Monday, September 2, 2013

One Time Catherine and I Drove to Cape Cod

What a fancy road trip we'll have!

We went to Cape Cod for a long weekend to see whales, go to the beach, and probably flirt with some Kennedy's. 

Many hours of driving later we arrived in Cape Cod. We chose the $40/night room at Howard Johnson. First impressions of the room upon opening the door:
- there are likely bedbugs in those beds
- there are likely dead bodies under those beds
- it is also likely there are dead bodies in the bathroom

Though the man at the front desk denied it vehemently that it was bed bugs which bit Catherine's face so badly her eye was swollen shut, he did allow us to swap rooms. 

Room 2 was much nicer; not unlike my grandmothers guest bedroom circa 1993. This room had a sliding glass door which lead out to a small deck. It was on this deck that a gaggle of geese became offended by Catherine and chased her back inside.

Suffice it to say, Howard Johnson was not the best choice for accomodations. 

Perhaps it is common for Cape Cod to experience miserable weather in late August, but we were not expecting that it would rain all weekend. Whale watching: cancelled. We tried to go to a beach, but from where we sat, the fog was so thick we couldn't see the ocean. To add insult to injury, there were no Kennedy's to be found. 

We spent the weekend mostly sitting in our room, watching tv, and eating Dominos pizza. 

The weekend was not a complete bust, however. 
We each got a duck. A taxidermy duck. 

My guy plays a geeeetar.
Catherine's has a GUN! pew pew pew!

Maybe someday we can try going to Cape Cod again, only we will check the weather first, and also do research as to where the Kennedy's hang out, and how to infiltrate the clan for the purposes of attending fancy garden parties.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm A Hoarder

I hoard.

I hoard phone numbers.

I have Catherine's number!  And I have my mom's number, and my dad's.  I have my brother, my sister-in-law, my uncle, my aunt, my other uncle, my friends from high school...

I have all kinds of numbers that I do currently use.

But then I also have the number of the girl I met at salsa dancing lessons about a year ago, who invited me to a party at her house, and I never went and our friendship never blossomed...but I still have her number.

I also have the number for the little ginger man that my friends and I somehow (somehow) acquired during a long evening out, and named him so offensively "Leprechaun Mike".

I have the number of my ex-boyfriend's coworker's fiance.  Just in case I ever need it.

I have the number for the dude who sat next to me on a flight from Detroit to Philly a year and a half ago.  Got that number here...

I have two named Ian, and two named Dan.  There is one Ian that I am in contact with, but I'm not sure which number is his.  One of the Dan's is my boss, and so I don't want to delete the Dan that I met at a concert 3 years ago just in case I choose the wrong one.

I still have the American number for my friend who moved back to Germany 2 years ago.  Similarly, I have the American number for my friend that moved back to South Africa around the same time.

I have one named George and one named Harrison, and I keep them because they read as George Harrison, which makes me laugh.

I have someone named Lindsey WithAnE in my phone.

Nick, Sebastian, Sheila, Warren, Krystal...there's the Chinese food place that closed down a year ago...two Emily's...3 named Jess, Noelle...

There's one named Steeeeeeeeeeve Crawdad in my phone.  I'm not sure if that's a name he gave himself, or an endearment I conjured up on my own.

And so I have this array of numbers that I'll never use and that I'm paranoid I'll accidentally use, but I can't get rid of them.  I tried to delete an Ian and I couldn't bring myself to do it.  What happens if I really need something and I have an obscure memory of one of these people possessing whatever it is that I need, and I've deleted the number?  

what happens then?

I'm not taking my chances.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's 8:42am


I can tell you with certainty that it does NOT feel like 70 degrees.  It makes me almost want to go to work, just so I can be in the air conditioning.

90% humidity.  What is this, the Amazon??  Get a life, nature, and stop ruining my Spring.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blackpool is a Black Pool of Weird

When my brother graduated from high school (10 years ago. I feel so old. He probably feels older. He is older.) instead of going to the beach with his friends like everyone else does for Senior Week, he let me tag along on a trip to England to visit family.

They were living outside of Manchester, and one day took us to a place called Blackpool.

It is weird.

Wikipedia gives us these tidbits regarding the city of Blackpool:
  • In 1879, it became the first municipality in the world to have electric street lighting.
  • Documents have been found to suggest that the reason Blackpool escaped heavy damage in World War II was that Adolf Hitler had earmarked the town to remain a place of leisure after his planned invasion.
  • Blackpool has, like all of the UK, a temperate maritime climate.
  • A number of shipwrecks have occurred on the coastline of Blackpool.
I remember, and always will remember, two sites in particular.

