Monday, March 5, 2018

Wood You Try to Pay for This?

We had a nice little Nor'easter storm this weekend which knocked down trees and took out power lines and left most of our county with no electricity.  We were lucky enough to have partial power for most of the weekend, so some of our lights worked dimly but we had to shut of the major appliance that require full power like the well water pump and the water heater. So we did not have any heat.

Luckily we have a wood burning stove which heats the house pretty darn well, but unfortunately we just recently used up the last of our good wood.  We have a pile outside but after the crazy storm where rain and snow were coming in at all angles, the logs were all totally soaked.

So we set out in search of wood.  We head towards our grocery store and notice that every single house, business, and traffic light along the way is completely dark.  Not a good sign.  The grocery store is closed.  The diner next to it, however, is open.  So we head in for a bite to eat and to figure out our next move.  Walmart has online ads selling wood for $3 a bundle so we finish eating and drive up to Flemington to stock up.  The good news is Walmart is open; the bad news is they are out of firewood.  We buy something called a "java log" which is like wood, in the shape of a log, but smells like coffee. That'll help right?

We then head over to the Shop Rite, our last bet for firewood.  We enter the store and scour the area where we would suspect firewood to be, but there's nothing.  Crap.   Over in the floral section we see a manager behind the counter.  We ask him if he knows if they have any firewod left.  He replies that aisle 10 is where it usually is, but that he's pretty sure they just have a package or two of kindling left; no firewood bundles.  Trevor and I look at each other with the "darn-it-that's-not-going-to-help-us much" face.  The Shop Rite manager then goes on to say "Well, but I do have some out back in my truck.... if you guys are ok waiting for a few minutes I could go get it..."

To which I immediately exclaim "Awesome!  YES!  We will take whatever we can get!"

Trevor and I do not discuss our misunderstandings at the time, although he tells me later that he was a bit surprised at how quickly and how excitedly I responded to his offer.  We wait and wait in silence for this manager to finish what he is doing, call someone on his walkie talkie, and then wander off out back to "his truck."  As a manager in a Shop Rite during work hours, I understand his offer to mean that he is going out back to his Shop Rite truck to find the last remaining inventory of the store's wood that we can then buy like normal customers.  Trevor understands his offer to mean that he is a friendly guy with his own pickup truck out back and his own personal stash of wood that he is going to give us.... for free... cause he is just a nice guy...

Trevor asks if I have some cash, and mentions we should give him something.  I am thinking "Sure, I have a $20 bill; we can pay for the wood in cash and get change back so we have a few extra bucks to give him for his efforts in finding us the last remaining bits of wood."

Several minutes later, the guy comes back with a store cart containing two wrapped bundles of wood.  Trevor offers him the whole twenty dollar bill and the man declines "Oh no, I couldn't accept that."  I am thinking Trevor's either trying to give this guy a twenty dollar tip, or is trying to pay the guy right there for the wood.  Both seem equally inappropriate to me... twenty dollars is a lot for a tip, and tipping is kind of weird in grocery stores to begin with so of course the man would not accept....or if Trevor is trying to pay the man for the wood, of course the man cannot take cash right there in the middle of the floral department, he has to ring it up at the cash register and give you a receipt like a normal grocery store transaction, and that's probably not his job, that's what the cash register people are for!  Either way I am slightly relieved the man does not accept the cash. 

Trevor grabs the cart of wood and heads right for the exit.  Appalled, I ask him "Where do you think you're going?! We still have to pay for the wood!"  To which he replies, stunned... "Uuuhhhh I am pretty sure that guy just gave it to us."  The thought never crossed my mind.... "Ummm nooo I am pretty sure the man just got it for us, but we still have to pay for it!!!!  We can't leave a store without paying, that's stealing!"  Confused and unsure, but not wanting to risk burglary charges, but pretty sure there are no burglary charges, Trevor turns the cart around to head for the register line to give my theory a try. 

I throw a bag of oranges in the cart because now I am hungry.   But now I am also second guessing myself.  Trevor's pretty smart, how could he think it is ok to just walk out the store with a cart full of wood that we did not pay for.  Did I miss something?  As we get closer to the row of cash registers, we see our generous manager friend who went and got the wood for us.  We give a friendly "Thanks-again!" wave and he sees us heading for the cash register and springs into action. 


He grabs a wad of bright orange "PAID" stickers from the closest cash register and places a sticker on each of the wood bundles and explains "I just want to make sure they don't give you any trouble at checkout...."


And now we have to wait on line to pay for this damn bag of oranges!  The wait seems like eternity as I rehash how wrongly I interpreted things... I excitedly stole this guy's wood, I got annoyed when Trevor tried to tip him too much, and then I flaunted our free wood throughout the store, we freaked out the generous man who gave us the wood, and now we are about to confuse the hell out of some young little cash register attendant just so we could also get a friggin bag of oranges!  On the bright side, we 100% avoided any possible shoplifting accusations.

The attendant luckily sees the bright orange PAID stickers and does not question the wood.  We pay for the oranges as I want to melt into the floor and puke with embarrassment and self-disappointment.  We discuss the whole episode on the way back to the car.  Trevor honestly wants to know... "What exactly were you thinking?"  I do not know; I misread the ENTIRE situation from start to finish. 

