Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun, Fun, Fun

Fun Day 002
Photo credit: Kevin Tostado
The final post of my post every day for a month nightmare is finally here! I hope it wasn't as painful for you as it was for me.

I'l definitely be doing link-ups in the future, but I won't be handing myself over to other people's prompts for an extended period of time again.

So today's prompt is: Something fun, aka I dunno, people didn't submit enough prompts, so you guys think of something. 

You know what's fun? Standing up to plus-size fashion designers who insults us with ugly clothes. Lucky for us, I've just discovered that there's a Tmblr dedicated to just that. If you don't want to lose your entire day, this article on The Gloss features 10 particularly hideous outfits.

Share your fave fun site in the comments.

Blogging Challenge

Friday, August 30, 2013

An Atypical Day

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik
Today's prompt is: A day in the life

I've already touched upon a day in life of a freelancer. Unsurprisingly, it involves much less productivity that I'd like and much more productivity than most people expect from a freelancer. Apparently, people think that we goof off all day.

I don't really have typical days. Ideally, I get up, have breakfast in front of the computer while checking the Facebook and reading blogs, then start my day and dive into work when I'm ready. But there are doctor's appointments and client meetings that throw a wrench into the works almost daily.

I recently decided to write a short story to submit to an anthology. I had to do all the writing on the subway on the way to doctor's appointments. Since I go in the middle of the day, I get a seat, and can write. All those years when I was working full time, the stories of writers who wrote complete novels while commuting to work in the morning. Well, those assholes must have lived even farther out in the middle of nowhere than I did because I used to live far out in the Abandon All Hope of Anyone Ever Coming to Visit You section of Brooklyn and I still didn't get a seat on the train in the morning.

And of course, Hector the Migraine Fairy may choose to visit, ending all chance of doing anything besides reading, napping and being in pain.

When His Awesomeness gets home from work, we'll hang out for a while, then he'll do some dishes and make dinner. We used to share all that, but the migraines made me pretty useless and now that I'm starting to feel better, I'm putting what little energy I have into working. Also, he has a lot of aspiring movie mogul calls in the evening, and he can cook and do dishes while he's on the phone.

Then we watch TV for a while. Some evenings, he has more movie work to do after dinner. He goes to bed before I do, so I tuck him in and give him good night kisses and then stay up too late as night people are wont to do.

(The parents of one of my college friends were a morning person and a night person and I asked them how they made it work. I couldn't imagine not going to bed at the same time, like on TV sitcoms. They told me that it was the only way to fly. That way you each get some alone time. Over the years, I've learned it's true. Though on weekends, I make him come back to bed and talk me awake.)

Damn. I just realized that I could've interpreted the post to mean a day in someone else's life. Or a day in the life of an Amazonian fruit bat, if there is such a thing. (Google says there is.) The scientific name of an Amazonian fruit bat is Artibeus. Why the Hell am I not writing about Artie the Amazonian fruit bat? I bet he has a regular schedule. Hanging out sleeping all day. Swooping around eating bugs all night. Good times.

Blogging Challenge

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cotton Candy Fun Fact

Today's prompt is the August Photo Challenge Link Up. Which is not a prompt, but whatevs, because massive migraine over here.

The theme is funny. Which works out great. Because I just learned a funny thing about cotton candy. It deflates.

For realsies. That used to be a bag of cotton candy. Now? Pink sugar. 

The cotton candy was just one of the many pink things at the baby shower I was at last weekend. It's a girl, hence the room looked like a marshmallow peep exploded.

Got any candy-related fun facts? Share 'em in the comments.

Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time to Move My Goalposts

Photo credit: Brian Alano
So today's prompt is: what are your goals for this Fall?

I'm not really a five-year plan kinda gal, checking in on my progress towards my goal at regular intervals. Though maybe a should be because I started that novel in 2003. I've done a metric fuckton of other things in the meantime, but maybe if I ran my life a little more like the early Soviet Union (you know with the five year plans, not with the Stalinist purges) then I might have a finished novel too. 

But who the Hell am I kidding? I've been sidetracked by migraines, and changes in priority,  and stupid shit and the Communist revolutionaries were not known for their comic novels.

But anyway.

Goals for this Fall.

Keep networking.

Get more copywriting clients. (Speaking of which, hey buddy, wanna hire a copywriter?)

Bake a bunch of pies, probably. I got a bunch of pie making stuff last Christmas and I'm determined to learn how to make a perfectly flaky crust. And I'll probably be making both pies (apple and pumpkin) for Thanksgiving this year, so clearly, I need to practice making and eating pies.

Knit some stuff. Probably the mates to the two mittens I knit that magically came out slightly different sizes. 

Find some blog link-ups that are less intense than blogging daily. 

I dunno, sew myself a new summer bathrobe since I've had the pattern for well over a year. Every list of goals needs an item that's probably not going to happen. But maybe it will. 

That sounds good. What are your goals for this Fall?

