Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Tale of Santa Pirate

It was a chilly morning in December of 2010 and I was still happily in bed as my then-fiancé was getting ready for work. Back then, he usually left before me and tried his best not to wake me up, but this day was different. I was vaguely aware that he had left, but then I heard him come back inside.

“Hey babe?” he called from the living room.

As I shook off the grogginess, I continued to lay in bed, “What?”

He replied with, “Ummm, you better come out here”

So, of course, I assume something bad has happened and jumped out of bed. My fiancé is still standing by the entrance to our patio door and I am greeted by this:

Surprise!

My fiancé tells me that he was almost to his car when it caught his eye. I was still trying to figure this all out when he says, “There was a note.”

What does it mean? What did I do?

At this point, I’m not sure if this a joke or a threat…what exactly did I do that would warrant a visit from Santa Pirate? And what did "SSPE" mean? I decided to do the only sensible thing I could think of, which was to close the door, pretend this wasn’t happening, and go back to bed. When I awoke, he was still there and remained there for several days. Watching…waiting…

Until the day he was just gone. It threw me off a bit; I had grown accustomed to his presence on the porch and was a little sad that he had vanished. He made for a great talking point when people came over and there was something kind of charming about his eyepatch and hook-hand. I had so many questions: Who had put him there? Why us? Who took him? What if he was Santa-napped by unrelated individuals who just hate pirates and Christmas?!

I became determined to lure Santa Pirate back to our home; but the question was, with what? Regular Santa likes milk and cookies, so what does Santa Pirate want? Then in hit me:

Rum!
I left this little gem perched on a chair on our patio. I also took a photo and posted to social media in case the Santa-nappers were watching.

The following morning, I heard my fiancé once again calling me for me.

“Babe, come here!” he called out.

“Is it Santa Pirate?!” I replied.

He yelled back, “At first I thought it was a child or a little person trying to sell us something at the door”. (I'm not sure why he would think that because I can't recall any children or little people who are traveling salesmen in our neighborhood, but stranger things have happened).

This is what I found:

Santa Pirate entering the home like gentleman.
Santa Pirate had decided to come in through the front door. Fearing that he could be spirited away again, we made the decision to bring him into the house. The logical placement seemed to be by the Christmas tree, we had accepted him into our home.

Nobody puts Santa Pirate in the corner, except for us because that's where the tree was
We did eventually find out who it was that brought Santa Pirate to us (shout out to Ben and Bentonamo), who had started the “Secret Sociaty for Pranking Enthusiasts” (yes, it’s spelled wrong, they don’t seem to care). The name of their group finally solved the mystery of "SSPE" on the note. I had suspected these two initially because they love getting into general shenanigans, but they denied it until the day Santa Pirate made his way to his place of honor next to our tree. I was then made a member of their “Secret Sociaty”, however I have not participated in any pranks to date. I still don’t know what it was that I did that Santa Pirate seemed to know about. When pressed for answers, Ben and Bentonamo simply answered, “You know and he knows”.

I have an exciting update for 2016 about Santa Pirate, 6 years after he landed on doorstep he lives again!!

It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!
He had come to us with no bulb and his electrical cord was cut, but the Mister has him back in working order. We plan to make him part of our holiday display outside this year, because the neighbors just don't think we're weird enough.

#Santa #Pirate #SantaPirate #Pranks #Christmas
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hired Pen

So, I technically maintained my “blog every day” commitment for NaBloPoMo, but I didn’t write for my own site. I submitted 2 pieces to a friend’s blog recently. The first was a review of the Zelda symphony at the NJPAC and the second was a review of a local comic convention. I really enjoyed writing about the comic expo because I also submitted photos I had taken of the day. It gave me the opportunity to practice using my DSLR and writing for a new audience, plus I got to feel super-cool wearing a Press badge at the event. The power went straight to my head!

My key to the kingdom

I will post links once my stories run, until then!

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #WriterforHire #NerdMom

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The Little Things

Nov. 18: What's the dumbest thing you and a partner have ever fought about?

We don’t have a lot of arguments and when I look back on times we have fought, I don’t clearly remember what triggered it all. I guess that’s a good thing, the battles that have stuck with me were fairly serious issues or the general growing pains of a long-term relationship. We do have these funny moments like the following:

*unloading groceries*

Me: Babe, I see this balsamic salad dressing. Where is the balsamic vinegar I asked for?

Him: What?

Me: *louder now* Where is the balsamic vinegar?

Him: *shifting his eyes around* …what?

Me: This is all you bought isn’t it?

Him: I didn’t know there was a difference!

Then we kind of move on and laugh it off.

This is how many of our interactions go, so I suppose we’re very lucky. We understand each other and work well together.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #BlogHer  #Relationships
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cats and Cash

Nov. 17: What is the hardest lesson you’ve learned from having pets?

I know today’s prompt asked for only one, but I feel like these two lessons are tied together.

1.  They are expensive

I know owning a pet can be very rewarding, but I become frustrated when I see friends who are struggling financially that get dogs or cats. It may not seem like much of a financial commitment at first, but trust me when I say that over time, pet ownership will hit your wallet. It’s a lot more than food, baths, and going for walks. If you are already in a bad way when it comes to money and your animal becomes sick or injured, you may find yourself putting procedures and vet visits on credit because…

2.  You love them in a BIG way

It sounds cliché, but they become part of your family. You care for them and they return your attention and affection. If you take good care of a healthy animal, they can live for a very long time, thus solidifying their position in your household. It’s that love we have for our pets that makes it so devastating when we eventually lose them.

