Monday, December 28, 2015

Holly Jolly Christmas

Another Christmas has passed us by, and it was lovely. On Christmas Eve, we went to dinner with friends and then got into our jammies and played poker till close to midnight. Then our friends went home and Hubby and I opened our gifts to each other (while TJK looked on). Can you say Rebecca Minckoff and jackelopes and jewelry? I sure can :)
Besties on Christmas Eve

On Christmas morning, TJK opened her presents and was in heaven with all the Star Wars and American Girl Doll stuff. There was no hoverboard to be found - I think we will wait till they stop catching on fire and exploding before dipping into that pool. We then went to my parents' house with the aunts and uncles and cousins, and it was really nice. I always feel so lucky when I'm with my family. Not only am I super-close with my cousins of all ages (from the 4 year old to the 25 year old to the ones closer to my age), but I'm also lucky enough to consider my aunts and uncles as my friends, too. I spent about half an hour hanging out with one of my aunts on the porch, just gossiping and talking and having a few drinks. Couldn't love it more.

The day after Christmas, we finally made our way into NYC for the day. We usually go in one Sunday before Christmas to do the traditional holiday stuff, but this year was just too crazy. So we went in afterwards, and saw the tree and the store windows (always love Bergdorf's the best) and had dinner at Lasagna, one of our favorite restaurants. Hubby even bought me a belated gift of jewelry on 5th Ave. The best thing we did, though, was to take a quick detour upon arriving in the city to go down by the World Trade Center. I have yet to go up in the new building - it's still too soon for me, and I know I will just bawl and bawl. But across the street is a mall which had a light installation which was so amazing.

Beautiful light installation at Brookfield Place, Battery Park, NYC
You put both hands on the lighted block and it changes color repeatedly. You make a wish and then let go of the block. The color from the block goes up to the lighted blocks on the ceiling and then your color spreads from where you are standing to the back of the space, as if your wish was spreading from your heart out to the world. TJK and I decided we loved this more than the Rock Center tree and the windows. It was just so beautiful and peaceful and wonderful to watch.

My daughter and two goddaughters.
Then, on Sunday, we went down to Manasquan to visit with family again. This time, it was with cousins from Scotland who are here for Christmas and New Year's in NYC. There were probably 20 of us all together in my cousin's beautiful home, and we had such a nice time. The Scotland cousins are so friendly and talkative and interesting. It was cool to hear the stories of my grandparents and great grandparents from back in the day. I learned that my grandmother actually lived in Scotland for about 4 years as a child!

Now, I'm back at work and exhausted as hell. When we have these weekends that are non-stop and sleep-free, I dread them. Then when I'm in it, I love it...because I love to be busy and I love having experiences, whatever they may be. And then the next day, I am tired and have a headache and could fall asleep at my desk, but I don't regret a single moment of it (except maybe the insane stand-still crowd trying to get to the tree in front of Saks. Disastrous.).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vague and Poorly Written and Bitter

There are times when I wish this blog was something that I knew that no one I know would ever see. I know no one looks anymore, but too many people I know in real life know me as True Jersey Girl and know this blog existed a million years ago. I can't take a chance that they will come upon it and get their feelings hurt, because that is not my intention here. My intention here is to simply talk about the things on my mind, and right now there are things I wish I could talk about and I can't.

I will just say that my sacrifices never seem to get as much attention as my "selfishness" does. What I have done for people in the past with barely a thanks is disregarded as soon as people feel slighted. People who are overall quite selfish people who rarely think of anyone but themselves seem quick to call me out on one act of thinking of myself and my family before I think of them and theirs.

Having to suck it up and bite my tongue and apologize without going into a defense of my decisions and a defense of all the things I have done - whether it be monetarily, or by physically being there when most weren't, or by standing up when no one else would, or rearranging my life to better suit other's schedules - is really hard for me. 

That's all I am going to say - the words are vague and poorly written and bitter, but they are the best I can do here so I will leave it at that.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Everything

I don't know exactly where this post is going, so Future Me, when you read this, I'm sorry ahead of time for meandering and not really having a point.

