Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween/Braaaiiinnnss!

It's Halloween. I went out over the weekend and rocked my costume (Yes, I promised photos... and no, I didn't take any. However, I will probably be able to find some. Somewhere.)

And did it snow? Oh yes, it did.

And am I now fairly sick? Oh yes, oh yes I am.

Things I could say that I am today with NO costume or make up:

1. A Cullen. (Okay, this might require glitter. But the pasty pale I've got down.)

2. A zombie (more on this in a bit)

3. Frankenstein's monster (not green, but shuffle-y and prone to monosyllablic mutterings).

So, yay for me. I think.

About the zombies. I've been thinking about them and have some thoughts and questions.

Such as:

If you were a vegetarian, and you became zombie-fied, would your zombie cry be "Asparaaaaguussss!" instead of "braaaaainnsss!"?

I guess I get why the zombies shuffle and shamble along in most zombie mythology (we are assuming that they're mostly about the drive to survive and gross motor skills, right?) but as such -- how do they ever catch ANYONE? Is it this a strength in numbers thing?

Speaking of shuffling and shambling -- how come the zombies in the Thriller video are super smooth and speedy dancers, but again with the inability to run? Is that a commentary that MJ's music is so freaky fabulous that even a ZOMBIE will dance to it? (and would that be a good way to overcome the zombie hoardes in a Pied-Piper fashion?)

Why do people bother shooting zombies in the torso? What are they hoping to accomplish other than irritating him?

Do zombies sleep? What's the lifespan of a zombie that doesn't get her hands on tasty brains? How long before they start to turn on each other?

Much like shooting zombies is ineffective, it seems that lighting them on fire is not a good way to get rid of them. Because --- then you have a zombie that can kill you ANOTHER way. Flamethrower + rampaging zombie mob = catastrophe for the non-reanimated, I think.

This is a goofy post. We'll chalk it up to being sick on Halloween... and I hope yours is both lovely and devoid of any brain-chomping zombie fiends.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Halloween in New England, Kids

The first Halloween I spent in North Carolina totally freaked me out, because every trick or treater who came to the house had something in common:

I could TOTALLY tell what their costume was.

If you grew up north of the Mason-Dixon line, you know how crazy and amazing that is.

I may have mentioned it, but here's how costumes tend to work in New England: Put costume on. Admire self in mirror. Then put on poofy down parka, a scarf, and some gloves. Possibly add a hat. Congratulations! You have now eradicated any visible sign of your fabulous costume! Now go out and ask strangers for candy!

It's COLD on Halloween, y'all.

I mention this because I have carefully crafted a costume that I am SUPER excited about. To wear on Saturday night.

And I just got a notice from the weather channel saying we could get, oh I don't know ... six inches of heavy slushy snow. (Favorite part of the advisory was where it said "could continue through the wee hours of Sunday morning." Really? The wee hours? Is that a special meteorology term?)

I'm trying to be positive and optomistic and all of that, but mostly? I'm ANNOYED. First, because Mother Nature has no business mucking about with snow in October. I live in New Hampshire, not the frozen tundra. I demand a recount. I'd like to lodge a formal protest.

Also, I need to point out that my costume involves some serious boots with serious heels. This is footwear that is NOT messing around people. They make me, oh I don't know, 5 inches taller? (Which, by the way, is AWESOME.) I can barely walk on my regular feet, let alone my monster fabulous boots. If it snows? Start making bets about which bones I'm going to break when I land on my ass on the snow covered sidewalk now, and which ER I end up in, because it's probably going to happen.

Ah New England. How you mock me and my Halloween efforts.

I know what has to be done. I've already done it. I'm airing out my down parka. I found my hat and mittens. I'm ready to go. You won't know what I'm dressed as in all of my puffy purple finery.

But at least you'll be able to see my boots.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Once Upon A Time

Let's talk about fairy tales for a minute.

Everytime I hear someone say: "And it was just like a fairy tale" about life/a relationship/ whatever, I have to make a concentrated effort to keep my eyebrows in a neutral position. (This, by the way, is the ONLY reason I would think about getting botox. Lady Gaga may have a p-p-p-poker face, but I most decidedly do NOT. My eyebrows always want to give me away, and I think Botox might be the only way to stun them into submission.)

But ... REALLY? It was a "fairy tale"? So you gave up all of your autonomy and power and let things happen to you while you watched passively until a moment came where someone of "authority" magically rescued you so you could live happily ever after?

That's ... greaaaaat. (And there goes the left eyebrow, raised in disbelief.)

What I think might be worse, though, are the people who say they "want a fairy tale". They want to be swept off of their feet by a handsome prince (or princess, whatevs) and then magically live happily ever after.

The thing about fairy tales, though, is that they are mostly passive. They're about waiting and longing and hoping and wishing. I read somewhere, "You have a wishbone where your backbone oughta be" and that's what I think when I think fairy tales.

This is what I want to say when someone tells me that they are waiting for the fairy tale: The trick is not in hoping for a fairy tale. The trick is to live like you're the hero of the story. Like no one is going to rescue you, so you have to rescue yourself. Like no one is going to sweep you off of your feet, so you have to sweep yourself off of your feet. You have to ride in on the white charger, slay the dragon, defeat the evil wizard. You are the one who pulls the sword from the stone and leads the kingdom. It's just you. And when you get that, when you understand -- you're the star, you're the hero, you're the one this story is about -- that's when the magic really happens. It doesn't happen through hoping and wishing on a star, it happens through doing and fighting your way through it, whatever it might be.

Understand, I'm not talking about living selfishly or inconsiderately. What I'm talking about is taking charge of your life, instead of waiting for it to happen to you. Cinderella needed to hand her stepsisters the broom and dustpan, shake herself off, and march out of the house long before she ever let a fairy godmother -- who took her sweet time showing up, by the way -- jam her foot into a pointy glass shoe. So ask yourself -- do you want to keep sweeping out that hearth, or do you want an adventure?