My Covey
I know because I had found little black cat wandering around a concert venue in Brooklyn that the Mister was djing at. I had bottle service with vodka, so a lot of things sounded like a good idea. Next thing I knew I was traveling back to NJ with a kitty in my lap. With my level of inebriation, I'm glad that was the worst of my plans that evening. I named him after the band and Covey joined our little family.

He was a sweet and loving cat, it always pained me to think of how good of a cat he was and how most of his life was spent not being taken care the way he really deserved. Unfortunately, he was also incredibly sick. Which is not something you know when bringing in an animal from the street (while drunk). He had fleas that had drained him to the point of anemia, a tooth that was infected and had to be pulled, and FIV. The FIV made his quality of life very poor toward the end and caring for him became incredibly expensive.

That little kitty was a pleasure to have in our home, but our experience stands as cautionary tale to others. You just don't know what is going to happen with your pets and because we love them so damn much, we open open our hearts (and our wallets) to meet their needs.

#NaBloPoMo #Writing #Blogging #BlogHer #Pets #Cats
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Dammit Dexter!

Nov. 16: What TV series finale are you still upset about and why?



You may have noted in an earlier TV themed post where I mentioned that I had given up watching Dexter while the show was still a few seasons out. I initially loved Dexter, it was incredibly well-done and entertaining. (Side note: this show got me obsessed with my French press coffee maker just from watching the opening credits.) Over time, I lost interest in it completely, my husband held on for a bit longer than I did; but even he dropped out before the show had wrapped up. For him, it was more the pregnancy and subsequent birth of our daughter that prevented him from watching than issues with the show itself. When we moved, we did not get Showtime, so the chances of my husband catching up were pretty slim.

At some point, Dexter landed on Netflix and the Mister was able to pick up where he left off. I still had zero interest in it; for me, the best part of the story had been told and the show had run its course. I mentioned to a coworker that my husband was watching the show and how uninterested I was in it. She replied, “Yeah, and the way it ended! Just horrible, right?” So, now I’m intrigued. I told her that I don’t plan on watching it, so just tell me what happens. After she is done describing the trainwreck of a finale, I kind of can’t believe it because it sounds so far-fetched. Then I texted my husband to make sure I watch the last 2 episodes with him, I had to see it with my own eyes.

When I watched the series finale for this show, I mourned for the time my husband lost by investing in that storyline. Nothing made sense! He just lets his kid think he’s dead and allows him to be raised by some crazy woman? And now he’s…a lumberjack? The worst part: Deb! She deserved better, she really did. I’m not saying that she didn’t have to die, but to have Dexter take off with her body was horribly selfish. There were other people who loved her, who deserved to be able to mourn her properly.

This show started off great, better than great honestly. It all fell apart, which isn’t unusual for long-running shows, but the finale of Dexter was insult to anyone who wasted their time hoping to see it all come together in the end.

#NaBloPoMo #Writing #Blogging #Television #TV #Dexter #Showtime

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NaBloPoMo Day 15: Just say "No" to canned cranberry sauce

Nov. 15: What are the best/worst dishes at Thanksgiving dinner?

Why is this even a question?  Anyone who knows me, knows that there are two things I loathe more than anything in the world and they both come from cans. The first in tuna fish (have you smelled that stuff?) and the second is cranberry sauce.

Even as a kid, I could not get on board with eating something shaped like a can. I mean, seriously people, we live a modern age and there is no reason for our food to be served in the shape of the package it came in! My mother treated it as if the roundness and the lines around the jellied cranberries was part of its charm. She'd even slice it into little perfectly round disks. Ummm, no. That’s just gross.

Nope. No thanks. More for you.
I have eaten cranberry sauce that didn’t come from a can and found it be pleasant enough. I’m not going to go out of my way to go get some, but it was okay. I just can’t wrap my head around  the appeal of the canned stuff. Cranberry sauce real talk: it’s kind of bitter, it sort of taste like metal, and it’s shaped like the.damn.can!

There are plenty of foods that don't belong in cans: whole chickens, bacon, anything involving bread. I'm sure there is a huge list of things that have no business being canned, but I find cranberry sauce to be the most offensive. Why does every other jelly and jam get to come in a jar? What do we have against cranberries?

I don't understand the enchanment with this Thanksgiving staple and I don't think I ever will. I'm not going to create a huge controversy about it at the table (my family provides more than enough of that after the recent election season), but I will quietly abstain. Mostly likley while wrinkling my nose and silently judging everyone else.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer
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NaBloPoMo Day 14: How to be me in 4 easy steps

November 14: What was it like to be me in 2016?


How to be 2016 Me in Four Easy Steps

1.  You are in your car

Now, imagine that you are always in your car. That was me this year. I bought a new car in April and it already has 17,000+ miles on it. Because of a bridge construction project that was halted back in July (thanks Gov. Chris Christie), my commute has been anywhere from an hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours…one way. I have started scheduling phone meetings so that I can take them in my car and technically still be working, thus justifying me running out the door at 4pm before the traffic gets really crazy.

Home, Sweet Home

2.  You never sleep well

Now, imagine that you have a stubborn toddler who takes 3 hours to go to bed and then walks into your room 10 times a night.  Without proper sleep, everything else in life just seems hard. Work, commute, writing, remembering to bathe…it all gets tough without rest. It’s difficult to get mad at a cute little baby who keeps coming in to tell you that they love you and give you kisses, but it is exhausting.

