Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

I'm not feeling work today. At ALL.

I thought about calling ToriNot and making up some really awesome, colorful excuse as to why I couldn't come in today. But the truth is that my stories have a tendency to get out of hand, and I'm trying to be a little bit better about giving family members horribly shocking ailments like spinal cancers and strokes just to get out of work for a few days.

I know. I'm a horrible person and I'm going to hell.

For the record, though, I've never been asked to show proof. I know you were wondering.

In any case, I'm at my desk, totally phoning it in. Literally. Right now I'm sitting on a conference call on mute. They don't really need me - ToriNot just wants me here. But it's great because the headset is warding off potential interruption as I write to the antagonizing drone of her seemingly endless "nobody-really-cares-about-our-HVAC-problems-until-it-blows-up" rant. (She was on call for one of our 24/7 facilities over the weekend, got drunk, and failed to respond to a serious HVAC problem for 14 hours. She's trying to make it someone else's problem, but nobody is buying it. Since customers weren't affected, I'm just gleeful at the mess of trouble she's caused herself!)

I felt like writing, so I logged into my Goodreads page, knowing that it needed an update, and ended up writing this review of Silver Linings Playbook.

Then, I remembered this dear, sweet blog and I realized how much life has changed since I last wandered in. Here, then, a few updates:

JQ fought through an INSANE labor to give birth to BabyE on May 18th, 2012. I'm sure she still remembers.
The very next day, on May 19th, 2012, Westley and I got married in a small ceremony on the banks of the Cooper River in Collingswood. It was beautiful and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Around the same time, though I don't know the date, Riptide and his partner of many years had a private, secret civil union ceremony on the beach in Cape May, NJ. Riptide is LittleT's uncle who lived closeted for a very long time. I can't tell you how much joy it brings me that he can now live openly with his husband, even though I continue to lament the sad state of affairs in New Jersey that the state still will not recognize their union as the marraige that it is.
On June 9th, 2012, Westley won a Best Supporting Actor award for his role in BCF's The Foreigner. Frankly, the show swept the awards with a win in nearly every category - including Best Director for Red.
On July 9th, Westley and I got away from it all with a trip to the Poconos for our honeymoon. We made it back just before...
Funnyman and HeyTeach got married in the traditional fashion (church, hotel ballroom, tons of food) on July 13th, 2012. It was a huge and joyous occasion!
In August, I broke ground on the only exciting project to ever come out of my day job - a 48,ooo sq. ft. expansion to my office building! This project would take over my life by the middle of October.
T got fired. She totally doesn't care. We've been in touch since and she's got a better job, making more money. She also now has a second baby, and a fiance.
September 5th, 2012: The Day Westley's Joy Died upon discovering that what he was suffering from was an acute case of Celiac's disease. He has been gluten-free ever since.
On October 5th, 2012, I returned to the stage as an actor in the timeless "Sure Thing" and the silly "Fidelity Farce", all while directing a cerebral little piece called "Caught in the Act." I'll never say never, but I think my theatre tooth is satisfied for a good long while.
October through January is a blur of contractors, drywall, electricians, holidays, and politics, politics, politics! One hell of an election year.
January 22nd was the official opening of our new office building. My beautiful building was quickly beaten to the submission of the new tenants.
In February, my theatre friends and I suffered a huge loss as one of our dear friends, who had valiantly beaten cancer into remission twice in previous years, finally succumbed to the disease, leaving three young men - a wonderful husband and two sons - to cope without her. It would be a very difficult year for our community, as Kris, sadly, became the first of 4 great losses. One day, I am going to write a book about her and how amazing she was. For now, suffice it to say that she has been sorely missed.
Inspiring love with her last breath, Kris brought one of my favorite couples together. After watching Kris and her husband, Tom fight the disease for so long, then Tom's loving, graceful shift to support her wishes in her last days and his commitment to her children for the rest of his life, Red and Joker decided that they really wanted to share their own commitment with the world. On February 10th, they announced their engagement. I'm currently planning their wedding cake. (The wedding itself was a breeze to plan!)
SexyNurse and Cellophane welcomed their first child on April 19th. BabyJ is cute as a button!
In June, Westley and I teamed up with my in-laws to surprise Mischief with an enormously fun surprise party for her 30th. Irises, irises everywhere! (No easy feat in South Jersey in June.)
Westley and I marked our first anniversary with a vow renewal and mini-reception with our closest friends. Mischief stood in for our officiant and our good friends M@t and Seagoat hosted the party in their backyard in Westampton. I know I said before that we wouldn't have changed a thing, but I kind of lied. These people would have been there from the start. But in some ways, getting to have a party just with them was even better. After all, I never would have grabbed Piscosubito's butt if my mom had been there. We played the same setlist from our wedding, with a little more party music thrown in. When it came time for the Mother/Son & Father/Daughter dances, we told the children to ask their parents to dance. CUTEST THING EVER!
July brought a new love into our lives - our little girl, Murphy. Westley and I spotted her at the Almost Home Animal Shelter booth at the Collingswood Farmer's Market. She is a beautiful Orange tabby with almost tribal markings. Big brother Prufrock is now alternating between protective love and brotherly annoyance. Like Prufrock, Murphy was named for a literary character; in her case, she is the namesake of Karen Murphy of The Dresden Files novels, who is described as "Tiny. But fierce."
I think that's just about all the big stuff. With Westley's diagnosis, we had to re-learn how to eat (again), but we're now both back on the wagon with whole foods and healthy portions, and once again steadily losing weight. Money and employment continue to be a struggle, as they are for pretty much everyone I know. I won't deny that my anxiety and depression are intensifying lately. Still, I keep feeling like good things are all around me if I only remember to look at them. I don't know. Maybe I've started to write my own silver linings playbook.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Random Monday