It is 9:45pm, we are cold, tired, we head to the beer store right before closing, and then head home....  happy that there are nice, generous people in the world, but disappointed that I cannot pick them out when they are right in front of my face doing nice, generous deeds...  Also happy to have firewood and a cozy, warm house again.... 

Although by the time we get home, the power is already back to normal...  sooooo we'll just have to save that nice man's wood for the next power outage... doh!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Public Poop Perpetrator

Since taking a break from working, I started to get into meditation and podcasts.  I had to give the meditation a break after a three day series of attempted meditation that lead to unexpected 4 hour + naps...  So podcasts it is!!   One of my favorite podcasts is "Mystery Show' where this lady, Starlee Kine, goes around trying to solve everyday mysteries, like how  how did this intricate belt buckle end up on the side of the road...  People will email her questions or topics to look into and they she will start researching and interviewing people and put together a podcast to go over what she finds and she always finds some sort of solution.

I have also gotten back into hiking.  On Saturday, Trevor and I went down to the river for my favorite hike on a little spit of land between the Delaware River and the canal (for this hike, I remembered to change out of my slippers and wear actual sneakers ;).  There is a bike path on the little spit of land as well as a peaceful little trail that cuts backs and forth through the woods closer to the river.  This is the trail where we usually see bald eagles and beavers.  Today we saw neither, but we did see a grown a$$ man taking a dump in the middle of a the trail at the point where it cuts through an open meadow... To be fair... I did not actually "see" this, but I did see all the circumstantial evidence...

After hiking through the wooded area of the trail Trevor and I were right about to walk into the wide open meadow area where the wooded hike connects back with the bike path when Trevor abruptly turns around and in an urgent, quiet-for-Trevor, voice he exclaims "Turn around!! There is a girl taking a piss on the trail!"  Yikes.  I do as I am told (having hoped someone would do me the same favor if I were the one squatting) and we double back 10-20 yards or so and wait until she is done and hope she walks the other way...  We are at a spot on the trail where the wooded trail is really close to the paved bike path trail.  We see a man walk by on the bike path a few moments later.

"Was that the 'woman' you saw taking a piss?!, cause that 'woman' definitely had a full beard and that was definitely a dude"...

A perplexed Trevor sorts through his memory; the wheels are really turning in his academic brain... that man was wearing a very similar coat to the 'girl' he saw.. but the perpetrator he saw was squatting "like a woman would"; and he was pretty sure he saw "liquid" coming out.

After waiting a few moments until the male walker-by is out of the picture and long enough that the "girl" (if she exists separately from the walker-by) would have been done her business... we proceed to exit the trail through the meadow where the alleged urination occurred.  And as any good researchers would; we stop to look for evidence... where is the puddle?... no puddles but... "oh sh*t!" There is no piss but there is a huge pile of poop right off the side of the trail; right in the open; right in the heavily trafficked area where the bike path meets the wooded hike, in broad daylight, on a sunny warm Saturday in March... where some strange man just took a huge dump... and did not even wipe.

I could not stop thinking about this man all day. Is he a local?  Was he not worried he would see someone he knew taking a dump out in the open?  If he is not from around here, why was he on this trail all by himself, not wearing hiking clothes?  And why the heck did he take a poop outside, in the middle of a busy area on a sunny day when there were obviously people all around?  Was he drunk? Why was he drunk so early? And why was he drunk on this trail?  Was he sick?  Did he have diarrhea?  Did he not know he was going to get sick?  Or does he have some sort of mental illness where he doesn't know or doesn't care how socially unacceptable it is to do something like that?  Or does he not  'give a sh*t' what he does and just trying to make a statement? Where was he going?  Is he comfortable walking around having taken a dump and not having wiped his butt?  Why couldn't he have walked deeper into the woods and find a more hidden place to poop?  Why didn't he at least try to cover up his poop with leaves or sticks?  Was he embarrassed of this?  or proud? Was he going to come back later and pick it up?

If Starlee Kine was still producing Mystery Show podcasts, I would definitely write this one in...

If anyone else has ever pooped not in a toilet... if so, what were the circumstances?  what the heck were you thinking?!

Later that night we met up with a couple friends and a cop was at their house.  The cop was our friends' friend and he happened to be a cop in our town where we saw this poop perpetrator.  The cop was telling stories about all the silly things that people in town have called the cops about.  He says he gets a lot of calls about people saying a baby bird fell out of the nest and could the police please come help it.

I thought for a minute about telling the cop about the poop perpetrator, but I felt a bit bad that we had not called the cops at that exact moment... If people around here call the cops about birds falling out of their nests, we definitely should have called the cops about a grown adult taking a poop in the middle of a public park. A part of me wants to give the pooper the benefit of the doubt that he was sick or it was an emergency and that he is severely embarrassed and regretful of what he has done; and a part of me wants to believe that in the middle of the night he will sneak back onto the trail and clean up after himself.  But a part of me also thinks about what the cop's response would be if I tell him our story...   like any detective he will probably first ask me what the perpetrator looked like...  Nothing too out of the ordinary: a tallish, thin, white guy with a knit cap and a full, but neatly trimmed dark brown beard...   Then the cop might just write down the description and tell the rest of his cop buddies to keep an eye out for a tall, skinny, brown-haired, bearded white guy....  and Trevor just does not need that kind of harassment!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Out of the Cave

I am starting the transition away from a work from home environment... eventually I am planning to have a work at work environment, but for now I am focusing on just getting out of the house regularly and having a more well-balanced life.