3.  You don’t exercise

Now, imagine that you haven’t exercised since you were put on activity restrictions when you were pregnant. Because I’m always tired and always in my car, there doesn’t seem to be the time or the drive within me to even attempt exercising.

4.  Your husband holds it together

Now, imagine that your husband is experiencing almost all of the same things as you, but is somehow keeping his head straight. Minus the horrible commute, he and I are in the same boat and thank God for that, because many times he’s the one bailing us out if we start to take on water. He takes care of me if I’m sick, snuggles my butt at night (if/when we finally get into bed), does the single-parent thing when I’m away at trainings and conferences, and he even lets me sleep in sometimes when I’ve just had too much. Parenthood will not strengthen a relationship, it does, however, test it. I am thankful we started from a strong place or else 2016 could have gone much differently.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Calling it out

There has been a noticeable spike in ugliness lately. Either that or my awareness of it has tipped past the point of no return. It doesn't really matter which it is, I just know that I can't stand by.

I'm not going to post a Facebook status, sign a petition, or wear a safety pin. What I am going to do is call shit out when I see it. Someone made a remark about a certain train line that picks up at a heavily Indian town as the "curry express", I called it out for what it was. Some guy yelled that I have nice legs and I told him, "nobody asked you your opinion". (My heart raced with that one because you never know how someone will react). My cousin-in-law posted an incredibly racist video on Facebook and I let him know it was unacceptable.

I know these small acts aren't going to fix the problems of the world overnight, but at least I can try to clean house in the circles I move in. It's probably better if I don't identify myself with a safety pin, they won't see me coming.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 12: Wonder Years

My husband is binging on the Wonder Years. I did not like this show as a kid, like….not at all. My parents loved it, it transported them back to their youth the way Stranger Things does for me I suppose. I don’t think I disliked it because I couldn’t connect with the time period or themes, but something about it made me feel unwell when I watched it. Kevin was always, without fail, in every episode getting himself into situations that made me cringe. I get it, sitcom = situational comedy, so the characters kind of have to get into situations. That doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. Watching snippets of this show again as an adult has me saying still….what the hell Kevin??? You’re lucky you’re a lovable little kid because otherwise I’m not sure why people put up with your shenanigans. 

As a child, I would leave the room when things got too awkward on the show and, occasionally, I get that same impulse as an adult. I’m not sure what it is, maybe the “I can see it coming from a mile away”. Almost every episode still makes me want to run away screaming, “NOOOOOOOOO! THE WONDER YEARS!” Except for that one episode where the sister gets married, does shit her way, and peaces out to Alaska. That episode spoke to me in a special way.

I’m almost afraid to ask how many episodes he has left, it’s almost constantly on his phone, laptop or TV while he is doing other things. So, my hope is that there aren’t many more. I also don’t want to hear from him that he “has no time to do anything” because he has enough for this torturous series. Fear not, I will survive and then get back on track with Luke Cage.



#NaBloPoMo #Writing #Blogging #BlogHer #WonderYears #HelpMeJesus
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Friday, November 11, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 11: Five Things I've Learned Through Marriage (and birds don't fart)

Nov. 11: What are five funny (but real) things your current relationship has taught you?

1.  That two people don’t have to be the same brand of weird to work. 


True love.
I like Star Wars, he watches pro-wrestling. I read comic books, he follows the New York Knicks. I was a goth girl, he rocked Timbs and loose pants. We came from different places and preferences, but we agree on just enough dumb stuff to be a good pair. I think that if a couple can quote the same stupid movies together, they’re probably going to do alright.

2.  Shared finances are not easy.


Actual photo of my husband's wallet; it's hard to sit, but helps with budgeting.

Okay, this one isn’t actually funny but I couldn’t ignore it. We struggled to find our balance in this department, but we finally found something that works. It used to feel more like roommates, we had our own accounts and he would give me money to pay bills. Then we wound up with a mortgage and a toddler in daycare and that didn’t work anymore. Now we have a shared checking and savings, along with our own separate checking accounts, and a Google Doc that we use to budget and track spending. It is much more organized and I can’t believe we didn’t always do it this way.

3.  Birds don’t fart.



My husband kept blaming his farts on our lovebird, I’m pretty sure that if Tweeter ever farted that hard he would have either shot up into the air or simply exploded into a cloud of feathers. So, I did my research and discovered that birds do not, in fact, fart. If not for marriage, I never would have known.

4.  Whiskers stick to everything.


Some guy really pissed of the lady in his life
Image via Beard King

I’m tempted to buy one of those suction cupped capes for when he shaves. I will find his hair in my toothbrush, the soap, in my makeup bag that was in the drawer (how????)…everywhere. I suppose I have the advantage of all my shaving happening in the shower, so it just washes away to slowly clog the drain.

5.  Married people are basically the worst friends ever.


Ehhh, I don't know. I'd have to put on pants for this.
Even before having our daughter, we were starting to become terrible friends. Why leave the house to go to a bar when you are already hanging out with the person you like better than anyone else? We try to make appearances when it really matters, but really, we’re good.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer #Marriage

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 10: Prom

Nov. 10: Did you celebrate or commemorate your divorce or a significant breakup? Would you ever?

I have never been divorced, but I have watched my friends go through the process and it does NOT look easy. I think every single person who finalizes their divorce deserves a party. Divorce is no picnic y’all. I have never celebrated a significant breakup. I think the closest I can come up with was when I left my longtime high school boyfriend.