  1. It's a beautiful day outside today, with a high of 80F and a tolerable humidity rate of 59%. After a series of crippling heatwaves interspersed with some truly frightening electrical storms in this region, I am thrilled to see a stretch of beautiful weather coming our way. Now if only I could work from home - or, more accurately, from Roberts Pool in Collingswood. ;)
  2. I am returning to theatre!!!!! Burlington County Footlighters of Cinnaminson, NJ has finally, through the committed efforts of three dedicated members, completed a meeting room renovation that creates a 2nd Stage performance space for the company. For it's grand opening, I will be one of six directors presenting a series of one-acts. But not only do I get to direct a challenging little piece called "Caught in the Act", I also get to perform in "Fidelity Farce" and "Sure Thing". I'm really looking forward to walking the boards again, but before I get there, I must find myself a cast - at auditions tonight!
  3. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and have really been enjoying the mix of great information and entertainment that they afford me, while leaving my hands and eyes free to cook, clean, knit, craft, shop, and so on... I wanted to mention a few favorites that have been engaging me lately:
    • Books on the Nightstand features book reviews and discussion from publishing insiders Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. Recent Booktopia events in Manchester, VT and Oxford, MS have provided additional content for the show, as will, I imagine, the upcoming event in Santa Cruz, CA. Lively call-in topics such as "Who are your favorite underrated women writers?" and "Is there a place for book-snobbery?" keep the show interactive.
    • Knitters have tons of options for listening, but my favorite so far is 2 Knit Lit Chicks, offered by an enthusiastic mother/daughter team of avid knitters and readers. Barb and Tracie begin each podcast talking about their project progress, referencing conversations they've hosted in their Ravelry threads with knitters all over the world. They provide honest product reviews and you'll find valuable information here even if your taste is a little different from theirs. The second half of each episode focuses on books. Barb and Tracie are big into audiobooks, so some conversation is more about reader performance than writing quality. That said, they've gotten me to read at least three titles I would have otherwise ignored, and I enjoyed them all.
    • My final podcast pitch today is for This American Life, which is an unpredictable, intriguing little treat for your day. Each episode consists of three guests telling their own personal stories that relate back to the theme of the episode. Ira Glass hosts, moderates, and interviews, weaving the stories together to create a thoughtful, empathetic program that delves into the collective psyche of America. You will find yourself unexpectedly touched time and again. Well worth your time.
  4. This is my first year participating in the Ravellenic Games (the games formerly known as the Ravellympics), and I think I may have set my goal a bit too high. The plan was to complete all WIPs during the course of the event, but I didn't consider a few key pieces of information. Firstly, one of my four WIPs is Andrea Babb's Meriweather Wrap Jacket - a textured wrap sweater - and I'm only about 1/4 of the way up the right side. As if that weren't enough impediment, I remembered when digging into My Weekender Bag - more aptly described as Kathy Merrick's Folded Tweed Bag - that I had put it into hibernation because I needed another skein of yarn. I still haven't gotten around to buying it. So, folks, I might be the skater who falls on her butt on the ice this year.
  5. Whatever. Knitting is fun. Finishing projects is awesome. I finished Blue from Peru! this weekend. :)
  6. Currently reading Defending Jacob by William Landay and all other books are on hold. It's giving me nightmares and cold sweats. I am really having to tear myself away from it to get anything else done. Highly recommended!
  7. If you are living in Jersey, now is the time to buy local EVERYTHING. Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines are all available in huge local supply. Hit a farmer's market or pick your own, or just shop at a supermarket that buys from local crop.
  8. Boo to US Olympic Team uniforms made in China.We have literally stamped our country's greatest 'amateur' athletes with the phrase "Made in China". WHERE is our civic pride, and where is Ralph Lauren's sense of obligation to the millions of seemstresses and tailors out of work in our own struggling economic climate? Boo, boo, BOO!!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Lengthy, Rambling Thank You

