Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight: The Movie

Certain that the Cherry Hill Loews Theater would be an absolute mad house similar to that of opening night of any Harry Potter movie, I convinced Mike that we should leave at 11:00 for the midnight showing of Twilight last night. We arrived at the theater and not a soul was outside. I was surprised but figured that 32 degree weather would keep sixteen year old girls inside. So we headed in and were again surprised that the lobby was practically empty and the concession stand lines were only two or three people deep. My last thought was that everyone was inside the theaters already and we would have trouble finding a seat. I was wrong again. We sat dead center and were probably two of maybe forty people in the theater.

The seats behind us filled up as midnight approached but I was shocked that only a dozen or so people occupied the nine rows in front of us.

The theater in Cherry Hill was sold out and girls began lining up as early noon in San Francisco. I don't get it. Mike's theory is that it was bitter cold and a lot of girls probably bought their tickets without their parents permission and then weren't allowed to go. Maybe. The lack of teenage girl frenzy was still strange to me.

I enjoyed the movie very much. Especially Edward's entrance - I love how we got our first peek at him through a window as he headed towards the cafeteria. Those few seconds spent waiting for a clear view of him were very exciting. I also thought the chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart was excellent - their passion for one another was palpable. Overall, it was as good as it could possibly be within the constraints of book to movie adaptation.

Mike didn't care for it. I checked out Rotten Tomatoes and they summed it up well, "Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated."

Another great thing about the movie is that we got to see the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince trailer on the big screen. Now I just have to wait until July for that one.

Recognition from the Top

On a day to day basis I find myself often needing to speak with various Presidents, CEO's, Deans, and a plethora of other people whose titles make me feel self-conscious, nervous and awkward at times. Some I feel comfortable enough with to address by first name (Board members included) and then there are others whom I've hung up on when shocked to learn I had their direct line. (Anyone wanna prank call the owner of a shitty NFL team?)

Last week was my organization's annual Awards event where I get to talk to everyone. I even ate a moon pie with a brilliant Philadelphia mathematician. But the highlight of the evening was when I got to speak with the President of a particular zoo Mike and I frequent. This gentlemen is on our Board so therefore I feel comfortable addressing him by his first name and he knows me. Would he recognize me in jeans and a hoodie at the mall? I doubt it. But as far as work is concerned I trust he knows who I am.

Anyway, Mike and I had just gone to the zoo five days prior to this event so I decided I would tell this man what a great time we had and how although we love the entire zoo, we spend the majority of our time with Louis, our favorite eight year old gorilla. I may have went on just a touch too long about how great Louis is, but I think I caught myself in time. V. asked me to make sure I call next time I plan on attending and he'd see what he can do about getting us some time with Louis' keeper. I thanked him and told him to enjoy himself and that was that.

Naturally, afterwards I was embarrassed. But I reminded myself that he does know me and if I ran a zoo, I'd like to hear if someone had a great visit.

Today, seven days after the event, I received a package from the zoo. A personal note from V. saying what a great job I did at the awards event and how he hopes I plan on visiting the zoo again soon and in the meantime, he has enclosed a small gift for me. My gift was a 14" x 10" framed photo of Louis sitting in his play yard.

V's thoughtfulness made my day for so many reasons! Not only do I have a great photo of Louis, but little old me, the Assistant, got some recognition, and a place I love to visit gave back to me. The fact that this important man went to work the next day and actually remembered our conversation and took the time to say thank you really makes me feel quite special.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ohhhh Yeah!!!!

A new season of Top Chef starts tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10:00 pm EST. Boo-yah!!

I love Top Chef - it's the only show Mike and I have ever intentionally watched. Together. For an entire season. It's my fave!

So I thought I'd throw together a quick update since I'm in such a good mood. I'm hanging out on the couch, listening to my headphones, writing my cookbook (more in a sec.), buying music on itunes, while Mike is rocking out on the guitar playing Rock Band 2. The game keeps reminding me of what songs I like so I keep buying them.

I was off today for Veteran's Day and I had such a productive day. I unfortunately had to do some work this morning but that beat going in to an empty office to do it. I finally crossed some more items off my to do list, and I got in a really nice hour long workout. I also enjoyed the occasional game of Uno on xbox live. I have to say the xbox really grew on me. It helps that now I know how to use it (at least enough to get to Uno and turn it off when I'm done) and it sure beats tv! It beats tv because I can't eat and play xbox.

So the cookbook has been an ongoing project. I get a recipe, try it, and if we like it a lot, I retype it with who it's courtesy of, how I may have modified it, and a little tid bit about when we had it or for what occassion or who was here when I made it. It's more or less a memorabilia cookbook and since we tend to eat the same recipes it's nice to have them all in one place rewritten in my words. Eventually I'll add some photos. For example, my children may look through it one day and see what dessert I've made Mike every Valentine's Day since we've been together and a photo of Mike and I with the mocha sweethearts. This really all stemmed from my hating to shuffle papers to find a recipe I know is somewhere in the seven inch pile on top of the microwave.

I've been in a good mood since Saturday in fact! I amaze even myself! I honestly think xbox may have added to the quality of mine and Mike's relationship (at least for now - that's a bold statement). At least he's not running me out the room with shows like Cops and Jail and anyone who knows me knows that commercials make me twitch so maybe it's the lack of tv that is making me happy. Either way Mike and I are having fun with it and I don't mind hanging out and working on something while he plays.

I have a feeling these may be my famous last words.....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pride

I am bubbling with hope and optimism. I've never been more proud of my Country than I am today. We are all going to be okay because, yes, we can!

Congratulations!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Derby Night of the Living Dead

This past Saturday was Derby Night of the Living Dead. The Boardwalk Brawlers hosted a double-header in Egg Harbor Township featuring mens derby as well. The New York Shock Exchange battled it out against the Connecticut Death Squad and we took on Harrisburg Area Roller Derby (HARD).

I served as a non-skating official. My job was to record and time penalties for CT during the mens game and for HARD during our game. I sat in a chair directly behind three folding chairs serving as the penalty box. When someone got a one minute penalty I had to start timing their penalty as soon as their ass hit the chair. At thirty seconds, I yelled "30 seconds!", at 50 seconds, I yelled, "10! Stand!" so they could get ready to go back out, and at 60 seconds I yelled, "Done!". Penalties are one minute with the exception of a two-minute penalty. I don't know what it's called but there a few ways to get it. There was one two-minute penalty and the referee skated over to me and told me. There was no other way for me to know.

In addition to timing and yelling, I had to fill out a chart with the period, jam number (I had to keep track of that myself), skater, skater position and the time spent in the box during each jam. Jams are only two minutes long and they are often called off early by the lead jammer if they feel they can no longer score points. It's a strategy to conserve their, and their team's, energy. So penalties are usually served over the course of two jams, if not three in rare cases. When the jam came to an end, I stopped the watch and jotted down the time. I started it again at the whistle of the start of the next jam.

It's fun when you end up with three people in the box because then you get to do quick math. I know, I'm a dork. There's only one stop-watch so you have to write down at which second each person entered the box and then do quick math to make sure everyone gets their fair warning.

I was certainly an unbiased penalty tracker (of course) even though I wanted the opposing teams to win. I was amazed how often I was ignored even though I was screaming the warnings. More often than not no one stood when I told them to stand and they didn't budge when I yelled, "Done!" a foot behind them. I'd be leaning forward tapping them on the shoulder with my pencil yelling "done" and they'd be watching the game like a spectator. I could have let up but didn't. I did my fair amount of pushing and I screamed until my voice was hoarse.

My teammate was tracking penalties for the two home teams, BB and NYSE. She was nervous and lacked confidence in her ability to do the job so I offered to take the away teams thinking she'd be more comfortable with her teammates. That was a very good thing. CT and HARD both tripled the amount of penalties of NYSE and BB. My teammate was very grateful and I liked having something to do. Just to give you an idea, I'd say each team I tracked penalties for had an average of 15 major penalties per 30 minute period. If one member of the team gets four in a period, they are ejected for that period, but allowed to come back for the next. So basically, the opposing teams had an average of fifteen minutes of "power play" time per period. In derby, it's called a power jam.

I had a blast. Even when one of the guys got pissed off and threw all my chairs (he later apologized). We had a great turn-out, great volunteers, and the games were clean and fun and fortunately, no one got hurt other than some rink rash, a few bruises, a twisted ankle and a sprained wrist.

NYSE beat CT by over 100 points. BB and Hard were neck and neck the entire game, but HARD pulled ahead in the last two jams and beat us by 16 points. The final score was BB: 112 HARD: 128.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back on Wheels

I went to practice last night and this time I dressed and brought all my gear. I was shocked to see five fresh meat at practice and looked forward to coaching them for two hours.