Well, actually, I think I do have a point that I can find pretty quickly. The point is that being afraid is kind of just what we do now. It is who we are. It is ingrained in us. We are afraid of terrorism every time we go through the Lincoln Tunnel. We are afraid of being shot up at the movies. We are afraid of random acts of violence at every turn, and no where feels safe anymore.

We went to see the new Star Wars movie yesterday (awesome, and I say that as a decidedly non-geeky person). The truth is though, I couldn't stop worrying. Every time I saw someone get up from their seat, I worried that they were going to get a gun or bomb or who knows what. The guy sitting next to me was alone at the theater, and right as the lights dimmed, he was up and off (I guess to use the men's room?) and I panicked a little. When he came back and vaulted over the seats to get to our row, I couldn't exhale until he was sitting down and nerding out. It didn't used to be like this. There used to be places that could be an escape from worrying and fear.

This morning, I got up to news that a woman had taken her car and repeatedly driven onto the sidewalk outside the Paris casino on the Vegas Strip. She was aiming for people, both hands on the steering wheel, trying to hit as many people as possible. And, to add just another touch of crazy, she had her 3 year old buckled into the backseat. Vegas could not be more of an escape; it could not feel more unreal and over the top escapist. And yet. there was no safety there.

Of course, there was the terrorist action in Paris about a month ago, with a stadium and concert hall as the targets. I've been to Paris twice and am planning to return next year. It is a dream destination, somewhere to get lost in the beauty and elegance of European perfection. And then there was San Bernadino a couple of weeks ago, with another horrific terror attack in a workplace against people who had just thrown the attacker a baby shower a few months earlier. No one feels like work is an escape from reality - in fact, it is reality itself. It is a place where you worry about losing your job and not being able to pay your bills. but it shouldn't be a place where you worry about losing your life. And of course there have been other incidents over the past few years: the church shootings, the school shootings, the mall shootings...the list goes on.

Where do we find logic in any of this? Where do we rest our minds, if we aren't safe anywhere? Where do we escape to, if not the movies or vacation?

As we were trying to decide about vacations for 2016, I thought of Portugal as an ideal choice because I don't think it would be a big terrorism risk. Where do I really want to go this year? Istanbul and Cappadocia. But Turkey is too risky. Morroco has always drawn me in...but no. Too dangerous. African safari? Top of the list, really. But that's being pushed off as well, because perhaps it's not the best time to head to Africa when so much of it is in turmoil. So even as we are planning to escape from it all, it's all still in the front of our minds. When we are saying, "hey, Salt Lake City and Vancouver seem like top destinations right now!" you know something is off.

Is this the reality now? Is this how we live and how we fear? Is that fear something we never escape?

I remember after 9/11, I was thinking of the middle east. I couldn't get out from under the fear of another terrorist attack after watching the smoke billow from downtown NYC from my office window. I thought of the people who live in the middle east, who live every day wondering if their cafe will be bombed, or their bus, or their nightclub. And I thought about my life, pre-9/11, and how I never thought for a second about going to concerts or sporting events or to Shop Rite for cold cuts...and how people in the world lived every day as if it were 9/12.

Then things calmed down some, and we got into the every day politicking of terrorism. And now the fear is back, not necessarily stemming from another 9/11 but from what that every day Joe you see on the bus every day could do to your store or venue or church.

All I know is that I am sick of living in fear and sick of the knowledge that things will most likely never go back to normal.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Woman-on-Woman Crime

One thing that drives me crazier than all the other things (and lots of things drive me crazy) is when women subtly tear down other women. I go upon the assumption that if you are one of these women who does this to other women, your own self esteem must be suffering and this is how you feel better about yourself - by putting other women down so you will feel better about yourself.

I mean listen, we have enough to fight about. I'd like to make an equal amount to the men doing the same job I do. I'd like it to not be a big deal for a woman to be running a company or a country. I'd like people to stop chipping away at my right to my own body.

