Friday, September 30, 2011

Anniversaries and milestones

Life is full of milestones. The first day of school; graduation - most likely, more than one of those. Your first job, first kiss, first car. Depending on your religious beliefs, there's probably a slew of those milestones. There's your first house, getting married...

...Getting divorced, your first gray hair, your first wrinkle, the first time you realize you need glasses. The first time you have to ask your parents for help, the first time you get laid off from your job, the first call from a collection agency....

Not all milestones are good; but they are all turning points.

This weekend is a one-year anniversary for me. It was a painful goodbye; the end of a relationship that, as it turned out, was a really big deal in my life - but not for the reasons I thought.

A year ago, I never would have imagined all the ways my life would change. I couldn't have seen all that was coming; new work ventures, new opportunities, new friends - all while finding a new strength for myself that I had no idea was even possible.

Life is full of tough times; it's full of challenges, of heartache and loss; it's full of frustration and sadness. There's no way to avoid those moments - that first gray hair or pink slip is just as inevitable as your first kiss or straight A report card. They're also just as important.

The trick isn't avoiding those times; the trick is to learn from them. If you keep moving, learning, growing - if you find a way to make yourself better - then you turn that loss into a gain. You win.

A year of learning and growing, and I can honestly say, I'm a better person that I was last fall. I'm also a happier person. Which is something I never thought I'd be. That's the great thing about life - you just never know what might happen next.

"Tomorrow may be the best day of your life; you just gotta get there." Unknown

Friday Five: Banned books

September 24 - October 1 is Banned Books Week. Did you know that? I didn't, until the other night.

I think banning books should be a sin - or at least illegal. I'm of the opinion that there is no greater right than the freedom to express ourselves - and books are an expression, a representation of how things really are (or perhaps how they should be). Either that - or they're purely entertainment, and who on earth would want to ban people from being entertained? If you don't like it - just don't read it.

It's amazing when you look at a list of banned classics - many of which were later "unbanned" - and made part of high school curriculum. I read several of these in high school - and banned or not, they still bored me to tears.

A Separate Peace, Jonathan Knowles

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Animal Farm, George Orwell

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

If only someone would have banned Old Man and the Sea. Oh - how I hated that book.

What banned books have you read? 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good grammar

I found this on facebook - from this person over here.

And while I agree with Ashley's father that she should be more careful when texting, I also think he should concern himself less with what who his daughter plays, and more with his own felonious grammar.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Special shoes

"It's really hard to walk in a single girl's shoes; that's why sometimes, you need really special shoes." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Seen the episode? Then you know what this post is about. Haven't seen it? Shame on you. Click the link for a detailed summary. Or:
Season 6, Episode 83: A woman's right to shoes
Carrie attends a baby shower where she has to take off her shoes at the door (to protect the carpet), and the shoes go missing. $485 Manolos go missing. The hostess offers to pay Carrie - but chastises her for spending that much on shoes, and won't reimburse her the full price.
Carrie adds up all the gifts she's given this friend over the years. Showers (both baby and wedding) and a wedding gift, totaling far more than $485. Carrie realizes the injustice because there are no celebrations for single gals. No showers when we land a great New Year's Eve date, or a registry whenever we have to remodel our own bathroom. 
How does Carrie handle it? She announces to her friends that she's "marrying herself" - and registers with Manolo. She sends the friend an invitation, with the registry list - containing one item, the shoes she lost. They arrive shortly thereafter, in a perfectly wrapped gift package.
I was talking about this very thing with a couple of friends the other day. Chrissy's kids are fundraising. Preschool and kindergarten - what do kids this small need money for, anyway, I wanna know! (On second thought - no, I don't.)

Think of all the possibilities....
So, there's fundraising "opportunities" flying at me from every direction. I can't buy from one and not the other, and besides - I love these kids. I want to help them, and I want them to feel good, knowing they helped their class and school. But it's only preschool and kindergarten. We have years of this ahead of us. 

And like my other friend pointed out - it won't ever come back to me. I don't have kids, so no matter what, all the birthday and Christmas and graduation and back-to-school presents I purchase, and all the fundraising dollars I contribute won't be reciprocated. 

So I told my friends that I'm going to start registering whenever I have a milestone event. A major birthday, an accomplishment at work, or there's an "opportunity" in my home (aka something needs fixin') - and I'll start sending announcements with registry lists. 

Hey - if it's good enough for Bradshaw, it's good enough for me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Trash to treasure

I hate garage sales. It creeps me out, the thought of pawing through a strangers things - or having strangers paw through my things. 