They were an excellent group and I think I did a good job. I gave them my full attention the entire time, something I wish I had been given when I was learning, but there isn't a set person who works with the fresh meat so it was always a little chaotic. We practiced T-stops and did leg strengthening drills for a while. Near the end I had the girls doing knee falls. It was fun being back on skates and again, I didn't miss playing with the girls one bit. In fact, they were being punished for whining too much and had to do torturous falling drills and I couldn't help smiling a little inside.

I was glad I was there to work with the fresh meat and answer all their questions and make them feel welcome. Practice can be fairly intimidating for the newbs and I can see how they may feel unwelcome or like a burden if someone isn't there to work with them because then they either get stuck sitting around or someone has to take time away from coaching the team to coach them. So I was pleased with the role I played and the support I provided. It felt good to get a little exercise again too but I do miss that intense cardio.

A Success

I am pleased to announce that our Engagement Party was a huge success. It took a lot of work, and I would never do it again, but I can look back and smile.

So many people were such a tremendous help and the party was a group effort no doubt. I also think the arrival of my big brother, Doug, a few days in advance also helped a lot. It was so wonderful knowing he was nearby and getting to see him for a little while in the the stressful time leading up to the party. Mike was a tremendous help as well and I am thrilled he enjoyed our party as much as I did, if not more.

It was really great seeing my uncles talk to Mike's uncles and hearing my girlfriends ask my cousin, Jackie, to join them in their chit chat and seeing our guy friends hang on Doug's every word. It was such a great group.

Now everything is getting back to normal. I had a really nice conversation with my mom Tuesday night and I was pleased to hear that she also enjoyed herself and was well on her way to recovery.

Mike and I are gearing up for the next party October 25, but this one is our annual and causes very little stress. It'll be nice to party again with my friends so soon and this time....I'm getting drunk!

I'll be sure to post some pictures from the engagement party when I have them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday night paddle

I met up with The Best Delaware Valley Kayaking Group Ever last night at 6:00 at Cooper River to go kayaking. It was super close to home, easy to get to, and totally great to do after a hard day at work. And kayaking in the dark is definitely a cool experience.


That's actually me...very very tiny me.


Do you see the dog? He's wearing a doggie life preserver!


Me again


Philly skyline at sunset









Derby Decisions

My brother Doug said it best. I like the idea of roller derby better than I like playing roller derby. He is 100% correct.

Monday night I found myself suffering from my usual Monday night anxiety. An anxiety caused by the fear of attending Wednesday night practice and the pressure of attending Wednesday night practice. This anxiety started about a month ago - when I started practicing and playing with the team - no more kids corner. As of most recently the anxiety was enhanced by the fear of the looming bout on October 18 as well as the threats of additional practice nights. I was doubting my ability, my level of commitment, and consistently afraid of getting hurt or hurting someone else, amongst other things.

This all reared it's big fat ugly head on Monday night on the way home from class in the form of a panic attack. I calmly walked through the door, grabbed a pen and pad and asked Mike to please review a list of pros and cons with me - pros being the reasons to resign from roller derby.

So we talked. And Mike did not want me to quit. He had valid reasons, but he also didn't know what was in my head and Mike is much more of a go-getter than I am. He told me stories of his wrestling days in high school and his band days as an adult and I remained quiet as I wondered what the hell his stories had to do with me quitting roller derby.

I reminded him that I know myself well enough to know that nothing, I repeat nothing, could make me drive forty minutes to practice on a freezing, pitch black Wednesday night in the winter. Come December I'll already have two nights of class a week and I know my commitment to this sport is not forever and why should I continue to suffer this pressure, anxiety, and possible injury to just quit come winter?

The only cons to quitting I could come up with were missing the intense two hour cardio workout and missing the girls. Mike and I butted heads and I finally just decided to call Doug, my go-to guy for great advice.

Talking to Doug was most helpful. We went over the nitty gritty and the annoying facts - like Sunday practice an hour and a half away - resulting in my never getting to watch football. The whole being held accountable by twelve girls at this point in my life. The fear, which Doug said was quite clear to him in my blog posts. We just talked it all over, and although I made my decision before I even spoke to Mike or Doug, I finally felt good about it. I decided I would resign Tuesday morning.

I woke up Tuesday morning with awful anxiety. Fear of resigning I'm sure. I didn't know if the girls were gonna tell me off or if I'd regret my decision (I doubted it). I e-mailed our team President then posted on the team message board that I submitted my resignation and that I just felt that I could not commit to the team at the level expected of its members and I wished everyone and the team the best.

I thought I'd feel better immediately, but I didn't. I was nervous about what kind of response I would get. Then the responses started rolling in and it was a lot of lets work something outs and please don't do this and I'd be missed and then a very lengthy discussion ensued about levels of commitment and should there be two tiers for members. I sat back saying nothing watching this all unfold. The whole two tiers thing I knew would not fly. It's completely unfair to the full-time committed members who bust their ass week after week and drive all over the place going to practices. That's one of the reasons I resigned - I felt shitty doing this thing half-assed and I knew down the road I'd get shit for it.

So all this unfolded and still no word from the President. It was like an argument amongst children and I was just silently waiting for Mommy to chime in. And then she did.

I admit I was shocked and relieved instantaneously. She told me she understood and respected my decision and would I be interested in helping out the team at the bout and at some practices and events when I could? I felt amazing. So basically, could I still be a part of the team, not have to worry about going to every practice, not have to worry about bouting and getting hurt, and help out the team which I love anyway? Hell yeah!

Then some of the other girls started asking me the same thing. Then I learned that derby teams do have support staff and ours doesn't and that we need people like me. Someone even suggested I learn how to ref which in my opinion is a pretty cool thing to do. Remaining on the team in this new role seemed to make perfect sense to me.

So I went to practice Wednesday in flip flops instead of skates and blew my whistle and reviewed all the rules in more detail and did whatever was needed of me. No one gave me any shit and it was as if nothing changed at all. And let me tell you with one hundred percent certainty, not once did I miss not practicing with those girls. If anything, I felt relief - especially when they were doing their hitting drills.

At the end of the night I only missed not getting in a good workout. But I'm going to dress for now on and bring my skates so that I can help out in that fashion as well so I'm sure my days of playing the game are not over - but I imagine the pressure will no longer be there as I'll only be playing to help better my team and not myself.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out.

Dusk on Twilight

I left work at noon last Friday and went home and finished the Twilight series. I had a wonderful time and smiled softly as I finished Breaking Dawn and closed the book for the last time. I adoringly set them all on the shelf and look forward to visiting them again some time in the future.

Even still, I think of Bella and Edward and find myself startled for a split second, as if I've forgotten to do something very important. Then I remember that chapter is closed for now and I no longer have to rush through my chores in order to jump under the covers and pick up my book yearning for more.

I do miss them though, and think of them fondly as one would reminisce of an old friend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A half-assed update

My legs, ankles and feet are very sore from practice last night. I don't sleep well on Wednesdays and Thursdays are a pretty rough day for me as a result. Last night my legs and feet felt like cement under my blanket preventing me from sleeping along with the fact that I kept replaying practice in my head.

It was a good endurance practice. I went running Tuesday in an effort to build up my endurance and also because I still really want to do a 5K. I hadn't jogged in ages so I wasn't surprised that my mile time slipped an entire minute. I didn't realize I'd be so sore yesterday from the run so I went to practice sore to begin with. But anyway, endurance wise, it was a great practice. I can see and feel myself improving in that department.

The actual scrimmaging part of practice sucked. I played like crap. But coach had me jam a few times which makes me wonder if he's singling me out to be a jammer. I sucked across the board and was disappointed in myself. I am downright scared of one of the girls on my team. She hits like a brick wall and is as impenetrable as one. She's a little on the larger side but she's the fastest girl on the team. When I was jamming, I would stay behind her and wait for one of my blockers to engage her then I'd sprint ahead of her and she'd be next to me a half second later. It was so frustrating on so many levels. Also, last night we played four on the whole team. It was overwhelming having so many people out to get you instead of the usual five. It was more like nine on four.

But I'm looking forward to going jogging again tomorrow assuming I can move my legs without limping. I think it will really help me out at practice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My 300th Post

There I was. Down on one knee, shaking from head to toe, my heart hammering in my chest, sweat dripping down my face and back. This is not the opening to a marriage proposal story. On the contrary, I had just taken a spill, got called on a major, skated over to the penalty box and taken a knee. The combination of adrenaline, fear, and pressure is lethal.