Want the adventure. Let go of the fairy tale. In the end, the adventure will make for a better story -- and who knows? It will probably still end with "and she still fought some ogres, and had the occasional bad hair day, and sometimes she fought with people she cared about, but you know what? She still lived happily ever after." Which is a much more interesting ending, after all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh, For Pete's Sake (and other nonsensical things)

Who is this "Pete" fellow? And why are we concerned about him?

Do you ever say things and then think: "What does that even MEAN?"

For example, I've been discombobulated many times. But I've never been combobulated. I've also never been sheveled, mayed, or gruntled.

As I've mentioned before, I've been under the weather, but not over it.

I've been beside myself, but after recovering from such an event, I've never said, "I'm better now. I am completely standing all at one with myself."

Is mine the only family that, when we think someone should slow down, says "Whoa, Joey!" If so -- how weird. If not: Who is this Joey person? And why does he insist on being so speedy?

Why do so many places slap quotation marks on things that don't in any way belong in quotation marks? What purpose does that serve, other than making me completely mental?

Why -- WHY WHY WHY -- do people keep writing "alot" when they mean "many"? For the last time: "Alot"? IS NOT A WORD. It will NEVER be a word. You mean "a lot". As in "A lot of people think that 'alot' is a word, when in fact it isn't. So for Pete's sake, cut that out."

(Author's note: sorry about the ranty little post. I'm a little discombobulated this morning.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Out Of Touch

I'm not going to pretend that I fully understand what is going on with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

But I can tell you this: I was ENRAGED when I saw Herman Cain say that if people don't have jobs (and, he added, if they're "not rich") they should blame themselves.

(Isn't he running for something, by the way? Some kind of Oval Office? Yeah, good luck to you, sir.)

I don't talk a lot about my work here, but it involves working with small business owners and lending agencies, and private, 3rd party inspection services. As a result I work with the guy who runs your local gas station, the guy who is selling him a POS system, and a third party, self employed guy who is going to go check out the whole thing -- all over the country. I can tell you where business is picking up and where business has curled up and died in ALL kinds of industries. I can tell you who is struggling and who isn't. I can tell you that the number of people who call us, looking to get into our line of work, is growing at an alarming rate because, as jobs go away, they are looking for something where they can try to piece together a living in the meantime.

I can tell you that it's hard all over. That even as people come to us looking for work (and I can tell you how awful it is to have to tell them that I don't have any work for them right now), other people -- people I've worked with for years -- are being forced out of our line of work because they can't afford it anymore. Gas is too expensive. The work can be too sporadic. Sometimes they retire. Sometimes they are lucky enough to find a full time job -- or two part time ones -- and scrape together enough to get by. Not to get rich, mind you. No one here seems to be getting rich. But to get by.

And to be honest, getting by seems to be all anyone is doing. I can tell you this, too -- no one works harder than a small business owner. No one cares more about  her employees than the one at the helm, who knows people are counting on her for their rent, their food, the shoes for their children. But she should work harder, right? If her business fails -- and small businesses do fail, increasingly, for a variety of reasons (some of which have to do with lending practices, and franchise regulation -- or lack thereof -- or large chain businesses moving into an area and undercutting pricing) and people lose their jobs -- it's her own fault, right?

What about this: there's a large manufacturing firm in my area that has decided that it's no longer cost effective to be here. They're shutting down their production facility. All of those people are out of work. Some of them have been offered positions 900 miles away, but the company is not helping with relocation if they accept, so they have to sell homes in a stalled market while somehow at the same time purchasing new homes, and moving their entire lives -- and that's only the ones who were "lucky" enough to be offered a job at the other facility. The number of manufacturing opportunities here are slim to nonexistent. But when these people lost their jobs, and when they can't find another one -- it will be their fault. At least, that's what some people would say.

I keep hearing "I am the 99%" in regards to Occupy Wall Street, and it makes me wonder: if there are 99% of us who do not have the money, who are unemployed or underemployed or just barely making it, if there are 99% of us who are struggling and fighting and trying to get by, then it's time that 99% of us tell Herman Cain to SHUT IT. It's time for 99% of us to get to the polls and be vocal and take back the country that we're allowing 1% of us to run. 

I don't think that if you've lost your job, you have only yourself to blame.

But I think that if we allow our voices and our strength to be lost? We MUST blame ourselves.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Brain Fuzzies

My brain is not fully engaged this morning, so today is going to be a fairly disconnected series of thoughts. However, since it's Monday, I suspect that your brain may not be fully engaged either, so maybe between the two of us, we'll make some sense. Or something.

Here's to hoping.

Anyway, here's what's on what's left of my mind:

1. I received an email where the writer sweetly took my leave with "ciao, bella" and in doing so made me realize that it's not that hard to make me happy. (Yeah, it might be a played out line... so what? It's cute.)

2. Insomnia sucks. Seriously. I haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in over a week and it's becoming increasingly obvious, especially if you talk to me in the early morning, when the discombobulation is at its peak. Take this morning, for example, as I stood in front of my new coffee pot and tried like mad to remember how it worked. "Okay, um. Water. Right, I need to add water." Pour water into coffee mug. "And it goes? ... Um. Huh." I needed a cup of coffee in order to MAKE a cup of coffee.

People. It wasn't pretty. But eventually I remembered how it worked, so that was something (and I am reminded that I am due for another cup. Hang on a moment ...

... okay, I still know how to work it. Success. However, these sort of struggles make me realize that it's a darned good thing I don't have to drive to work.

3. Yesterday, I did three things that I never thought I would do all at the same time. They were:

a. carve a pumpkin
b.drink beer
c. watch "This is Spinal Tap"

I've combined a and b, and b and c, but never all three. In hindsight, these are activities that ABSOLUTELY should be concurrent. Drinking good beer, laughing like a jackalope, and getting stabby with an unsuspecting pumpkin? Kids, it doesn't get much better than that. (I should have taken a photo of my pumpkin when I was through with it, but sadly did not. Ah well.)