We weren’t getting along well anymore and we didn’t have the emotional and social tools necessary to really talk through our problems and empathize with one another. Plus, we were just kids and relationships are hard work; that combination doesn’t always pan out. Sensing the end was near in the spring of my senior year, I asked my long-time friend (long-time as in our parents went to high school together, known him all my life friend), if he would go to prom with me if I dumped my boyfriend. His reply, “Evelynn, I would MARRY you if that mean you would dump that guy”. As you can see, my friends didn’t really like him anymore either. Unbeknownst to me, my buddy had been asked to prom earlier by another girl. His reply was, “NO! Proms are dumb you’re dumb for asking”. So, that explained why she acted to annoyed with me later on.

At this point, it was very close to prom time and my new date had no money and no tuxedo to wear. My mom sprang into action and was able to throw together an outfit at Hot Topic of all places. He was resplendent in his 90’s era ruffled shirt, Bram Stoker’s Dracula purple glasses, and a top hat. Hot Topic even had actual tuxedo pants and jacket. With the formal wear secured, we went through all of the other typical prom rituals: photos with friends, the limo, dancing, and fun. I even danced with the Vice-Principal (he was an absolute gentleman). In fact, this prom was way more fun the one I had attended the year before with my boyfriend.

Basically my prom date.
So, in a way, I was permitted to celebrate my last year of high school with friends, unencumbered by the woes of a teenage relationship. I wouldn’t say I consciously celebrated the breakup, maybe my prom date did, but I just felt free to enjoy myself.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer #Prom #HotTopic
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 9: What I would say to Hillary

Nov. 9: What do you want to say to Hillary Clinton today?

I would say:

I see you

You are qualified for the job

You are experienced

You dedicated your life to the game of politics

But, you are a woman

And to our country…

Even an unqualified man is more desirable

Than a woman’s pantsuit hanging in the White House closet

We have so much work to do


#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer
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NaBloPoMo Day 8: Butterfly Effect

Nov. 8: If you could redo one moment in your life, what would it be and why? How would it change who you are now? 

There are so many moments I would happily relive: that time we all swam in the lake as kids, Christmas at my great-grandma’s, my wedding day, the birth of my daughter (as a spectator, because eff that c-section shit), or that one time in London when things got REALLY crazy (gooood times). To be a part of those moments again would be incredible beyond words, but I picture it more as relieving them step-by-step as they happened the first time. Kind of like re-watching your favorite scene of a movie, only you’re in it. The idea of going back and changing a particular day is a whole other thing for me. You see, I’m pretty happy where life has landed me and I would be too afraid of some kind of butterfly effect that would prevent me from arriving right here, right now.

Stay clear of me butterflies of the past, I've heard what you can do
If I knew I could redo a day without any consequences for my present, I would choose to go back in time and not head out with my friend on the day she introduced me to my ex-boyfriend. I fell in love with him deeply and quickly and, honestly, that pace probably contributed to how toxic the relationship eventually became. I can say with absolute certainty that I was in an abusive relationship and it made me into a person who I didn’t like. I was depressed, I was insecure, I was sure I’d never find anyone else who would love me, I was separated from my friends, and I started making very bad decisions. It was like living in a fog that crept in slowly over time and then one day I looked around and realized I couldn’t see and had no idea where the exit was. After a time, I think we both hated each other to some degree and yet could not seem to make a clean break. We just kept falling back into it over and over again. I knew someone who called it being “soul-tied”, when you can’t seem to separate yourself from a particular person even when you logically know better. It’s like some outside force keeps dragging you back together, it makes you feel helpless.

I eventually did leave; I went all the way to the other side of the country and cut contact. In spite of him constantly trying to bait me back into talking to him, I kept my distance. I lived my life the way I wanted and became someone who, if I weren't me already, I would want to be friends with. I reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and started reaching my goals both personally and professionally. Next thing I knew, it was 10 years later and he was still calling my parent’s house, but I didn’t feel that pull any more and I hadn't for quite some time (at that moment, I just felt sort of sorry for him).

This experience, as unhealthy as it was, forced me to be stronger. Maybe if I hadn't walked into Guitar Center that day I would have spared myself the hurt and the overall experience of abuse, but restarting my life took an incredible amount of strength, which I’m not sure I would have grown without that relationship. So, yeah. Of course, I’d love to have just not even met him. That sounds so nice and clean and simple. But at the same time, I fear that I would not be the person I am today without what happened to me.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer
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Monday, November 7, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Fakesgiving

Nov. 7: What was your worst Thanksgiving food fail?

I’m in that weird in-between stage in which I am a parent, but both of our families still expect us to come over for Thanksgiving. I’m actually looking forward to the days when I don’t have to go anywhere, but I’m not So, I don’t really cook any food for Thanksgiving, we are usually just asked to bring a bottle of wine or dessert.

I do, however, regularly cook the day after Thanksgiving. Back when the Mister and I were first living together, we acquired on of those free turkeys from Pathmark as a thank you for spending over a certain amount during their promotional time period. So here we were, faced with this giant bird in our freezer and my husband had a brilliant idea. “Why don’t we just cook it on Friday and have a party?” I was immediately on board. We decided to ask everyone to bring their leftovers from the day before, we would supply the turkey and the booze, and with that, Fakesgiving was born.