This New Yorker article about working from home is sadly true...

When you work from home, you turn into a mush of a person... I could not keep track of showering, changing clothes, putting on matching clothes, putting on make up, doing hair, eating.... it is not that I did not do these things... it is just that I did them so inconsistently and infrequently that I could not ever keep track of when was the last time I did what, and when is the next time I should do what; and without anyone around to judge me... I would just forget...  It is disgusting, I know.... Judge me... and then maybe I will change...

Last week was my first week off work.  After starting off the week strong (I watched "Office Space" for inspiration, shipped my work computer gear back to California, went for a beautiful bike ride along the Delaware River, met my mom for lunch in Asbury Park, cleaned up the entire house, renewed my passport, paid the bills)... I ended the week rather lazy.  I slept till about noon, then fell asleep again watching a Ken Burns documentary on the Prohibition, then ate some food, went right back to the warm spot on the couch and started reading Trevor Noah's book "Born a Crime"... I then got mad at myself for not leaving the house all day.  Although, in my defense, it was a little bit chilly... but the sun was still shining and I had the car... I should have taken advantage of that.

I decided to check out the local library.  I looked at their website and luckily they are still open, although they close soon; within the next half hour.  So I grabbed my purse and scurry on over.

To my shame, I arrive at the library and realize I still have my slippers on...  I did not change into real shoes... Having lived 90% of the last 3 years in my robe and slippies, I am obviously unaccustomed to the habit of changing into real outdoor shoes and leaving the house.  Luckily my slippers semi-resemble actual shoes (and at least have a hard-ish bottom) and with no time to go home and change, I keep going... do not look down.

I sign up for a library card and check out a book on local hikes...  Inspired by my newfound motivation and still semi-disgusted with myself for sleeping all day, I decide to take advantage of the last hour and a half of sunshine, overcome my fear of hiking alone, and go for a nice little nature walk down by the river... by myself.

I get down to the river, park the car... realize I still have my damn slippies on!  But, whatever, I already walked all over the dirty library covered in stranger kids germs, what is a little mud and goose poop gonna hurt?  Plus it's dry and the ground is cold and hard so they won't get too dirty... and if I go home and change first I will miss all the remaining daylight... I keep going.

I get about 20 minutes out watching the ground meticulously to make sure I do not step in dog poop, when I suddenly hear a large crack; like a tree branch snapping.... and, being the daughter of a former FBI agent and child assault prevention teacher that I am, my mind immediately interprets the situation as I am being followed and am about to be assaulted (eyes, pinkies, shins).... but when I turn around I am met by a ghost cloud....  a strong white wind below dark purple gray clouds coming my way.... with what the?

Apparently it is supposed to blizzard-style SNOW today!

I run back to the car in 15 minutes or so (still in my slippers now covered in snow), pick up Trevor, then drive home to get back in my pajamas, change out of my slippers into a fresh pair of warm socks, and hit up my sanctuary warm spot on the couch.  Tomorrow I will try again...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Made of Honor, Nervousness, and a Couple of Zingers...

Brought to you by one year of non-blogging by way of focusing on writing this one single speech... here it is, my matron of honor toast from my sister, Colleen's wedding.... Enjoy!.... and then, enjoy again!

The Baby Bride, Colleen a.k.a. "Weener" 

Hi everyone....(nervous).... I'm scared of heights but not as much as I am scared of public speaking. So I thought by convincing Greg (the best man) of being up so high in the rafters (we tried to do the speech from the second story balcony but the microphone wouldn't work) that would make this public speaking thing a bit easier..... (more nervous...worried that my logic doesn't make sense and starting to sense the crowd's empathetic fear for me... gte it together...stop shaking....)

First off, I would like to thank all the friends and family for being here today.... 

Thanks to our mom and dad, Mary Ellen and Paul, and to Mike's parents, Lynn and Dennis, for bringing these two wonderful people into our world. And especially thank you, Colleen, for honoring me as your matron of honor tonight.

In case you couldn't tell I am Colleen's sister. We often get mistaken for twins or confused for each other since people say we look alike... so I made sure to wear a different color dress tonight so that at least Mike and Trevor wouldn't get confused which one is their wife... (Mike-yours is in the sparkly white dress / long hair ; and Trevor - pale pink dress, shorter hair;)

Yes, the Erickson girls all look similar, we laugh similarly, we're about the same height, about the same weight and about the same foot size (changes to "shoooooe size" in actual speech). At face value it's hard to tell a difference, but at our core we each have very unique personality traits that set us apart.

From left to right: Jamie (friendship tattoo friend); Rosalie (other friendship tattoo friend); Lauren (new sister in-law who not-so-surprisingly (fellow oldest sister) seems to possess the angelic behavior and stunning looks of our older sister Bridget; both of whom can easily be mistaken for Princess Kate; the Baby Bride Weener, myself (the weird sister), Nancy (the competitive sister), Bridget (the "angel" child sister), and Adalyn (the next generation "Erickson" girl) 

There's Bridget.... with the angelic behavior who always seemed to have our parents wrapped around her finger and some how manages to make life-long friends everywhere she goes.

