I digress…)

I’d already been listening to him for four years, almost to the day, strangely enough when we saw him at Irving. In fact, I distinctly remember hearing his first release on the radio on the way out to Springfield, late summer of 2002, right before we got married, right after we’d bought, and started renovating, the house. That was “Remedy” and before “Rocket” even hit the shelves. The song was so catchy I instantly fell in love with the lyrics and bought the disc that fall pretty much the day it was released. “Rocket” got me through a lot of lonely days at the house in Springfield, but that’s a story I already wrote so feel free to read that if you’d like to learn more.

By the Irving show he was already touring “Mr. A-Z”, but he was still playing stuff like “Galaxy” and “Childlike, Wildlife”. And not just for novelty sake like he does these days, those were fan favorites. At any rate, the show was not much better than alright, it was plain to see he was exhausted from touring for well over a year and he just didn’t have that spark. Plus the crowd was awful, loud and obnoxious and shoving and pushing for no reason at all. There were really only a little over 100 people in there, anyone could have walked right up to the stage & licked his bare feet if they’d wanted to but rudeness ensued and Matt and I both left, somewhat disappointed in the experience.

We went about life though, and I started reading his blog. Back in those days his blog was hosted right on his website and it was kind of a pain in the ass to read. If I recall (and bear with me this is a lot of years ago damn it!) there wasn’t any way to leave comments or anything. But knowing his lyrics for being so clever I had a feeling his writing wouldn’t let me down either. I wasn’t wrong.


Within a few months he moved the blog over to blogspot, where it lives now. And a few months prior I had started my own blogspot blog so I was excited at the prospect of being able to use the stalking…er, um, rather, the follow features to read his stuff. I personally had no clue how to blog, how to do anything with blogs or how to make bloggy friends so I just started reading the comments on Jason’s blog and anyone who said something intelligent, I checked out their blog and profile. A bunch of people (okay, a LOT) were private profiles but before any of us knew what was happening, we were connecting.

This is how I became friends with Trayce, Ginger, Bridgete and Bree. This information is pretty important because these ladies all rock and I’ve been lucky enough to meet 2 of the gals in the real world, hang out and can safely call them good friends. The other two gals, well I fully intend to meet them when we start that secret Pentavirate. But as for Trayce, well she was fully present for the next time I had the glorious opportunity to catch Jason’s act live.

Things were a little different at that show.

It was Friday April 11, 2008 (aw, T it’s our meeting-a-versary yea!) and we took the day off to drive down to New Jersey. Why Jersey you may ask? Well the show happened to be at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Yeah, that’s right. Trayce, even though she’d never met us, was kind enough to open her home to us to spend the night after the show, seeing as though it was only a two hour drive from her place and she was a self professed night owl who offered to do all the driving. How awesome of her!

This was the Music, Magic and Makepeace tour. If you want to read all about it, I wrote all about it already. That show was un-freaking-believably good. And then three weeks later he was playing right in our own state! By this time Bridgete and I had already started talking about wanting to get together sometime and it was the perfect time to do it. Not only that but we convinced Trayce to take a ride up (you know, because jersey’s right around the corner…of course it wasn’t too tough convincing her haha!) and we all went to see him at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA on April 29, 2008. It was freaking freezing and we were all forced to wait in line outside, the show was G.A., and poor Bridgete was in a skirt. I don’t know how she made it through!

The show itself was fantastic (the crowd, sadly, was even worse than Irving, and I won’t even begin to discuss the tall assholes who decided that Trayce & I were easy targets to stand in front of. Pffft, like I’d be having any of that!), but remember how I said above that Alanis wouldn’t be the strangest pairing? Yeah, at this particular show Everclear opened for Jason’s band of merry gypsies. Um, huh? Funny too, the four of us (Matt was there too of course) were pretty much the only ones in the crowd who knew every word to their songs too. Everyone else was looking around like ‘who are these rock dudes? I came to see some rowdy adult contemporary damn it!’ But it was great and we tried to force Trayce to not drive home that night but the girl was insane and she took off.


Another year passed and Matt and I had just moved to the place we’re living now when another opportunity to see Jason presented itself on July 24, 2009. Although by this point the man had become flipping huge due to the success of songs like “I’m Yours”, he was only scheduled to be an opening act. Yeah, for Dave Matthews Band. At Hershey Park Stadium. Yes, I said Stadium, the place holds up to 30,000 people, and believe me, it was completely sold out for Dave. It was the largest crowd Jason had played for to date that I’d seen him play. Anyway, this is another show I wrote about already because Matt and I spent an entire weekend in Pennsylvania seeing some truly amazing things from the show to an abandoned town burning underground to a huge wind farm and more. That was written in three parts; Navigator’s Log: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Good pictures in there, check it out whenever you have time.