Blogging Challenge

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me

Back to school
Photo credit: Avolore
Today's Prompt is: Back to School Shopping

Now, a handful of people contributed prompts for this blog all month challenge. Two-thirds of the way into the month TWO people are continuing to link up daily. I kept going at first because I didn't want to be rude to the person who suggested that day's prompt by picking their day to give up.

But speaking as an infertile ex-future mother: Fuck. this.

And let me take a moment to be reasonable and point out that this is a disparate group of blogs in this network and we've all done back to school shopping as students if not as parents, so this specific prompt is totally valid and reasonable. 

But, seriously, Universe? This is how you're going to play it? Reward my persistence by triggering some shopping-related PTSD?

Last August when The Kid arrived, she didn't have enough clothes that fit to take her through the weekend. I had to replace her entire wardrobe. It was brutal. It was exhausting.

And school supplies? Kinda hard to buy when the school board won't tell you what school your kid is going to. And when we did get her enrolled, they were infuriatingly casual about it.  Oh, just a couple of notebooks and some pens. 

Also when we enrolled her, we discovered that she had to wear a uniform which was really more of a dress code situation. And none of the clothes we had bought her fit in with their rules. I tried to explain that we'd have to enroll her elsewhere because there was no way she'd stick to a dress code and all the assistant principals treated me like I was an asshole. Because this school full of special needs classes had no one experienced dealing with kids with oppositional defiant disorder. Apparently. 

They even offered to go buy The Kid some clothes at Cookies. A children's clothing store. I'd been taking The Kid to adult stores to buy her clothes. Plus Size stores in some cases. But this condescending bitch thought she was going to calm me down with the idiotic suggestion that she go and buy The Kid some clothes at a children's store.

The Kid swore to the assistant principals that she'd stick to the dress code and then the second I showed her a golf shirt in a store, she said, "I'm not going to wear that!" So yeah, that went great.

The second wave of clothes shopping is when things really started going to Hell. Things that I can't even discuss to protect The Kid's privacy.

So yeah. A year and a half ago, if you'd asked me about back to school shopping, I would've gone into rapturous ecstasies describing the joys of brand new pens and notebooks. And how one the best things about being an adult is that you can buy new pens and notebooks any time of the year, and not just in September.

But now? I'm still paying off the credit card bills we incurred from last year's back to school shopping.

Blogging Challenge

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Fab Five Posts

Photo credit: Stew Dean
Today, I'm supposed to recap my 5 favorite blog posts that I've written here. Which, oy. I've had this blog since 2007, so I'm not going to go through all my archives to make sure that I've definitively selected the 5 posts I like best. But I will go through my archives until I find 5 that I'm especially proud of.

We'll start with My Parents Went to Burning Man. Because that is some absurd shit right there. Many people who don't know my parents have taken great inspiration from this post, and the fact that my parents went to Burning Man. People who do know my parents are still like, "They did what?"

Next up: The Conspiracy of Aunties. It's about how we can't raise our kids with a minimum of toys and material objects because the aunties are going to lavish them with gifts no matter what the parents want. I suspect that there are little kids at Burning Man who have a special set of toys just for the playa given to them by their aunties because only savages would take a child out to the desert to commune with hundreds of hippies and not let them take a set of 500 building blocks.

And I can't  leave out the post that explains what's up with the eyepatch, aka the only known incident of the internet convincing someone that their symptoms were hardly anything, when in fact they could've been quite serious.

I'm going to treat How to Knit a Sweater Part One and Part Two as one entry on this list because they could've been one obscenely long post. I didn't get a wearable sweater out of it, but at least you all got some chuckles.

And finally, My Vampire Theory. You see, each generation uses vampires in whatever way they need. The ruling classes feeding on the workers, deadly sex (starting with AIDS) and now the ultimate dieters--vampires who don't drink blood no matter how much they need to.

Blogging Challenge

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whobilee Who

Here's a guest post by His Awesomeness, for reasons he's about to explain. And also because I'm totally wiped out after attending a baby shower yesterday. And I think this counts for the blogging challenge since I agree with what he's saying below and because other people have linked up with posts shorter than what I've just written. 

Today's prompt was "Your Favorite TV Show", but since Jen has already written about "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" just a few days ago, she invited me to do a guest post about my favorite TV show, the seminal sci-fi classic "Doctor Who".

I'm going to assume you have at least a passing familiarity with "Doctor Who" because - well, this is the internet after all (I mean, pick a random Tumblr and chances are about 90% that somewhere in the first page will be a Dr. Who gif...)  Which is both a blessing and a curse for Dr. Who fandom, because while it's great to be part of a big community that spans continents, age ranges and genders, the truth is that online Dr. Who fandom can be quite the toxic cesspool.