Our friends, asking the big questions

Fakesgiving has become a tradition that has spanned the last 8 years. Our friends have come to expect this glorious evening of revelry and leftovers. I could go on forever about all of the weird and wonderful things that happen when we get our friends together, but instead here are a few highlights:

The year I was pregnant, I recall everyone getting drunk around me and at some point the bathroom scale found its way into the kitchen. Everyone began chanting, “On the scale, on the scale” and took turns standing on it while arguing over how accurate it was. One friend arrived in the middle of this and the chant got louder and louder, and with no context whatsoever, he happily hopped on the scale to the whoops and cheers of the crowd. They all knew better than to ask the pregnant lady to hop on (pretty smart for a bunch of drunk people).


My other favorite was the first Fakesgiving with our baby, mid-party the Mister decides to run in the bedroom for a wardrobe change and emerged in glorious a blue and black, burnt-velvet, leopard print suit jacket. I have no idea what came over him, but he strutted through the house like he was Zoolander, throwing Blue Steel left and right. Eventually, everyone tried on the coat and posed for pictures (including the baby). The leopard print frenzy hit its height when our friend Ish donned the coat and proceeded to breakdance while we chanted, “In the coat, in the coat”. I guess we really dig chanting now that I think about it.

The notorious coat
Baby in the Coat

Now, back to the question at hand; I have not had any serious cooking fails involved with Fakesgiving. But I do have some knowledge gaps from never having to cook and growing up with my Mom handling all of the food prep. So, the first year that I cooked for Fakesgiving, I just followed the directions on the turkey packaging to the letter and it came out perfect. For the next 5 years, the turkey came out perfect. Until last year, when my husband got a free turkey from Shop Rite and while I was cooking it, the entire thing exploded with water. I have no idea what happen, maybe there were unseen ice crystals inside of it or maybe we got one those turkeys that they inject with saline to make it seem heavier than it actually is. I’ll never know the cause of the turkpacolypse, but not all was lost. We were able to carve up the pieces and lay it out on a serving tray. My husband acted like this was the presentation we had been aiming for from the beginning and the guests were none the wiser. It wasn’t a kitchen disaster and nothing caught on fire, but there is nothing scarier than having a houseful of hungry people when your main dish decides to burst in the oven.


#NaBloPoMo #BlogHer #Blogging # Writing #Thanksgiving # Cooking #Turkey # Fakesgiving
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 6: All Pumpkin Err'thing

I can't even pretend like I care that my love of the Fall and all things pumpkin can earn me the label of "basic". My penchant for pumpkin: beer, pie, pancakes, muffins, bread, and candles isn't hurting anyone. Honestly, if loving these things is wrong, I don't want to be right.

I know Pumpkin Spice Latte season started prematurely  in August, but I forgive them
This is my time of year for sure; the sky is a sharp blue with bright white clouds, the leaves are glorious, and the air is crisp. I am the type who melts in the summer and wants to hibernate through the cold darkness of winter. Winter is especially tough for me and is typically marked by some serious holiday blues (the polite way to say depression). For me, the Fall is that last bit of comfort and sunshine before things get really hard; and pumpkin is my major association with my autumnal happiness.

My husband was horrified when he saw the price of my obsession at the farm we had purchased our pumpkins from...but it was worth it. Just for Halloween alone we had 7 pumpkins on our porch. I bought 6 more mini pumpkins for my employees. AND I picked up a gorgeous cheese wheel pumpkin for baking.

Here's the few that we decorated

I actually cooked that bad boy up last night which resulted in a pie, mini-pies (made in muffin pans), and pumpkin pancakes this morning. I have so much leftover puree that there is more baking to come. When the pie was in the oven, I enjoyed a pumpkin hard cider while watching Insidious 3 with the Mister and I was so. damn. happy. As result, my husband and child were happy. I like to think it was my glowing good mood, but let's be serious...it was the pie.

I look at this and all I see is pie.
So, to people who hate on Autumn and on pumpkin spice lattes I say, "Pffffft!". I don't go shitting on your Christmas spirit even though sometimes I'd rather die than celebrate it. To me, New Year's Eve is the worst forced night of revelry all year, but you won't hear me putting down your good time. We all have things that make us happy and if those things aren't hurting anyone, who cares what they are? A bad attitude won't get you any pie and, trust me, you want a slice of this happiness.

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer #Pumpkins #Fall #Autumn
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Saturday, November 5, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 5: Crazy Cat Lady

We came home from our first family vacation and did the logical thing like anyone would do and adopted two cats. Because life just wasn't crazy enough. The local shelter was so thrilled, they gave us a BOGO and we only paid one adoption fee.

Both cats came from hoarding situations, Lizzie lived with 234 other cats (I know, right?!) and Emerson came from a "light" hoarding situation of *only* 30 cats.

It's been a few weeks and we're starting to learn about their personalities. Emerson is still a kitten at 10 months old, he likes to play and romp while getting into trouble. He's a serious cuddle bug too. Lizzie is very jumpy, but is learning that being pet is pretty awesome. She likes to wander the house putting her nose directly on everything. Both cats keep bothering the birds, but my female lovebird has given any toes that have strayed too close a good bite. That bird is seriously way too tough for her own good. The cats will learn...eventually.

But beyond just the good, we are also learning about the weird. Lizzie has started hoarding. Not things that would make sense like food items or bedding, but useless objects. It's like she can't help herself, she slides magnets off the fridge, bottle caps, and measuring spoons. I've discovered several hiding places where my daughter's tea cups and play food are stashed away.
I'm not really sure what to think of this yet since she's still so new to our home. I hope it's something she'll outgrow as she becomes comfortable and more confident that everything she needs will be provided. You can't adopt a shelter pet and not expect a few quirks, I'll definitely take this over some others I've heard of.