Last night’s practice was good but also a blur. Pace drills, hitting drills, and scrimmaging. The pace drills nearly killed me. I thought my heart would beat right out of my face. The hitting drills rocked me to the core but I never fell. One or two times my neck snapped and my brain rattled in my skull. The pain in my head was ferocious. Not only from the jostling, but also from the biting down every time I took or gave a hit. My jaw was sending pain up the sides of my face and into my skull. Coach Cliff told me I was taking hits more than giving them. I think he was right, although damn, can I take a hit! The very next time I was up I really put my body into it and I landed a mean hit! Cliff just smiled and nodded. The pain to myself was drastically reduced which was encouraging.

After what felt like hours of abuse, we scrimmaged. Miss Trial, the ref for the Philly Roller girls, came to our practice to help us out. She forced us to play by the rules as if it were a real game which was awesome for us because we usually let so much slide.

There were two more firsts for me last night. One, I fell and I’m glad. Two or three times I fell – I can’t remember. Two, I played jammer. Three times. I can’t tell you anything about falling. You sort of black out for a second and before you know it you’re on your feet (skates rather). I’ve said once before I’ve never in my life played a team sport so all these insane “emotions” are all new to me. This adrenaline, in particular, is all new to me. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’ve never pushed myself this way. It’s a cocktail of adrenaline, fear and pressure and once consumed, you’re drunk on it.

I got called on a major or two for cutting the track. That means I passed someone out of bounds. It wasn’t deliberate and it hardly ever is. We’re supposed to be in control of ourselves at all times so accidents don’t matter.

Now lets talk about jamming. Jamming is f’n scary because you’re the target. Everyone on the opposing team is out to stop you by any means possible. I jammed three times. The first time I jammed, I can honestly say I did very well and I am smiling as I say that. Once the whistle blew twice it was time to hustle and catch the pack. Coach Chris was on my right coaching me. “Now look for the hole. Look for it. There it is. GO! GO! GO!” I skated through that pack weaving inside and out and my girls were kicking ass helping me out. But up front, I hit a wall. I could not get around it no matter how hard I tried and I was scared to do anything extreme. I stuck to their asses and waited for help and it never came. I heard people yelling that I needed help and that my blockers better get their asses to the front but before I knew it, the whistle blew four times signaling the end of the jam. I was spent. Coach seemed a little pissed with my blockers and he pulled them aside and told them what they could have done better.

I don’t remember the other two times very well. I think I spent one minute in the box for one of my two-minute jams and I think I fell the other time and just skated around like a fool. I went from good to horrendous.

The highlight of the night though was this. I was playing blocker. The black team’s jammer was on the inside line. Directly beside her was a black blocker, then directly beside her was me. I quickly thought to myself that if I hit the blocker, she’d fall into her jammer and they’d both fall down. I did it – I hit her – and my plan worked flawlessly. I felt really bad because the blocker I hit was a newbie just like me and I apologized later. But at least I finally did something that mattered.

By the end of the night I was spent and had a headache not so far off from that of a migraine. I could barely stretch. I told Hell Kat I didn’t feel comfortable scrimmaging next week in Newark against the Garden State Roller Girls and she said that was fine. I’ll go and observe and watch instead. I’m comfortable with my decision. Granted I am missing the opportunity to play with strangers before the October 18th bout but I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. I rather get a few more weeks of practice in. The girls next week won’t know me from Adam and they’ll assume I’m a veteran. I’m not ready to play that way yet.

Overall, it was a good night and I feel fine this morning. My upper arms are a little sore from all the hitting and I’m tired because I had trouble sleeping after all the emotions I experienced. On a more positive note, my name is registered and last night was the first time I got to wear my name. Half the team calls me J.D. and the other half calls me Killinger. I really like both and it was fun hearing people yell the names.

I’m not going to practice Sunday and I’m not playing next Wednesday. Last night Mike could tell I was a little frustrated so he asked me how he can help me. Sunday we’re going to the roller hockey rink and he’s going to run around and let me skate into him and try to knock him down. That should be fun! This way I won’t be rusty by the time I skate again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reason 1,199 why Mike is awesome

Ring Ring

"Hello?"

"Hi. My parts came for the Buick today. Since you have a date with Edward tonight, I made a date with my car."

"Sounds good to me!"

Forks is real

I was slow to start reading the books and I'm slow to learn Forks, WA is actually a real place. The photos of the peninsula are just like I pictured them. I'll be traveling there this spring/summer.

New tat, new book

I went out northwest Sunday to get some more work done on my arm. It went well. I haven't gotten around to taking any pictures yet but I will soon. Larry covered all the pink rays on the left side of my angel with blue and he finally made it around to the underside of my arm that was still blank and added the rest of the rays. He also added in some branches along the back. It's so nice having some of that filled in finally. I think I have only 2-3 sessions left, the last one being final touches and no real work.

I'm still obsessively reading the Twilight books. I am now on the third, Eclipse. I've been distracted and emotional and feeling a little ridiculous, but I'm enjoying something tremendously so I think I'm ok. At least now I know I'm fine because last night I met Jessica.

Jessica sits in front of me in my Monday night Child Psychology class. Last week was our first class and somehow or another the Twilight books came up and I had just started reading the first book and had it with me so I raised it into the air and confessed I was already totally hooked. End of story.

Fast forward to this week. Class was good and we wrapped up. I stood to gather my things and before I could pick up my notebook a girl had come over to me like she had been shot out of a cannon, "You like Twilight, right?!"

"Yes!"

"Oh my God. I remember from last week." talking a mile a minute "Please don't think I'm crazy, but I don't know if you know, but Stephenie Meyer released all the playlists from all the music she listened to while she wrote the books and (opening her messenger bag) I burned you a copy!"

"Wow! Thank you so much!"

"You're welcome. You know what last week was, right?"

"Um, I just started reading the books last week - I don't really know."

"Ah! IT WAS BELLA'S BIRTHDAY!" Taking out her camera and scrolling throuhg photos. "We had a birthday party for her!" Showing me pictures.

"You guys replicated the whole birthday party from Twilight!?" I said with equal parts awe, excitment, pity, and envy. The cake was the same, the decorations, everything!

"Yep. Obsessed isn't even the word." The she leaned in close to me and pulled the skin down away from her eye. Golden amber. I guess the look on my face said it all so she just nodded in confirmation. She was wearing contacts to make her eyes the same color as Edward's.

We somehow made it outside rambling back and forth like two teens confessing our love of Edward Cullen, how we cried, how obsessed we've been. Jessica, we eventually got to an introduction, confessed she didn't eat while reading the books last year.

It was like a tornado of conversation - there was too much to say in too short a time. Me so excited to meet a fan and she so excited to meet a newborn to the series. She told me she'd burn the remaining three playlists and cautioned me not to listen to each one until I finished the book it went with. I told her I'd most likely be done by next class.

Then, because I couldn't help myself, I asked her if the books had a happy ending. And she just looked at me and even if it was just a second, it was the longest she had gone without talking. She finally said something like, "Can it?"

So I revised. "Am I going to want to commit suicide?"

"I'm still here" is all she said and that was good enough for me. If this contact wearing, Bella birthday party throwing fan can still talk so excitedly about the books then I'm sure it'll end well.

I just wish it didn't have to.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Moon

I started New Moon last night, the second book in the Twilight Series. I came to a pivotal part in the story and cried and cried and sobbed and cried and fell asleep shaking feeling like my heart was dying. It was awful, and it brought back very bad memories of heart ache. I woke up feeling sad and lonely and tired. I tucked Mike in real tight and kissed him good-bye grateful that he was with me.

I feel a bit in a fog, not to mention embarrassed by how much a fictional story has affected me so far. For affirmation that I'm not insane I googled, "did you cry reading new moon" and luckily I'm not alone. However, I got a glimpse of a spoiler or two. It's a chance I was willing to take.

Mike's heading up north tonight to go fishing tomorrow. I'm looking forward to putting on my pajamas, making tea and laying in bed and reading until my vision gets blurry. I just hope the story gets a little more light-hearted soon - I can't take the pain.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Twilight Saga

Just like with the Harry Potter series, I am late to all the wonder, amusement and awe that is The Twilight Series.

I admit I only actually heard of it a few months ago when scrolling through the Barnes and Noble bestsellers list and seeing each volume of the series within the top ten. I went to Barnes and Noble, asked which book was the first, read the first page and put it back. I ignored the release of the latest, Breaking Down, and didn't bother to read my acquaintance's blog posts about it.

Then the release of the latest Harry Potter Film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, was pushed back from November, 2008 to Summer, 2009(!) for the movie release of Twilight. That made me very, very angry.