4. This weekend is HALLOWEEN COSTUME WEEKEND. You should be excited because my costume? Is awesome. If you're nice to me I'll share photos. (Oh who am I kidding? I'll share photos anyway because I have no pride, dignity, or shame. )

Oh look, I seem to be waking up. Yay for me -- I hope your own Monday morning brain fuzzies are clearing away as well.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dear Dr Pepper

Before I begin, let me say this: I don't enjoy you. I've cracked open a can of Diet Dr Pepper only out of desperation (which is to say, the vending machine where I used to work ran out of Diet Coke. A LOT. And then we would all drink Diet Doc instead, but you could always tell by the grimacing and yucky faces that what we really wanted was the Diet Doc slots in the machine to be filled with Diet Coke. Alas, that never happened).

The fact that I don't like you seems, to me at least, to be a reason for your marketing to try to win me over. Right? I mean, I don't like Budweiser either, but their ads are clever, so if I'm in the store and thinking I need a watery, cheap beer, I'll probably go with them because they get points for funny/cute/whatever. (Or I'll just remember the Clydesdale ad that ran during the Superbowl after 9/11, tear up, and then buy a case, which I will forget I have until there's some sort of beer emergency. It could happen.)

Follow along with me, here, because this is an important point:

Customers who generally don't prefer your product might consider purchasing it if the marketing is good. Which means your ads? Need to be good.

This ad? Is not good.

(Embedding, why won't you work? Sorry about having to jump to youtube!)

Here's why:

Telling women that this product is not for them? Does not make them laugh. Or buy your product. Especially if said product kind of tastes like ass in the first place.

(and to be fair? The ad I tried to embed isn't so bad -- except for the fact that I prefer action movies, and like it when stuff blows up on screen, so ... yeah.  The ad I hear on a daily basis on the radio for this product includes lines like "Do you have tools?" as if I couldn't possibly OWN or know how to USE a tool because I don't also have a penis. Which, last I checked, didn't have a lot to do with drinking soda. Unless this is some new fetish of which I hope to remain unaware.)

I don't know who you're using for an ad agency, but you overpaid, because this seems to be your whole campaign: "Ladies, it's not for you."

I don't know if you've run the demographics or anything, Dr Pepper people, but a lot of women do the marketing for their families. Which means that they're buying the soda. Which means that you MIGHT -- and I know this is radical, so stay with me here -- NOT want to tell them that it's not for them. Make it for them. Make them want to buy it. Or at least, make them laugh in an "oh that's clever way" so that, if the store is out of Diet Coke, they might go for the Doc Ten. (In fact, I would suggest that an ad campaign that was about Doc Ten would be ample ground for creativity.)

Making them remember your product because of a series of slightly offensive ads is probably not the route you want to go.  I don't think this is going to boost your sales. In a nutshell: Clever funny ads? Good for business. Slightly off putting ads that make people think: Wow, what an asshat? Not so good.

Got it?

Oh, and one more thing:You also might try making Doctor Pepper taste less.. weird.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Greener Grass

I know a lot of people -- successful people, people with jobs and families and houses and all of that stuff -- who are really unhappy.

Can I say this? I want to hug them. Then I want to smack them (in a non-violent, metaphorical way). Then I want to hug them again.

Because I get it -- I do, really -- that all of the stuff in the world doesn't make anyone happy. A six figure salary does not a lifetime of joy and bliss create.

However, at the same time, I know plenty of people who will probably NEVER make a six figure salary, and who are just barely hanging on to their five little figures, keeping a roof over their heads, wondering if the car can go just a few more months, please god, before completely dying because there's no money to replace it and, without a car, work becomes a huge issue and wow, we need to turn the heat WAAAAAY down because we can't afford the oil.

What I've noticed -- and I don't pretend this is true for everyone, mind you -- is that the people in the latter situation? Make the best of it. With attitudes like:  Eating dinner by candlelight might be saving on electricity, but it's also an adventure.  Snuggling up with someone else to stay warmer on a chilly night? Romantic, right? And at least there is a job to go to -- so many people aren't so lucky.

It's an exaggeration. And also, I'm not going to pretend that there isn't an amazing amount to get angry and stressed about in this economy. I'm just also saying that I hear more "I'm unhappy with my life" kinds of statements from people who have more than I do from people who have less.

I don't know why this is... except, maybe, I do. I was telling someone the other day that I liked high school because it was orderly -- do this, then this, then that, and boom! The end, successfully achieved. You always knew what to do next.

I think that for a lot of people, they look at life that way too... as a series of steps, of things that they're supposed to do. Buy a house. Work the job. Have a family. All of those are wonderful, amazing accomplishments ... if they're what you want. If they're not what you want, if they're only what you think you're supposed to want, without having ever considered WHY you're going down that path, then I think it would be easy to find yourself with your list of "what I'm supposed to do" nicely checked off and a feeling of despair somewhere around the middle of your soul.

This is why, I think, the bunch of us at the bottom of this particular pile, though yes, sometimes stressed and worried, are happier in general. I'd rather love what I do and how I do it and chase after my dreams than the ones someone else has planned out for me. 

The grass might be greener in someone else's yard, it's true. But that's just landscaping.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Joys of the Internet Dating Profile

As you know, I am super comfortable with the "writing for anonymous readers on the internets" thing. (Except, of course, that some of you aren't so anonymous. Hi Mom!)

Having said that, it's still kind of ... weird ... to create a profile for an internet dating site. I considered just posting a link to my blog -- go here, you'll figure me out -- but that seemed, well, labour intensive for any fella who might be interested. "Oh, here, instead of a blurb? I have 200+ entries about my life! Some feature my cat! Wooo!" So, yeah. No.

It's a problem. I don't know what to say because -- well, it's not like my intentions aren't sort of clear (and yes, I can smell the scent of "eau de last ditch effort at having a social life" wafting around my keyboard). I mean, you don't join an online dating site if you haven't totally given up on the romantic notion of encountering the person of your dreams at a museum or bookstore, right? (Both places where I always have REALLY WANTED to meet someone and have it work out, because I myself tend to really enjoy both bookstores and museums. Ooh! Better yet! A bookstore IN a museum! That would have been awesome!) But since my life is NOT a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan, I have found that as delicious as that little dream was, 'twas never. Going. To. Happen.