Quirks aside, they both tolerate my 2-year-old exceptionally well. For some reason she affects this weird nasally sounding voice a-la-Fran Drescher when speaking to the cats. So, I guess I'm learning a few things about my kid in the process as well.

Here they are in all of their lazy glory


#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #BlogHer #Cats #CrazyCatLady
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Friday, November 4, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 4: To TV or Not to TV

Nov. 4: Which fall shows should totally be canceled already?

I don’t watch much TV these days, although the amount of options available to me is a bit overwhelming. The Mister and I can only commit to so many shows while working full-time and raising our toddler. When she is near the TV, we try to keep it on Sesame Street (I really love Cookie Monster’s role as a parody film actor). Or something equally kid-friendly; but not Caillou, efffffffffff that.

Here she is, standing too close to the TV
For the adults, some shows are just understood in our home: The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are non-negotiable and my husband religiously watches Monday Night Raw (the WWE wrestling show). With our limited time, we have difficulty keeping up with even those few shows. We move in and out of sporadically watching others like American Horror Story, The Leftovers, and Veep, but this only happens is if we experience a miracle and our kiddo has knocked out early. Due to our schedules, we are very picky about what we’re willing to spend our time on (not just TV shows, but on activities outside of the house as well). Basically, if we’re going commit to watching a series, it better have high production value to be worth our time.

Meanwhile, my friends are all watching Scandal, This Is Us, Empire, and Modern Family and I am very much out of the loop. I can’t even find time to finish watching Luke Cage on Netflix let alone add anything new to my list. In fact, if a show stops doing it for me I will drop out all together and not even feel bad (I’m looking at you Dexter). In my opinion, television is the ultimate opportunity for storytelling in our modern times; it can be better than a movie because it lacks the time crunch you have with film. You can develop characters, build relationships, and truly tell the story the way it was meant to be enjoyed. So, I have no patience for shows that aren’t to my liking.

All this to say, that maybe if I had more time I would give a few of these new Fall shows a spin….but I don’t. So, all that I know is what I like and what I want to see. I can’t give an opinion on something I’ve never watched, what’s the old saying? How do you know if you like if you’ve never tried it?

#NaBloPoMo #Writing #Blogging #Television #TV

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

That Time I Flew a Helicopter

Nov. 2: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

I am not sure if this falls under “brave”, “adventurous”, or “just plain reckless”, but I saw a Groupon for a helicopter flight lesson and said, “Happy birthday to me”. I don’t know what came over me, I read the description and just thought, “yes”.  I had been feeling boring and life had become very routine, I was hungry for ways to shake things up again. What could be better than flying around in my own personal twirly bird? I knew it was potentially dangerous, but that was part of what made it sound so appealing. Why is it that humans find flirting with death so much fun??

***Spoiler Alert: I survived.***

Funny enough just a week after purchasing my voucher I found out I was pregnant and I was hit with a real dilemma at that point. I didn’t want to waste my money or lose the chance for this experience by waiting until after I had the baby. In retrospect, that was a smart decision, because with my schedule I never would have gone. I spent way too much time asking Dr. Google if this was okay and I finally contacted the flight school directly. (Funny enough, you get better answers when you just pick up the phone). They did not allow women on board later in their pregnancies, but early on was fine, so I was good to go!

I drove alone to the airfield and wondered if I should have brought a friend. I wasn’t experiencing morning sickness yet, although that had crossed my mind when I pulled into the parking lot, but at that point it was too late. I was shown a short video and given a brief presentation, I then filled out my paperwork and waivers, and awaited my turn outside.

My Chariot for the Day
My heart pounded in my ears when I strapped myself into the helicopter, but once we got up in the air it all melted away. I saw my part of New Jersey from a new point of view, the instructor let me take photos, and he was so patient when showing me the controls. Speaking of the controls, they were way more wobbly, sensitive, and complicated in ways that I had anticipated. It just makes that episode of How I Met Your Mother when Robin lands the news plane that much more unbelievable.

The View
After it was over, I was riding high on adrenaline and good feelings on my drive home. Suddenly my phone rang, I didn’t recognize the number but something told me to pull over and answer. On the other end, I heard the VP of my company who was borderline hysterical. She had seen on the news that a helicopter had plunged into the Hudson River that was carrying an instructor and a student. I’m not sure how often this happens, but the coincidence that this happened on the same day I had taken flight sent chills down my spine. I was contacted by so many coworkers, I had to send out an email later that day assuring them I was unhurt and alive. It's nice to know they care at least!

Windblown Selfie

Reflecting on this, it is a crazy happy memory. I still can’t say for sure if it was brave or reckless, but it happened and I’m still here.


#NaBloPoMo #Writing #Blogging #Helicopters
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NaBloPoMo Day 1

Nov. 1: When you're having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

I am in a place with my life where I don’t have a lot of options when I am feeling this way. My toddler depends on me, my husband depends on me, my job and my employees also depend on me. I am often told, “I don’t know how you do it”. My response is always, “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have a choice”. Then I flash them a great, big grin to indicate that the discussion is over. To be honest, my real response should be, “I don’t” because I’m certainly not doing it all.

When I am feeling overwhelmed and not in a good mental space, it means other things will not get done in order to find the time to take care of myself. So, I try to find my balance again through small actions. That might mean that I decide to work from home one day so I can catch 30 extra minutes of sleep or that I ask my husband to take our daughter out so that I can sit and think by myself for a moment. I have found that spending time alone, whether it’s to take a bath or just sit on my front porch can usually help clear up my feelings. (Unless the neighbors want to talk, then it kind of defeats the purpose).