I've been away for a while. It happens. This blog is not my job and, though one or two readers may object to this statement, I believe that my only obligation here is to myself. As is true for most people I know, the first promises broken are the ones I've made to myself, so it's logical that my blog falls off from time to time.

I mean, let's face it. As good as writing is for my soul, sometimes going through the effort of it is just not as appealing as a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a Netflix marathon of Parks & Recreation.

So how's the weight loss goal coming? Errr... not right now, okay?

That said, I'd like to get to the business that brought me back to the blog today - the violent attack of movie-goers at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO on Friday, July 20th.

It's been a few days and despite the pressures of the 24-hour news cycle, it seems as though Friday's press conference remains the most reliable source of information. Certainly, we've since learned a great deal more about James Holmes' apartment and the array of explosives therein. Still, the details of the attack are unchanged, 12 fatalities have been reported with another 58 victims injured, and Holmes' motives remain unclear.

Although this may be frustrating for a nation trying to come to terms with a senseless act of violence, I feel the need to commend the officers of the Aurora police department, and specifically Chief of Police Daniel Oates, for their discretion. Their faith in the American judicial system, and their understanding of its fragilities, have led them to remain tight-lipped about details that could prejudice a jury or trial and pave the way for numerous appeals. Mr. Oates said to the press on Friday morning that although he wished to be cooperative, he was determined that Holmes be tried 'in a courtroom'. This polite statement was nonetheless an unsubtle warning to reporters, as well as an insightful comment on American culture and justice.

It's also worth noting that officers were onsite at the theater within 2 minutes, quickly got 60 people medical attention (all but 2 have survived, although 11 are still in critical condition), got Holmes in custody, successfully evacuated 5 apartment buildings, and by Saturday afternoon had cleared Holmes' apartment of a massive booby trap 'clearly designed to kill whoever entered it.' These extraordinary successes - as noteworthy for their compassion as they are for their efficiency - could easily be overlooked in the wake of the tragedy, so I wanted to take just a moment to raise my little voice in praise of the APD and all the emergency responders who so successfully maneuvered in the moments and days immediately after the crisis.

There is a great deal more to write, and I imagine much of it will be written. If not by myself, then by others. For now, please be safe. Please be happy. Please be grateful for the people who fight to keep you that way.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April's Showers - Golden This Year?

I'm not going to pull any punches. I feel pissed on.

April started off sweetly enough: Shabuchwae visited, we celebrated Westley's mom's birthday in style at Seasons 52 with all the NJ and MD crew, I went shopping with CoachFiend and Mischief and got to check out the new Lush at the Cherry Hill Mall (awesome store in my favorite mall - both will feature prominently in future posts), and enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday complete with an egg hunt, excellent Spring weather, and grilled lamb.