Then just eleven days later, he was playing in Boston at the Bank of America Pavilion, in South Boston, right on the water. Matt threw up his hands in the time out position and begged for mercy. So I took my mom. We had phenomenal seats on stage left but the place is pretty huge and it was sold out. (What is it about me & my mom getting to see big acts in the sixth row?) She knew all of about 2 of his songs and they were both from “Rocket” (nice mum, way to be an early fan…high five!) so he certainly didn’t play them on August 4, 2009 but that didn’t stop us both from singing and dancing the night away. Okay I was singing, and when he actually pulled “0%” out, it was only me and about 100 other people who yelled “Foxy” at the appropriate time. Ah, to be an old school fan!

And now everyone knows his name. He’s his own Cheers Bar. He’s been in commercials promoting California tourism, his songs have been used for T-Mobile and the Hilton chain of hotels, he’s had a bunch of songs in movies (50 First Dates, When in Rome, Happy Feet), and TV (Ugly Betty, Everwood, American Idol), covered a few classics (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Peg, All Night Long) and “I’m Yours” made him famous before it was even released.

I guess one could say ‘Life Is Good’ for Jason these days. Probably why he headlined the festival of the same name, which Matt and I had the pleasure of attending on September 12, 2010.  That was only the fifth show I’ve been to but with all those concert calls over the years it really feels like so much more.


Although I tend to flick him on and off the proverbial pedestal from time to time his strong attention to the awesomeness of life, catchy/witty lyrics, soul-searching writing, fun back up band (s) and overall inspirational spirit have kept him firmly planted at the top of my favorite artist list for nine years now. And I can’t see him tumbling off anytime soon.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Always and Forever

Much like the earlier days of this thirty day challenge there is no chance in H E double hockey sticks that I’ll be able to keep “a picture of something you love” down to just one thing.

Since the request says something, not someone I guess I’ll be going with stuff.

Where to begin? How to proceed? Do I just list it all out or add photos as I go? Should I go with my top five and tell stories?

I think to really fully complete this particular post the thing I’ll have to go with loving today is re-runs. Yup, that’s right, I love me some re-runs. Not on television though, on this blog! I’ve written a bunch of these ‘what am I grateful for’, ‘what do I love’ posts in the past so I’m pulling out the most recent one and letting you re-read it. Because that’s just who I am today.

At any rate, there might even be a photo of something squished in there in order to satisfy the request. This works out nicely, I have the shank of the morning to do with as I wish, which is good because I have an eight page paper to write. So without further ado, here’s the re-run. With a little surprise or two tucked in, parenthetically speaking, perhaps…

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Thanks, For the Everything

I’ve been spotty reading blogs lately as well as commenting back to people’s posts but yesterday a photo and post over at Freshness Factor Five Thousand had me thinking about all the things I’m grateful for, thanks-full for and inspired to acknowledge. It’s been quite a while since I’ve put one of these lists together so it seemed like the right time to do it.

A lot has been going on here and many changes are afoot this year and I really love how every year, month, week, day, hour brings a new reason to be grateful or inspired. Sometimes it’s just nice to take stock of what we have, what we’ve had and where we hope to be so of course this list is far from all inclusive but off the top this is my own personal accounting of the awesomeness as I see it in the world. As always, in no particular order.