But my garage is overflowing with stuff. Some mine, some Chrissy's - all stuff no one is using, partly because we don't need it, and partly because we can't get to it. 

Chrissy came up with the idea to hold a garage sale. For me, that meant cleaning out a closet and sorting through totes of household items and decorations in the garage. What a chore. Altogether, I'm sure I spent a good five hours preparing, then four hours that day, holding the sale. 

Did I make money? About $30. For nearly ten hours worth of work, that's not a good return. Until you to stop to consider just how those hours break down. 

Forget the five hours prepping (read: cleaning and sorting). That needed to be done regardless if I sold the items, donated everything, threw it all away or elves came to take it in the middle of the night. 

Also subtract at least an hour from the day of the sale. If I hadn't been working the sale, I would have spent that time (and some gas) carting stuff around to be donated. Instead, a bunch of stuff was picked up - by people who just showed up at my home. 

I still have a bunch of household items that I didn't sell. I have enough curtains to furnish a whole house, several table covers, some towels that are hardly used - even bedding. I found what appears to be a good organization that will take these donations and make sure they get to people who need them more than I. 

I also have a bunch of books I need to unload. I quickly figured out that my local library accepts donations, some of which are resold at a local used bookstore. I can't use them - and I don't want to store them anymore. This way, they can either be enjoyed by many, or used to raise money that ends up back in the community. 

What I sold was all decorative stuff; candle holders and holiday plush decorations, and scented candles and a few assorted odds and ends. One woman's granddaughter was enjoying a stuffed snowman so much - and her grandmother was loading up on finds - that I just gave her the toy. 

In a flash, just like everything else that day - my trash became her treasure. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five: High School

I wrote a bit about high school this week - twice, really. So, I thought we'd try a little something different for Friday. Five questions about high school - I'll go first.
  • Which class was your most favorite? Your least? Journalism was my most favorite; gym was my least. 
  • What clubs did you join/sports did you play? School paper (Managing Editor), band, National Honor Society, Peer Leadership; no sports for me (you're shocked, I know). 
  • How many best friends did you have? Four - Rachel early on, then Cathy and Karen. Akore was my best friend throughout. I'm still friends with all but Cathy (long story). 
  • What was your best fashion choice? Worst? Probably jeans tucked into black boots, with a white top and black blazer. Basically classic, with just enough 80's-90's influence to be "in" at the time. Worst? Flowered jeans. 
  • What did you want to be when you were "grown up?" I was going to be a journalist. I had a place for my Pulitzer all picked out. 
Your turn.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What do I know?

I'm older than most of you reading this; I've also done a few "grown-up" things that some haven't (House, marriage - divorce. You get the idea.) I have no illusions that this makes me any smarter than anyone - but one point of this blog is to pass on any "wisdom" I've acquired from which others might benefit.

This week's gem? Home ownership is not all it's cracked up to be.

I love to shop on the weekends, go to movies, hang out with friends, go see my cousins, etc. Some weekends, I can get away with it. Others - not so much. There's stuff that has to be done - deck furniture to put away, leaves to be cleaned up, lawns to be mowed, mulch to be spread, gardens to be pruned.

In short - houses are a lot of work. This is all stuff someone else would take care of if I lived in an apartment. Or even owned a condo.

But nooooo....

It looks so innocent....
So I'm outside for two hours this weekend, dragging huge bags of mulch all over the yard to get them into the garden. I trimmed, I clipped, I weeded - I got a sliver from the stupid barberry bush, which are really pretty, but completely treacherous.

One of those bushes is huge - so I couldn't just trim it with the clippers. I had to get out the electric hedge trimmer (which I highly recommend if you need such things). I actually like using that thing, and was humming along. Until the wire got unruly - and I accidentally cut through the cord with the trimmer.

Sparks flew - towards me, towards the garden; towards the house. Ooops.

My cousin says to me: Why were you using tools?!

Well, the answer to that is simple: I'm single, I live alone, and I can't afford to pay someone to do my yard work. It has to be done - and I'm the one who has to do it. {cue violin} Don't get me wrong, it's satisfying to own something of your own; to look at a well-kept home and know you did it all yourself. It's also an excellent workout.

But it's hard work - and doesn't always leave a lot of room for fun. Which is not something any real estate agent will put on the listing.

Which brings me back to my point - home ownership isn't all it's cracked up to be. Also - the world is a much safer place when I'm in a shoe store.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Remember when?