But just like the girlfriend you bring home a little too soon, then can't seem to escape, April turned into a psychotic little bitch on me. Now some of this, like my grief at the anniversary of a cousin's sudden death, was anticipated. I knew the 24th was going to be difficult for me, but that I just had to take it as it came. I do not blame April for that. I am not an unreasonable person and I don't blame my exes for tragedies they didn't perpetuate, just because they were there.

But some of it has been bizarre, freak-show kind of luck. In just the last week, I've said "That's it! That has to be the last thing!" more times than I can count. My bank account, credit cards, patience, and fortitude are all stretched to the absolute limit. If that doesn't sound like a bad break-up, I don't know what does.

I've been trying to breathe deeply, to work through it, to keep calm and carry on. I haven't wanted to write. When I started DMluvsPrufrock, I wanted it to be about all the things I celebrate in my life. I lead a somewhat unconventional one and I often feel that my choices are judged by others with more conservative values. So I wanted my blog to be about all of those choices and how they have made me happy, how they can make others happy, and why no one should feel uncomfortable about wandering down 'the road not taken'.

But this weekend, when I was attending yet another fun family event (I had three in 8 days) and still really couldn't pull myself out of my funk (the alcohol helped me to act convincingly joyful, but the effects were fleeting), I realized that any good blog should be an honest reflection of it's subject. And this subject has been bitchslapped by the universe quite a bit lately. It might be time to slap back with a little catharsis.

So without further ado...

DMluvsPrufrock's Calendar of Crap, April, 2012

4/9/2012
Despite having requested the day off from my corporate job, my manager (ToriNot) has forgotten that I am not at work, has brought a vendor to my building to meet me, and has apparently started smoking from the ears when she 'discovers' I am not there. No multitude of emails can convince her that she approved the day off and I receive notice from HR that I will have to submit proof of the approval immediately or I will be placed on probation for job abandonment. (Really? I was there Friday...) Thankfully, HR accepts an email to me saying "Sure! Have a great holiday and we'll see you on Tuesday," as unequivocal proof that the woman is a basketcase. Unfortunately, the whole situation takes almost eight hours of phone calls and emails that tether me to my work-issued Blackberry and by noon I wish I had just gone in, because I've spent the whole day dealing with ToriNot anyway and now I've burned a personal day to do it.

4/12/2012
Sadly, more work issues. ToriNot is still fuming about having lost our last battle and now I've got a target on my back. When our landlord's plumber insists that a pipe must be repaired immediately and states that his earliest availability is the following day at 9 AM, I agree to it. After communications are sent, ToriNot flips out and demands that the work be put off so as not to inconvenience the building, publicly reprimands me for scheduling work without her approval (which is my job, by the way), then calls my desk line just to let off a string of insults that reduces me to tears within minutes. Thank God tomorrow is Friday... the 13th!

4/13/2012, 7:45 PM
Mischief, Westley, and I are sitting in a dark movie theatre, watching previews. I am eagerly anticipating the film, The Hunger Games, which has been the light at the end of my tunnel through a very difficult week at work. Suddenly, Westley is not okay. He is flushed and feels like he is going to pass out. Then his heart starts racing. Then his arm goes numb. Within moments, we are in Mischief's car, racing to the nearest emergency room...

4/13/2012, 8:15 PM
After discovering that the nearest emergency room is now closed and redirecting to the next-nearest emergency room, Westley is finally checked in and a team of orderlies is sticking on EKG leads, monitoring his heart rate, his blood pressure. Westley never felt better the whole time we drove and didn't want to talk to me. He's German that way, but I'm still not used to it, even after 5 years. Now, he's embarrassed, feeling vulnerable, and I just want to hold him, but he's covered in these weird monitors. We're all trying to make jokes and Westley tells the orderlies "I can't believe I'm having a heart attack after losing 80 lbs," when they say, "We'll set you at ease. You are not having a heart attack." I sob - once, but fiercely - in relief.

4/14/2012, 1:48 AM
Two rounds of bloodwork and five hours of monitoring later, Westley is released from the ER with a clean bill of health, a stern warning to watch his caffeine intake (turned out he had had like 12 servings that day), and strict instructions to see a family doctor and get a stress test.