So down in Florida over the weekend, Mike's sixteen year old cousin Jennifer and I got to talking and she raved about the Twilight saga and offered to lend me the first book. We didn't talk much about it but she informed me that the actor who played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was, in fact, playing Edward, the main character in Twilight. This sparked my interest.

So I took the book and started reading it on Monday and ever since have been trying to find creative ways to get out of my responsibilities so I can keep reading. I am like a fiend. A Twilight Saga fiend. I love it. I haven't loved a book this much since Harry Potter. I find myself overwhelmingly grateful there are more. I may finish the first tonight and just in case of a cliffhanger I am going out at lunch to buy books 2 and 3. I can't stop wondering what will happen and thinking about Edward, and his sheer strength and beauty.

I am totally hooked. omg omg omg. LOL. So naturally I went and watched the trailer this morning. Mike and I may not be going to a midnight release this fall for Harry Potter, but we will be going for Twilight.

I needed a new series in my life. I admit though I am doing quite poorly juggling the story with my day to day responsibilities. It's that good. I must scream my love for Twilight off the top of something very, very high.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Florida

I got a new notch on the experience belt this past weekend when I went to Fort Lauderdale Beach. I realize that going to a different state means nothing unless you do something in that state. The beach was a whole new experience for me and I really loved it. The water was so clear (but SALTY!), and so warm. And the beach was so clean and I liked the palm trees skirting the perimeter of the sand. The shells are really different and pretty and I had a blast getting tossed around in the surf while collecting them.

Overall, the entire trip was very lovely and I'm glad we went. It was nice spending time with Mike's family.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kick Ass Practice!

Last night's derby practice was awesome and totally boosted my confidence! Right from the start Coach had us fresh meat in with the team doing drills. We first skated in a super tight pack which helped to ease my fear of skating in a super tight pack! I didn't fall but I made a girl behind me fall and I felt bad. I guess I jutted my skate back too far on a push off and she hit it and went down.

Then we played three on three mini scrimmages and I was very, very nervous. But again it just totally boosted my confidence. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I was on the track skating in a pack, looking all around trying to follow what was going on while trying not to get hurt and not to crash into any down bodies. I did take my first hit though. Ivanna (I'll never forget her) came up beside me and totally caught me off guard and gave me a nice hit to the shoulder and I instinctively turned and apologized (as if I got in her way). D'oh! She started laughing and assured me she did it on purpose.

Then we moved on to hitting drills which Coach wouldn't let us do at first. So we watched. And then we practiced on each other and joined the group and did some different hitting drills where we skated the length of the rink on opposite sides coming together for one good hard hit at three specified spots on the rink. So basically: skate, BAM, skate, BAM, skate, BAM, and back to the end of the line.

THEN.....

THEN.....

Coach had us fresh meat sit down because he didn't want us scrimmaging. I was relieved. Then a minute later he had us get back up and stand with the rest of girls. Then he split us all up into two teams. My first scrimmage! (I was so nervous - I hope no one saw me shaking.) I took the number two position for my first jam. My heart was racing and then the whistle blew and well; it's kind of like driving in traffic, as silly as that sounds. You don't really think. Suddenly the discomfort of my mouth guard was no longer existent, my location on the track didn't matter. You just skate and look all around you and there are so many things going through your head but in a way your mind is blank because you just know what to do and leave it up to adrenaline and instinct. I can't explain it well.

I did good. At least I think I did good. I kept up with the pack about 90% of the time and when I lost it I hauled ass to catch up. I know I had two or three good blocks. I didn't hit anyone - I tried, but couldn't land anything - but I did manage to push one blocker out of bounds and something else I did I knew was really good but I can't remember. Someone even yelled, "Nice, Jessica!" It was really really fun. I had a blast!

I skated in three to five jams. You lose track - it's all adrenaline. I never played pivot or jammer, just a blocker in the number two or three position. I'm not ready (scared) to jam. I'm also still afraid of falling. Somehow I managed not to fall once all night. Very good, but also bad. I know I need to have a good fall for me to realize it's not so bad (hopefully it won't be). I also need to figure out how the hell to talk when you have a giant piece of rubber in your mouth! *Note to self, watch girls and see if they take out their mouth guards for a few seconds to yell to their teammates. Is there some trick I don't know? I also need to stop friggin apologizing! - it's instinctual. Sister reminded we all know why we're here so there's no need to apologize. She said she did that a lot when she first started and Coach made her do twenty push ups every time she said she was sorry and that helped her kick the habit really quickly. I assured her I'll work on it.

Before practice I would have never thought I'd be ready for the September 24 scrimmage against the GSRG, but now I think there's a good possibility I could do it. Maybe I will even skate at the October 18 bout. It's not really up to me, but it does seem a little more realistic now.

I think next week I may be "officially" on the team. Team Pres gave me my orientation packet last night with the forms I need to fill out, bylaws, and GIANT TEAM STICKER for my helmet. Who needs bylaws when you have a giant sticker! I'm stoked to register my name so I can start using it.

Any doubts I had earlier in the week simply washed away last night. And all the fund raising events are coming together. It felt overwhelming earlier in the week but other than one crazy week in September (with three events in one week) it is quite manageable and my excitement is renewed.

It was an awesome practice and I feel great today - no soreness at all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

By the way......

I made California roll back in June maybe? And it sucked. It was expensive to make the first time (afterwards it won't be, but initially you have to buy a lot of stuff) and it wasn't very good. Not to mention it's only worth the effort if you were making a lot and it doesn't keep for more than a day so what's the point? I found it challenging and time consuming and you're much better off paying $5 for it. If anyone wants a large bag of sushi rice and a bamboo rolling mat, please let me know.

I was hanging out with my brother and his friends a few months ago and we ordered take out from a Chinese/Japanese restaurant. I thought it was so brilliant I could barely contain my excitement. Ordering up an order of General Tsous and a California roll might be one of the best things in the world. If only this place was near my house; Mine and Mike's problem of me wanting Japanese and he wanting Chinese would be over.

(update: this post falls under the label "Bucket List" because an earlier version contained "Make California Roll".)

Almost ready for it to end

This afternoon I was walking to the fountain at Logan Circle to meet David for lunch and while doing so I took in the autumn breeze and noted the fallen leaves and enjoyed those first tastes of fall. Back to school (and back to work) is all around me - stopping for crossing guards, full parking lots at the Patco station, and not being able to find a seat on the train.

So I found a bench and took a seat and was blasted by the sun and immediately felt my face begin to sweat. Ick. It was a beautiful day but nothing like fall and it actually got me thinking, Shoot, there's still some things I want to do this summer! It was like saying good riddance to an annoying house guest at the airport and then realizing you'll actually miss them. I was overwhelmed by the sudden desire to have a picnic. And to go to a water park. At the same time.
Luckily I'll be in Fort Lauderdale this weekend and we do plan to go to the beach one day so I know I'll have that one last breath of summer, assuming a hurricane doesn't dampen those plans. *pun intended. But I must fit in a romantic picnic with Mike. gottagoonapicnic

After that I'll be good. Bring on my favorite season of the year!!! Every year I appreciate it more and enjoy it more!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a Twist

In an interesting turn of events my stepmother called me last night to ask if she could hang out at my place while her kids were at a Jonas Bros. concert tonight in nearby Camden. I decided to be a nice person and say sure resulting in my having to blow off practice.

Last night I dreamed of being kicked off the team for it. Last week Coach said Wednesday practices are mandatory and if we don't show up, we don't skate. I'm not usually a smart-ass, but what does that mean? We don't skate ever again? The following week when we show up? At the next bout?

I have no idea what it meant and apparently no one took him too serious because practice was cancelled at 2:44 since so many people couldn't make it. Luckily for me, I don't have anymore anxiety about missing anything.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holden's kid sister liked to roller skate in Central Park

The past week has gone by in a flash and I'm rather enjoying the chaos as it is a nice change from the usual boredom. Tonight all I have to do is get all my gear - helmet, pads, mouthguard. Saturday was my first derby bout and I've decided to stick with it.

The bout was a good experience. We were awful and we called the game in the second period after S.S. got knocked out and had to go to the E.R. That sucked. Thankfully, she's fine. But it was good experience nonetheless and I can handle bruises and soreness. At least I think I can. I'm looking forward to practice tomorrow.

Oh and I finally picked my name (and it is available) so I feel fairly official now.

J.D. Killinger

If you don't catch the reference, then shame on you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting my ass kicked!

I am really hurting today. In fact, I had trouble getting out of my car last night; that's how quickly the soreness of last night's derby practice moved in.

I have never done a team sport before. I have never really tried to do my best at anything athletic - it either came naturally and I was good at it or I did it under my own discipline and quit or gave up or just simply never really improved because I didn't have the drive to really work at it. I often wished I had someone (like a drill instructor) push me and make me go further and faster, etc. But I don't so I tend to quit when it hurts or when I get too tired.

