Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stories from the Suburbs.

Before heading out to Arizona for Christmas, I came home to the suburbs of Philadelphia for one night. I suppose that everyone becomes convinced their home town is completely weird once they've moved away, but seriously, Newtown can be a kooky place.

Although kookiness is not without it's perks, as I discovered today when my Dad and I stopped by Target on our way home from the airport. We walk in and...Target has a Starbucks now!?!?
Two of my most favorite things combined! (yes, I'm a materialistic American consumer.) Also, I'm getting a latte for while I shop.

We're standing in line and my Dad says "This must be a twenty-somethings dream, huh? Starbucks and Target??"
"I know!" I reply. "I just tweeted about it!" If there was any doubt about my being a part of gen Y, I'm pretty sure that statement erased it.

Once home, my sister tells us of suburban craziness she noticed earlier while running. Apparently she went past a house that had several paper lawn bags sitting at the edge of their driveway. The type of paper lawn bags that get filled with leaves, or grass, depending on the season, which the garbage people eventually remove for you. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that these bags were filled with...snow. Snow. I'm not sure if these people just didn't have time for it to melt, or couldn't be bothered to push it off of their driveway on to their lawn. Whatever their reasoning, I'm curious as to how long it will sit there, because I don't think most garbage removal services cover snow.

Why does anyone leave the city?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Riesling, Puppy Chow, and Puccini

Tonight is my last night home before taking off for Christmas vacation. It was also my last day in the office. That being the case, work was less of a peaceful, relaxing half day sort of affair, and more me finishing all that paperwork I had forgotten, sending and receiving a bajillion (no this is not an exaggeration) emails, and glaring at my phone every time it rang fighting back the urge to yell "Seriously?!?!" at it.

Being the responsible person that I am, I have also left a fair amount of wrapping until this evening. And also I have to pack. Because my flight leaves tomorrow. In the morning. So, I picked up a bottle of wine on my way home. Because, as I learned while writing papers in college, mundane and boring tasks suddenly become not so mundane and boring when you do them with a glass of wine.

Then I got home and thought about the wrapping and the packing. You see, I didn't buy any wrapping paper this year, leaving me to creatively wrap everything in shopping bags. So far this has worked given that even Trader Joe's bags are especially festive at this time of year. It is however, more time consuming than traditional wrapping paper. Especially since I may be having to work with plastic soon. Further complicating the packing scenario is the fact that my family and I are spending Christmas this year in Arizona with my grandparents. And I just don't know how to handle this from a packing stand point. I mean, I know Arizona is warmer than Pittsburgh (yay!) but how much warmer? Am I going to need stockings if I wear a dress on Christmas Eve? And are we more likely to be going hiking, or playing mahjong? And which of my suitcases will hold my yoga mat again? So I thought about these things. And decided to bake instead.

Baking and I have an extreme relationship at best. I certainly enjoy baking more than cooking, but my desire for baking seems to occur at one of two times.
Time 1. It's Sunday afternoon, I have nothing to do (obviously this example is not occurring during football season). I know, I'll make some baked goods!
Time 2. OMG I have so much to do! I don't even know where to start, or why I've put it off this long....I'm making brownies!

So, this is why I found myself at 9 pm, with none of the wrapping or packing done, drinking wine, making puppy chow, and listening to Puccini. Because nothing makes you feel further away from reality than some gut-wrenching, dramatic aria about losing the love of your life and wanting to die. In Italian.

The puppy chow turned out great, thanks to this nifty recipe I found today on the Burgh Baby, one of my favorite local blogs, despite the fact that I am not a parent. And, now I have a home made treat to bring to family for Christmas. Of course, I have no idea how I'll wrap it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Day.

As a certified type-a person, I don't often spend entire days in my pj's on the couch. But, every once in a while there's an excuse to make that happen. And a snow day is a great excuse.

It started snowing last night. Precisely and I left a holiday party in Sq. Hill and slipped our way back to Bloomfield. There was only one incidence of falling, and for the record it wasn't me. In a brilliant display of foresight for 2 am, we stopped at my place to pick up snow day essentials e.g. pj's and the waffle maker, then slid down the hill to Lawrenceville.