4/14/2012, 1:49 AM
It really, truly, hits me that Westley is uninsured and that I have no idea how much the emergency room bill is going to set us back. I know that another uninsured friend recently racked up $6000 in emergency room bills for a similar situation. I am suddenly, vehemently furious with the politicians and pharmaceutical lobbies of the United States, who have successfully created the only nation in the 1st world that does not provide state-funded medical care to its citizens...

4/14/2012, 1:50 AM
...Then, it hits me that I couldn't care less. Westley is okay. That's all that matters. After all, any problem that money would solve isn't really much of a problem, right?

4/15/2012 - All three of us venture back to see The Hunger Games. It's disappointing. That sucks, because I really wanted to be wowed and moved like I was by the book. Westley and Mischief, who haven't read them, have a lot of questions that I feel should have been addressed within the film. Whatever, this is a stupid thing and I chalk it up to too much expectation. Still, it would have been nice to have really enjoyed something. Especially something we paid for twice.

4/16/2012 - A 17-year-old in a huge Jeep with (as we would soon discover) an expired insurance card rearends us in the beautiful Hyundai we've had for less than four months, completely crushing in the trunk. Her first words are, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry... Listen, I'm late for work. Can I just give you my dad's phone number?" Westley and I were having none of that. Sorry, sweetie. I know it was very scary, but there was no way we were leaving without a police report and a check pending from your insurance. I hope you learned a valuable lesson about looking forward before you hit the gas. And all in all, you were very lucky we were all injury-free.

4/18/2012 - More work drama - this time, the back door won't stay closed. Millions of dollars worth of equipment, not to mention proprietary information, are allegedly 'secured' in this office location, but the doors can't lock if they won't close! I spend my entire day on the phone with the landlord, the maintenance man, ToriNot (God help me - her best idea was to chain it closed. It's a fire exit, for Christ's sake!), the technical security vendor, and the landlord's HVAC guys. We finally get the air pressure equalized, which allows for the doors to finally secure, and as I head home an hour late, I check in with ToriNot only to hear her say, "I'm glad it's fixed. I need to take you on the road tomorrow for job shadowing. I'll pick you up at 8:30!" And then she said, and I swear I'm not kidding, "It'll be fun!"

4/19/2012 - ToriNot is acting more like Glinda today. It doesn't really throw me. What is annoying is that all of the meetings she was so eager to have me sit in on are cancelled. And I have to visit three facilities, which means spending half the day in my least favorite place - the passenger seat of ToriNot's car.

4/20/2012 - Although I enjoyed seeing a friend in Forum and having a drink at The Pour House afterwards, it truly is the little things that break you. On this particular Friday night, I am sobbing irrationally, late at night, unable to calm down long enough to have a drink of water or to listen to Westley's attempts to calm me. And although it was really because of the difficulties at work and concerns over Westley's health what finally sets me off is a fairly inoccuous letter - a notice from our apartment management letting us know that rent is going up. I cry so hard and so long that I fall asleep in my clothes, curled into the fetal position.

4/21/2012, 5 AM - My back is sore, my head is throbbing, my neck is kinked, and I'm awake from sheer discomfort.

4/21- 4/22/2012 - A couple of naproxen and a gallon of water fix me up and I'm thrilled that I finally have things to look forward to - an afternoon with Mom, a Bridal Shower for Funnyman's fiancee (still no nickname, sorry), an overnight stay with LittleT and her gang, and a birthday celebration for her little man. Everything was lovely. I thought my luck might be turning. Someone snapped my picture with Westley at the end of Sunday's Elmo-fest and when I saw it I realized that the picture showed my real smile. What a relief, I thought. I was feeling happy.

4/23/2012 - For weeks (since Shabuchwae's visit, actually) I've been expecting some Mario Badescu skin-care samples. I've also been expecting a dress that I ordered to wear to 5 weddings and an awards dinner, the first of which is scheduled for Saturday, the 28th. In two emails back-to-back, I learn that I will not be receiving my samples because someone else with my address had previously received some, and that my dress will not arrive until the 30th at the earliest. The skin care makes me sad, the dress panics me. And once again, I wonder why nothing seems to want to go right.