Online dating attempt is then in full swing. Sorta. If I could figure out the profile.

Brutal, bottom line honesty seems like it would kind of be a good idea? Unfortunately, I think it would also guarantee zero dates: "35 year old SWF, has been married once, likes to laugh, has a somewhat unhealthy attachment to her cat. Reads a lot. Accident prone (don't get in a car with her) yo-yo dieter with a hair-dye habit, OCD, and a propensity for randomly bursting into song.  Seeking person who isn't terribly annoyed by any of the previous, and who has a sense of humour (you'll need it)."

Somehow, that doesn't seem like it's going to do the job. (Of course, it seems that my personality IN REAL LIFE isn't doing the job either, else I'd not be on a dating site, now would I?)

I also continually feel like I should write something like this: "Capricorn likes long walks on the beach, drinking champagne in the moonlight, and romantic poetry. Turn offs include people who kick puppies and Michelle Bachmann supporters (which are often the SAME PEOPLE!)"

I suspect that somewhere in the middle of those two, I might have some semblance of a profile. A profile that says I'm fun and not completely mental. (Okay, I'm a little mental.) A profile that says I'm interesting. A profile that says, in not to begging a way, that someone should want to meet me.

Or, you know. Maybe not.

Why did I do this again?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confessions of a "Nice" Girl

I used to be a "nice" girl.

Nice how? Nice like this:

 "Tickets to the International Exploitation of Women and Animals Film Festival? On a Thursday night? There's nothing I would like more." 

"Of COURSE it's my fault that you just took the wrong exit on the highway! I should have been paying more attention!"

"I absolutely will not mention that I find your political beliefs appalling, because I couldn't ever debate with you!"

"Clearly, your musical tastes are superior to mine. We can exclusively listen to your music and it will be entirely okay with me that you disparage the things I like as often as possible! Wheee!"

"Obviously, I can't be smarter than you, because you find that threatening. So I will purposely lose this round of Jeopardy."

Lame, I know.


I don't think it's just me. I don't think I'm the only one. I think that as a society, we often teach little boys to be assertive and empowered, and we teach little girls to be "nice".

(Interestingly, we seem not to be teaching little girls that it's important to be nice -- actually nice -- to EACH OTHER. As I write this, I wonder if some of the mean girl phenomenon isn't a result of two things: teaching girls to view one another as competition, and also? An outlet for all of the stuff we teach them not to express. Frustration requires some kind of an outlet. It's a theory.)

But what does it mean to be nice? Does it mean sitting in a car as a 29 year old woman, allowing yourself to be lectured by your boyfriend/husband/significant other about how crappy your attitude is, how he doesn't like your tone, how you need to shape up -- all because you had to audacity to mention that you preferred a different presidential candidate? Does it mean that all of your responses to said lecture happen only in your head, because it's more important to be nice (read: agreeable, polite, supportive) than it is to be honest, forthright, strong? So that even though you're seething and sad on the inside, the only thing you utter is "I'm sorry"?

Granted, my examples are extreme... but are they THAT extreme?

A friend of mine recently had a long day, got home, and got a phone call from a male friend, telling her that he was outside and she would be going to a sporting event with him. She did not want to go. She was tired and she had things to do. But she went because, she said, "I didn't want to be mean."

Can I tell you about this friend? She takes no prisoners. She is a kick-your-ass, strong woman. If I had showed up at her house in the same situation? She would have said, "Yeah, I don't feel like going. And stop telling me what I'm going to do, because that sucks."

But it's important to be "nice", right? Not a bitch. Nice. Even when it means doing things that you don't want to do or don't feel comfortable with.

Can we redefine what it means to be nice? Really nice, and not "nice". I think it means kind and thoughtful, not harming anyone. However, it does not -- and should not -- mean that you can't be honest. It does not mean that you give up your power and fail to speak your truth.

It does not mean sitting silently while someone who disagrees with you tells you how stupid, rude, horrible you are.  It does not mean that you allow someone to manipulate you by asking "Why are you being so mean?" when you are being as honest as you can be in the kindest possible way. It does not mean that you cave or back down when someone calls you out as a bitch simply because you do not want what they want.

I'm through being a "nice" girl. I don't like "nice" girls.

I like nice people.

And if you're not going to be nice to me? This formerly "nice" girl will politely -- even kindly -- tell you where to go.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finding A Way

"It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.
So we must dig and delve unceasingly." 
 Claude Monet

One of my friends lost her mother this weekend; another lost his mother a year ago. I've been thinking about loss quite a bit.

I've said before that I often find myself perplexed when trying to find the words for someone who is mourning. I've been told that this is because I am a cold person, but I don't tend to think that's the case. I think that sometimes -- a lot of times -- when people don't know what to say, or they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, that they retreat into silence. Better, they reason, to say nothing at all rather than the wrong thing.

I think, though, that keeping silence is kind of selfish. Because it's about you wanting to keep your foot out of your mouth; it's focusing on your own comfort levels, keeping yourself from feeling stupid or being perceived improperly, and it leaves the grief-stricken feeling singular and alone.  They do not feel your intentions. They only see your actions, and your actions have been to withdraw.

Or at least, mine sometimes are. Even though I know from experience how hurtful that is. So I fight with my ego, my worry about saying or doing the wrong thing and how that will make ME feel, in order to find the right thing -- the most loving and comforting thing -- to say or to do to help my friends feel, if not better, than at the very least less alone.

I have come to believe many things about this life, but the thing I believe the most strongly is that, while we are here, we need to find ways to reach out to and support one another. When we can, where we can. Even -- maybe especially -- when it's hard and we don't know how and we're scared and sad ourselves. The moments when we're able to reach past who we are and reach for someone else? I think that's what we're here for. To learn. To live. To love.

I know that I learned that from my friends, and their mothers, and their loss, and I hope that in some small way I am able to pass that on.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Things I Have Learned (or re-learned) from My First Year Back in New Hampshire

1. When necessary, I can still bust out with a North Carolina accent like a champ, y'all.

2. No matter how long a girl might live in the south, her inner northern person will prevail in the face of cold. As in: Hmmm, it's 40 out. I don't need a stinking coat, because I'm from NEW ENGLAND. A sweater is PERFECTLY warm enough, thanks.