And today? Today has been all heated blankets, and waffles, and movies. And Halo. Which is something I will never be great at. Come June, I'll be moving into Precisely's loft, so there was a lot of discussion of how we'll be decorating the place, particularly the 3rd bedroom we're turning into a shared walk in closet. It's going to be dreamy.

Tomorrow I'll rejoin the real world. But spending a day staying warm and watching Liam Neeson punch kidnapping Europeans in the throat has been awesome.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm such a Scrooge.

I'm sure that as a little kid Christmas was my favorite holiday, but as I've gotten older, that title now goes to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is only one day, and in comparison to Christmas, takes very little preparation.

I still really do like Christmas, however this year, December has been such a blur that I'm still registering the fact that it's the "Christmas Season". Even in College, with all the finals craziness, I would still find time to decorate, buy and wrap presents, and get sick of christmas music. One year The Artist, even made us a tree out of empty Splenda wrappers. (we were drinking a lot of coffee that year).

This time around however, the thought of putting up stuff, that I would have to take down in a mere 3 weeks at this point caused me so much stress I just decided I wasn't doing it, and am instead attending holiday parties every week, surrounding myself with other people's decorating. Planning events that are taking place in January, February, March, and April makes Christmas feel rather ill-timed. Memo to myself.

Last night I was at my neighbors house for Chanukah dinner. Not only did she serve homemade brisket, some of the best matzoh ball soup I've ever had, and 2 kinds of latkes, but her house was totally decked out for Chanukah. She even had "make your own dreidel" craft kits. I want to be her when I grow up.

Tonight I'm going to listen to Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You" and think about the presents I'll buy for people on December 23 on my way home from the airport, because Amazon keeps sending me threatening emails about how December 17 is the latest you can have gifts delivered by Christmas, and I just don't think I'll have my act together by then. Maybe I'll just show up for my flight early and shop at the airport. The Pittsburgh airport mall has a Gap...

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Forget...

In health class, I remember learning about how once a woman gives birth, her body is flooded with hormones that make her forget just how truly painful childbirth is. The reasoning behind this, is that otherwise no woman in her right mind would ever give birth more than once.

It is my belief that Pittsburgh winters are basically the same. You know in your mind that the winters are rough, and yet part of you forgets just how terrible it is until you're standing at a bus stop waiting for the 54C which is 20 minutes late, and you can't feel your feet, and you almost want to cry, but then realize that your tears would just freeze to your face making you even more miserable. Ugh. And it's only December!

Gone are the days of bike riding, summer flings, lying in the grass reading, and drinking beer on the front porch. Hello days of dark, bundled, weight gaining, I wish I could just hibernate through this until April.

I still love my city, but my god did winter kick my butt yesterday! It's time to break out the parka.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Call me Chanel

For the past 4 1/2 years I have lived with an artist. This has meant a number of things, both good and bad, such as always having the walls of my house decorated (good), and coming back to my freshman dorm room to find the entire floor covered in confetti and bits of magazine because it was collage week in art class (bad).

Right now the artist is working on an installation piece she's showing in a gallery. The show opens Friday, and she decided to double the size of her installation tonight. The artist doesn't worry about deadlines, she just decides not to sleep for a couple of days to get it done. As such, she has been spending the last couple hours (and will spend the next couple of hours) on the floor of our living room cutting nylon stockings into pieces, then taping them to a board so that she can stencil them.

Creativity is something I have always felt eluded by, and by this I mean the creative with your hands type of creativity. I plan events for a non-profit. You don't throw parties with no budget without creativity.

Anyways, I'm consistently fascinated by her creative process, creative processes in general, and try to foster some of my own creativity. I tried a lot of hobbies growing up, most of which didn't work out. My own mother laughed out loud at my attempt at knitting. My father tried to teach me to cook, but I never made it past the salad. And after scrap booking my back packing trip across Europe, I vowed to never pick up a decorative pair of scissors again.