I don't mean to denigrate all of Dr. Who fandom, after all, I am a founding member of both the St. Joseph, Missouri and New York City local Dr. Who fan groups, and many of my closest friends have come out of that association.  But with a TV show that has lasted for as long as "Dr. Who" and has gone through as many changes through the years as it has, there are going to be few fans who can unequivocally say that they are fans of the entirety of the series.  More likely, they are huge fans of certain eras, while being indifferent or even hostile to certain eras of the program.

I remember inviting my causal friend Nicole to one of our Dr. Who meet-up events, and she declined politely because she felt that she would feel left out because, although she liked David Tennant as the Doctor, she didn't care much for the new Doctor, Matt Smith.  What she didn't realize was that didn't make her an outsider, that just put her in line with about half of all Dr. Who fandom who seem to take delight in bemoaning about how bad the show has gotten when compared to the glory years back when David Tennant was the Doctor (or Christopher Eccleston, or Peter Davison, or Tom Baker, etc.)  

And fandom has always been that way with Dr. Who, whether it be the fanzine DWB bemoaning the travesty of the Colin Baker years in the Eighties, to the epic Third Doctor vs. the Seventh Doctor flamewars of rec.arts.drwho (which gave rise to the silliest of insults, calling anyone who had anything at all good to say about the seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, a "Pro McCoy Troll"), to the "rad" vs. "trad" debates of the early 2000s (about which kind of stories people preferred, the traditional tales of alien invasion or the radical experiments that tried to bend the genre in strange new ways).  Fans love the series in general, but many of them also hate huge swathes of it with the intensity of a thousand suns.  And online, this gets magnified and and can get quite annoying and tiring.  

Which is why I prefer interacting with other fans the old fashioned way, in person. The Dr. Who group I meet with ( has its meetings at a pub, which is quite appropriate because what better place can you think of to go hear people talking utter bollocks?  At the pub, a proclamation like "Colin Baker's first season is objectively better than the current Matt Smith series" can be taken in its proper context, not as a sober, reflective Facebook post about the relative quality of both eras but rather as an affectionate wind-up given by someone who may have had one too many pints.  

But lest you think I am excepting myself from criticism, I'll be the first to admit that I can talk as much bollocks as the next guy - that's what makes fandom attractive for me.  I mean, where else can you have these debates?  Just because. in the grand scheme of things, the relative merits of "Timelash" is probably near the bottom of things that actually matter, they still have a lot of personal meaning to a great deal of us.  And even if the people who you encounter are completely wrong about the brilliance of Paul Darrow's post-modern Richard III performance as "Tekker", it's still fun to have the discussion.  And if fandom isn't fun, then why bother?
Blogging Challenge

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More Bookses

Last Chance Saloon
Photo credit: Nacho Pintos
Today's prompt is favorite book. As if I could pick just one.

But I will. Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes. She's an Irish author and her books are hilarious. 

In Last Chance Saloon, our heroes are three best friends (a gay man and two straight women) who grew up together in a small Irish town and moved to London. The man gets sick with cancer (which he's let go on without treatment because he and his boyfriend both assumed it was AIDS, and this was back in the days when you couldn't do much about that). So he orders the other two to fix their lives according to his instructions or he'll die just to spite them. 

Both women have the same reaction: How dare he! He's totally right about HER. But he's completely wrong about ME.

If only I could write a book this good. Yes, yes, I know. My novel is and will be equally fantastic, just in a Jen way.

But still. 

I tried to outline this book once as part of an effort to improve my plotting skills. After a few chapters, I got too caught up in the story to remember to outline.

Marian Keyes had a bit of a dry spell while she dealt with one of her bouts of depression. And apparently the black dog ate her newsletter mailing list, because I'm signed up for it, but the first I heard about the book she published last year was when I saw it in the library last week. Not that a best selling author needs my business, but I still feel like people should be telling me these things.

More accurately, I feel like Marian should be telling me these things. Or at least one of the fictional Walsh sisters. After all these books, I feel like they're all friends of mine and it's an unpleasant shock to discover that they're not. Especially the fictional ones. You'd think that they'd have the time to be my imaginary friends since they don't have to busy themselves with being real. 

Just saying.

What's your favorite book?
Blogging Challenge

Friday, August 23, 2013

That's Just Super!

Buffy Display 012
Photo credit: Courtney
Today's prompt is one that I submitted: What superhero do you identify with?

I've been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for, I dunno, the fourth or fifth time through and this time I'm really identifying with Buffy.

Before this, I'd always identified with Willow. I'm more of a sidekick, I think. Or at least that's how I thought of myself. In reality, I'm outspoken and pushy. I'll volunteer to be the spokesperson for a group, or defend someone who's too shy to stand up for themselves because there is no fucking way I'm going to let someone walk all over one of my friends.

But as a kid, my favorite one of the Superfriends was Aquaman. Probably because he wasn't as popular as Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman. Screw those cool kids. I'll be over here with Aquaman and the dolphins being sarcastic.

But high school Buffy...when she felt responsible for every single person in town she couldn't save. When her mother and school principal didn't know she was a superhero and were interfering with her sacred mission. When she'd go to Giles and tell him that she suspected something supernatural was going on, and he didn't believe her. That all hits home for me.