First, I remember going up Blackpool Tower.  Blackpool Tower is a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower.  It is also almost completely rusted through.  Up to the top you go in a glass elevator, and at the top you stand on a glass floor and are able to look around.  If you look down, your view of the ground beneath you is disrupted by the strips of Duct tape that are holding the platform together.

So there's that.

The second attraction I remember is the UFO Museum.  It's no longer there, unfortunately.  But it sure was there in 2003.  
You have to pay cash because "The Man" tracks your credit card payments (which might be true, but I'm not quite that worked up about it).  Then you get the introduction from the stumpy man wearing faded navy trousers and a stained white (now yellow) shirt.  The conversation went like this (as reported by my cousin David, a genius whose memory I trust completely):

Guy: What do you get when you mix a man with a fish?
Us: A mermaid?
Guy: Merman, merman.  OK, what do you get when you mix a man with a bull?
Us: I don't know, what?
Guy: A minotaur.  OK, but what do you get when you mix an ape with a lion?
Us: I don't know, what?
Guy:  Look in the mirror.
Us: (laughing)
Guy: No, really.  Think about it...a woman doesn't have a beard...a lioness doesn't have a mane.  That's a fact.
Us: (still laughing)
Guy: Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.  It's all on the internet.

"Star Wars is a record of humanity's past, Battlestar Gallactica is our present, and Star Trek is a glimpse into our future."

After our riveting introduction, we walked through a tableau of equally riveting extraterrestrial scenes.  The grand finale at the end of the maze of glass cases was a scene, undoubtedly from Area 51, of your typical green, giant-eyed, saladfingered alien, asleep/dead on a surgical table, and guarded by none other than cardboard cutouts of our planet's fearless alien police force, The Men in Black.  

The curator of this fine establishment also constructed a replica of an authentic UFO that, if one felt compelled to do so, one could climb into in order to really get the full UFO Museum experience.  

So, ladies and gentlemen, that is Blackpool.  Go get it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Wrote A Letter To Ryan Gosling

Sometimes, when the inspiration strikes I write letters to people or places.  Today's inspiration was brought about by an open position at my office, and my daydream fantasy that Ryan Gosling will fill it. I wrote him this letter clearly in fun, but it's my hope that he'll at the very least send me a signed headshot.

Dear Ryan Gosling,

I'm writing to you in earnest- this is a sensitive and very important matter that needs your expedient and thoughtful consideration.  If this letter does not find you at a convenient moment, please set it aside for a time when you have more than just a few minutes to spare.

I work for a small company in [Town Name], PA.  It sounds like a boring place simply because it's in Pennsylvania, and usually it is, but it is a beautiful, quaint town with a lot of history.  The company I work for recently lost its receptionist (to nothing morbid, I assure you; only to brighter opportunities in The Big Apple) and we are in dire need of a replacement.

It is my hope that you will submit your resume for this position and come on board for what will likely be the Role of a Lifetime.  Your daily tasks would include ordering office supplies, scanning documents, and generally spreading charm and cheer throughout the building.  Although none of the past roles I have seen you in would have imparted the necessary skills to come into this position, I am confident that with a little coaching you will flourish.

I have specifically written to you, Ryan Gosling, because our HR Director is a determined and opinionated woman that needs to be charmed.  We have monthly potlucks and while she gives the illusion of being open to other's suggestions concerning the menu, the final decision is always her's and it's never what anyone else wants.  It is my expectation that if a strapping young man with glittering eyes and a sparkling smile suggested, say, tacos, she would drop her insistence on eating lasagna in an instant.

In the vernacular one might say, "first world problems".

If you are interested, please send your resume to me with cover letter attached, as well as three professional references.  A background check may be required at the time of hire.

Please, Ryan Gosling, we need you.  Help us regain the power and eat the food we enjoy!  In the infamous and echoing words of Princess Leia, "you are our only hope".  Contained in this letter are pictures of things, as well as a mix tape that I made for you as an anticipatory signing bonus.

Thank you,

You are undoubtedly curious to know what songs I put on his mix tape.  Consider your curiosity satiated.
1. Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945
2. Oasis - She's Electric
3. No Doubt  - Don't Speak
4. Wilco - I Might
5. The White Stripes - Hello Operator
6. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
7. Ryan Adams - Defenders Of The Galaxy
8. Radiohead - Where I End And You Begin
9. mewithoutyou - The Fox, The Crow And The Cookie
10. Manchester Orchestra - 100 Dollars
11. M.Ward - One Hundred Million Years
12. Elliot Smith - Memory Lane
13. Eddie Vedder - Cant Keep
14. Dr. Dog - My Friend
15. Bright Eyes - Another Travelin Song

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Week's Adventure: Vacation!