There was one summer however, when I was particularly broke that I picked up sewing. Fashion has always fascinated me, and while I will probably never be a good seamstress, I have figured out how to make myself some clothes I deem acceptable to wear in public.

For Christmas last year, I got my own sewing machine, and after covering my bed in throw pillows, decided my next project was going to be a skirt.

When I sew I don't use patterns. I don't measure twice. I cut things the wrong size thereby necessitating the purchase of extra fabric. For every seam that's done right, there are 2 if not 3 I have ripped out before. My impatience turns every article of clothing into a project of epic timelines. In other words, the skirt that got started last January was just now completed tonight.

Still, now I know what I'm wearing tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's Sunday. Meaning brunch day. Who can't love a meal that doesn't require you to wake up early, covers 2 of your 3 daily main meals (yay multi-tasking), and mixes alcoholic beverages with orange juice deeming it socially acceptable to start your day with champagne.

Pittsburgh has several great places for brunch, but the one I frequent the most is Dozen Bakery in Lawrenceville. I started going to Dozen for brunch because my friend worked there, but soon discovered the quiche. Dozen has the best quiche. I've ever tasted.

It's to the point now that when I come in, my friend doesn't even ask me what I want, because although the rest of the menu options look pretty scrumptious, I don't care about anything but this quiche. Each week it's a new combination of cheese and seasonal vegetable and goodness.

Last Friday I ran into the Dozen friend while out dancing. He introduced me to a girl who also works at Dozen.
- "Hi" I said "We may have met before actually, I come in a lot for brunch."
-"Oh" she replied "yea maybe."
- "I really like the quiche." I said.
- "Oh right." she answered. "I remember you."


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I love salad.

For the longest time, I hated drinking water. Hated, hated, hated. Unfortunately for me what with being a singer, runner, and wanting clear skin, water was pretty much a necessity. So, I'd force myself to drink it, telling myself with every sip that this was delicious, and I loved it, and eventually it stopped being terrible. Now I drink water like it's my job.

I recently read the book In Defense of Food, which is written by the same author as The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's fascinating, and while I'm not going to go all Skinny Bitch and become a vegan, I am encouraged to eat healthier. Well, also encouraging me is the fact that it's the most fattening time of the year, the pants I put on this morning were much tighter than usual, I'm training for a half marathon, and I'm currently watching Kill Bill with Uma Thurman being all kickass and thin.

So, I went on a healthy food shopping spree (thanks Trader Joe's!) and have spent the last 3 days convincing myself how delicious salads are. Because, I really, really hate salad. When I was little my Dad would make fun of me for only eating yellow, beige, and white foods. If I could, I would have no problem subsisting solely off of cheese and carbs now. Unfortunately, raw vegetables are just so good for you, and salads are really the most convenient way to eat them.

I read it takes 2 weeks to change a habit. As long as I make myself go grocery shopping again this weekend, the title of this post should actually be true by December 15. Pass the dressing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On a Bad Day, There's Always Lipstick.

I'm convinced this is why the brand Wet n' Wild even exists. If I'm having a lousy day, I run into the nearest drug store, buy myself a new and usually bold lipstick, and BAM! The day suddenly got better. And for a price cheaper than a latte.

After a rough week however, one lousy tube of 99 cent lipstick just isn't going to cut it. On Tuesday I made the mistake of wearing my hair down for the first time in a few weeks. I was so distracted by how badly I needed a trim, I could barely work.

So, while I was home, I booked myself a hair appointment at the fancy David J. Witchell Salon in Newtown. After the luxurious shampoo/scalp massage (seriously, going to a fancy salon is worth it just for the scalp massage!) I explained to Brooke that I'm attempting to grow my hair long, but I was bored! so very bored. And then left it to her creative genius.

And now? Well, everything is different. I'm going to kick ass not only at work, but in the jam packed social holiday calendar that is December. I'm going to be organized, do my laundry more than once a month, eat healthy, get a boyfriend, learn a new language, lose 5 lbs, and bake cookies for orphans. In short, save the world. Or something.