I did not have the most blissful of home lives. When someone tells me that they had a happy childhood, my first reaction is usually a sarcastic, "So what was that like?" And then I realize, "Yeah, that must have been amazing. What WAS it like?"

I didn't have to sneak out every night to slay vampires and demons, but I did have to grow up a lot younger than most people. Other people talk about being young and stupid and reckless and yeah, I get it. But that wasn't me.

I also really wish I could plunge a stake into the heart of people who piss me off. That seems like such a great way to solve interpersonal problems.

So what superhero do you identify with?
Blogging Challenge

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Of Sand and Soaps

Photo credit: John Morgan
Today prompt is: Sand

Since I've already written recently about sand in my bathing suit and my dislike thereof, I'm going to float down the stream of consciousness to: Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

The college roommate scheduled her classes around Days of Our Lives. Don't judge. It beats scheduling classes around projected hangovers.

She got me into it during the Patch and Kayla years. Stephen Nichols' cameo in Soapdish? Excited me way more than it should have. Which is exactly why they cast him.

Also? I love that movie. Shut up. It has a permanent position on our Netflix Instant queue so I can watch it whenever I want to. 

I remember at one of my office temp jobs, one of the women scheduled her lunch to coincide with Days of Our Lives so she could watch it in the conference room while she ate.

Soap operas have really declined in popularity over the past few years and who knows why?  This article by soap actress Cady McClain ponders the issue. She cites lowered ratings, which yeah, ratings for everything have dropped thanks to online entertainment and cable. She also makes the excellent point that since women make less money than men, while working harder at the same jobs, we have less time for soaps and less patience for them since they didn't keep up with the times--Women care more about supporting ourselves than finding a man to make us happy and support us, unless we're soap opera characters.

I have another theory to toss onto the funeral pyre. We can get our soft core porn from other places now. Or our hard core porn. 

I mean, have you seen any of these shows? Since they're on when kids are in school, they can get pretty steamy. Or at least they did back in my General Hospital and Days of Our Lives days. Now I can get erotic eBooks, smutty fan fiction, and any flavor of porn all from the comfort and privacy of my home computer. 

When we can get our rocks off that way, why would we watch a soap opera where every single sex scene involves the man picking up the woman and placing her on the bed? Even when they're already standing right next to it. I outweigh my husband. He has never lifted me. He didn't even carry me over the threshold when we got married. I'm OK with this. But as a fat teenager, watching muscular men pick up bony women in expensive nighties like they weighed as much as a stuffed animal...I was not turned on. I felt bad about myself. 

So yeah. Now that I have so many entertainment choices in general, and as well as choices for steamy entertainment, soap operas just don't cut it. 

What are/were your favorite soaps? Did you watch the big Luke & Laura wedding on General Hospital*? (*aka when Laura married her rapist, hmmm...maybe that's another reason people don't watch soaps these days.)
Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Have Happy Memories. Try Not To Be Shocked.

Photo credit: Chris Sinjakli
Today's prompt is a memory that makes you happy.

I'm not going to retell the the story, because I've already told it on this blog. Way back in 2007. 

Short version before I link to it:

Moments before I walked down the aisle at my wedding, some complete strangers saw me through the church's glass doors and shouted Congratulations and that they liked my dress.

It's not something that we caught on the wedding video, so it's not one of the memories that we revisit every year on our anniversary. (Yes, we watch the DVD every year. Yes, we fast forward through the sermon some years.)

But I remember it every now and then. And it still makes me smile.

Here's the complete story.

Got a happy memory that leaps to mind? Share it in the comments.
Blogging Challenge

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Photo credit: Moyan Brenn
Today's prompt is: What are you reading?

I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. A friend recommended it and wow, did I enjoy this book. There's already a sequel out, which I didn't know when I was reading it. As I was approaching the end, it was getting pretty obvious that they weren't about to wrap up the plot anytime soon.

I feel it's important to note that there are vampires in it, but not in a way that made me roll my eyes.

Last night at a networking event, I met a bibliographer (which is totally a real thing even though it sounds incredibly random) and as we were talking, I realized that A Discovery of Witches is just full of books. The MacGuffin that gets the story rolling is an old book, and a lot of it takes place in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

But what reminded me of this book in the first place, is that someone else asked the bibliographer if eBooks were going to kill print (which, no). He said that the cool thing about eBooks is that they've made physical books more valuable. If you own an eReader and buy a physical book anyway, it's for a good reason. That book is special to you because you've chosen to let it take up physical space when you don't have to. And back when books began, people had a similar connection to physical books.

Now, I still see the need for physical books that are not special. Reading an eBook is like reading a scroll. You can't flip back and forth easily. This doesn't really work for me when it comes to cookbooks or knitting patterns. We still need codex-style books. But mostly, yeah. If I buy a physical book these days, it's a conscious choice.