Heat
Hot water
Cups of tea, coffee and clean drinking water
Bacon & blue burgers (hmmm, that sounds pretty great right now & yes, I know its 9AM)
An open mind
Family
Friends
Fun times with both of the above
Music that gets me through the hard times
Music that inspires me to acknowledge the happy times
Playing the drums and the man who is teaching me to do so
Winning the lottery (this happened by playing the Lost numbers, it was kinda cool)
Having a little extra to donate to charity because of the above
Fruits and vegetables
P90X (this hasn’t happened much since starting school but I’m hopeful to get back soon)
Facebook
Ability to ingest information as I start my journey toward an MA in English (yeah and also the ability to bullshit with the best of ‘em because of all the information we’re expected to ingest)
Inspiration
My sewing machine
My paint brushes
Muscles to work hard and work out
Yoga
A healthy dose of cynicism
Showers and toothbrushes (Which I can’t use for a while because of the thunder. Well, the shower anyway)
Creativity
The library
Snuggling
Lost
Gas in my car’s tank
Agents who have rejected me & my novel (I really need to get back to the book again, and by that I mean editing the second one before I’m supposed to be starting a third!)
Football (I’m adding hockey to the list…go B’s in the playoffs!)
My bloggy friends, some of whom I consider to be my closest friends in the world
Writer’s license
Cannoli
Enough money to pay the bills
A little extra left over to save for our upcoming move
Strength I’ve gained through adversity
Books
Hair dye
The end of eras, relationships and experiences
All six senses
Silence
Crackers
eBay and the people who buy what I sell (and I’ll add craigslist to that even though there are some very odd people on that site
Fabric
A roof over my head
Poetry
Wool socks & winter boots
Flip flops and bathing suits
Sunshine
The power to change
The knowledge to know when to do just that
The sense to know when not to
A voice to speak how I really feel
The couth to know that some stories should be kept private forever (yes even during this blog challenge I plan to ensure some stuff is kept close to the vest, just in case anyone was wondering)
Basil
Road trips
Victoria’s Secret
Rainbows and sunsets
Hugs
Stars
Art in every form
Love in every form and sense of the word
My terrycloth bathrobe that I’ve had for 15 years and still love like it was brand new
Laughter
Intention
Acceptance
And of course, the unrelenting, unwavering, love and support of my husband; without it I would have been committed years ago. ♥

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And if you stuck around to read the above re-run post you’ll be happy to know that today is Matt’s birthday -- so happy birthday babe! You got a note in the shower, a blog shout out, I posted on your Facebook wall…guess all that’s left is to text you. And so ends my list with the thing I really love, not as much as you, you see, but I still love technology.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hate Is a Strong Word, Or Is It?

Today I’m supposed to share a ‘picture of something you hate’ and it’s stressing me out to have to choose something I have that much distaste for. In all honesty I don’t know if I really hate anything. Strong dislike, irritation towards, discomfort with…sure. But hate? Hmmm…

So there are those who will ask, if I don’t have an impassioned reaction as strong as hate, then how can I have the opposite reaction of the blazing strength of love? In many ways I would have to agree with the theory that you can’t have one without the other.

Call me a middle of the road kind of gal, peace keeper, anti-boat rocker, or any other made up turn of phrase to describe someone who just enjoys life on a nice even keel and there you’ll have me.

It isn’t to say that the words ‘ooh I hate ‘blah-blah-blah!’ don’t come out of my mouth every so often. It happens. In fact I think it was just this morning that I was cursing out my current, completely disjointed, overly expectant class and I all but guarantee the word hate was used. Likely multiple times with a whole bunch of curse words attached.

But I don’t really feel that way. More like completely irritated with it. Why? Because in six days it’s over and I never have to take it again, I get my A and move on. It doesn’t stick around to poke me over and over again with its annoying, chubby finger. I never have to see it, hear about it or experience it again.

I guess that means I really feel that to actually hate something it needs to be a constant in your life. Much like love, it needs to be there all the time or at the very least a constant reminder. For example, I’d say out loud that I love “The Goonies” and with just about every single cell in my body that word love rings true. I know all the lines by heart, have the poster on my wall, etc., etc. It is something that has been in my life for a long time and warms me inside to think of it. To me that’s one expression of love (but it isn’t tomorrow’s selection so don’t think of it as a preview).

So, with that in mind I keep sitting here thinking about what makes me cold inside. What, as a constant in my life, turns my heart to stone and my veins to ice? What do I detest so vehemently that I could truthfully use the word hate to describe its very existence in my world?

No matter how long I stewed, how long I tossed around all the things, places, people, events that I have a mild distaste for, only one kept bubbling up to the surface. It made me laugh to think of it. It was so clearly obvious. All of you probably figured it out long before I did.

It’s winter.

Snowy, icy, have to wear 800 layers just to walk to the car, slush in your shoe, nowhere left to pile the white crap that falls from the sky, fuck its freezing, there aren’t enough blankets to keep warm, even turning the heat up doesn’t cut it, damn it is that shit ever ugly as hell after a couple cars drive by, there is no such thing as blue skies, sunshine comes with 50 mph gusting winds, my fucking eyeballs have frozen inside their sockets, hot chocolate ain’t even cutting through the ache in my bones, abso-fucking-lutely hate you, winter.


No shock, no surprise right? It surprised me that it took so long to come up with it, honestly. I kept thinking about how there isn’t anything in my life that I detest so fervently that it would still be in my life so I can say I hate it. But until this moment, clearly there is.

Then I stopped to think. After all the mind bending, tumbling around, attempting to come up with something that irritates me to the level of hate, if all I could come up with was winter’s snowy, icy, cold and clutching grasp then in a little less than three months from now I’ll be free of all hate in my world!