While I may not get to all of that, at the very least I won't have any split ends.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is over y'all. This year I really hit my stride with the mashed potatoes, discovered I'm awesome at the game Apples to Apples (it's all about knowing your audience), and there was a James Bond marathon on one of my parents' fancy cable networks. All in all, a great holiday.

However, Thanksgiving being over implies that basically, it's all over until New Years. I mean, December is a food coma induced blur with only 3 working weeks (yikes!) left in the year. The above calendar is from Social Workout and I am fairly convinced that this may as well be my iCal for the next 30 days. , First World Problems.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Iceberging, Bamboozlement, and Sometimes the Universe has your back.

I'm going to preface this post with the following definitions.

Iceberging: verb. When you've been on a couple of dates with someone, and you're not feeling it, but it's too early to actually have a break-up conservation. So, you "iceberg" them. In reference to the eskimos putting their elderly on an ice float, and sending them out to sea. Becoming busy forever, ignoring phone calls, and gently pushing them out to sea.

Bamboozled: verb. When a girl is confused by a guy. Usually because he's just not that into her, but every once in a while acts like he is. The term is usually used in statements such as "He bamboozled me! I'm such a fool!"

The number 1 thing to keep in mind while dating in Pittsburgh: You will see this person again.

Over the summer I was dating a guy. I actually liked him, and we made it past 3 dates (usually the point at which I decide I'm bored) so this was exciting. Towards the end of August I stopped hearing from him. Iceberged, I figured. Bummer, but you win some you lose some.

A month later, a phone call, apologies, excuses for being consumed with grad school. Whatever I figure, it's not as though there's anyone else, and we had fun. So, started seeing him again. 2 weeks of hanging out, flirtatious texting, etc. After which, nothing. (seeing a pattern here?) Bamboozled! I thought. And iceberged! Not only was this a bummer, it was a little embarrassing.

Nearly 2 months go by. Get over it, rebound, get over the rebound. Then this morning, while minding my own business, listening to Morning Edition, and drinking my coffee, who should come stand next to me on the bus. Oh Pittsburgh, I love and hate that you're such a small town. Catch up, tell anecdotal stories from the weekend, say it was good seeing you, play it totally cool.

Then 10 minutes later, a text message. From him. "dinner tonight?" it asks.

"NO! " My mind yells at the text message. "No! no! No! Terrible, bad, awful idea!" All of this is what I'm thinking as I watch myself type "sure." into my phone and hit send. We set a time, a place, and I spend the rest of the morning telling myself that "Well, clearly I hate myself, but it's just dinner, and I know he's not really interested, but it's not like I had plans tonight anyways. This will be fine. What am I going to wear?"

Then get back from lunch to find the following text message "hey, have to back out. Got slammed with a project. Real disappointed and sorry"

Palm to forehead slap.

Feel disappointed, eat fun-sized chocolates, listen to the yeah yeah yeah's, make plans with roomate to do yoga, drink wine, and get Thai takeout. Have a great evening. Realize that sometimes, the universe has your back, saving you from your own poor judgement, and keeping you from having a dinner you definitely shouldn't have.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Must Be Responsible

Today I logged onto my banking account to see just how much damage I did during my stay in NYC. Did I mention that I basically spent the time I wasn't working eating/drinking my way around Manhattan? And while I was ok with that, and have vowed to work-out like a fiend over the next week to make up for it, I did the thing where you just don't check your account balance, because you know there's still money in there but you don't want to be made aware of how much you've spent.

Anyways, imagine my joy today when while checking my account, I also realized that my credit limit has been TRIPLED since I last looked. All those months of responsibly paying off my credit card has finally been worth it! I can do that thing where you spontaneously hop on the next bus to the airport and take whatever is the first flight they'll let you on. Or, you know, be reassured that my credit card could now actually bail me out of an emergency, god forbid I need it, because the bank thinks I'm a responsible grown-up.