Natural anti-depressants (if you can catch them)
Image via Pixabay
These days, it can be hard to do a lot of my own basic care; I get so wrapped up in doing for others that there never seems to be any time. (If only we didn’t need to sleep, amirite ladies?) So, something as small as getting my haircut at a salon can feel incredibly restorative. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things that can bring me any measure of peace. I find that I don’t have time to spare for anything “big”, because as I turn my focus onto myself, other things are piling up and not getting done, which will only add to my stress later.


Now that I am in a place in my life where I am a wife, mother, and supervisor I am probably most the stressed out and challenged I have ever been, but I have found that I feel the best I ever have mentally. My life is very purpose driven and even though the time feels tight, it is also filled with my daughter, my husband, and meaningful interactions through my job. That may be another reason why I hesitate to press pause to handle my feelings, the very things that can cause me to feel unwell at times are also what makes me feel whole.

#NaBloPoMo #BlogHer #BlogEveryDay #Blogging # Writing
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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I'm a Little Scared of NaBloPoMo

100% not what my workspace looks like
Image via Pixabay

I don't know about you, but it takes me a long time to get a blog post together that I'm actually happy with. I always have a running list of ideas for things I want to write about, but the actual creation of it is another story. Here's a little bit of my process:

  • Brainstorming
    • I have to take time to really think about how I want to write about the things bouncing around in my head. It's great to have an idea, but how to voice it is whole other level of thinking for me.
  • Time to Actually Write
    • Life stuff gets in the way of my ideal writing schedule all the time. For example, I had to travel unexpectedly for work last month and my kiddo had to stay home sick one day. It can throw a wrench into things.
  • Double Checking My Work
    • Proofreading and editing (because my brains moves faster than my fingers). I frequently swap "from" with "form" and I have been known to skip an entire word because I'm typing too quickly.
  • Is This Worth Sharing?
    • Making sure I still like it after it's all said and done, because if I don't like it I won't post it. It's not so much if my audience will love it, that's important but do I love it? Because it's going to live here forever.

My fear is that I'm about to clog up my blog with posts that are in my mind "less than" in some way. Maybe my time is better spent sticking to my usual process and creating just a few pieces that I'm excited to share? At the same time, maybe NaBloPoMo will speed up how I am able to create my posts.

Also, I can have commitment issues at times; I start with the best of intentions and then beat myself up for not delivering.

I'm considering writing daily on my BlogHer account and the doing a weekly roundup on here, but that could be cheating. Hmmm, what to do?



#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Burned by Books

I lead a very busy life that involves a fairly lengthy commute to my job. To minimize the chances of me getting out of my car and assaulting another motorist (no really, my commute is that bad) I picked up the habit of listening to podcasts and audiobooks. The podcasts have been overall pretty engaging, but sometimes I just don’t feel like hearing people talk to each other. It’s at those moments I turn to audiobooks and, thanks to my local library, I have access to tons of them via Hoopla Digital or Overdrive. My library also has rows of the old CD versions and the MP3 players that you can check out, but nothing beats being able to decide in the moment what you want to listen to through an app.

Artist's rendering of me (on left) once I step outside of my car
Image via Pixabay
Some of the books have been amazing, I even have a favorite audiobook performer now (shout out to Simon Vance, I listen to all of your stuff and I’m a huge fan). Others have been…not so great, either because of content or performance.  A bad story is a bad story whether it is read or listened to and not all books will be to my taste. A poor performance, however, can ruin a perfectly well-written story. I once accidentally downloaded a version of "Interview with the Vampire" that may have been created by a very dramatic Anne Rice fan back in the 80’s. It opened with “Intaaaarvieeeeeew with thaa Vahmpiiiiiiiire”. I said “No thanks” and immediately abandoned it for another version with a more palatable narrator. Then there is the third category where the writing and performance were excellent, but the story took a turn that I did not enjoy. I want to talk about the third.

I have twice (TWICE!), two times in a row listened to lengthy audiobooks which were well-written and masterfully performed that still left me feeling so friggin’ mad by the time the final chapter rolled through my car speakers.

The first was "The Time Traveler’s Wife". Now, I know I’m behind the curve since this book and its accompanying movie have been out for some time now. But I was browsing through what was available on Hoopla and I figured I’d give it a shot since it was so highly ranked.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

For those of you who have not read it or seen the movie, the book goes back and forth from the perspective of a time traveling gentleman and his lady friend. It gets weird because she grows up with him visiting her throughout her childhood. That was my issue number one with this book, by Henry appearing in her childhood he essentially tells her who she will become and what choices she will make. I understand it is all kind of set in stone since he is from her actual future, but still. Leave a little mystery in this poor girl’s life! Once they get together in the same “present” timeline it seemed a bit better, but Clare never felt like her own person to me. Once Henry eventually died, I thought, “Okay, NOW she’s going to live her life on her own terms”. Even though she had her time traveling child to worry about, I assumed she would be able to live life more in the moment and maybe even find love again; she wasn’t very old when her husband passed. But instead of being her own person and making her own decisions she chooses to just wait her entire life to get one last glimpse of her husband as an old lady. Which I get it, it’s soooooo romantic, but it is also like being trapped in an emotional prison. He never should have told her when she would see him again, by disclosing that knowledge he locked her into a state where she would never move forward on her own. Infuriating. 

The second was "Snowflower and the Secret Fan". This book was a fascinating look into the life and traditions of women in 19th century China. 