Last night was totally different. I want to learn this sport and I want to be good at it. There are people telling you what to do and they're watching you closely so the pressure is on. Last night was Coach's first practice back from a two week vacation and he spent almost the entire time teaching us newbies how to fall. And fall we did. Over and over for almost two hours. On our right knee, on our left knee, on both knees (scary), on our right knee and spinning into a 180, on our left knee and spinning into a 180, and the same on right and left when you just touchdown and get back up and keep skating. Over and over we fell.

It was very scary at first I admit. The double knee falls are the worst. You're just skating along and then, Bam, you drop to your knees. The first time I tried it I panicked at the last second and fell on my ass instead of my knees. I messed up quite a few times actually but overall, I felt good about my performance. I asked questions, I paid close attention, I practiced a lot and I asked for do-overs when I really felt I screwed up. I need to remember not to put my hands down on the ground so that they don't get run over but I think I really only started doing that when I was near exhaustion.

I was spent! I was dripping from head to toe in F.V.'s helmet, pads and skates and got progressively worse as the night went on. Getting up from falling a hundred times was worse than falling a hundred times. My thighs were just shutting down and they didn't want to work anymore and I felt myself becoming confused and I just got sloppy near the end.

We were told to join the team at the end for their final workout. It was fun skating with the girls and we did drills with them for a few minutes then stretched out as a group. Afterwards there was some talk about strategy and it was interesting to listen to. I'm really looking forward to watching the bout Saturday and I'm getting my pads Friday night. I don't think the bout can change my mind at this point. I'm in.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Recovered

I had an excellent four days off from work, two and a half of which I spent in Ocean City, MD with Kelly. I had a great time and relaxed at the beach and laughed a lot. Sitting on the beach with Kelly b.s.ing and laughing made me realize just how long it's been since I've spent more than a day or so with a female friend. It's been a very long time and I really enjoyed myself. Girls rock! Not to mention it was nice to get away. I slept very well.

I feel well rested now and we are experiencing the most amazing weather: sunny, mid to high seventies, no humidity, there's even a hint of an autumn breeze. Yesterday I threw on a hoodie and sat out on the deck and read while enjoying a chai tea. It was marvelous.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Now Where to Begin

It's now calm after the storm and Mike and I are both very tired. It was a hectic and fun weekend - a roller coaster ride of ups and lulls, but no downs. Last night we were hoping to catch our seventh and eighth winds so that we could make it home in one piece. I met David for lunch today so I could tell him about my ring and now there are only stragglers and strangers to tell for the most part. Oh, and the friends who haven't returned my phone calls. The rest I'm leaving up to the game of telephone, word of mouth and a Myspace page blog post.

So basically, the weekend went something like this:

Friday night: drinks, monopoly, laughing

Saturday: Heavy duty cleaning! I did suspect Sunday may be the day and I knew that would mean that organization and staying ahead of the game would be crucial to a stress free celebration. I made meatballs so we had a ready-made dinner for later in the week and the house was more or less spotless. And mom always said clean sheets are the best for holidays and special occasions so not only did I change the sheets but I cleaned the mattress cover as well and I gave the mattress a much needed turn.

Saturday night: Mike and I headed out to High Velocity in Beechwood to meet up with some of the Boardwalk Brawlers for a fundraiser/promotional thing. Mike met four of my future teammates and I got a chance to get to know a few of the girls better and to get some additional information and to ask questions. I'm really glad I went. Here's a picture in which I look AWFUL. If I look over excited to be asked to be in the photo, I was.



Sunday Mike and I got up by 7:30 to get ready to head down to Cape May. We had breakfast at our favorite place, the Mad Batter, and then headed over to the Point. Getting around in Cape May is so easy - I just love going there.

Soon after I was settled in my beach chair and started reading Mike proposed and it was great! It happened very fast and afterwards we went about our day at the beach and had a blast and I had something to look at all day and calls to make and it was all very nice. I found the perfect rock to take home as a memento and to write the date on. We laughed and waved at one another and stole kisses in the surf and I couldn't have asked for a better day. And it wasn't even half over yet!

We got home around 4:00 or so and it was time to get ready for our 6:00 dinner reservation at Blackbird as part of Collingswood restaurant week. We notified the Maitre d' that we had gotten engaged and could we please have a romantic table. We were then provided with the best dining experience of our lives. It was the best meal we've ever eaten and the best service we've ever received - the experience was spectacular and we were very grateful. Blackbird helped to end the night of our engagement on a most glorious note so we wrote the owner and head chef a letter yesterday to thank him again and to let him know just how well his staff treated us and just how wonderful his food was and just how much they all added to our special day.

For all you foodies out there, this is what we ordered.

Course One:

I ordered the handmade potato gnocchi in a tomato basil cream sauce with parmesan and mozzarella. Mike ordered the same but added the optional fresh jumbo lump crab. It was a heavy dish but very nice. The portion size was slightly too large for a first course and I did not finish it.

Course Two:

I had been looking forward to this since we made our reservation. Finally after years of watching Top Chef and Iron Chef, I was going to taste my first confit! I ordered the crispy confit of free range chicken with sweet pea risotto and jus de poulet (my first demi glace). I also ordered the optional additional seared breast of chicken. The dish was to die for and I am not exaggerating. The skin on the confit was so crisp and the chicken flavor was so intense and the meat was so moist - it was an amazing experience in my mouth. I had also been looking forward to the risotto and it too was delicious - the cream just melted off the rice in my mouth and made me smile every time I had some.

Mike ordered the pan seared Chilean sea bass with artichoke and olive fregola sarda (a toasted breadcrumb-like pasta from the island of Sardinia). He also ordered the optional additional Prince Edward Island mussels. Mike's been really getting into seafood lately and he just loved his dish as well.

Course Three:

For dessert we both ordered the arborio rice pudding and I added on the polenta cookies which had a lovely hint of lemon. Our server brought out our dessert on one dish with a small candle and said they don't usually do it that way but that they thought we'd enjoy it. It was lovely.

Between the wine, the Rogue, the meal and the cappuccinos we were stuffed to a maximum and I mean it when we say it was the best meal we've ever had.

Here's a photo from the evening (our big debut):


Monday it was time for us to head back to work. Mike's parents were more or less the only ones who had not yet known about the engagement. We knew Mike's mom wanted an in-person announcement so we decided we would accommodate her. I wrote her an e-mail saying hello and that we wanted to hear about her weekend - would she be home tonight? Yes.

We headed up north to see my mom first who already knew about our engagement as she was the first person I called. We pulled up to the house at the same time and she got out of the car singing a made up song (I think) about how her daughter was getting married. We showed her the ring and had some pizza. It was loud, hectic, and rushed - the way I like it at mom's house. But time slipped away from me and we had to go. We made it over to Mike's parents house and his mom's truck wasn't there. That suuuucked. So Mike called his dad to see where she was and he said she'd be home at 9:00. Ouch. We were basically stranded as Mike didn't want to go back to my mom's so we decided to call Rudy and see if we could kill some time at his place. He was happy to accommodate us so that actually worked out really well because we all got to hang out for a little bit and I got to show off my ring some more and talk about roller derby some more and the guys got to catch up and talk about their cars.

Around 8:40 Mike's mom called and said she was home so Mike said he'd call her back in five minutes and we left Rudy's to go surprise his parents. We rang the doorbell and Mike's dad answered and yelled to his mom that Michael was at the door. I walked in the house and his mom walked into the room and she knew immediately. She started screaming and crying and jumping up and down and grabbed us both and confessed her love and happiness and thanked us profusely for the joy we had brought in to her family. Mike and I just laughed, but it was all very sweet. Then she grabbed us and ran us over to the speaker phone where she proceeded to call her brother and best friend who both live in Florida and we gave them the news. Then we all sat down and talked for an hour or so about all different stuff including our plans and she regularly interrupted the conversation to give us hugs and kisses. I couldn't have asked for it to have gone any better.

By the time we left I was dozing. Getting excited so many times just wiped me out. It was a wonderful weekend. All that's left is to get my big brother Doug on the phone who is traveling. I left him a message shortly after Mike proposed on Sunday and gave him the news and he left me a message Monday night congratulating us and saying he had news of his own. I missed his call a little while ago and tried to get him but couldn't. At times like this I miss him very much.

So next is the engagement party (which has been planned for a few weeks. ;-) ) and then on to planning our wedding. Mike is so wonderful. He takes all my excitement in stride and asks so little. I rattle off all the things that have to be done and he simply asks for reminders and an itinerary (his words not mine). I couldn't have hoped for a better husband.