Sometimes, and I'm sure everyone has been at this particular point of frustration, it is necessary to either take a week of vacation, or burn down your office building.  So this week I took vacation.

Friday: Atlantic City Beer Festival

The Allagash Curieux was pretty great, as was the Cape Cod Belgian Gold.  Not great was the man from Old Dominion.

If you've got a brewery, and there is a beer tasting festival, you're going to assume that people are going to be drunk.  I feel like that's pretty much a given.  It was the end of the night and my two friends were dancing with Bouncing Souls (...) and asked me to get them a sample.  So I popped over to Old Dominion.  I had three of the little tasting mugs in my hand and the man said, "No freaking way am I filling up three for you."  

Me : Ok fine, just the cherry blossom for me, then.

Man : Alright, what do your "friends" want?
("friends" in air quotes. I could have ripped off his fingers.)
Me : Do you have a stout?
Man : We have an oatmeal stout and an oak barrel stout. 
Me : One of each, please

He filled up the glasses and handed them back and said "This one is the oatmeal stout", which he put in my left hand, "and this one is the oak barrel stout", which he put in my right, "Not that you'll remember anyway. Drunk idiots."

Why the attitude? I was not drunk, and I did remember.  And the cherry blossom ale wasn't anything great, by the way.  

Old Dominion guy- get a life.

After the convention ended we went to the Trump Taj Mahal, where we had booked accommodation at an extremely reasonable rate.  Friends went off to watch the sunrise, and I hit the slot machine.  

I don't understand how slot machines work.  Sometimes stuff wins, and sometimes it doesn't.  It makes no sense.  But I played the slot machine with the pictures of kitties on it and I won a whopping $39, which is pretty exciting for me. I've never won anything before! I won $39! 

Saturday : Slept.

Sunday : iHop

Every Sunday my brother and his wife and their two adorable daughters come over for playtime and dinner.  That's always nice.  

And then I went to iHop and got the Cinnastacks pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fries.  And I ate it. Because it was good.  

Monday : New York

I took my dad with me to visit Catherine in New York.  My parents adore Catherine.  She came for Easter dinner and when she left my mom said, "I feel like she's my adopted South African daughter." So my dad was pretty pumped to see New York and buy Catherine food.

We went to Prospect Park Zoo, which is incredible.  It has red pandas, and prarie dogs, and a dingo, and sheep, and bats, and monkeys, and seals!  It's a pretty great zoo.  We took pictures.  

So that was a good day!
We had Madiba for dinner, then my dad and I sprinted through the city to catch the bus home!

Tuesday : Bowling

I went to Philly and went bowling in the Northern Liberties.  If you've been to North Bowl, you know its appeal.  I started strong with 2 spares and a strike, and finished the game with consistent gutter balls.  If nothing else, at least I can say that I'm consistent.

Wednesday : Loafing

I loafed around the house Wednesday.  At 5pm I took a shower and went to the store for beer and Rice Krispies.  I got home, ate some food, made black bean soup for future consumption, and made Rice Krispie treats (and ate half the pan by 9).

Thursday : Shopping

I like shopping.  I'm currently on the market for summery dresses, and a really nice pair of jeans.  

Does anyone else hate shopping for jeans as much as I do?  It's hard.  I can visualize in my mind what I want, but they don't exist in the world.  I want dark jeans, made from denim.  None of the flimsy cotton jeans that get worn out in a season.  I want real denim jeans.  None of the whiskering on the hips, no distressing, no prefabricated holes.  I would like them to make my butt look amazing.  I would like them to be skinny legged, but not cut off the circulation in my knees when I sit down.

Where do I find these jeans?  Someone tell me the secrets.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This Week's Adventure: Getting A Colonoscopy!

Sometimes people turn 50 and need to get colonoscopies.  Other times people turn 25 and have such horrendous digestive issues that they need to have them too.  I fall into the latter category.  Too much information?  I’m not too worried about it.

Coming from the family that I have, I possess a very casual relationship with my poop.  Poop is no big deal.  Poop is funny.  Poop and I are friends.  But it is uncomfortable, even for me, to speak to a compete stranger about my B.M.

The doctor’s straight face and matter-of-fact questioning about my regularity was pretty entertaining.  I tried to match her comfort, and it turned into a comfort contest.  Subconciously she challenged me- and beat me shamelessly- at being the most awkward person in the exam room.  

The verdict: blood work and a colonoscopy.

STEP TWO : Blood Work
I am a wimp. I don’t like needles or blood.
But I had to get blood drawn.  Like a true champ, I took my mommy with me to hold my hand.  The fast-talking, no nonsense phlebotomist seemed a little annoyed with me at first when I insisted on laying down for the procedure.