3. Snow boots, while not sexy, are necessary.

4. Speaking of snow, it's pretty! And also, shoveling it is an excellent workout. For someone else. (Yay for apartment living!)

5. The water at the beach is NEVER warm enough to swim in unless you're wearing a snowsuit under a wetsuit.

6. Hypothermia is not sassy (see #5).

7. It seems as though most people operating vehicles in MA obtained their licenses from some sort of correspondence school.

8. Mud. The fifth season.

9. C&J Trailways express to Logan  -- best. thing. ever.

10. No sales tax plus no income tax equals one happy Danielle.

11. Being close to one's friends in reality is much better than being close to one's friends on Facebook.

12. No one loves their teams the way a Red Sox/Patriots fan loves their teams. NO ONE. It's a scientific fact.

13. Robert Frost poems are better if you read them in New England.

14. Red Sox games are better on NESN.

15. Amato's still makes the best Italian sandwiches on the planet (sorry, lovers of Moe's ... )

16. Traffic Circles. Hate 'em.

17. This is an entire conversation in New England:
Person one:"'Sup?"
Person two: "Duuuuude." (shakes head)
Person one: "Yep."

18. Working hard is mandatory. MANDATORY. Because you're a New Englander.

19. Telling someone you live in New Hampshire but then giving them a phone number that doesn't start with "603" will confuse the hell out of them.

20. Family comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

Here's to you, 603.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Immunity (or, not so much)

First, let me say that violence is never the answer. I obviously don't think that punching or assaulting someone is a good way to resolve anything.

However, if my immune system were a person, I would be sorely tempted to kick her in the shins.

People. Do you know what it's like to have a violent (and kind of out of nowhere) allergy to milk?

Let me just tell you. Here's what it's like to go to the grocery store:

"Hmmm. Here I am at my neighborhood store, lalala. I should get out the list I made... But since I made the list, I probably don't need it. Plus, it's hard to hold the list and my purse and push the cart. So. List stays in the purse. Why do they keep rearranging this store? It makes it so hard to find things. Annoying. Okay, produce. Fruuuuuits ... and vegggiess ... oooh! Apples! I love apples! Apples and ... cheddar cheese. Oh wait, I can't have cheese. Huh. Do I still want apples? Survey says ... no. Bummer.  Walllllll of cheese ... guess I can walk right past that. Oh cheese. How I miss you and your deliciousness. Don't look at the cheese. Don't look at it. Okay. Um. Let's see. I wanted to make pasta sauce so I need ... onion. Garlic. Green pepper. Oh, if I make sauce, I could make ziti bake. Om nom no-- wait. That has multiple cheeses in it. That's out. Which means lasagna is out too. And ... dammit, ravioli is out. Okay, spaghetti is in. I like spaghetti. With freshly ground parm... wait, no. No parm. Just spaghetti. Huh. Well... I like spaghetti. That would be okay. I mean, it's delicious and all. Oooh, with cheesy garlic bread? Or, no. NO CHEESE NO CHEESE NO CHEESE NO CHEESE. Cheese no longer exists in your world. Avoid the cheese. Walk. Away. From. The. Cheese. Walking. Okay. Need to go to the deli to get sandwich fixings. (Stares at deli case.) But ... can I enjoy a cheeseless sandwich? Um. No. Would it kill me to eat some cheese on a sandwich? Is projectile vomiting REALLY so bad? Yeah, I guess it kind of is. So. I'll just walk away from this here deli case. Because ... yeah. Maybe I'll make BLTs or something. There's no cheese in BACON, amiright? I'll get the veggie bacon too ... it's not so messy. So that's something. BLTs. Yeah, that's the stuff. And I'll make some salads. Back to produce. Except -- I really only like bleu cheese dressing. Well that's a problem, isn't it. Maybe no salads. Better buy salad stuff anyway. A girl needs some leafy greens. I'll just pretend I've never heard of the deliciousness that is the dressing. (Frowns) HOW CAN I BE ALLERGIC TO BLEU CHEESE? What have I done to deserve this? Let's move on. Oooh a fish counter. I LOVE fish! Fall equals fish chowder! I should totally make fish chowder. Except, wait. Milk. (makes slightly panicked noise) No chowder. No chowder of any kind. Because I can't imagine making it with soy milk. That would be ... well, it would be weird. And I might get kicked out of New England if I try that kind of fancy dancy nonsense. Also, I think it might be yucky. So never mind. Good gracious, this is hard. I need to walk away. And buy some spaghetti. Yeah. That's what I'll do. Oh look what lives near spaghetti. Mac and cheese! I make really good mac n cheese. Well, I MADE good mac and cheese. Guess I can't have that now. Egg noodles. I should make tuna noodle cassarole. I love that. So comforting. But once again -- cream of anything soup is out. So ... yeah. Okay. Would anyone think it was weird if I curled up in front of the mac n cheese and cried for a little bit? Because I totally want to because I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO EAT SOMEONE HELP ME! WAH! All right, Danielle, get it together. Throw the pasta in the cart. Get some canned tomatoes. That's the stuff. Spaghetti sauce! YUMMMMMM. You're going to make great homemade sauce. Oh, there's the bakery. PUMPKIN MUFFINS! Shut it! Oh, they're filled with cream cheese frosting. Lord, I love that. All sweet and creamy and ... vomit inducing. Because of the cheese. No muffins for me. Apparently, this allergy is going to make me lose weight because I can't. Eat. ANYTHING. Oh, there's the coffee. I need coffee. No milk in coffee, yay for me. Need the nondairy creamer. Um. Not the flavoured kind. Oh look, they ONLY have the flavoured kind. Pumpkin creamer and TEA do not mix! What the heck! Fine. I'll just get coconut milk for my tea. I need fake milk anyway. This is not festive. Now I'm just trying to think of yumminess that is milk free because I'm stressed out and I need a nommable pick me up. Chocolate, no. Ice cream. No. Um. Popsicles. Yeah, popsicles. Don't look at Ben and Jerry, Danielle. It will make you sad -- OHHHHHH The Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream is here. That's so good it's SO GOOD. But no. Popsicles it is. And maybe ... Maybe I need some wine. I think I deserve a glass. A big one. "

This is what I left the store with:
1 green pepper
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 big can of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 box spaghetti
1 head boston lettuc
1 pint grape tomatoes
pumkin creamer
coconut milk
beefsteak tomatoes
veggie bacon

Please note that in my flustered state, I neglected to buy bread for the blts. Apparently, I will be going back to the store.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All Creatures, Great and Small

My parents made me go to Sunday School when I was a kid. I didn't really dig it (except for Mrs Mosher's Sunday School class. I loved it that year. Shout out to Mrs Mosher!), but I went.