In A Discovery of Witches, we get a look inside the study/personal library of one of the vampires, who is, of course, quite old. He has a Gutenberg bible. And that's not even close to the oldest book he has. Just imagine meeting someone who lived back when books were rare objects. And still has some of his books from that time.

But only some. He's had to get rid of some books over the centuries for the sake of space. We've all done the same. As happy as I've been to pass along my beloved books from childhood and youth...I really wish I had a magical bigger on the inside book bag or something so I could revisit every book I've ever read. That's what libraries are for, but still. There are some books where I can remember what the cover looked like, but not the title or author. There was a series of books that my friends and I read in 3rd and 4th grade and maybe one the main characters was named Betsy, but that's all I've got. And we got those from the library, so my magic book bag would have to contain every books I've read, not just every book I've owned.

So what are you reading?

Blogging Challenge

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's All OK

Photo credit: Richard Eriksson
Today's prompt is: something new you've learned in the past month.

Well, I don't know if I learned this, or if it was more like an epiphany, but after one session of EFT therapy, I discovered that everything is OK. Like really OK. Like so OK that I can't even tell you how OK it is.

Let me step back because I know I'm sounding like my parents when they first got back from Burning Man. (Note: If you haven't read that post, you really should. Because my parents. went to Burning Man.)

Put very unscientifically, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is this therapy where you focus on something that's been giving you trouble (a past trauma, anxiety, stage fright, etc.) and then tap on certain acupressure points. What you're doing is thinking about something that gets your lizard brain all worked up, and then the tapping tells your lizard brain to chill out.

And now I feel fucking amazing. My super tight chompy jaw? Unclenched for the first time in, I dunno, ever?

Now, I never would've had such success with EFT if not for years of talk therapy. I'd already figured out that the root of my problem was this, that and the other thing. But that had only gotten me so far. Knowing helps, but that doesn't mean that I could shrug it off. 

But now? It's OK. 

I'm not 100% better all of a sudden. I still get migraines, and I still wear my dechompinator sometimes. But I've had an anger-ectomy. And that's OK.
Blogging Challenge

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hulk Smash Heat and Boundaries of Fictional Universes

Photo credit: ROB JAN
Today's prompt is: Your favorite ways to beat the heat.

Now, I've already said that you'll find me anyplace that has air conditioning in the summer. But our last apartment didn't have AC in the living room, and neither did my home office. And before we moved my home office to right next to the air conditioner, it was kinda hot in there, even with the cross breeze.

So what did I do?

While I was working, I put my feet in a basin of water. Sometimes, I'd add one of those freezer packs for lunch boxes. Because I'm classy that way.

I described this to one of my co-workers at the time, and she said it reminded her of Alice Kramden, which I totally get.

But you don't come to me for tips of staying cool. Heck, the weather in NYC this August has been delightfully comfortable. Which is a major relief because when the July heatwave was making it feel like a typical August, I was bracing myself for something ridiculously brutal. I didn't know if I was going to be shut up in AC all month, or working with my laptop set on my parents' deck while I typed, immersed in the pool (which sounds like a really fast way to wreck a laptop, so it's a good thing that didn't happen). 

Speaking of more interesting matters, did anyone else see the Phineas and Ferb/Marvel crossover episode? I swear, when HA told me about it, I thought he was messing with me. But since Disney owns everything, this is what we get now. It was as awesome as it was weird. And yes, they're working on a Phineas and Ferb/Star Wars crossover too.

Me? I'm hoping for a Phineas and Ferb/Once Upon a Time crossover. Because that would be hilarious. In fact, I may need to drop everything and spend the day writing some fan fiction. Can't you just imagine it? Science and engineering meets magic. Candace discussing trying to bust her brothers with the Evil Queen? The possibilities for hilarity are endless. 

What random crossover would you make happen if you could?

Blogging Challenge

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You Be Grilling

Now THAT is a grilling station!
Photo credit: Bill Bumgarner
Today's prompt is: best grilling recipe/tip

I no longer live in an apartment with a barbecue, so you'd think I'd be at a complete loss with this one. You would be wrong. Because my Uncle Brian (he of the delicious gravy) is also a BBQ meister. Hell, they have to replace their grill every year or so because they use it so much. Once a year, they grill a turkey.

So I know the wisdom of the grill. And now I shall lay it on you, the one important thing that so many people overlook:

Clean the grill.

For realsies. Wire brush. Clean that bad boy. Every time.

You'd be amazed how many people don't do that. 

So yeah, I used to live in an apartment with a grill. And a backyard. The grill was there when I moved in. It was great firing up that bad boy on summer nights.

And then the tank ran out. Do you have any idea how to fill a propane tank when you don't have a car? Me neither.

Lucky for me, my landlord was making a lot of trips to Home Depot, so I gave him the money and he took care of it.

It was kind of a weird situation. The landlord could access the backyard through the basement, and trimmed shrubs and stuff. So I never really knew if the strawberries they grew there belonged to me or to my landlords (who lived down the block). They told me I could eat them, so I did. 