I don’t remember everything that I said, but it was, essentially, one long, fast, high-pitched run-on sentence that went something like, “I don’t understand whose idea this was and it’s not normal or natural because blood belongs on the inside and if it’s meant to to come out it can come out in a normal way like when I get a cut on my hand then you can collect it with your weird little bottle and keep it around your neck like Angelina Jolie...” etc. etc.

The phlebotomist asked why I was being such a wuss.  “Haven’t you ever thought about getting a tattoo?”, she asked.  To which I replied, “I HAVE TWO!!!”  My mommy didn’t know this little fact about me.  My mommy was taken aback.  My mommy’s head increased in size by five, and she asked sweetly “you have how many?”  My bad.

The journey begins with a liquid diet.  I ate jello, soup broth, and 2-32oz bottles of Gatorade.  A liquid diet, as you can imagine, causes one to urinate frequently.  I peed every 30 minutes for 10 hours straight.  Hour 8 I was instructed to ingest 4 laxatives.  Hour 10 I rushed to the toilet to evacuate my bowels, which continued until hour 12.

At some point in the 2 day liquid festival, I had to begin drinking a concoction of Gatorade and Miralax.  64 ounces of this cocktail down my gullet within 6 hours.  I probably only got about 32 ounces down, and cried about 20 ounces of it out, and then peed the rest out of my butthole.

STEP FOUR : The Procedure
I arrived there.  I arrived at the place.  I arrived starving.  I arrived scared.  I arrived sweaty.  They took me away immediately and made me put on one of those backless gowns.  The man who sticks needles into patients arms came in and he stuck it in my arm and it didn’t hurt.  I didn’t feel it at all!  He was nice.  He could tell I was nervous so he gave me something to make my eyes less darty.

Then they wheeled my bed through the doors, and then through some other doors, and there was the lady who asked me all of the horribly awkward questions!  A different lady was there too and she stuck some pads all over my chest and then she put in the milky liquid in the needle and I took a nap for a while.

ASIDE : I’m getting really lightheaded recounting all of these needle-related stories.

I woke up a little while later.  I’m not sure how I woke up, but I did and I felt AMAZING.  They had given me the drug Michael Jackson liked before bed every night.  Now I know why.  Sweet Lord that stuff is good.

All in all, the colonoscopy adventure was pretty bad, but not the worst ever.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Trips, Not Unlike Giraffes, Have Legs

Everyone who's anyone has seen the legendary film Planes, Train and Automobiles, which stars my favorite actor/writer/banjoer, Steve Martin.  In this film you will remember Neal (Steve Martin) needs to get home for Thanksgiving.  His trip takes him on a crazy tour of the midwest, which causes him to nearly go insane.

I didn't see this film until recently, after my very own Planes, Trains and Automobiles sort of adventure.

I decided to go to Mammoth Lakes, California. Here's a picture of where that is.

Mammoth Lakes = A
It is a place that I do not understand ever visiting.  It is a remote ski town in the Sierra Mountains about which I strain to find a redeeming quality.  But that could be bitterness talking...

I don't know how long the trip took, and with time zones and the winter solstice and I think it was a full moon...I don't think I could begin to calculate the hours spent in transportation.

The trip was meant to go:
Philly to Nashville, and after a short layover, from Nashville to Los Angeles.  A few hours in LA and I'd be off to Mammoth Lakes.  How simple!  How easy!  How enjoyable!


That is NOT how traveling happens.

Traveling goes, after 2 hours sitting on the plane at the gate in Philly, the Cap'in coming on the radio and saying "There's something wrong with the wing.  It might stop working mid-air, but after weighing options we decided it'll probably be fine, so we're going to get going in a few minutes."

Once in Nashville the Flight Attendant with the luxuriously long ponytail says "For those of you who missed your connecting flight to LA, you will stay on this plane all day eating nothing but overly salted peanuts and Nilla Wafers!  We'll get you to LA by the end of the day!"

So then you're stuck.  All day.  In the same seat.  Eating the same snacks.  Stopping in Austin and Houston and swapping out one group of germ-ridden cretans for the next.  Finally in LA.  Oh, what a relief.  


Only one airline flies to Mammoth Lakes, and it's not the airline that held you captive for the last 97 hours.  So you have to exit the airport and schlep from Terminal B to Terminal Q, or some crazy crap like that.  You go through security AGAIN.  You're so starved from yummy snacks with no actual nutritional content that you desperately spend $15 on a chicken salad sandwich and a bottle of water.