Have you ever noticed that we cling to the past sometimes? Like, when we start a new job, we spend a lot of time reminiscing about the job we just left behind? Or when we get out of a relationship, we find ourselves constantly saying, "Well we used to..."

I hated high school. Hated it. Freshman and sophomore years were like one, long nightmare. Junior year was a little better. When I was a senior, I finally started to find some confidence - then I went to college and had to start all over again.

I'd say I stopped reminiscing about high school by my third year of college. I put it behind me, like it never happened. Sure, I still had some friends from high school - but if they were still around by that point, we'd already started making new memories. There was no reason for the "Remember when....?" conversations. 

College wasn't much better. In my third year, I met X. By my fourth year, I'd moved out of my dad's house and was living with X, working full time while I struggled to graduate and make enough money to contribute to our life together. I was planning a wedding, and thinking about finding a career after graduation. I didn't bother making memories after that point, and after I walked across the stage, I never looked back.

I know people who talk about college (Some, even high school!) fondly, reliving all the fun they had, the stories about friends they still know, like it all happened yesterday. Sometimes, I envy those people. Did I mess up? Is it sad that I don't have more memories of what used to be? 

Or am I luckier, because I'm able to live in the present, and because I actually like the life I have now? It's not that I have no memories - I guess I just set them aside quicker than others.

I like to think maybe I do that to make room for more.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Monday: You Again

I had roughly one hundred things to do on Saturday - so naturally, I started with my netflix queue. You Again was first up. Have you seen it? It's a comedy - but not the romantic sort.

It's more a coming-of-age comedy. Marni (Kristen Bell) is a high school nerd turned super-success who returns home for her brother's wedding - to find he's marrying her teenage nemesis. So, Marni is barely recovering from all the time this girl stole from her as a kid - and now she's back to steal some more. High school sucked for me, so I can relate - this is the stuff nightmares are made of.

There's more to the story, naturally, and you can probably guess how the movie ends. It's your basic, Hollywood happy ending, everyone learns a lesson and becomes a better person. If not for the PG rating, it could easily be an eighties situation comedy, or an after school special.

Of course there's just enough silly nonsense mixed in with the lesson to make you laugh, and think, "Yeah, that would totally happen to me." (Or at least, that's what you'd think if you were me.)

It's a good movie; not a great movie. But if the weather is so-so, and you need to distract yourself from doing anything productive clean out your netflix queue - it's perfect.

** Wait for TV / Netflix

Friday, September 16, 2011

Staying on track

Ever have a little shake-up in your life? Doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering, or even bad. In fact, it could be really, really good. But it still knocks you off balance?

Yeah, that.

I had a plan in place for how I would get to the gym more often. Then, things changed. New people in my life, new responsibilities with the job I actually like - all conspired against me to make sure that the plans I put in place didn't come together. All good stuff - but it knocked me off track.

That stops today.

I'm getting my bearings and will be promptly getting back on track. That's the thing with this whole "healthy" lifestyle thing. I can't let it get the best of me, or get down on myself if I don't do everything exactly the way I should, exactly when I should.

That wouldn't be healthy.

Friday Fill-Ins: September 16

Here we go!

1. Do they have to interrupt the exact show I'm watching with "breaking news?"

2. I made dinner; it was as if I was suddenly a grown-up.

3. That was a really good game the other night.

4. The chair seemed so comfortable when I sat down.

5. As I said, I am not a morning person.

6. There's always some new twist to her stories.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I am looking forward to dinner, tomorrow my plans include helping a friend and Sunday I want to relax and basically do nothing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Junk TV

I'm not a huge TV person anymore. In fact, I was watching it so little that a while back, I canceled all but basic cable service (I know, right?!). Occasionally, though - I miss it. Not the news networks, or even regular old network TV.

I miss some of the junk.

Back when I had cable, I was easily engrossed in "reality" television - especially if it followed the lives of celebrities. The Girls Next Door, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and anything involving Bret Michaels trying to get a date were among my favorites. X used to complain that he actually lost IQ points if he sat down to watch with me - but I don't actually think he minded that much. 

Over the weekend, I was visiting family who have cable. They also have two kids, so celeb-reality isn't high on their viewing list. But while it was just me and my cousin for a bit, we turned off Nickelodeon just for a little while. And I found myself unable to turn away from the Kardashians marathon. 