4/24/2012 - This date marks the anniversary of the death of my cousin, Cristin. She was a hard-working girl who had been trying for years to save a failing marraige and to raise her beautiful little girl, Sophia. I didn't know her as well as I should have. None of us expected to lose her already, a young woman who had not yet reached 30. Nobody was prepared to learn, on Easter Sunday, 2011, that our Cristin had been found unconscious, facedown in her bedroom in the Browns Mills home her family shared with her mother-in-law. My aunt and uncle and Cristin's two sisters remain beside themselves, unable to let go of a nagging feeling that this shouldn't have happened. And I agree. But none of us know where or how to channel the anger.

4/25/2012 - Westley drops his iPhone in the (clean, thank God) toilet. He rescued it right away and plunged it into a baggie full of raw rice. As far as we can tell, the whole rice thing is a horrible myth. At least, it didn't work for us...

4/26/2012 - At work, I am once again wrangled into babysitting during Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day. It's annoying. I don't see many men volunteering and none of them are volunteered by their managers. Of course, they don't work for ToriNot. The children touch me and they are sticky. I am out of hand sanitizer and there is blueberry yogurt on my slacks.

4/27/2012 - Westley and I buy a load of alcohol. I get drunk and we watch Horrible Bosses on tv. We're having a great time, putting everything out of our minds and laughing our butts off, when out of nowhere he starts having the pains again. At this point, Westley's been through the ER and to see a family doctor. Both have told him he was okay, that he should watch his salt and caffeine, and get a stress test. His family doctor also recognizes that he's having some gastrointestinal problems, and that those could be contributing to what he's feeling. (Also, that the numb arm could be from the colony of knots in his back muscles pinching a nerve or two. The boy is in desparate need of a good Swedish massage.) Yet despite that reassurance, the pains are incredibly scary. We spend the next few hours walking in circles, deep breathing, stretching to try to relieve any muscular issues, massaging his arm and taking his pulse. He seems fine, but he feels awful and can't seem to tell me how. I want to call 911, but he won't let me. He just wants me to stay there with him, walk with him, take his pulse, and I'm trying to stay calm but I just want to scream that if there's a chance he's going to die, I can't just walk in circles with him and watch it happen! How can he possibly expect me to do that? I love him and I'm not just going to let him slip from me because we were too scared or embarrased or whatever to call an ambulance. And I'm finally about to ignore his protests and call emergency when... something happens. And I look at Westley and my mouth drops open and we both start laughing and then... it happens again. And then it happens from... somewhere else. And we're laughing and his discomfort is fading and the tightness in his chest is releasing and the 'something' just keeps happening and I have to chase him around with a spray bottle of air freshener now, but he's okay! He's okay! He's okay!!!!! (Epilogue: I still can't shake the fear. My sleep has become increasingly restless, as I pop awake several times a night to stare at Westley and make sure he is still breathing.)

4/30/2012 - And today, the last day of April, we finally received the medical bills from the 13th. It's almost $6000. Also known as half a year's rent. Also known as far more than we have in savings.

And so ends the month of April. I know we're going to be just fine. We'll get a payment plan for the medical bills, my dress will probably show up in time for the next event, and Westley and I are taking steps to get him some affordable preventative medical care. The insurance check will eventually arrive to pay for the damage to our car, and it will be like it never happened. The iPhone will be replaced (it was a 3GS - they're pretty cheap now). The rent isn't going up by much, so we get to stay in this home that we love. And although my day job is always going to stink, it does afford me some rather impressive benefits and perks that make my private life much, much better.

So farewell, April. I'm thrilled to see you go. May you grow up over the next eleven months of solitude and learn to stop being such an enormously petty and hurtful bitch. Maybe someday, we could be friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The American Catholic

Easter is probably my favorite holiday. Definately my favorite Catholic holiday. A season of sacrifice and hope, new beginnings, and forgiveness, I've always felt that if you understand Easter, you understand Catholicism.