Sunday School class was the first place I ever heard that animals don't have souls.

Coincidentally (or not) the day I heard that was the first day my religious belief system started to go a little sideways.

You see, I had a dog at the time. His name was, officially, Ebony. His name, unofficially, was Ebensneezer. He was a beautiful dog -- half black lab, half golden retriever. He was also, as is the case with every pet I've ever owned, a little special (which is to say, he was as dumb as a box of rocks).

He was the terror of Fisher Price people everywhere because he had the unfortunate habit of ... well, eating them. And their villages. And their houses. He never met a crayon he didn't want to snack on. He never met a patch of dirt that he didn't believe would be greatly improved by the addition of a hole.

None of those things were what made me know that animals have souls.

This was: my sister treated Ebony like a jungle gym. She climbed on him, she would lay on him, she would pick up his ears and flop them back down and tease him. All the while, he would look at her patiently, lovingly, his big brown eyes on her blue ones. He never snapped or barked or tried to shake her off, because somehow, he knew that she was just a little kid, one who belonged to and with him, and he would love her even though she was trying to use her craft scissors to trim his fur so she could make a wig for my grampa.

Animals don't have souls?

Whatever.  Animals have the most kind and pure souls, and I think that on some level, we all feel that. It's why we tear up during commercials for the ASPCA  -- because we see the animals looking at the camera steadily, unflinchingly, and we see that our capacity as humans to torment and harm what is pure and good is, unfortunately, immense and terrible.  I believe animals need to have souls because animals, especially domestic ones, have to put up with people, and we know how that can turn out.

I might be a crazy animal lover, it's true. This is also true -- my goofy cat has kept me sane during difficult times, and loves me unconditionally, even though she seems to understand that as the human, I'm going to screw up from time to time. No matter. Her soul and heart are expansive enough that she forgives me. She sits on my desk and watches me type with patient green eyes that say "I don't know why you're doing that when you could be patting me, but I get it. We'll play later" and she purrs, as though it makes her joyful just to be near me. Even if I'm working. Even if she thinks my priorities are woefully maladjusted.

What I'm trying to say then, is this: I believe that there's more than what we see and experience here, and that when we die, we go on... and since I believe that animals have souls, I think they do too. So when you lose an animal you love -- like my Ebensneezer -- you'll see him again, tail wagging happily, ready to chase any tennis balls you want to throw, grinning that unabashed doggy grin.

I find this incredibly comforting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Politics are problematic in this country right now.* There's a lot of talk and rumbling about the fact that no one will give, no one will compromise, politicians don't represent the people.

Over the weekend, it occured to me that, as detrimental as it is, our politicians DO represent the people.

Let me explain:

I was out and about over the weekend, and several of the routes that I take require traffic merging from two lanes into one. I am aware of these spots, and tend to drive in the lane that doesn't have to merge -- the lane that has the right of way. Every time -- EVERY TIME -- I am out and find myself in one of these areas, I notice that no one wants to yield.


The people in the lane that ends -- the clearly marked "Lane ends, merge left" lane? Often seem truly to believe that it is in their right to be first. To push other drivers out of the way, to endanger other drivers, themselves, and their passengers, by simply pretending that yielding and merging are not necessary. They just keep driving, not looking, and when their lane ends? You'd best not be in their way.

The people in the non-ending lane -- the "right of way" lane -- often seem to believe that by virtue of being in the lane that continues, they don't have to watch for merging traffic. They don't have to let anyone in. They don't have to alter their driving habits in any way.  Again, at the potential endangerment of themselves, their passengers, and the people trying to merge.

Now take that attitude out of the car. Take it into the workplace, the classroom, the playing field. Notice where people -- where you -- like to put your needs ahead of others. Notice how often you find yourself being cut in line, or in fact cutting others. Notice the acts of rudeness ... and the acts of kindness.

Unfortunately, the acts of kindness will probably lag far, far behind.

We're a society that prizes the individual, and that's fine. However, we've also  become a society that thinks nothing of me first, of aggression, of putting yourself ahead of other people even when doing so is potentially dangerous. And that, to me, is not fine.

Our politicians are behaving badly.

But so, as a people, are we.

And to change our political system, I think we also need to change ourselves.

*Understatement of the year, I know.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

The relationship just had to end.

It had to. I had no choice.

I was making myself ill. It had to be done.

"Listen," I said, "I know that you're loyal. And sweet. And always there for me when I need you. You've never let me down -- not once -- and I adore you for that. You've been my rock. I would never have gotten through these last few years without you but ... I have to move on. I HAVE to."

And then I said it, the thing that no one wants to hear: "It's not you. It's ME."

When I turned away, I may have whimpered a little bit. In sorrow, and in shame.

There was a woman about my age standing there in the freezer aisle as well. Her eyes were filled with sympathetic tears. "Dieting?" she asked, dabbing at them with a tissue.

"Dairy allergy," I said sorrowfully, gazing at the rows of Ben and Jerry's stacked colourfully in the case.

"Oooooh, that is SO SAD," she said, touching my arm in sympathy. She nodded towards the Chunky Monkey. "They'll understand," she said.

"I know." I sighed.  "I just hope the cheese case is as forgiving."