Why? There's absolutely no redeeming qualities about the show. It's like a train-wreck - you know you shouldn't, but you can't help but watch. You just have to see what happens next. 

Is it the celebrity, "star" factor? Is it the supposed "reality" of the show? I suppose there is some appeal in reducing a celeb to regular-person status, and seeing how they live their day-to-day life. Though, it's not all that much different than how we all live - except with more private airplanes and hotel suites. 

I suppose the mindless entertainment is a factor. There's no thinking involved to watch these shows (or to make them, usually). You can just turn it on, and for a little while, you can set your own problems and worries aside, and concentrate on Kim's latest crisis, or Kendra's latest bumble. 

Just don't forget to turn the station at some point.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Third grade lesson

"With third grade comes a new mouth." 

That's what my cousin said to me while she was trying to explain to me that she and her husband are having a little trouble getting their 8-year-old to listen. 

Thing is - this is one awesome 8-year-old. And that's not a compliment I give lightly.

It's important to teach kids boundaries, and respect, and how to handle themselves in public. After all, no one is doing them any favors by letting them think that all adults will think they're as wonderful as their parents (and favorite cousins) do. 

But you can't tell an 8-year-old to do something "just because." Especially not one who is smart and awesome. It's better to demonstrate; even better yet if you can relate it to something that's important to them. 

"If you can remember the last thing I said, you can have a peanut butter cup," Dad said to his son. 

My little cousin paused, considering his father's challenge. His eyes lit up as he said,
You said: You can have a peanut butter cup.
Which was, of course, the last thing Dad said.

We teach kids a lot. But if you're paying attention, every now and then, they'll teach you something even more important.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Movie Monday: Reboots

They're rebooting Beetlejuice.

Don't get me wrong - some movies need a reboot. Remember the 2003 Hulk?

Or the "reboot" of Batman - which I always thought was more a telling of another story arc (comic books are complicated). The original Batman movies were good - but there are so many storylines - The Dark Knight movies were worth making.

But I don't think classics should be rebooted. Which brings me back to Beetlejuice.

It's a 1988 cult classic (which is a good way to describe about any Tim Burton movie). I'm sure you know the story, but in case you were under a rock in the late eighties: Couple dies, decides to haunt the people who move into their home, meet a rogue spirit who's trying to come back from the after-life to cause trouble.

Chaos and hilarity ensue.

It's one of those movies you think you might want to watch because Netflix doesn't have anything better (or in 1988, because the video store was out of Dirty Dancing or Halloween). You watch it by default - and then it becomes a favorite.

Personally, I don't like to see this type of movie rebooted. Did the studio goof up on the first one, and need a do-over? Go for it. Is there so much more to tell, or a new way to tell the story? Rock on.

But a movie that just "found" its audience? The perfect combination of cast, director and story? That's the sort of chemistry that can't be created; it either happens, or it doesn't.

Don't mess with the ghost with the most.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In Memory

Don't forget to remember.

Friday Fill-Ins: September 9, 2011

Borrowed from here.

I hold my friends near to my heart.

Chrissy is someone I like to travel with because we always laugh a lot.

That day, we saw Jeter hit a home run!

A lot has changed this year

Once lost, trust is not easily won back.

I don't like to sleep completely in the dark.

And as for my weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include dinner with my family and Sunday I want to get some work done.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No one is perfect

The other day, I said to someone - No one is perfect; we all have our flaws. His response? "So what are yours?"

Interesting question. One I wasn't totally sure how to answer.

Personally, I think most of my flaws are physical. I'm too short, I'm too fat, my nose is too big, my smile isn't even, etc. But those weren't the sort of flaws he was asking about. To his credit, he was trying to have an interesting conversation. (It's worth noting that asking someone to think about their flaws is a good way to get them to stop analyzing yours....)

More like five 2's.... 
So I thought....

Then I realized I had just driven by about 15 parking spots because there were signs everywhere saying "No Parking Any Time." Even though dozens of other cars were parked, I was too scared to follow their lead. As I passed a car on the way to a parking lot, a man exited his car with his dog - on a very long leash. Before I knew it, the little guy was in the road - right under my car.

My reaction? Put my hands up in a "What the....?!" gesture, that was (I believe) accompanied by a raised voice.

So I turned to my friend and said, "My flaws? I'm inpatient, and have no tolerance for stupidity."

Then I stopped to consider my outfit. My bedroom looked like my thirteen-year-old self was visiting for the weekend - because, naturally, I had nothing to wear. When it came down to choosing a pair of shoes, I sent a picture to my friend to make sure they weren't "too sneaker-like" before finally settling on the complete ensemble.