Then there's Nancy.... who has a reputation for competitiveness, taking on an insane amount of challenges with her work and family life, constantly busy but always seeming to have control (ad lib line about her children crying during the ceremony...).

There's me, the quirky one, who prides myself on thrift store purchases and trying to make people laugh, and often walking slightly off the beaten path....

... and then there's Colleen....the BABY... who like Bridget has an extra special place in our parents' heart. And like Bridget has made and held on to all the good friends she's come in contact with from St Benedict's, Hazlet Recreation, Allied Health, Rutgers, rugby, Hoboken, Macy's, Lucky Vitamin, and Philadelphia.

Like Nancy, Colleen has a super competitive and fearless nature as evident in her selection of rugby as her sport of choice and her taking on a leadership role in the group.

Like me she enjoys a good flea market purchase and always seems to feel secure in her own skin (semi-sarcastically).

Colleen seems to possess the best of each of us and she also brings out the best in all of us... and not just her sisters.

Assuming you know Colleen you know what I am talking about. I could rattle off her accomplishments to try to illustrate her impressiveness. But the most impressive thing about her is the way she makes you feel about yourself (in semi-sarcastic/semi-uncomfortable tone while being semi-sentimental)... when she's around I always feel a little less stressed, a little more happier, a little more funnier.

Now since Colleen and Mike have set their wedding date in early November on this historical election year... I thought it would be especially appropriate to draw some parallels between some of the obstacles Colleen and Mike will face in marriage, and some of the political obstacles we have been exposed to in the Clinton-Trump debates. Imagine for a minute that Colleen is Hillary Clinton and Mike is Donald Trump....

Just kidding...

Marriage advice number 1: always leave politics out of large family gatherings.... especially when there's an abundance of free alcohol involved.

Back to how I first met Colleen....

Colleen was my first best friend, the first person I have felt personally responsible for, my one and only baby sister... I was very happy when she was born as I now had someone I could dote on, and play with, and teach things....and that I now had an ally in the sibling rivalry with my older sisters Bridget and Nancy .. My first favorite year of life was when both Bridget and Nancy had to go away to school and Colleen and I would play by ourselves in their room breaking their toys and trying on their clothes.

Colleen and I were always close...We shared a room together with bunk beds for a long time... when we got older we started sleeping on the couches together in the playroom watching tv or staying up late talking about life and hiding secrets from mom.

While our older sisters Bridget and Nancy were off exhibiting model citizens behavior with their straight-laced honor roll report cards, student council elections, key club memberships, and prom queen crowns, I took Colleen under my wing.... and encouraged her to listen to Marilyn Manson, dye her hair crazy colors, nearly shave her head, pierce her lip and nose, and start drinking a little earlier than legally allowed.... But as a testament to her wonderful multi-faceted personality and demeanor... she still got into the honor high school... and also went on to be homecoming and prom queen just like her oldest straight-laced sisters...

So although I tried my best to corrupt her, and in many ways I succeeded, Collleen still managed to maintain the role model behavior of Bridget and Nancy... and arguably turned into the most well rounded out of all of us.

And for that I couldn't have been more proud....

I myself never got to be prom queen... but I went to a much larger public school... so there was a lot more competition.... and ya know I didn't even really want to be prom queen anyway...

Growing up I felt a personal responsibility to teach Colleen everything I learned although it was often at the unintentional expense of causing her premature emotional distress... I told her Elvis was dead... I told her Santa Claus was fictional... and I told her that when she grows up and turns into a woman in a few short years she was going to start bleeding out of her butt...

So I believe she developed into a much more realistic understanding of the world because of me.

Colleen has always lived up to the stereotypical youngest child baby personality

1) Youngest children resent not being taken seriously....
Even as a toddler she'd be sucking on her white wrinkled little thumb and snuggling her blankly and mom would say something to her in a baby voice and she'd cowl back "Duh!! Don't you think I don't know that?!"

2) Youngest children are the stereotypical "free spirit" types...
Colleen freely embraced the nickname "WEENER" from childhood into adulthood....
She went and got friendship tattoos with her buddies...
And she has a reputation of being very loose with planning ...As I compared notes with other bridesmaids and family members for this wedding, there was a common theme of "ok so you don't really know what's going on either". And it's not in a sense of neglect or intentional lack of communication... it's just details around planning that just aren't necessary or important to her. She has a lot of faith in things working out as they often do for her.

Even with having to move the ceremony indoors it still was absolutely breathtaking 

3) Parents are often less cautious with the youngest child...
For instance one of Colleen's first word was stuck... she was a baby and couldn't say much but when she'd wake up from a nap and she'd often yell "stuck"!...meaning "help mom my leg is trapped in the crib come get me out cause I know you are ignoring the baby monitor..."

I also have fond memories of feeding Colleen cookie-shaped dog food. You may think that makes me a horrible sister, but don't worry, I was eating them right there with her.

I was also right there with her when I coaxed her into sticking beads up her nose ...resulting in a causal emergency room visit....stuck....

4) Youngest children are the charmers and are naturally entertaining...