So that's the deal -- the icky sickyness that I've been dealing with? I've developed a DAIRY allergy. Good bye, Ben! Farewell, Jerry! So long, and thanks for all of the little chocolate fish.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Kind of Wonderful (Shameless Plug for Making Strides)

As I've mentioned, I was a teacher once upon a time.

The young people I had the good fortune to work with are an amazing group, and they ALL continue to astound me and make me incredibly proud.

Which is why I want to direct you here:

I had the pleasure of working with both of these young men. They are smart, they are hysterically funny, they are open hearted, and knowing them -- even for a short time -- was a pleasure. So now they're walking across the country to see what they can do to make a difference in the lives of others. Because they're just that awesome.

Check it out. Follow them. Donate if you can. And think about what you can do to pay it forward.

Happy Friday, Y'all.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mmmm Mmmm Good

So as a result of being under the weather*-ish (as in, I'm not really sick, but I'm not really NOT sick -- it's a long and kind of yucky story that I'm sure I will tell at some point because, hello, I overshare, but let's get this parenthetical over with, shall we? Good), I've been eating a lot of soup.

I love soup.

I was going to describe soup as a hug that you can eat, but that's a little Hannibal Lecter-level creepy and even though Halloween fast approaches, I'm not entirely comfortable with the people who read my blog (hello there!) thinking that I might be a serial killer. **

So how to describe the soup? Here's what I came up with:

1. It's like the food version of your favorite, warmest sweater.

2. It's like a patch of sunshine on chilly day, but in a spoon.

3. It's like a hot tub full of vegetables for your soul.

That's probably enough. You get the point, right?

The beauty of the soup, at least for my particular soup eating purposes, is two fold. One, it's easy on the digestive system because it's mostly liquid. Liquid tastiness. (This is also how I describe martinis, now that I think about it, but a mostly martini diet seems like a totally bad idea right now.) Easily eaten, hopefully easily digested liquid goodness.

Two: it's warm. I don't know where y'all are at, but it's getting CHILLY up here in New England. There's something about holding a steamy hot mug of soup in my hands that pleases me to no end -- it's like being warmed on the inside AND on the outside, and it makes me incredibly happy.

The only thing about eating all of this soup that does NOT make me happy is this: the best soup -- in the world -- is made in North Carolina.

By my mom.

I don't know how to make this soup. Since I'm pretty sure it involves boiling actual critter bits, I don't think I WANT to know how to make this soup*** because, while I'm comfortable knowing that she's done it and they're in there, I don't want to do it myself. She makes this soup only after roasting a turkey or a chicken, and let me tell you:

It's like magic.

It's all turkey (or chicken) -y and rice-y and onion-y and peppery and good. It makes my tastebuds happy, like they are at tastebud Disneyworld and there's no line at Space Mountain. It makes my heart happy because eating it means I'm with my mom. It makes my soul happy because it is filled with love.

Seriously, y'all.

I'm going to visit my family at Thanksgiving. By then I should TOTALLY be feeling better (otherwise, we will be having a serious problem) but I'm still going to dive spoon first into a bowl of the best soup in the universe.

Until then, some other soupy goodness will just have to do.

*Have you ever described yourself as being over the weather? The minute I typed that, I thought, I've definitely said "I'm SO over this weather" but I've never used it in a health sense. "How are you?"
"Over the weather!" Weird.

**I think I should apologize for this entire post right now. I am so overtired.

***Ew. Also, I should mention that on the suggestion of a medical professional, I'm reintroducing some meats into my diet. Carefully.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Home, Jeeves

Right around this time last year, I packed up my car and drove to New Hampshire. At about the same time, the East Coast was having some sort of freakishly awful fall storm. Which was, you know, awesome, because if there's one thing that's super fun, it's being in a VW Rabbit with your mom and a bunch of your stuff and a really angry cat for a million and twelve hours AND driving straight into a storm.


I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter because I'd already sent in the non-refundable deposit on my apartment, and some very nice mover guys had already taken all of the stuff I couldn't fit into my car (like, you know, the couch. And the bed. Stuff that just won't fit into a hatchback), and I needed to get to New Hampshire, and into the apartment, before my furniture arrived. So off we went. Armed with my mom (for someone to talk to) and coffee (because, duh), and my favorite road trip Barry Manilow CD, and a brand spanking new GPS.

Here's a fun fact about a GPS: you can choose which voice/accent the GPS speaks in. How fun is that? After being slightly disappointed that none of my GPS choices sounded like Morgan Freeman (which would have been AWESOME ... it would have been like the Voice of God instructing me to take a left onto I-95), I selected a snotty male British voice.

And then named the GPS Jeeves.

As I was saying: Mom, check. Barry, check.  Coffee, check. Jeeves, check.

Good to go. Storm or no storm.

We left North Carolina in the afternoon and zipped northward merrily, driving through wind and squalls and, of course, singing along with Barry while the cat meowed in displeasure from her crate. All the while, Jeeves offered excellent suggestions.

But then outside of DC, Jeeves suddenly became ... how to say this:


My plan was to stay on 95. It was, I thought, a good one.

But Jeeves wanted me to take a different route.

I did not know what to do. I looked at my mother. "What did he say?"

"Get on 395?"

"Is that a good plan?"

"I don't know," she said. "I would think it must be a shortcut or something."

I wanted to stay on 95. However, I have a long history of getting lost in places I am super familiar with -- for example, I lived in Rochester for 7 years and never quite figured out where the post office was -- so I thought, well, Jeeves IS a GPS. So, probably, he knows where he is going.

I got off 95.

And immediately drove straight into one of the circles of hell. I don't know which one it was, precisely, but if Dante had been in possession of a car and knew what rush hour DC traffic was like, he would have described what I drove directly into.


With the super helpful Jeevesie giving me instructions like "Merge left." I began sniping back at him as though he was a person I could reason with: "Um, Jeeves? I can't GO left right now. Because THERE ARE CARS EVERYWHERE."

I drove past the Pentagon. I drove past other government-y stuff. It was when I saw an exit for Pennsylvania Ave that I totally lost my cool. "This is NOT AWESOME JEEVES. I WANTED TO GO AROUND DC! AROUND! NOT THROUGH! WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!"