Before anybody gets the wrong idea, no, I'm not an extremely religious person. I was raised in the Catholic church and I enjoy the history, mystery, and ritual of that institution. I am a person of faith - I believe in a genderless Creator, the miracles of Jesus Christ, and that reading the Bible can create as much confusion and conflict as it does comfort and enlightenment. I do not believe in Papal infallibility, that premarital or homosexual love is sinful, that the sole responsibility of a Catholic is to make more Catholics, or that traumatized women should be forced to carry unwanted children to term.

Despite these and other rather stunning philosophical disputes, I do consider myself a Catholic. I do pray the Hail Mary and believe in about 80% of the Nicene Creed. (I'm not really looking for the resurrection of the dead, for example. Zombies are more Westley's thing.) And the truth is, I know many more Catholics who openly embrace gay marraige, birth control, and the consumption of beef on Good Friday than those who oppose these practices.

All I can really say to explain this seeming paradox is that I am, and most of the other people (and therefore Catholics) that I know are, American. America is a pluralist society. For the most part, we believe in a prismatic nature of truth. Just as the angle of the light as it hits the prism will alter the shape and strength of the rainbow, so the experiences and influences of a person's life will effect the way each of us sees the world. This doesn't stop some of us from being obnoxiously stubborn, but it does protect our right to disagree with the status quo and think through to our own conclusions. In the end, it's really the Golden Rule that most of us try to follow - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Disagree with respect. Don't attempt to legislate morality. Recognize that faith is beautiful, but fanaticism is hideous. And so on...

In any case, I had a lovely Easter this year. Westley's family had us over for brunch and an egg hunt with the kids, then we joined my family for a delicious lamb roast and shared a film together. It was a busy, beautiful day, full of sunshine and love. And as I broke bread with not one but two diverse groups of Catholics, all of whom have shared intense disagreements and debates with one another over the years, I realized that this was a true Easter - a celebration of our miraculous, unconditional love for one another, and our resurrected faith in family.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shabuchwae!!!!

I have a friend named Shabuchwae. I didn't have to come up with that nickname because he's had it for as long as I've known him. He also goes by Uncle Toilet - that's what all the friends' kids call him.

Shabuchwae lives in NYC and has been peddling his gorgeous voice and intimidating acting talent throughout the City for some time. Aside from breaks for touring, an extended stay at the Freedom Farm, and cruise ship performances, he's lived there pretty much since he graduated from college, just a year or two after me. Despite the fact that it's only a two-hour bus ride into Manhattan, I just don't get up there very much, and when Uncle Toilet visits the kids, I can usually only scrape him away for an hour at best.

You can imagine my excitement when I got a call that said I could have him all to myself for an overnight visit last Friday!! It was his first time seeing our apartment, having me cook a full meal for him, and showing him around downtown Collingswood. Even the trickle of rain that persisted through Saturday couldn't bring my spirits down or stop us from our tour.

So after a bit of confusion (read as: The Bolt Bus driver didn't announce the stop at the Cherry Hill Mall and Shabuchwae ended up in Center City Philadelphia...), we finally got our guest back to the apartment around seven-thirty.

A super-quick tour (it's only a two-bedroom apartment, after all) was followed by a home-cooked meal of seared salmon, sauteed spinach, roasted vegetable melange, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I didn't get a picture of that. We ate too fast. :)

Sexynurse, Cellophane, and Shabuchwae
Then a couple of our friends, Sexynurse and Cellophane, dropped in for dessert. I knew I wouldn't have time to bake, which was actually a blessing because it gave me an excuse to drop by My Little Kupkake on my way home from work. When I brought out the plate, Shabuchwae dove for it, which I was infinitely pleased to capture on camera. The cupcakes were huge, so I cut each one into six pieces and let the sampling begin. There were four varieties - Canoli, Coconut, Coffee Cake, and Smores - and each one was a hit! The sugar kept us up way past my bedtime and when I finally crashed, I enjoyed a fully restful, dreamless sleep.

On Saturday morning, Shabuchwae and I got a few hours to catch up while Westley drove his sister, Mischief, to pick up her car from the shop. I showed off my Ulta Beauty Smoothies collection (he chose to shower with Cocoa Velvet Truffle - yum!) and my new blog and he hooked me up with some awesome insights and a bunch of free Mario Badescu samples!