Colleen was always good at impressions growing up and always knew how to make us laugh... she always did a good Elvis impersonation... "Bebe" (said in Elvis accent).... she also had a good mother Theresa impression where she'd wrap her blanket around her head and say (in an old, squeeky high pitched voice)..."I, Mother Theresa, must save the children of Calcutta"... She also had an impression of mom which she must have picked up shortly after tax season...picking up a receipt of mom's and exclaiming "what the hell is this?!" (in mean mom voice)

When me and Bridget and Nancy grew up and moved on to college, Colleen still managed to entertain herself ... when she had no one to play with, she somehow managed to train the dog how to play hide and seek with her.

7) Parents are typically less rule oriented with the youngest...

When I got grounded I would have no phone, no TV, and no friends until the original agreed-to time had expired. When Colleen got grounded she would give mom the silent treatment and within a day or two had somehow guilted Mom to take her out shopping to buy her things...

She also managed to stay on Mom's car insurance and have Mom pay her phone bill way longer than the rest of us.. Although Mom just yesterday informed me that now Mom is on Colleen's phone plan... so Congratulations Mary Ellen!

And then there's Mike.....

We didn't know what to think of Mike at first.... We weren't sure how he would fit in... Judging by the rest the Erickson girls' choice of mate.... about 6 feet tall ... (insert crowd laughs)....and ever so slightly receding hairline... (zing!),.... Mike didn't exactly fit the physical mold..... Because Mike is what? just about 5'11 and three quarters? (he is not) and WOW that hair!! (Mike has awesome, jealous-able hair)

Note the beautiful hairline... 

Mike is a fellow middle child, like me. And us "middles" often get a bad rap for being the overshadowed, jealous, "that's not fair," black sheep types...But not Mike ( and not me either).

We have all the positive personality perks of middle children types, without the bad stuff...

1) Middle children are the social butterflies of the family

People are constantly at Mike's house and I feel like every time we go there we meet a new set of friends and leave thinking.. "wow those are really good, fun people." (should have thought of better adjectives... "good" and "fun" are understatements...) And he also maintains these life-long friends from all stages of life.

2) Middle children are team players

And with Mike it's not just on soccer field. When Mike started coming around to family gatherings he would always be pitching in, making a point to bring extra cigars for the guys, showing up at Thanksgiving with a deep fryer and cooking the turkey, showing up at Carstens' slip and slide baby's shower and breaking out the soap... ya know to make the slip and slide extra slippery....

3) Middle children have a lot of patience

We are used to having to wait our turn... and from a fellow middle child who also married a youngest child I can tell you this virtue comes in handy as these youngest child types are prone to losing keys, forgetting their phone or wallet, and generally running late to everything. Patience, my dear, patience....

4) Middle children are also very adventurous, and risk-taking.

Now what is more adventurous then marrying into a family full of women?!

Or buying a brand new house in the ghetto?

Or planning a wedding with a family full of women at the exact same time as buying a house in the ghetto all while adopting a pit bull puppy with an eating disorder?!

There he is... note: that couch no longer exists.... he ate it 

Now I'd like to offer Colleen and Mike some advice for your marriage based on your birth order (compliments of

For Colleen...

As the baby in a relationship, your youngest child personality offers all sorts of fun and excitement. Throughout your marriage, Mike can always count on you to find spontaneous, unexpected ways to amp up the excitement. Always use your social skills for good; and be careful not to abuse your powers (i.e. do not take advantage of your middle child husband).

For Mike....

As a middle child you are well on your way to being a very good partner. Since middle children are the least likely to have been spoiled in any way, you are likely more willing to work hard to create a happy and meaningful relationship. Having experienced your share of conflict growing up in the middle, you may tend to steer clear of it at all costs but be sure to strike a balance and speak up when It matters.

Welcome to the family my new baby brother and fellow middle child, Mike!!  With this last wedding you complete the Erickson girls who are now officially off the market.

To my baby sister Colleen, I love you with all my heart and you are my greatest confidant. With your marriage to Mike you have officially made everyone in our family feel very old....

Now everyone please raise your glasses....

To many many years of health and happiness and may you always remember the fun and excitement of today as long as you live!! To the Tavani's!

Now that you read it... you can hear it and judge my performance ;) If anyone did not run out of phone storage and has the second half of the speech, send it my way!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Modern Day Fable

This past summer we were in Philly for a weekend trip to attend a wedding and to look at houses to buy when my sister offered to give us my mom's old car which she had previously inherited and subsequently used up the majority of its functioning life.

But, hey, it is a free car.  She might have a couple solid years left in her.  And we are car-less... And after we sign up for this mortgage, we will be money-less too.  We could use the charity... My sister's boyfriend's mother could use the driveway space....So we will take it!!

We picked up my sister's car at her future mother-in-law's house on what was easily the hottest day of the year. My sister and future brother-in-law then head back to Philly and we follow them in our new car which we soon find out does not have functioning air conditioning.  We roll down the windows which is arguably hotter having the scorching air blown right onto your sizzling skin.  We rotate rolling down the windows and attempting a breeze, to closing them back up until we at so hot and stuffy we want to barf.  The steering wheel is too hot to touch.  The hot plastic seats are searing through our bottoms; it is so hot we have goosebumps.  