Upstairs from me, lived two elderly brothers. They hung their wash out to dry on a line that went out over the yard. One evening, I found boxer shorts in the yard. I wasn't about to knock on their door and be all, "hey, I found your undies." So I put them in a plastic bag and hung it on their doorknob. 

Some things you just don't discuss.
Blogging Challenge

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Day The Lights Went Out In Pretty Much Everywhere

Blackout Flatiron
Photo credit: Eden, Janine and Jim
Today's prompt is: a summer memory

This week was the tenth anniversary of the big blackout in the Northeastern US. Or, as it's also known in NYC - We're not being attacked? Whew!

I walked miles and miles to get home that day. In the hot August sun. After convincing a sneaker store to sell me sneakers in exchange for letting them take down my credit card info and assuming it would go through.

I cannot express enough how fucking happy everyone was.

When the power went out, everyone at my office rushed to the windows to see if it was just us. The other buildings looked dark, and we saw smoke coming from an exhaust pipe in the building across the street. We thought maybe a fire had caused a few blocks to lose power. (In retrospect, I guess the other building had a generator and that was just the exhaust from the genny.)

I picked up the phone and called a cousin in California to find out what the Hell was going on. He went online and told me it was just a massive blackout. 

Just a massive blackout. 

I remember when these words didn't go together, and even now they seem a bit silly. But in 2003? The entire city had a collective sense of, "no one's trying to kill us? Fucking A!"

A co-worker and I walked downtown together. That was about 2 miles. They were handing out cups of water in front of Ruth's Chris Steak House. Someone sat on a windowsill above the crowd, playing a radio so we could all hear the news.

My co-worker invited my up to his friend's apartment where he was going to wait things out. But I knew that my feet would start swelling if I stopped and I wouldn't get any further. I also knew that he and his friends would be drinking for the duration and I just don't drink that much, so I would be out of my league, or out of my element depending on how you want to look at it.

I walked another 2 miles across the Williamsburg Bridge to my apartment. I'm not sure I've ever been so happy to see anyone as I was to see the shaved ice vendor on the Brooklyn side of the bridge.

I texted with my now-husband, then-friend (the cell phone towers were kaput). Once home, I called my parents from my land line to let them know I was OK. To this day, I have a land line and a non-cordless phone because they're the only phones that keep working during blackouts.

My parents offered to drive all the way across Brooklyn to come get me so I could join them and my Aunt Bea's family in eating the contents of their freezer before they spoiled. With all the traffic lights out, this was dangerous as well as pointless, so I stayed put.

A car broke down in front of my building, and I brought them some candles and water. I sweated a lot while trying to sleep because my neighborhood just wan't safe enough for me to sleep with the door to my fire escape open.

The next day (or was it the day after?), the power came back on and I heard neighbors for blocks around banging on pots and pans in celebration.

By then it was Friday, so we had a weekend to recover before going back to work.

No one was trying to kill us, and unlike the 1976 blackout, this blackout was riot-free. So it was the coolest thing to happen that summer.

Blogging Challenge

Thursday, August 15, 2013

There's Always Something New in NYC

Broadway street sign
Photo credit: PeterJBellis
Today's prompt is: somewhere new you visited in your town. 

Well, as long as I've lived in New York (which is my whole life), the city keeps changing around me, so there's always something new to check out. The tricky part is deciding which new things are worth checking out. 

Like this place that makes the cronuts? I'm not getting up early and standing in line for pastry. So I'll wait for cronut knockoffs to start showing up everywhere. But I hear that everything they make is really good, so I may stop by some day when the cronut crowds are gone.

But a few weeks ago when my in-laws were in town (during the week of out-of-town visitors), we went to see Mother Divine, a musical written by a woman from their hometown, St. Joseph, Missouri (deathplace of Jesse James and the start of the pony express). The show started at 9pm, which is unusual. It was part of a festival. One that's been going on for ten years without me knowing about it.

The New York Musical Theatre Festival may be the salvation of Broadway. Not that I didn't love The Lion King. But between the musicals based on movies, and the jukebox musicals, musical theater feels a little lame these days. Mind you, some of these shows are brilliant, and I'm dying to see some of them as soon as the migraine sitch improves to the point that I can commit to seeing a show in advance. But when a so-so musical is based on a formula (pick something that audiences are already familiar with), it doesn't get extra marks for effort.

Of course with $100 a seat, audiences are less likely to take a risk on an unfamiliar story. But  it would be better for everyone if we could get ticket prices down to pre-Producers prices.

NYMF tickets are much more affordable. And during the festival this year, they held 59 events, including 20-30 musicals. All original. Over the years, shows that have been performs at NYMF have gone on to off Broadway or Broadway.