Chilaquiles at The Tortilla Press!
Then all four of us - Westley, Mischief, Shabuchwae, and myself - met up at The Tortilla Press for a wicked meal consisting of pulled pork with chipotle peanut barbecue sauce, blue corn pancakes, breakfast burritos, and my personal favorite, chilaquiles!

After that, we walked up the strip despite the drizzle with the intention of working off some extra calories. Unfortunately, there are too many good places to eat on the strip and we ended up walking into The Candy Jar where, unbeknowst to us, we were fed full-sized samples until we were ready to burst! Thinking there was no way we were going to eat another bite or spend any more money, we dropped in on Gourmet Popcorn Creations, where we promptly did both.

With our stomachs threatening to rupture, we saw Shabuchwae off at the PATCO as he made his way to Philly for another whirlwind visit before returning to NYC on Sunday.

So glad we got to have you, Shabuchwae! Hope your return trip was less 'adventurous' than the journey down. I love you and can't wait to see you again soon. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Making, Reading, and Being Green, Installment #2

An update before I disappear for the weekend...

Making

Here's a shot of my Hey, Teach sweater blocking on beach towels on my bed. This has been an awesome knit and I really do think it's going to look very cute when it's finished, so I strongly recommend it. The pattern, by Helene Rush, is available for free at Knitty.com (linked above). At that price, I don't know how anyone can resist knitting this!

You might be wondering, If this is such a fast, fun, awesome knit, why has it taken her so long to get to this point? The answer to that question is sheer paranoia. I avoided blocking this for a very long time because I was absolutely convinced that the yarn was going to grow madly as soon as the thing touched water. I was sure that by the time I was done, my cute little cardigan would become a duster knit to the specifications of a stilt walker. This is because I've used this same yarn before (KnitPicks Shine Worsted) for a skullcap that ended up a snood.  But now that I've conquered my fear, soaked, and blocked, I have to admit that the whole snood debacle must have been my fault. There's nothing wrong with this yarn. I really should have checked gauge on the hat. Also, it might have been helpful if I had not tried to block a skullcap on a dinner plate. Clearly, I think my brain is much larger than it is.

I've taken a break from my Folded Tweed Bag due to my complete inability to pick up the correct number of stitches along the sides for the border. I've double-checked three times that I knit the correct number of rows and that I am religiously following the pattern, but I'm still coming up 20 stitches over. So I've set it aside until I can figure out what I'm doing wrong. I swear it's going to be an awesome weekend bag when it's done, but right now I need a break. The pattern, by Kathy Merrick, is available in Interweave Presents: Knitted Gifts; I am knitting in four shades of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed.

Taking a break from one project, of course, means another becomes a priority. In this case, it's a little project called Chiara Scarf. I bought two balls of Lana Grossa Chiara in a beautiful shade of celery the last time I visited Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ. As it turns out, the purchase entitled me to a free scarf pattern and as soon as I started knitting it, I knew who this scarf was for. Now to get it done in time!

Reading

I really don't have time to talk to you about books right now because I'm reading Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and must get back to it immediately!

Being Green

5 Things You Can Try This Weekend to Be a Little Greener:
  1. Remember your reusable bags when you go grocery shopping. Most of us have them, but frequently forget to take them with us. I keep mine by the door as a visual reminder to take them with me.
  2. Got an errand in town? Walk or bike to it. You'll save on gas, produce fewer emissions, and get a little exercise too!
  3. Carpool to distant family events. Even if everyone has to drive a few miles to meet up somewhere, loading up one car with five people is way better than taking five cars the whole distance. Plus, you'll spend a little extra quality time with those in the car with you.
  4. Take a train or bus to the city or the mall. Public transportation is yet another great way to conserve gasoline and support lower-emission travel. If your destination is beyond a comfortable walking distance, check train and bus schedules before you decide to drive. It may take longer, but it'll be far more relaxing to read or listen to music than it would be to battle traffic on your own.
  5. Check out a farmer's market for fresh, locally grown produce. It tastes better, has more nutritional impact, and it didn't travel on two airplanes and a cargo ship to reach you!