I also remembered that the whole reason I was driving was because I wanted to make sure I had air conditioning on the warm day - and that I wouldn't forget to take Dramamine before getting on the boat. Also that I spent most of the night stressing over the fact that my nails hadn't gotten done the day before.

"And I might be slightly high maintenance."

Interesting question. What are your flaws?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fashion vs Style

Fashion fades; only style remains the same. ~ Coco Chanel

I love fashion. I love to look at it, dissect it, read about it - and shop for it.

Fashion is defined as:
A prevailing custom or style of dress, etiquette, socializing, etc.; or the
Conventional usage in dress, manners, etc., especially of polite society, or conformity to it.
I not only enjoy fashion - I think it's important to keep up with it, in every part of life. It's not just about the runway - it's about life. You should know what people are wearing, how they're speaking, what latest technology they're using. You need to know - to keep up, and to relate.

Fashion changes. Style is something different.
A mode of fashion, as in dress, especially good or approved fashion; elegance, smartness.
If you want to have style, you need to know what's "in" fashion at the moment. But, more importantly, you need to have a sense of who you are - and how to use fashion to present that person to the world. You need to know the latest trends, so that you know which to follow - and which to ignore.

The other day on twitter, I debated the current fashion choice that supports wearing white after Labor Day. The "rule," as it was taught to me, is nothing below the waist - white shoes (which means purses, too), pants, skirts, etc. are strictly for Memorial Day to Labor Day.

I never thought to ask why. My grandmother taught me about white - she also taught me to say please and thank you, respect my elders, to love chocolate, and to write letters to Santa. I saw no reason to question those things, either.

Current fashion says that rule is out-dated. But current fashion also says we all need to be wearing plaid, belted raincoats this season, and skinny jeans. Those won't work for me, either. Besides, almost everything has its season or occasion  - floral patterns, open-toed shoes, wool skirts, boots, leather, organza, velvet, a white dress at a wedding... You get the idea.

I wouldn't wear anything that was outdated, faded, unflattering or out of season. Even though fashion says I could get away with wearing a pair of white shoes today - I won't. Why?

It's just not my style.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011


Today is September 2! I figured that out when I was fixing the phone at work. I'm right on top of things.

It's a new month. That means a turn of the page - a chance to start fresh on goals and plans.

It also means my favorite time of year is approaching. Autumn! I love it - fresh, cool air, falling leaves, new colors, the best holidays - and a wardrobe change.

A new month means that we can leave the old month behind. Its tragedies, disappointments and loss. Not forget - but look forward, to happier times. New adventures, exciting changes - whatever's next.

What are you looking forward to in the new month?

Friday Fill-In: September 2

Thanks again!

When I was 10 years old, I only wore pink clothes.

Broccoli is my favorite vegetable because eating it makes me feel like a grown-up.

My dream pet is a panda!

Love surrounds you.

If I could live anywhere in the world I'd live in Myrtle Beach.

Rays of sun keep on shinin' on me.

And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting my nails done, tomorrow my plans include hanging out with someone special and Sunday I want to say hi to Derek Jeter.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flooding in the 518

Upstate New York isn't known for excitement, especially when it comes to weather. We get one - maybe two - really bad snow storms a year, and that's pretty much it. When we see warnings about hurricanes, a lot of us don't take them seriously, because the truth is, the hype is almost always worse than the reality.

That wasn't the case with Irene.

I was lucky enough not to personally have any damage. Though I live in a city known for its flooding problems, I live at the opposite end from the river. I'm elevated - on the way out of the Mohawk valley, not in its heart. I had wind, but I'm in dense neighborhood, and was protected. I have tall trees that are (thankfully) healthy, and stood against the gusts.

I was very lucky. Some of my neighbors, and friends, and friends of friends were not.

My thoughts and prayers go out to them, of course, and I ask for yours as well. But thoughts and prayers aren't always enough. So, if you want to help in other ways, here are a few opportunities to do just that.

American Red Cross - Volunteers Needed

Friday Puppy - Let's help Jumpin' Jacks

For more info on where to help, visit

Also, be sure to check with local radio stations. A couple have already held food drives to help victims. Also, check with local school districts; some are collecting clothes and school supplies for students whose families were affected.

Have more info on how to help? Feel free to leave a comment.

If you want to see some pictures of the damage Irene caused in the area, click here.