Next year, I plan to be all over this festival. Because creative, affordable musical theater? That's worth checking out.
Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mellowest Vacation Ever

Marblehead Massachusetts
Photo credit: 6SN7
Today's prompt is: What is your favorite place to visit in the Northeast?

This is tough one because most of my traveling has been outside of the Northeast. Also, we're almost two weeks into this blog every day thing and the few of us who are still going strong are probably answering each and every prompt in their minds with, "I don't know. Why did I think I could do this? Pass the limeade." 

Or maybe that's just me.

I'm going to go with beautiful Marblehead, Massachusetts. I've only been there a couple of times, to visit a friend who no longer lives there. One time, we hung out and probably went dancing. Another time, I attended her backyard wedding, which was actually one of my most relaxing vacations ever. 

Because I didn't have to do anything but hang out. I went to some family dinners, chatted with her cousins, explained to someone that the bride's half-sister was deaf (and not ignoring her), and just generally stayed calm whenever my friend freaked out because she couldn't remember where her gloves were.

The next door neighbor went away so there would be more room for us out-of-town guests. I went for a walk with her cousins down by the water and got soaked by the crashing waves and it was awesome. For one of the courses at the reception, we ran short of plates, so I shared a plate with my friend's uncle.

For the people more closely connected to the wedding, I'm sure this weekend was incredibly stressful. Her parents re-did the entire backyard and cooked most of the food themselves. But for me, I was just there to go where I was told, and to roll with whatever came at me. It's what every long weekend away should be.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
Blogging Challenge

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Rain in My Apartment Falls Mainly in the Bathroom

Vintage Ad #895: Look at all the fun you can have a New York State vacation
Photo credit: Jamie
Today's prompt is to introduce the state that I'm from. It's New York. Most of my readers are from New York. What is there to say, really?

New York City is not our state capital, but is full of slow moving tourists. (We're not rude, we're just in a hurry. And chances are that if someone has just been rude to you, you were in their way.)

If you go upstate, we have cows and corn. Our politicians get caught in weird sex scandals and then run for office again, leaving us to wonder if their political platform is anything besides, "Hey, I have a lot of nerve."

We have great income inequality in NYS, and to help that, we have rent controlled apartment buildings, where the rent is crazy cheap, and the rent stabilized buildings (like the one where I live), where the rent increases are determined by a board so they don't get too out of hand. NYS fun fact: In a rent stabilized building, the tenants aren't required to give the landlord or super a copy of their keys. It's a legal thing to protect us from freaky landlords letting themselves into our apartments for weird reasons that end up on the local news. But when something goes wrong, it means that you have to rely on your neighbors being home. 

And then this happens:

Tuesday Night: His Awesomeness returns from brushing his teeth before bed to inform me that water is dripping from the bathroom ceiling. I clean up the mess and place buckets while he tries to find the super or porter. Finding neither, he leaves a note for the super including my availability for the next 2 days and my cell phone number.

Wednesday Evening: The super calls, verifies that the toilet isn't overflowing so it isn't an emergency. (Like I couldn't fix an overflowing toilet my myself--sheesh.) He says he'll check the apartment upstairs tomorrow, as the people who live are not home at the moment. (Longtime readers will recall how noisy my upstairs neighbor is, and therefore I hate him with a fiery passion.)

Thursday: I try to find the porter every time I leave the apartment, but fail. The people upstairs are still away. By this point, the water is dripping right next to the toilet (among other places) so that when you're sitting on the bowl, you get splashed with rusty water every time a drop hits the water in the bucket. Good times.

Thursday Evening: I get home from a doctor's appointment/client meeting to discover that my husband has found the porter and brought him up to our apartment to look at the situation. But...and these are the scenarios that end marriages...did not have the porter do anything to redirect the drips away from the toilet, as I'd been discussing for at least 24 hours by this point. 

First, I come up with (but do not say) a string of expletives that shocked and impressed even me. Then, I thought of saying, "For the good of our marriage, I'm not speaking to you." That passed quickly and I let him have it in a more restrained manner. After which he promised to get the porter after dinner.

The porter screwed a board to the ceiling to hold a tarp in place, redirecting the water to the tub. And there was much rejoicing.

Friday Morning: His Awesomeness wakes up to discover that the bathroom ceiling has collapsed in the night. He clears away 4 bags of debris and gets the porter. While I was at my meeting on Thursday, I remembered that we have an umbrella that clamps to the arm of lawn chairs, etc. When I woke up, HA had clamped it to the hutch over the toilet. This was inadequate to the task, and I peed while holding an umbrella. 

I quickly showered and dressed for my day of client meetings. The porter returned to rehang the tarp. HA worked from home so he could be there to deal with things. The people upstairs were still not back, but the management company was finally trying to get a hold of them to get permission to get a locksmith to break in. 

Friday Afternoon: The porter and plumber climb up the fire escape to try to break into the apartment upstairs and discover that their bathroom ceiling has collapsed as well. The water was coming from the floor above them!  I imagine that their floor is destroyed as well since the water had to pass through it on its way down to us. They found the source of the leak and fixed it.