"I'm sorry," my mom whispered.

"Meow," the cat said, pitifully. I stewed and steamed.

It took me three hours to get through DC. Finally -- FINALLY! -- Jeeves instructed me to get off at Rock Creek Parkway.

Here's what I know about Rock Creek -- I watch NCIS. Someone gets murdered there EVERY DAMN WEEK.

"Oh, Rock Creek," I said out loud.

"Do you know where that is?" Mom asked.

"Uh. No?" I said. It was late, we were tired, and "According to Gibbs, this might be the murder capital of the DC Metro area" seemed like a bad thing to announce.  I comforted myself with happy Mark Harmon thoughts, interspersed with moments of glowering at Jeeves, who looked back at me impassively.

I have never been so happy to get back on I-95 in my WHOLE LIFE.

We drove through the night. The weather worsened, and then improved. In Rhode Island, happily tooling down 95, coffee in hand once again, singing at the top of my lungs "Ohhhhhh Maaaaaaandy! You came and you gaaave without taaaaaking," Jeeves piped in.

"In 2.7 Miles, turn right onto state highway 126...."

"Oh no, nonononono. Not this time mister. 95 all the way."

"Recalculating," Jeeves said. It may have been my imagination, but he sounded annoyed.

"Who's the navigator now?" I said, smiling, and drove on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Here's how going to the doctor works in my family: there were (and are) people who go to the doctor at the slightest instance of slightly unwell.  My grandmother was the definition of hypochondriac. To say this was stressful would be a gross (literally) understatement, as every interaction with my nana was highlighted by her newest list of complaints, medical wackiness, and roster of visits with doctors. In hindsight, I understand that living that way must have been sad and exhausting for her, but it didn't make it any easier to listen to her go on and on about thinking that she needed surgery because her left eye was a little squinky for about 90 seconds last Tuesday.

So, yeah. The family members either go to the doctor for every last thing, or we NEVER go.

I think we've established which camp I belong in.

To be fair to me, my history of "Yeah, I think I'm good, despite the fact that I seem to have lost a limb and might be a little bleed-y" behaviour ALSO stems from the fact that when I was about 12, I walked into the pediatrician's office with my mom for an appointment, only to have the receiptionist ask "And has Danielle been here before?"

My mother and I were both flummoxed. Had I been there before? I'd been going there since I was BORN. Also, I had recently been through an entire series of allergy tests that involved poking holes in my skin and putting drops of different and potentially toxic substances on the holes to see if I got puffy and itchy* -- these tests took hours and were done over a period of a couple of weeks.  Had they seen me before? I had JUST been there.

"Yes," my mother said slowly.

"Oooooh," the receiptionist said. "Hang on." She went towards the back of the office, which was dumb because we could still see her, and began having a heated conversation with the office manager. They both kept looking at us. I was 12, but I knew something was afoot.

Here's what was afoot: They had lost my records. LOST THEM. Allergy tests? Gone. Procedures? Gone. Asthma treatments? Gone. In a pre-computer age, I might add. So when I say they were gone? They were GONE. Never to be recovered.

My medical history starts at the age of 12.

That is not awesome.

The other thing that makes me, er, mistrustful is this: when I was in high school, I injured my shoulder. I told my doctor is was injured. He told me to chill. From the age of 15 until I was in my twenties, whenever I had a physical, I would tell my doctor that my shoulder was a problem. Finally, when I was 27, he ordered an MRI to shut me up.

Here's what the MRI showed: BIG holes. None of the cartilege was where it was supposed to be and hadn't been for, oh let's see -- TWELVE YEARS. Within weeks, I had surgery to screw everything back together.

Doctors. They bum me out. So I don't like to go. Plus, it's inconvenient and icky and doctor's offices are germy and have I mentioned? OCD.

I'm mentioning this because a) I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for January, so every time I start to feel ... yucky ... I think "Whatever, I'm going to the doctor in January. If it's still a problem in January, I'll talk to the doctor about it" and then continue on my merry way; and b) because I'm a little bit under the weather with an issue that I don't think should wait until January. Except that I think it's stress related, and so going to the doctor won't help because going to the doctor will stress me out more and that's not going to make me feel BETTER.

So basically, I'm sick-ish and it's pissing me off... and the more pissed I get, the more sick I feel.

Sick, and frustrated.

*which made getting tattoos later in life a cakewalk, by the way

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Out of Contexts

Standard Disclaimer: Some of the below were NOT uttered by me, and do not reflect the definite opinions of the blogger... but since they all make her laugh, they are included for your amusement.


"My cat just smacked me in the head with one of her paws." "She's been watching too much NCIS."


"You know what the secret ingredient in that coffee is, don't you? It's crack. Could I get another crack coffee, please?"


"I had a dream that the wedding was officiated by Jim Henson, and that a choir of Muppets were singing the Hallelujah Chorus." "That could NEVER happen. Jim Henson is dead." "But the Muppets strike you as possible?"


"It's not like I'm stalking him on the internet or anything." "It's not?" "Well, maybe I am, but he should expect that from me."


"What has been smelled cannot be unsmelled!"


"It's like a glass full of sunshine, hand poured by kittens and served by unicorns. THAT'S how amazing it is." "Or, it's just wine." "Wine served by UNICORNS!"


"If Google were a person, he would be totally creepy. But helpful. In, you know, a creepy way."


"She's a trainwreck. A complete chugga-chugga-choo-choo-all-aboard-the-Jerry-Springer-Railways trainwreck."


"Yeah, if I'm going to date someone that goofy he at least needs to be taller."


"Sorry, but the next thing on my agenda is poking out my eyes in frustration.  You might have to come by with some band-aids and neosporin."


"He sucks at life." "Well, yes, but he does it in a highly attractive fashion."


"And if there's one thing I love, it's a rainboot with skulls on it. Ooops, that's two things. If there's two things I love..."


"Okay, it's raining really hard. So here's what we do: When you stop, I'm going to go grab the gopher wood and you line up the animals two by two."