Sure Phoenix gets their own version of winter and after a few summers at 115 I’m quite sure that the 40’s and 50’s will feel quite cold. But no way on this earth will it ever look like that picture up there. And if it does there won’t be any room left to hate because the world will surely be coming to an end so I'll be enjoying my last few minutes with a whole lot of love thank you very much.

The countdown to the end of hate is on -- ten weeks and five days…

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Lets Get Pissed!

A picture of the person you do the most screwed up things with. That’s today’s little photographic snack. I can’t believe it took me this many days before featuring Matt but he just didn’t fit the bill before. Today’s however, although it was kind of a tough decision overall, is really just perfectly suited to get him some air time.

I really, honestly grappled whether I should pick him for this category as I started thinking my friend D is a fairly appropriate choice. She and I have done stuff over the years so far beyond the level of ‘screwed up’, that it’s probably illegal in some states.

Actually, okay, it’s probably only legal in some states.

Now get your mind out of the gutter, that’s not what I mean.

But I also can’t really tell you what I mean. If I talk about all the occasions when we did all we did, I’d potentially get her fired. Ah the beauty of the internet, it’s a breeding ground for lies and deceptions so as to elude the boss’ roving eye. And really, what the hell is your boss doing online anyway? Shouldn’t he/she be working too? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But I digress…

As far back as I can remember Matt and I have been doing all kinds of effed up stuff together. And I guess every person is really going to have a wildly different definition of what constitutes doing screwed up stuff. For me its all about randomness, acting like dorks, getting into trouble without being in trouble, leaping without looking kind of stuff, taking chances and all around just doing what feels right at the time even if it isn’t what society would deem the smartest or most adult thing to do. And nine times out of ten it will involve a road trip or travel in some way.


He’s the one I ran around gas pumps with, singing at the top of our lungs, at 1:00 in the morning, in the middle of BFE Pennsylvania the Saturday of the weekend we drove his car to Ohio.

He’s the one who drove us home from Manhattan the night we all walked around the Upper East Side screaming with laughter, and then later he cleaned the upchucked red wine out of his front door pocket and speaker (yeah that would’ve been me).

He’s the only one who could really understand why the “ice machine” is one of the most important features of a Motel 6 in the middle of Ohio.

He’s the only one I could ever imagine being with when we wake up at 9:00 on a Saturday morning and say ‘Hey, let’s go to Quebec for the afternoon.” And then we do.

He’s the one who piggy backed me out of a club in downtown Boston totally sober and reminded me that there are still good people out there in the world over coffee that lasted until who knows what hour.

He’s the only person I could ever imagine understanding why it’s just so much easier to drive to Toronto to pick up our wedding bands than to have them shipped to us.

He’s the one who makes my friends laugh because he’s the only guy I’ve ever met whose wit can actually keep up with mine.

He’s the only person who could ever enjoy getting his ass kicked in Scrabble 9.9 out of 10 times but still gets excited to bring the travel version with us to an outdoor music festival where we play a couple games over a couple beers and he gets his ass kicked yet again.

He’s there when I spend countless dollars in the machine to get stickers that end up plastered all over both of our bumpers.

He’s the one who points at the fire engine red hair dye and says ‘just do that again.’

He’s the only person I know that would agree to drive down to Maryland with me, when I’m leaving to go do a paint job in less than an hour, then have me drop him at the airport in Baltimore on the way to the jobsite so he can fly back the exact same day.

He’s the only one I’d ever want to pick on the Bra Genie infomercial with.

He’s the one whose hand I’m holding when we decide to crash a townie bar -- in Ireland, on the Jersey Shore, wherever -- and end up making friends with everyone in the place before the night is over.

He’s the only one who understands why pulling over in Connecticut, while on a random road trip, is absolutely necessary sometimes.

He’s the guy that just last week asked me ‘Should we just move to California instead?’

He’s the guy who will find a chili cheese dog with onions, even if it takes 4 hours of driving around to locate somewhere to buy one, and then discovering on the way back from that place that there was a Dairy Queen 15 minutes away from our house.

He’s just as likely as I am to point at something from the road and say ‘get me to that’, regardless if we have to drive through paint scratching, brambling branches or entire farms worth of deer to see it.

He’s the one I’ve been with when staying in the top five sketchiest motels of all time -- Grand Prix in Florida, Motel 6 in Springfield, That one on the way to Atlanta when we heard gunfire out the window, the motel in Ohio where people like to see their cars, and of course who could ever forget Pottsville, Pennsylvania where I couldn’t even begin to list all the ways that place was a crime scene.

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