*Addendum: Doug and I finally got in touch this evening and now I feel complete knowing how happy and supportive he is for us. His news was BIG, but more about that another time. Mike had shown him the ring when he was out visiting back in June so he's known for a while but now that it's all happening, hearing him congratulate us was the icing on the cake.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Betrothed

Mike and I are now engaged! Mike proposed yesterday, Sunday, 8/3/08, on the beach at Cape May Point. We had the most wonderful weekend!

More details to follow as well as a recap of the weekend.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Derby Practice II

Kelly and I rolled up (in our cars) to the skating rink in Hammonton last night at 8:30 for our second roller derby practice. We donned our skates and hit the rink to warm up a little and M, a Philly Roller Girl (from the big leagues!), informed us she comes to help out once in a while and she thought she'd show us some moves and get us learning some basic skills. It was a lot of fun learning the techniques and practicing the different ways to stop and skating in the opposite direction. Not backwards, but counter-clockwise. It's really really difficult. But Miranda was adamant that taking time to practice skating counter-clockwise was crucial to balance muscle development and prevent any future complications. It's really challenging.

So me, Kelly, and H, the third piece of fresh meat that returned after the initial interest meeting two weeks ago, skated around and practiced for 45 minutes or so and worked up a mean sweat then sat to watch the girls scrimmage. M was awesome and she really seemed to know her shit. The girls are gearing up for their rematch against the Sisters of Mayhem August 16 so there was definitely a sense of seriousness and focused practice - something that seemed lacking at the initial interest meeting practice. Then again, there were a lot of people at practice that day.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I'm still really interested. I do believe that things happen for a reason and I decided last week I'd make a decision as to whether or not I take this seriously after I see the match August 16. Ironically, I learned I get a bonus August 15. My bonus can buy skates. Coincidence?

So I guess I must be interested, especially after I agreed to do what I'm going to do Saturday night. After practice there was an announcement that a bar (that happens to be a sponsor I think), advertised that roller girls would be there Saturday night hanging out. Coach agreed to this but in the excitement of the imminent rematch, I guess it kind of was forgotten? So anyway, hardly any of the girls could go and we were reminded how important this is and how we must be there and blah blah blah. Then Assistant Coach turned to me, Kelly and H and asked if we'd go. My first thought was that I'm not even on the team and my second thought was that my going might make me look pretty good, which lets face it, isn't a bad thing. So Assistant Coach rolled over and told me what I'd have to do (dress up for one, in the team colors, and mingle.) Sounds easy enough. I got some more information and exchanged e-mail addresses with one of the other girls that will be going and headed home.

Unfortunately once I got in the car I was able to think it over more and then realized I don't know exactly how to feel about it. I didn't know promos and guest appearances would be involved and strutting around in a costume like a Coors girl isn't really my scene. But on the other hand, being a roller girl, I guess, is like being a character. It's acting. I can act.

So I went home and talked to Mike and he totally surprised me because he one hundred percent understood! He compared it to his band days and his only negative commentary was that "The star players should be there!" Do we have star players? "Your being there is like going to a Metallica signing and getting your CD signed by the roadie." I love Mike. He knew about the sponsors and the this and the that and he even asked me about what I was going to wear and he said they better give me a team shirt so everyone knows who I am. I reminded him I'll be in leggings, a mini skirt and a hot pink shirt - I think people will know who I am.

So I decided to push my luck and ask if he'd accompany me and he actually agreed! I told him that I didn't know how it would be and I didn't know if I could really hang around him and he was totally cool about it and just told me not to let guys buy me shots because we have to get up early Sunday morning.

So Saturday night is my first public appearance as a roller girl. In a bar I've never been to. With girls who I doubt I'll even be able to recognize (luckily, the pink and black should give them away) and whose names I don't know.

Thank goodness for Mike.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Parvin State Park

After breakfast yesterday Mike and I decided to head out to Parvin State Park figuring we'd get a few nice hours in before the severe storms headed our way blackened the skies. We mapquested the park and headed out and I was pleasantly surprised just how nice it was for it being a mere 35 minutes away.

The main parking lot is across the street from the lake entrance - a lovely large lake with kayak and canoe rentals for only $18, as well as a lifeguard and beach house for an entrance fee of only $2. It wasn't crowded despite it being a hot and sunny Sunday in July. Too bad we weren't there to lay out. We got a map and asked the teen aged money collector where we could go fishing. She recommended we drive to a lot farther down the road but when I asked her if we could walk she said we could. A measly half mile later we came to a little floating dock and Mike set up camp. I looked over my map and decided on the 3.1 mile lake trail which would loop me around the entire lake. I said bye to Mike and was off.

I enjoyed the hike to a degree but was nervous probably 70% of the time because I was all alone on the trail. Although the trail circled the lake, in parts it was set far back from the lake with only a narrow dirt trail running through thick dense (in parts overgrown) woods. My imagination runs wild and I confess I didn't have as much fun as I would have liked. In fact, I jogged quite a bit and looked over my shoulder a lot. I was amazed I was the only one out there.

However, I'd like to add that there were a few times when the sun was shining very bright but a cool summer breeze drifted overhead, and the sounds of cicadas picked up and the leaves rustled in the trees and it was in those moments my fear melted away and I felt glad to be alive. Overall, it was rather lovely.

I made it back to Mike and thunder soon started roaring in the distance so we packed up and made it back to the car only moments before the rain.

I'm so glad we went out there and I now know of an excellent spot a half an hour away. The trail had zero degree of difficulty so my going out there alone is no problem and I'd like to go out there Saturday mornings when I have no plans and Mike is working, but I will be afraid every time. Next time I'll bring my little pepper spray and try to remind myself that I'm probably more safe alone in the woods than out in the open with strangers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh, the Anxiety!

I've been suffering from anxiety the past two days hardcore. My heart races, I'm constantly distracted. I'm fidgety. I accomplish tasks in short bursts followed by longer periods of uselessness. I can't pinpoint exactly what is bothering me. I think it's just a culmination of pent up excitement for what I hope is my imminent engagement, stress over whether or not to join the roller derby team (stupid, right?), school starting up, MONEY, always money, fear of losing said hard earned money in Atlantic City tonight (stupid, right?). We had an infestation of ants this week which required the emptying of an entire cabinet, the washing of all contents, the spraying and killing and searching of ants, then reassembly. Two days later they were back and we repeated the process.

Last night I got home from work and actually fell asleep for two hours. I was spent. I woke up just as it started to get dark and it looked like one of those nice cooler September nights that remind you that fall is coming. Within five minutes of opening my eyes I was on my bike headed for the lake. That really seemed to help.

Mike and I had plans to stay home this weekend but then spontaneity kicked in and alas, my anxiety again. Knarr invited us to A.C. and Mike said no but then he called me to tell me and of course I was willing to find a way to go. Playing cards with Knarr is just too much fun. But I'm also glad I called him because his plan (which he never stated because Mike said no) was to meet us at our house, have dinner and also spend the night. So of course this all works out great because now Mike can see his best friend for a bit even though he has declined the offer to go to A.C. (which makes me feel a lot better).

Mike is not a good card player and has never sat at a table before. He doesn't have a cent to lose and also gets very upset when he does. I am grateful he has given me his blessing to go to A.C. with Knarr while he stays home and works on his car. I don't have to feel bad. As selfish as that sounds.

So I am aware that I'm being kind of silly, but at least I know what's bothering me to a degree. I rather know the stupid reasons than not know at all.

Shameless plug:

If you hate reality tv, then be sure to watch Reality Bites Back Thursday nights at 10:00 on Comedy Central (I think). What do you get when you put ten professional comedians in a house and people stop being polite? A really fuckin funny show! Check it out. Next week they're competing in the opposite of the Biggest Loser - watch them inhale twinkies and compete to see who gains the most weight. Did I mention the show is hosted by Michael Ian Black?

Sunday we're finally going to see the Dark Knight - can't wait! So I guess I don't have much to worry about - I just need to gather my thoughts. Thanks, Blogger, for letting me get it all out there in a non cohesive staggered way. You're the best!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back to normal

I am now fully recovered from last week's hellish work week and I am pleased to say I made my deadline and made it out on Friday intact although exhausted.

This week's looking up after the past few very chaotic weeks. I have one goal essentially for this week and that is to register for classes. I spent some time this morning deciding on a class, location and time so that's all set. Now I just have to pay for it. I'll be taking Child Psychology Monday nights. I'm actually really looking forward to it after all the history I've been taking. After some real consideration I decided to only take one class this fall. October through December are very busy months for me and after mulling it all over I decided to take the easier road with a promise to myself that I would take two classes again in the winter.