I have no idea how accurate it all was, but the story was compelling enough that I was happy to listen to the audiobook in my car. In this book, women were told very little useful information about marriage, let alone sex before being sent to the homes of their husband’s. So, when the two main characters of the story are married off, it was no surprise that one of them had figured out that sex is super-awesome and feels great for the woman AND the man, while the other girl 100% did not understand that. Without the mechanics of sex and satisfaction explained, it can be pretty confusing to a young girl, so I gave that a pass in the moment. It wasn’t until the very end of the book where the main character is 80 years old and talking about the concubines she got her husband later on in life did it dawn on me that she NEVER figured it out! At no point in the story did she think to ask how or why “bed business” (their code for sex) was so great for other people in her life. Lily has like….6 kids! 6 kids and never once figured out orgasms. That poor, poor woman. I was upset on her (fictitious) behalf.

I think in a way, the ending of "The Time Traveler’s Wife" was meant to make you feel a bit stuck, the whole book could be seen as a metaphor for relationships that trap you into thinking there is no future without the other, that do not allow you to be whole on your own, or for those relationships that find themselves interrupted by forces beyond their control. But….goddamn, Snowflower and the Secret Fan" couldn’t give Lily even one moment of figuring out that really great sex can leave you seeing stars and wondering if you had died from pleasure?

I was on the waiting list for 11/22/63 by Stephen King for months and it just became available to me. The audiobook version came highly recommended, so I'm hoping to break the streak. It's either 3 strikes you're out or 3rd time's a charm. Let's hope for charming!



#books #audiobooks 
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Why I Write

Writing is not the way I would typically be creative, but it has become my only outlet. I come from a background of theatre: performance, directing, and producing. I did everything from improv to musicals to Shakespeare. Theatre was never my full-time gig; I was getting paid, but never enough to quit my day job. So when I found myself with a high-risk pregnancy, it all had to change. I could only focus on the job that paid the bills and provided my health insurance, plus I couldn't push myself to take on any other contracts for fear I would go into labor early and be unable to see the project through. I have not been creative in the ways that I know best since I was first pregnant.

Right now, my life is a very fine balance of routine. There is just enough time in the day to take care of my child, my full-time job, my hellish commute, and maybe cook something or shower or whatever. If anything upsets that balance there is a snowball effect of problems.

-Actual quotes from our household
Image via Pixabay

The chaos is much more controlled than it used to be, the entire first year of my child's life felt like pure survival mode. I'd say it wasn't until she turned 2 that I started to really miss having an artistic outlet.

To add to that, I felt like parenthood had somehow rotted my brain. I know they say babies leech nutrients from the mother, but I'm thinking brain cells jump ship too. Even now that she is a toddler, I still feel like my mind has regressed in some way. Maybe it's because I spend my time outside of work hanging out with a 2 year old, reading books meant for 2 year olds, and watching TV geared toward 2 year olds. (It's not the most challenging material). I can hardly hold a conversation with my husband because our child talks over us, the kid's got some serious "look at me syndrome" going on and likes all conversations to involve her. When we're finally alone we both knock the hell out and maybe we'll shoot each other a few quick texts about what's going on while at work the next day.
 
Truly riveting stuff. Also, I still don't know what was in the water dish.
Recently, I hit a point where I started feel like a 2 year old with driving privileges (scary, right?) My mind wasn't being challenged, but I was beginning to memorize entire skits from Sesame Street and songs from Daniel Tiger...so that's something. That was when I knew I had to do something to keep myself feeling sharp mentally and would allow me to be expressive in some way.

My favorite part of theatre was being able to tell a story, so I tried to think of ways that I could still do that in my very limited time. Writing became the new vehicle for my storytelling because it doesn't require a schedule or involve other people. I can write on my lunch break or on the notepad app on my phone while I lay in bed. If I don't post anything for a week, I'll be disappointed but there is no one else relying on me to adhere to any kind of timeline. Working in theatre is a collaborative process, it is not something to be done in isolation of others and that was always part of the appeal to me. Unfortunately, I am not at point in my life where I can commit the time and energy to collaborate, I don't think it would be fair because I can't give what I normally would want to give to the process. But there are still all of these jokes and ideas and stories inside of me and, until recently, they were just swirling around under the surface. Thanks to my blog, I finally had a place to let everything spill out and take shape as stories to share. Even if no one read a word I wrote, I would keep at it because I can't bottle it back up again.

A little reminder from my theatre days.
Writing my blog has become more than just the outlet I intended it to be. Blogging enables me to interact with people I never would have otherwise known, I am connected to other writers all over the world. They read my blog and I read theirs...and it's awesome! I feel like I am part of community that I didn't even know existed a few months ago. So far, two other websites have featured my posts and it's exposed me to a whole new world filled with funny, smart writers and I get play in the same sandbox as them! It's strange to think that I didn't even know this playground existed until a few months ago.

I would recommend that any parent who is feeling bottled up inside try blogging. It gives you a chance to not only be creative, but to use some of your big girl GRE vocabulary as well. For example:
  • absconded
  • grandiloquent
  • harangue
Okay, literally none of those words appear in my blog, but if I wanted to I could use them, that's the beauty of having your own little corner of the web!  Because this is my space to stretch my mind and flex my creative muscles (and keep myself from losing my damn mind). Without writing, I could be one episode of Curious George or a reading of Goodnight Moon away from my last brain cell jumping like lemming out of my head.


#blogging #creativity #writing #storytelling
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