So you get on the plane to go to Mammoth.  The kind of plane that goes to Mammoth is the size of a school bus and has the propeller engines that spin and are loud, and the Flight Attendants seat passengers based on body weight so that the plane's overall weight will be balanced enough to not plunge into a mountainside.

Confidence and team building.

An hour into the flight to Mammoth, and you can see the sparkling lights of the town below and everyone sighs a collective sigh of relief.  We are here.

Almost, mutha suckas.

The man comes on the microphone and says "The winds on the ground are too strong and if we attempt to land we will most certainly crash.  We're going to fly back to LA, where you can make other arrangements."

Desperation and fatigue set in.  I hitched a ride with a guy named Evan, who seemed nice and thank heavens I was right.  He took me to the town right below Mammoth, and I found another ride from that town the rest of the way.

And was it worth it?  All of that, was it worth it when I got to Mammoth?  No.  But experiences are what travel is about, and this is an experience that I can certainly say I've experienced.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chicago Is The Biggest Noise In Illinois

When the child of a parent goes on a trip, naturally that parent worries.  The phone ringing is almost more dreadful than no call at all.  As the saying goes “No news is good news”.  There are certain phone calls that parent dreads receiving while their child is on a road trip.

Call One: “Mom, I ran out of money.”
I belong to a really great bank that has a really great fraud department.  If they detect any odd transactions on the account they freeze it, so no more damage can be done.  I was appreciative of this last year when a bartender stole my card information and attempted to use it while on vacation in France.
I was less appreciative when I was out of gas and cash, somewhere in Indiana, on a Sunday, when the bank was closed.
It was ok, though, because Catherine’s bank was less hasty in the fraud department and she was able to spot us cash until we got back to Philly.
It was not ok, however, for Mom.  She spent the entire day, and the next, trying to think of a way to wire money to me.  Apparently forgot to tell her that Catherine was rolling in it.

Call Two: “Mom, I locked my keys in the car.”
This one really kills me, because on my way out of the house I saw the spare key to my car and I thought, “I should bring this spare key and give it to Catherine, just in case...”  But then I thought that was a silly thing to do and left without it.
On the way home we were stopped at a McDonald’s on the Ohio Turnpike.  Mile 197.  Brady’s Leap.  You know the place.
Catherine stepped out of the car for a quick smoke, and I lounged back in my seat in the warmth of the car to wait.  She finished her cigarette and we went inside.  We pooped, we had McDonald’s, we pooped again (naturally).  We were walking out to the car and I realized I didn’t have my keys.  I immediately knew where they were.  On my seat. Right next to where my idiot butt sat, waiting for Catherine to finish her smoke.
Luckily, I have AAA.
Unluckily, it was in my purse, which was locked in the car.
I called my mom once again.  “Mom, I locked my keys in the car. Can you tell me the number for AAA and the account number?”
Frantic sounds came from my mother’s end of the phone.  “What?? What?? AAA??  I have that!! Umm!! How did-?? Here! Are you ready?? Write this!”  And she proceeded to read off the numbers to reach AAA and the account number on her card.
Long story short, the AAA Rescue Man came and fished the keys out of the car and we were on our way again.
An hour later I realized I hadn’t told my mom we were safe.  I gave her a call and told her we were ok and nearly in Pennsylvania again.  Relieved sighs and audible tears greeted me back through the phone.

Call Three:  “Mom, I’ve been in an accident.”
This isn’t a call my mom received.  But it’s a sight she was greeted with the morning after I came home and she went outside to go to work.  
I think “accident” is a harsh term for the slight hiccup that we experienced while driving my car.  We were driving down the road like people normally do.  Suddenly the police car in front of us was like “CRIME IS HAPPENING! ABORT VEHICLE!”, so they slammed on the breaks and leapt from their car gallantly.
We decided it was probably a good idea to get out of the area, so we turned down an alley.  We made it down one block.  On block two there was a car coming toward us, with which we excitedly decided to play “chicken”.  This being the Mid-West and its residents far less aggressive than expected, the opposing vehicle pulled over immediately.  But it didn’t pull over far enough and I was faced with a choice.
I could plow through to my left and scrape the car that had so kindly moved from my path.  Or I could lean slightly to my right and spank some trashcans.  I chose to spank some trash.  It didn’t turn out as I expected and rather than just dragging the trashcan along with us, as the physics in my mind projected would happen, the trashcan stayed firmly in place and snapped the mirror off the passenger side of my car.
It’s ok, though, because no insurance claim needs to be filed and clear packaging tape is working wonderfully at holding the mirror in place until I can afford a new one.

Really, parents.  When your kid is on a road trip, just turn the phone off, go to a spa, and forget you ever had kids.