I t looks like Wednesdays will now be devoted to Roller Derby practice. Maybe. Most likely. Maybe.

Kelly invited me to tag along with her to the Boardwalk Brawlers practice last week and we both enjoyed ourselves and are interested in possibly trying out for/joining the team. I will give myself a month to make a decision. The pros are obvious: making new friends, exercise, getting to tell people I'm on a roller derby team, getting to wear fishnets. The cons are also obvious: time commitment, $$$ ($45/month dues plus equipment), PAIN, chance of breaking bones. Not to mention my preferred skate name, Rumbelina, is already taken! Apparently these names have to be registered with the National Roller Derby Association. No wonder the names of the girls on the team give the impression that they've been scraped from the bottom of a barrel.

I'll keep you posted on all the fun.

Mike is doing quite well. We're enjoying ourselves and handling the stress of the past few weeks like a good team. Yeah, we're good sports. Maybe we'll toss around a football tonight at the park or in our freshly mowed lawn. Did you hear Shockey got traded to the Saints? He did.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scurvy - a Comedy

It may have started when I lost my water bottle two weeks ago.

But all hell broke loose Thursday around 12:15 pm with a half meatball sandwich at Subway. Never have I gotten the meatball sandwich and never had I passed on the wheat bread! But I do slightly recall turning to David and saying something along the lines of "lets get this holiday weekend started!". That was a second before he ordered his veggie patty sandwich on wheat. Bastard!

It was all downhill from there. Oh the horror! We expected dinner at the marina Thursday night so when we were proven terribly wrong we all ate bowls upon bowls of various colored orange snacks for dinner. Friday we had to justify what was most likely a $225 cost per head at the wedding by eating our share. Saturday was more beer and tasty cold hot dogs and Maria, what a sweetie, had waiting for me my very own bag of salt and vinegar chips! Woo-hoo!

Sunday: repeat.

So Monday I thought things might be a little better. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach like I hadn't eaten a whole grain or vegetable in ages! I was groggy and couldn't get out of bed so didn't have time for breakfast. I grabbed a banana and by the time I took it out of my bag at the office, half of it was inedible mush. I was starving!!!!

Then the jabbing pain of remembering I was on my own for lunch - David's last day was Thursday! Before David's all too short stint at the office, I ate lunch around noon every day. Once he came on board and we started having lunch together almost daily, I changed my lunch time to 1:00 to accommodate his later hours. I figured after six months it would have stuck, but no, my sandwich was gone by 11:59 am and I was still hungry and feeling sick but looking forward to the caesar salad we were having for dinner.

David and his girlfriend, Jen were actually coming for dinner. Thank God for that because there was no time for my 5:30 pre-dinnertime binge. The day was going well. Sort of.

We ordered two pizzas and readied a massive caesar salad - my favorite! David and Jen arrived not only carrying a massive platter of mini eclairs, cream puffs and cannolis, but also presenting me with my very own bag of kettle cooked salt and vinegar chips. I told you he was a bastard!

*Note to self, stop telling people your favorite thing is salt and vinegar chips.

I digress.

The night was fun. Mike won a game of Disney Pixar Monopoly. I got into the chips shortly after David and Jen left.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I tried again. Mushy half inedible banana, cold pizza for lunch. I blamed it all on my rogue water bottle. I walked to the store after lunch and bought Mike and I new bottles (the kind that supposively won't give us cancer). It started to rain buckets so I had to add an umbrella to the order although I had two sitting at my desk. By the time I got back to the office I was soaked from the thigh downward. But I digress again.

I was determined to make it up for dinner and end my misery! I called Mike to inform him we were having a salad for dinner. "With what?" he inquired. "With nothing. I am a fat cow and you must suffer the consequences."

I didn't say that. I don't remember what I said.

So I went to the brand spanking new Comcast Center Market, (insert angel singing and sunlight for it is truly a blessing) to get some veggies.

But I was craving sushi.

"Excuse me, do you sell half-price sushi after 5:00?" (It was 4:35)
"You can buy one, get one free."

SOLD

I did get some veggies too though.

So I went home full of good intentions. Going for a jog, eating sushi, readying a healthy menu for the remainder of the week.

It all went to shit when I finally got home drenched from the humidity and spotted the pretty blue and silver packaging of salt and vinegar chips.

The rest of the night is a bloated blur. I assure you the details are too disgusting to divulge.

HOWEVER, late last night I started to actually feel really sick. I was actually craving whole grain bread and I hate whole grain bread. I gathered the strength to actually plan a dinner for tonight and got chicken in the fridge to defrost and whipped up tuna loaded with diced onion, celery and carrot so that we could eat a decent lunch today.

The scurvy is starting to pass. I actually carried my banana to work today so it remained intact, ate a nectarine at 11:00 and had a delicious tuna on whole grain toast sandwich for lunch.

In fact I felt so good after that I took fifteen minutes to plan out the lunch and dinner for the remainder of the week. The swelling of my belly has even gone down a little.

I'm looking forward to rosemary chicken and roasted red potatoes for dinner. Last night, seconds before bed, I went in the kitchen and threw the remaining chips in the trash. There weren't many left. I can only imagine what Mike must have been thinking when he heard me reach for the chips. LOL. Assuming he thought the absolute worst I assured him I put them in the trash.

Holiday weekends are the worst.

Unless you're sensible, non-compulsive and not an addicted to salt over-eater.






Monday, July 07, 2008

A very full Holiday weekend

This weekend was very fun and felt rather lengthy as it was jam packed and nonstop. Thursday evening Mike and I headed up north to meet friends for some beer and fireworks followed by some card playing. It was a lot of fun and I missed this group of friends very much so I laughed until my stomach hurt.

Friday we did nothing - just hung out at Mike's parents house until it was time to get ready for a 4th of July Wedding even further up in north Jersey. Mike's cousin Cynthia tied the knot. The wedding was fun and very nice. Perhaps a little too much, but fun nonetheless. We drove all the way home afterwards since Mike had work Saturday.

Saturday I hung out with my girlfriend Kelly (thanks again for lunch!) while Mike was at work. We got home around the same time and then it was time to pack again and head back up north to go to Maria's future mom-in-laws for a bbq. More drinking, more eating, more laughing, and more card playing.

Sunday Mike and I went over to my Aunt's house for a July baby party. The majority of the birthdays on my mom's side of the family are in July so when we were younger we always went to the July baby party. I don't know why, but there hasn't been one in a very long time. Sunday was the first in at least five years and every cousin was there with the exception of my brother Doug who lives in Washington. We had a blast and it was fun to be together.

Now we're back home and tired. I'm looking forward to not eating red meat for a while and ridding myself of the excess weight in beer I've added to my belly. Thursday at work my morale was pretty low so the long weekend couldn't have come at a better time. I feel refueled.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

So we're home now after a weekend of tattoo getting and hanging out in the Poconos. I promised Mike I wouldn't blog about certain aspects of his tattoo experience so you only get photos to look at (he's fine of course):

Before:


After:It took about 2.5 hours for Mike to get this done. It's very bright. I took the photo without the flash since it just bounced off the A&D ointment. But I assure you, this photo does it no justice.

As for my session, well, I managed to piss Larry off pretty much instantly and he needed a little time to switch gears after going crazy with Mike's forearm. Basically Larry told me all my ideas were stupid and I agreed with him and told him to do what he thought would look best then he got annoyed I wasn't prepared but I reminded him that he never does what I want anyway and that's why I saved him the trouble by not coming prepared and around and around we went. He spent a bit of time reacquainting himself with my arm and finally said the problem is that he has honed his style in the two years since I've been to him and then he scolded me for waiting two years to get work done. He said in order for him to figure out what the hell he was gonna do he first needed to clean up some of his previous work.

This is the amazing thing about Larry. He'll only do what he thinks will look best. His attitude is (and we heard this today when he told our friend Rudy) if you want something stupid or ugly you can get drunk and get it done in Wildwood, NJ. Larry's an artist and he won't put his name on anything he doesn't approve of. This is why he doesn't work in a shop. He'd get in too much trouble for turning people away for "being gay" or "being stupid". Now he gets to do "consultant" work at shops and only the best jobs come his way. He's the showcase or guest artist rather. Pretty cool. But I think it's given him a pretty large ego.

So anyway Larry started with a heavy outline of the angel and sunflower. Then he started the sky. We spent a lot of time discussing color and I confessed I didn't really like the pink rays and wanted more of a burgundy color. The three rays you see that are blue were done three different ways. He wants me to let them heal and then when I come back (September 14) we'll (more like he'll) decide which method we like best. I can't tell the difference yet.