Then my phone dies from over heat. Then Trevor's phone overheats and also dies.  All is not lost though.  Although we do not know where we are going, my sister and her boyfriend do.  We just have to follow their luxurious subaru whose AC works and is not threatening to shut off their iphone lifeline. We continue to follow my sister and her boyfriend back to Philly.  Just in case Trevor is holding his phone out the window to attempt to cool it off in the breeze and see if he can turn it back on.  It's on for a second then dies again. I try not to lose my sister.  We cannot call them to tell him to slow down... We cannot call them to tell them we do not have GPS anymore. We cannot call them to tell them not to go through the ez pass lane because we do not have ez pass and will surely lose them at the bridge ... And that's exactly what we do.  We are so hot. So angry. So lost.  But at least we have a car!!

We eventually get off the highway in the general direction of the neighborhood bar.  Soaked in sweat. Hungry, thirsty. We cool off our phones long enough to get a signal, find their bar, only have time to order one drink, chug it down and grab some food to go before we have to get  home, showerm, ans spiffy-up for a wedding.

The day after the wedding we have a grueling day lined up to see eight or so houses.  I am terrified by the AC situation.  We stock up on waters. Keep our phones out of the sun.  I cannot even remember any of the houses we saw. I was too miserable for my brain to function

Our last task before we drive back up to our tiny apartment in Cambridge is to get the car inspected.

We sit through the long hot line at the DMV inspection center.  Choosing between suffering in the stifle of windows up or choking in the car exhaust with windows down.  Those are our options.  Finally it is our turn.  We hand the man my mom's registration card since my sister never registered it in her name. The garage man keeps it and says he will return it after the inspection.

We get out of the car and wait in a dirty hallway. Thirty minutes later we are waved out to our car.  The inspection fails.  But we have a document saying we have 30 days to fix it, so we are slightly better off than at the start of the day.

Let's just head to a coffee shop so I can get a couple hours of work in and fully charge the laptop before we hit the road.  But first let's put that registration card away.  What registration card?  The registration card I have to the man when we got here... He said he would give it back when they gave us back the car. Did he give it to you?  No.  Did he give it to you? No!   Excuse me Mr. DMV man can we please have our registration card back?  I left it on the driver seat in the car!  Oh let me check.  No, it is not there.  Proceed for the next 20 min to rip apart the car, the floor mats, the beach chairs in the trunk, the empty water bottles in the back seat.  Where is this damn registration card?!

Meanwhile I now have to take a work call from the curb of a classy NJ DMV inspection center curb on highway 202 in Flemington and it is not even one I can stay on mute for...

Trevor goes back to argue with the man about the location of this registration card.  The garage man gives Trevor some new paper work and tells him to go into the main office and they can get him a new card.  He is in the office for the full hour while I'm on the curb trying to stifle the auto garage noises from my coworker.

I get off the phone an hour later and Trevor eventually returns.

You got the new registration card?

The registration card is in your mom's name. They would not give me one. They need your mom to be here.

Defeated.  Well let's get the hell out of here before things get worse.  We finally find a coffee shop which does not serve food and is closing in an hour.  But I have to get some work done and I need their wifi.  So I work for a bit while Trevor finds some granola bars at a convenient store.  

We finally pack up from the New Jersey coffee shop and are ready to hit the five hour road back to Cambridge, MA.  I start collecting my things and.. oh.... what this little piece of paper I have in my purse?! .......The damn registration card!!!!

I am fuming mad at how much of a moron I am that I start crying.  Rational Trevor points out that it is arguably better that we found the registration card now, then not find it at all.  It is ok.  You were stressed.  You were overheated.  And the guys we were harassing back at the garage do not need to know about his.

We get back in the car and I am back on a work meeting.  This one is the kind I can stay on mute for.  We start our drive back to Massachusetts.  On our way home.  The sun is setting and it is starting to cool down.  We are starting to cool down.  We will get home very late and, although that is not ideal, we are looking forward to driving with the windows down at night and avoiding the high heat of the summer's day.

Finally starting to relax.  Cannot wait to get home to air conditioning and take a cold shower!  Listening in on my business meeting I see Trevor starts to tighten up.  He is looking concerned and keeps looking down at the dashboard.  What is it?  Are we out of gas?  Still on the phone I give him the palm up hand, furrowed brow look (universal sign language for "what the hell is wrong")?  He points at the speedometer and waves at his neck, universal sign language for "that is too hot."  (Even though I am on mute I still don't like talking). He whispers that he has to put on the heat full blast in this 90 degree weather to get the heat off the engine.  He does that for a few miles, but it is not helping (me or the car).  I look up out the windshield and the car hood is now smoking.  I elbow him and yank my thumb to the right (universal sign for "Holy shit!!! Pull over!!!!!") 

As luck would have it, (and the only luck we would have this day) we were close to an exit and my work meeting had come to an end.  We pull off the highway and into a hotel parking lot (coincidentally the same hotel where our good friends Matt and Renata were married a few years before).

We grab a beer at the familiar hotel bar and debate if we should stay the night at the hotel or tow the car tonight.  Since we will have to tow the car either way, we decide to save on the hotel fee and get a move on things tonight.  So we call AAA to sign up for a membership and subsequently use the membership instantly to tow the smoking car an hour and a half drive back to my mom's house.