Friday Evening: There is still water dripping on the tarp where our bathroom ceiling used to be because the remaining water has to work its way down. Sometime next week, once everything has dried out, the porter will replace the ceiling for the second time in a year. 

Saturday: We clean the floors, which are covered in plaster or whatever. We don't clean them too thoroughly since they'll get messed up again when the porter fixes the ceiling. HA does the laundry, including the soaked bathmats and towels so that our bathmat no longer reeks of mildew. We get used to being able to stand in front of the sink without getting dripped on.

So on the one hand, our rent is not obscenely high (just too damn high). On the other hand, peeing while holding an umbrella. Please consider this before moving to our fair state.

Blogging Challenge

Monday, August 12, 2013

Friends - Something Else I Fail At

f is for friends
Photo credit: _Libby_
Today's prompt is: What 5 words would your best friend use to describe you?

Contrary Jen wants to take a stab at this one. Because who says I have to have a best friend? Why do I have to elevate one friend above all others?

When I was a kid, I didn't have a best friend, but I longed for one. The last year I went to Montessouri, I was in a class of 5 and there was only one other girl. We hung out together because who else was there? Then when I switched to catholic school, I dreamed of finding a best friend. But by 5th grade, everyone else already has a best friend.

I ended up in a group of 4 best friends, but we avoided the drama of pairing off. In Language Arts, when we were asked to write an essay about our best friend, I wrote about my computer lab partner because the teacher said that we just had to pick someone instead of spending the whole period agonizing over who to pick.

My high school was 3 bus rides from home, so I had friends, but we didn't hang out constantly. 

For so long, I felt inadequate for not having a best friend. Then Friends came on TV, and I felt bad for not having an urban tribe. Every time a movie comes out celebrating female friendship, I'm left wondering if I'm missing out by not having a best girlfriend. 

My wedding party consisted of my brother and one of my cousins. I'd promised that cousin years earlier that she could be in my bridal party and we were always close. My brother was my gentleman of honor because I couldn't imagine subjecting any of my female friends to the hair/makeup/fancy dress/pictures. I didn't know anyone who would see it as an honor rather than a hassle and I love them for that. And why should I rank some friends higher than others?

So does that mean my husband is my best friend? And is that bad in a putting all your eggs in one basket way?

If I pick 5 words he'd use to describe me, I suspect it would reveal more about how we make our relationship work than anything about me. And I do know what he likes about me because I am needy as all get out and started making him tell me why he likes me while we were dating.

  1. Cute. 
  2. Smart. 
  3. Funny. 
  4. Good Cook. 
  5. Willing to have sex with him.
Yes I know these aren't all one word answers, but that's the nonconformist in me.
Blogging Challenge

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fab Five Blogs

Photo credit: Owen W Brown
Today's prompt is: Your 5 Favorite Blogs (blog crushes!)

I've been meaning to start doing posts where I talk about my favorite blogs instead of just adding them to a blogroll. But my time and energy is as limited as everyone else's (and perhaps more so thanks to Hector the Migraine Fairy), so I have many things in mind that may never happen. The  migraines could be magically cured and there will still be such a backlog of stuff I've been meaning to do that I'll never do it all.

Now in no particular order, here are 5 blogs that I love. (I'm just checking my Feedly and picking 5 that I tend not to let pile up, so if your blog isn't on the list, please blame my disorganized mind rather than my lack of regard.)

Let's start with After Plumcake. Rhiannon used to write for Manolo for the Big Girl as Miss Plumcake until Manolo pulled the plug on the site. It's thanks to her that I use African black soap and suggest you all do the same. If you're in need of a style icon, she's your gal. 

Next up, let's go with Martinimade. Adrienne Martini has written two excellent books, and a wonderful eBook that compiles her weekly columns on parenting. The eBook contains the answer to why your kids obey other adults, but not you. Unlike me, Adrienne is organized enough to have different types of posts on different days of the week. I admire this, but don't aspire to it because sometimes you just have to know yourself.

Let's move on to Epbot, brought to us by Jen of Cake Wrecks fame. She's been on hiatus lately, but if you're into Disney, costly, steampunk or crafts, you'll find plenty to enjoy in the archives.

Now onto Motherhood in NYC. Her family is crazier than mine is, and that is saying A LOT. Or maybe it's just that her family is crazy in ways that you can blog about, while much of my family's crazy is more the sort of thing you discuss with your shrink.

And now for a big finish (meaning a blog so big that they don't need me to promote them: Tom + Lorenzo, formerly known as Project Rungay. They started out recapping Project Runway, and now they discuss red carpet outfits and several other shows including Mad Men. Their Mad Style posts discuss the costuming on Mad Men in intricate detail and it's not insane because Janie Bryant, Mad Men's costume designer actually does put a lot of thought into costuming, assigning each character a power color, for example.

OK, what are your favorite, can't miss blogs?

Blogging Challenge