Before:

After:
Before:
After:
As you can see I am completely and utterly incomplete. I'm not used to that one bit. Hence the September appointment. Once the sky heals Larry asked me to fill in the upper rays with a yellow highlighter and let him know what I think. I asked for miniature silhouettes of birds flying through the sky and was amazed when Larry didn't give me shit and actually agreed it would look alright.

I still have a lot of work to get done and admit I was mildly disappointed by how little I feel I got accomplished. I know we spent a lot of time under discussion but I'm used to four plus hour appointments and this one ran about 2.5. But you don't question Larry so oh well. But I do really like the way the angel pops now due to the thicker outline and I do like the slight Japanese-ish thing that's cropping up on my arm. You'll see he also added the blue around my sunflower. I rather he didn't since now I have to do that to the sunflower on my left arm so they continue to match.

I don't know what we'll do first in September but I have my whole underam to finish, the pink rays all need their color change and the aky has to be finished up. I'm thinking I need four more appointments. Then I am done. Done done done done. I honestly don't know right now If I'll do anything else after finishing up my right arm and touching up my left.

I really do like what he did with the sky though and I have a feeling a bit more color will end up in there. It must sound crazy that I don't really know too much about the end result but it's in Larry's head so I just go with it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weekend recap and a weekend full of ink

Last weekend was Beerfest at the Camden Battleship. A lot of friends and people we know were going so we elected to have a BBQ immediately following the four hours of drinking out of a tiny cup so no one had to worry about driving home or paying the escalated costs of sub-par food. I stayed behind to prepare for the BBQ and dropped some of the guys off with my brother Joe at noon (we had six people in my Focus) and went home to prepare for the onslaught of drunken men.

Everything went well although there were more people than expected. It was meant to be a pitstop in the day to eat and relax and then once night came a few of us were all going to head into Philly. That never happened. The BBQ turned into a party which was all very cool and almost everyone took a nap at some point including my brother who is famous for sleeping in uncomfortable positions. This time he at least was on the couch but his leg and feet position looked painful as he was trying to take up the most minimal amount of surface area I suppose. Everyone kept asking if we should move him and I simply replied, "He's out of the way - he's fine."

So anyway, the night was a success.

Sunday was excellent because for the first time in a long time Mike and I simply lounged about slightly hung-over, mindlessly munching on left overs and watching specials on the Discovery channel. That was excellent.

So Saturday Mike and I have four hour tattoo appointments. Each. I'm kind of at a loss here. I want to finish up my arm but have no ideas. I could not believe I found myself looking at angel tattoos online last night trying to stimulate some creative juices. All I learned is that my tattoo is much better than most.

I finally sent my tattoo artist Larry some pictures of my arm to refresh his memory and sent him a beautiful photo of sky I found and told him to do what he wanted which is what I told him the last two times I went. So far so good. Here's where we are now:


We'll continue the pink rays of light around this other side here along with maybe more flowers:

Here's my angel:


For my shoulder and as filler in between the pink rays of light I'm thinking something sort of like this:

Not as bright though. It will steal all the attention away from my angel so I'd like it to be mostly grayscale with just touches of blues and whites and pinks.

Mike's getting this bad boy done:


I'll post some pics after we heal so you can see what we ended up with. Here's hoping.....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm so bad at naming posts - It's just an update

I've been going through one of those random extremely busy periods. Work has been so insane that I have no idea what's going on in the world because I haven't checked the news in weeks. All I know is what I hear on tv every morning in the four minutes it takes me to eat my cereal. After work I just don't know where the time goes anymore.

I thought I'd get down a quick update since exhaustion is finally setting in and I just can't work on my special project one more second today. Yes, I have a "special project" and it ain't that special. It's also going to be my special project for the remainder of my time at this organization which can be a long time. My job position keeps growing horizontally.

Since my last update my brother Doug visited from Washington state and Mike and I went to Cape May for a few days and had a really wonderful, relaxing time. It really was just a fantastic trip. I have a really great tan and have been getting more compliments since I got back than I've ever gotten. Had I known what a difference a tan could make I'd have made suntanning a priority all these past few years. I refuse to pay for it so I'll just have to maintain it as best I can and try not to get skin cancer.

Doug's visit was a blast. We were able to spend time together in a way that we haven't since......well, a long time. A brown car comes to mind and a Blues Traveler single cassette. We bashed around Philly for an afternoon and then surprised the hell out of mom who was waiting for me at my house for a nice weekend visit. A great dinner followed and some wine and a game of Scattergories.

The next day we took mom to see Cirque Du Soleil which was really extraordinary. I was very sad when Doug left with mom later that night but he was in a rush (his friends were waiting in N. Jersey) so it was probably best because it was a quick hug and he was on his way. We all know a good time was had by all so there was no need to be sad but it was a special visit and I didn't want it to end so fast.

I want to post pictures but who knows when I'll get around to it.

Oh, I made California roll and it was a heartbreaking waste of money. I bought everything from the rolling mat to the pickled ginger and it just came out pretty bad. For the effort, you're so much better off just paying $3.95 for a roll. I tried to eat what I made on two separate occasions in the same day and both times I just couldn't get more than one piece down. Four rolls went right into the garbage. I'm not quite sure what I did wrong, but I won't be trying again any time soon. Maybe I'll make like Samantha and Smith in Sex and the City and take a class. (I saw that movie and I LOVED IT. I said it! I LOVED IT! Thanks, Kel, for inviting me even though I never saw the show)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Sidebar

You may notice I've added a "Things I want to do this Year" sidebar to this blog. I was inspired by Kelly who made a list of 101 things she wants to do in 1001 days.

I have no intention of adding to the list actual "goals", but rather little things I want to do and unfortunately just forget about. Like making and trying couscous. I always forget about that! But my friend David just told me he had couscous last night so it reminded me.

It'll be a running list. Feel free to make recommendations!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Birthday weekend

This past weekend was incredible - very full, very fun, very diverse. Friday Mike and I got all dolled up and went to Sagami, a Japanese restaurant in Collingswood that supposively has the best sushi in the region. It was amazing! We really enjoyed our food. No fake crab in my California roll but Alaskan King Crab and I also got soft shell crab roll. We also planned ahead and Mike brought some Kirin with him to drink and I brought a bottle of Gruner which is supposed to pair very well with sushi. It did.

Afterwards we went home and changed and had a drink and went to a bar not too far from home to see a swing band we like. We drank $2 PBR's and even swing danced to an Eddie and the Cruisers song I really like. Mike reminded me that was another birthday gift.

Saturday morning Mike woke me up with beautiful flowers he had picked up early in the morning at the Farmers Market and gave me my presents. Once we were awake and ready we went out for pancakes and headed to the giant Collingswood May Fair where we walked around and checked out the hundreds of cars at the Classic Car Show and checked out the crafts and jewelry. We had perfect weather.

Once we got home it was time for a nap so we slept for a few hours then got ready all over again and headed to our friends Maria and Kevin's house. Unbeknownst to me we were going to my SURPRISE party. A whole bunch of my friends were there and it was awesome. Maria had tons of food and Amy made me two cakes. Rudy picked up my favorite beer. It was awesome! We played Apples to Apples and all hung out until late.

However, this all made the 7:30 am rendezvous to go hiking the next morning a wee bit difficult. But we all made it and Sunday morning me, Mike, Rudy, Kat and Mike May headed up to the DE Water Gap. My eight mile hike to Sunfish Pond was vetoed so we opted for a much shorter hike although it was to the top of Mount Tammany, the highest point in the Gap. Lets just say we basically rock climbed for two hours to get to the top of this thing. There were times I could hardly believe what we were doing. It was awesome, difficult, beyond our skill level, exhausting, and pretty crazy altogether. I am so glad I didn't pick the route. In fact it was downright dangerous at times.

Getting down was practically just as bad but for different reasons. For some reason there were fist sized to foot sized rocks everywhere and you had to step from rock to rock (lots of them turned out to be loose) or you had to maneuver around them. This went on for two miles and the land was never flat. After a while my ankles were really hurting from the constant twisting and turning. Luckily no one rolled their ankles although we all had some close calls.

We had beautiful weather and the hike really was awesome. It was real hiking not just a walk in the woods so I was very satisfied. And we saw some amazing sights and a gorgeous waterfall that looked like something out of a movie. We all agreed to go again and also agreed to go camping. I really wanted to start getting more into the outdoorsy stuff and now I am so I am pretty happy about that.

Pictures to come.

So Sunday we fell asleep very early. Monday Mike had to go back to work and I was home so I woke up very early as a result of going to bed so early and got lots done. I was able to lay out from 1:00 - 3:00 and overall, just had a nice relaxing end to a very fun and full weekend. Turning 26 wasn't so bad after all.