Speaking of being grown-up, I went to my second pre-thanksgiving dinner this afternoon. By the time I arrived (Port Authority hates to be anywhere on time on Sundays) everyone was already pretty tipsy. I mean, the Steelers game did start at 1:00, and THEY LOST so I can only imagine that the majority of Pittsburgh was intoxicated by 4:30 pm. The point to all of this, is that we had a great time eating food, and drinking beers on a Sunday, and most of the people there were a couple years older than me. I find it very reassuring to think that there's still time before I have to grow up. Even if PNC thinks I'm responsible.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Running Buddy

I'm training for a half marathon in May. I once attempted training for a full marathon during my junior year of college. Turns out a college lifestyle isn't exactly conducive to marathon training. After 6 months, one sprained ankle, 2 pairs of sneakers, countless blisters, and a minor nervous breakdown, I decided that running for 26.2 miles wasn't going to happen at this point in my life, so I put it on the back burner and went back to my standard 3-4 mile runs a couple times a week. Until now.

A full marathon still seems rather daunting, so I'm easing into it with the half. And this time things are different. I've found myself a running buddy. Running Buddy ensures that I get out of bed on Saturdays to go for a long run. Running Buddy texts messages me during the week asking how the training's going. Running Buddy won't let me slack. It's great.

We had a noontime run scheduled for today, which I was nervous about because I had been out of town for the past week, and so it had been that long since I had even seen my sneakers. Making me even more nervous was the fact that I was out last night celebrating a friends birthday where I may as well have bought stock in Yellow Tail, and woke up this morning at 11 am still intoxicated.

Under any other circumstances, I would've stayed in bed, BUT Running Buddy was expecting me, so I laced up my sneakers, and tried to think sober thoughts.

Drunk running is hard y'all. Your balance is off, and you can't find your rhythm, and your thoughts are all drunk, so it's not even like your working through any of your issues or anything. During the 10 minute jog to Running Buddy's house I was all, "Well this is terrible, and I'm just going to have to go home, because there's no way I'll last another 10 minutes."

Then Running Buddy comes down the street.
"I'm hungover." He says. "I was going to bring a barfbag."
"Ha!" I reply. "I'm still drunk. We are in great shape. This will be interesting."

So we took off. And after a couple of minutes I started to sober up, and he started to feel less hungover, and we had a great run. Running with someone makes you keep up the pace, it adds a level of competition that pushes you just a little harder than you push yourself. And it provides distracting conversation. As nice as running is for self analyzation, there are days when that much time with just you and your thoughts can be maddening. Conversation makes running an enjoyable experience.

So, if we can have a good run while drunk and hungover, I have every confidence that we will work our way up to 13.1 miles over the next 6 months. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Business Trip

This week, I went on my first ever business trip. Sort of. I work for a small nonprofit in Pittsburgh, so traveling on business isn’t all first class and hotel rooms and expense accounts. It was more like there was a web 2.0 conference in NYC I wanted to attend, and I know a guy, who knows a girl, who got me a free table (being a non-profit and all), and I stayed with my bff from high school who now lives in Queens, so the trip didn’t cost the organization a cent.

And me? I got to hang out in New York, get my social media nerd on at a great conference, and was out of the office for a week without having to use a single hour of vacation. We all win in this situation as far as I am concerned.

I grew up only an hour train ride away from NYC, and even though Philadelphia is closer to my hometown, I spent far more time in New York. Whenever I go there, part of me is always afraid I’ll wind up wanting to move there. After this stay, in which I hung out with locals, did nothing touristy, and finally started to get a handle on the subway system, I thought; I could live here if I needed to. Thing is, I don’t want to.

I moved to Pittsburgh for college, and by the time I was in my junior year, knew I didn’t want to leave when I graduated. Pittsburgh is a great town. People say thank you to the bus drivers here. You can go out and have a good meal and get fairly intoxicated for $20 or under. They put French fries on their salads. Pittsburgh taught me to love sports, which if you knew me in high school you would understand the significance of this statement. There’s a great local music scene, real estate is basically free (at least when you compare it to NYC), and it rains a lot, which I know sounds depressing, but I’ve learned to find very comforting. Also, rainy climates are better for your complexion and guard against wrinkles.

Pittsburgh may be my adopted city, but I feel more at home here than any place I’ve ever been. Tomorrow morning I fly back. It’s gonna feel so good.