It is after midnight when we arrive. I borrow cash from my mom to tip the driver. First thing the next day we slowly drive the car a couple miles to the auto shop.  It's a $500 fix.  We slowly drive the car back to my mom's house.  Then take an Uber to the closest car rental place. Back at my mom's after she has left to visit my sister in DC, we pack up the rental car with all our belongings. We leave my sister's car keys and the 30-day inspection failure notice for her at my mom's house.  We scour the house for anything we may have left behind.  I do not have a key to my mom's house so if we leave and lock it, we will be locked out.  I think we have everything.  

Lock the house.  Get to car.  Realize ez pass, which we had forgot while driving through Philly, but remembered to put back in the car on the way up to Cambridge, is now locked in my sister's car.  The sister's car keys are now locked in the house.  And we are now locked out.  Start crying again.

We stop for food and unload some cash from the atm.  We drive the toll lanes all the way home. 
As Trevor falls asleep in the car I shed some more tears out of appreciation for how desperately crappy the last couple days have been.  You win life, you broke me...multiple times today, in fact... Then I almost hit a baby raccoon.  Dry my eyes.  Things may still continue to get worse...

We make it home by 2am.  As we try to unlock the apartment door Trevor realizes he must have left his keys at my sister's house in Philly...of course. 

Let's go to bed.

The morale of the story is, as my economist husband likes to say, "there's no such thing as a free lunch (or car)."

My morale of the story is, "do not cry when the first crappy thing goes wrong... cause you never know when sh*t is really about to hit the fan..."

or take Trevor's advice... "there is no need to cry about it."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yoga 'na shut yo mouth about my style

I have been lazy and out of shape lately, but I finally convinced myself to stop taking pictures of animal tracks in the snow and start working out.  Instead of the hard kind of working out like using the treadmill or weights in the wonderful basement gym that was included in the house purchase, I opted for a beginner yoga video on youtube in the spacious equipment-free loft.

Yoga is so much more relaxing to do at home. You can go to bed immediately afterwards, you can lay down in the middle of class without being judged, you can wear whatever you want, you don't have someone farting it up next to you...

This last particular at-home yoga session (day 3 of a 30 part series), I was wearing my typical (work from home) business attire: blue fleece-lined leggings, a leopard print mini skirt, and my little sister's wonderfully over-sized hand me down turtleneck sweater (which her fiance lovingly suggested she give away to charity).  I was very happy to inherit this sweater, because what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in warmth, comfort and coziness.

I love it so much I wear it all the time.  Not only have I been lazy about working out, but I have also been pretty lazy about doing laundry and paying attention to how things smell....that is until I am in downward facing dog position and the baggy turtle neck part of the sweater is draped across my face and what is that dirty rotten smell?  Take this sweater off!!  Nope too cold...put it back on...different pose....then back to downward facing dog....sweater over face... Yuck! why does it smell  like barf... Take it off!... ... but why is it so damn cold in this house?!....put it back more downward facing dog tonight.....ahhh child's pose.....relaaaaaaaaxxxxxx......should be doing laundryyyyyyyyyyy

I made it through the rest of the 30 minute video and although I was definitely cutting corners due to my stinky sweater and my inability to withstand life without it, I also had to stop the video 5 times to write down all the annoying things that this instructor was saying so I could remember to tell you! She is horrible.  She thinks she is so funny talking about how she should write a book about butt clenching.  News flash! Nobody would read a book about butt clenching, sista!! Then she starts talking about how she was in a car crash and how her body was such a wreck...ummmm HELLO?  Lady?!!  I am trying to relax over here!!  I don't want to hear some horrible story about your back injury, I am trying to calm down and think about nothing, now SHUT UP!  Then she tries to joke about how goofy and unorganized she is trying to do some stupidly easy pose.  Girlfriend, you don't know the first thing about being goofy and unorganized, now shut your trap and do yoga, you fool!  Grrrrrrr!

I will let you know if Jersey Julie survives the remaining 27 sessions...

And I promise to work on my wardrobe situation.   Working from home I "don't get out much" but on the rare occasion I do meet another fellow human, I have managed some pretty strange experiences centered around my wardrobe.  The other day I was grocery store shopping in the eggos aisle when an old man, unprovoked, came right up to me and said "Excuse me, miss, I noticed you in the produce section. I just have to ask, why are you dressed like that?"  For a split second I thought I may have left the house in my robe and slippies and my heart skipped a beat.  I looked down at my clothes to double check. Nope: leggings, pink skirt, sweater with a big orange heart, normal (for me) clothes. Then I slowly looked back up at him, not really knowing what to say.... he jues has to ask?   How weird do I look to him?? 

The delay must have made him realize I was confused and maybe slightly offended because he quickly stuttered out "I mean, do you normally dress so colorfully?...are you eh uh, coming from a special occasion?"  No, these are just the clothes I own and this is what I normally wear grocery shopping.    The man was 85 years old he has two adult children who refuse to get married or have children of their own and this upsets him. He doesn't talk to them very often.  He stopped working full time over 25 years ago after he put his wife through college and then she started working. He thinks marriage really changes people.  He is not convinced I am older than 18 and he thinks my husband is the luckiest man in the world.  He thinks I radiate honesty.  Little does he know I dress like this on purpose just to mess with old people...    I kid.

Then again just last week, I was in the waiting room of the hospital with my mom and my sister's in-laws.  My sister and brother-in-law were busy upstairs having their baby.  Meanwhile the family members downstairs have been snacking, sleeping, waiting in silence, more snacking, having good conversations, followed by some small talk, more texting, then snacking, throw in a couple walks to the bathroom or vending machine... Minding our own business camped out in our circle of waiting room chairs in the hospital lobby when, again, out of nowhere and completely unprovoked, and older woman with oxygen tubes up her nose, urgently walks up to interrupt our circle of a waiting game.  And at first I thought she was going to ask "where's the doctor?!" or "someone help me!" But instead she starts going on and on about how "I've only ever seen children dressed like you.   I have never seen a grown woman dressed like that.  But this look...this look is very becoming on you though..."

Well, thank you my dear old lady.  I actually have been daydreaming to start designing baby clothes for adults (true story!).  Now you have inspired me.  Maybe it is a sign I should start designing baby clothes for old people...

Thursday, September 24, 2015


After nearly a month which started with hopping around from family's homes..
"Tibical" cookie decorating session a beautifully glamorous wedding in Santa Barbara for one of my best home girls....
 a less-than-pleasant week long stay with the dead beats at the Red Roof Inn on Route 1 in Lawrence, NJ..

eye....won't...stop...twitching... a quick weekend in DC for my sister's slip n' slide-themed baby "sprinkle"....

...Followed by another week+ stay at the Holiday Inn Express, where life wasn't so bad because, hey, at least we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but even so after a week of batting the cleaning lady away so I could get some peace and quiet "working from home" in room 115, the farthest room from the front door, I could no longer take her dirty looks when she would not accept that "NO I WOULD NOT LIKE THE ROOM CLEANED TODAY, THANK YOU, GOTTA GO, ON A CALL, GOOD-BYE."  

Although on second thought, maybe we should have gotten the room cleaned, because what the heck are these bites on my leg?! They were not there last night..Hmmm.... uhh....


Leave it to the Dr. to inspect we are finally living in a home that we actually own!!! (well we own a very small percent of it, but still!).

Along with all the stresses from months of house hunting, preceded by months of grueling job-searching and followed up by boxing up all our belongings, saying good-bye to good friends and neighbors, hiring movers, finding professional cleaners, finding temporary housing, driving a huge u-haul truck over the George Washington bridge, finding temporary storage, buying a car, dealing with lawyers, sellers, real estate agents, septic inspections, electrical repairs and the like, all while "working from an always changing home,".... I was also pretty stressed out about what would be our first new-home-owners photo.  It had to be good... blog-worthy!  I really, really wanted our first picture of our first legally-owned home to be of me in some daisy dukes, an american flag tank top and a coon-skin cap sitting on a John Deere tractro and Trevor with a plaid shirt and cowboy hat waving an American flag high... picture it now!

I was super grateful to find said American flag for sale at the Stop and Shop grocery store immediately after leaving the lawyers office after closing on the house and thought YES! it is a sign! Picture. Blog. Announcement. Boom!

Well it was a sign alright.. a sign that it is almost September 11th.  I got home and took a closer look at the flag and was disappointed (in a very mad then sad way) to find out that the flag is no ordinary American flag....but a 9-11 memorial flag...  with instead of white stars shining bright and proud, gray silhouettes of the towers are pictured as they once stood before thousands of Americans were murdered in the worst American tragedy of my time. And as much as I whole heartedly support America and its battle against terrorism, and I will absolutely never forget the events that took place during my first week of college life... I refuse to connect our first homeowners picture with such a sad, sad day....

And now what the heck am I going to do with this flag?  I feel too bad and guilty to try returning it.  I feel super weird trying to give it to someone. I don't really want to hang it up... So it is in the garage.  But hey, at least WE HAVE A GARAGE!

So we still haven't taken a new home owners photo, but perhaps we will soon when I have an even better idea and can manage to not screw it up!

In the meantime, here are some pics from the journey:
Saying good-bye is the worst!

so long 1137 Mass Ave.

Thanks for the memories!

Will miss the Donkey show crowd and proximity to Dunkin donuts!

Last time in a dirty coin-op laundry basement! Will not miss you!

Our beautiful little apartment

Key word: little

Let's get a move on!

Buy a car...check!

Anyway, I have been too busy to blog what with all the new exploring and experiments we have been doing in the new house... attempting to answer all the fun new scientific questions that come with owning a home like: What's this switch do? Where do you think that mark come from? What's this thing for?  Why's this making that noise? Is it supposed to work like that? Who should we call to fix that?  Is that still alive? And my personal favorite: What's that smell?

Another favorite... how do we keep these out of the house?

Trevor's new favorite treasure is a little, left-behind piece of gym equipment, which I took one look at and immediately thought "Oh hell no! that is going straight in the trash!".... But Trevor has a very unique talent for always seeing the good in things... He climbed right up on it, and gave it a try... I nearly peed my pants with laughter...Ok, ok! we can keep it!....for the nieces and nephews!... but it's staying in the basement.

Now that we are "settled" we have started a bit of decorating:


However, we have also kept some of the home's "original" charm... The previous owners were quite fond of the feline ....

Now we are all ready for our new nephew, Carstens, to come visit!