But then we have this subtle misogyny that gets us in our own way. I hear all these comments about how women who look a certain way shouldn't do certain things. We are judging ourselves and other women based on our looks, just as we hate when men do. She's too skinny to wear jeans like that; she looks like a string bean. She's too fat to wear those shorts; no one wants to see that. She's too busty for that shirt; she looks like a slut. She's too flat to wear that top; she looks like she's a teenage boy. She's too *insert your judgey-ness here* to exist, basically.

Let's talk about some examples of this. You have a woman like Pamela Anderson. You know the type - she looks like what we think men want. Big implants, blonde hair, full lips, overly-done makeup. So what do we say about her? She's fake. Plastic. Wears too much makeup. Would be prettier if she would tone it all down. So basically, she isn't good enough for us despite how hard she's trying to be. She is beautiful but we have to tear her down.

Then you have a woman, I have to be honest. I can't think of a single public woman who doesn't care about her image. So let's use another example: you are an overweight woman, and it's July. It's approaching 100 degrees. So you put on some shorts and go out of your house. You have now committed the cardinal sin: being fat in public. You have done something that offends everyone so deeply that they have to take pictures of you and post them online to shame you. You aren't good enough to show your skin in public, fatty. Just being outside and showing us your skin is offensive to our eyes.

Or you have a super thin woman. You are skinny as a rail, and despite trying to put on some weight, your body just won't allow it. But you have plans tonight and you dress up, do your hair, spend a little extra time on your makeup so you feel pretty. You look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, so you take a selfie and post it on Instagram. The comments start to roll in, and while you thought you looked your best, it wasn't good enough. Eat a burger, lady! And stop making us look at your skinny ass! You're hurting our eyes with your lack of curves! (But don't get too many curves - then you'll be the woman above who we don't want to see either. And really, don't get just the right amount of curves because we will hate on you then, too, just like Pamela Anderson).

And then there's the woman who loves to work out. She has the flattest stomach, those sinewy muscular arms, strong and taut legs from running marathons, and strength to spare. She loves what she sees in the mirror; it's the personification of all she works for. She sees strength and muscle and ability. When she shows the world a picture of herself, maybe she gets accolades from the other women (and men) like her, the ones who work hard on their bodies and see the results. From others, though, she gets a lot of "ewwww" and "manly" and "unfeminine." She isn't good enough for our eyes, either. Soften up, honey, you are too hard around the edges for us. 

The thing that runs through all of this is that every one of these women is a person. A real person with feelings. And hey, men judge us by how we look and we know that and we hate it but we know it so we deal with it. But when it comes from another woman - when that woman, too, is too short or too tall or too thick or too think or too dark or too pale or too whatever - it stings even more. Because as women, we know what it feels like to be judged and yet we do it to women just like us.

We have all been judged by our appearances. I know I have. I know what it's like to feel good about myself and then have another woman stare in judgement, looking me up and down like "who does she think she is to wear that?" which to me always translates to "who does she think she is to be so confident?" And I think that's what it comes down to, right? 

How dare those women be who they are and feel comfortable in their skin, when I don't? I'm not that fat and I don't feel comfortable in a skirt that short, so how dare she? I'm not that skinny and look at her, wearing that dress, acting like she looks good when I'd never be confident enough to wear it?

I guess I just don't understand why we can't support other women instead of tearing each other down. there is no "perfect" - even when you are the "perfect woman" you still get shit for your appearance one way or another.  

I am fairly confident in myself, and I still find myself saying these kinds of things sometimes about other women. Nowadays, they don't make it past my lips; I never say them out loud but they are still in my head. I know that it's more about me than it is about them. I know that to change anything, I have to get those thoughts out of my head and call people on it when they speak like that about another woman. I wish we all, as women, could make that our goal. It would make us all so much stronger.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Almost 4 Months And I Still Miss Him

As time goes on, obviously it gets easier when someone you love is gone. You adjust. You learn to push back the tears. You are able to talk about them without falling to pieces.

It's been almost four months since Gypsy died, and while I'm not a catatonic mess anymore, I'm still on the verge of crying at any given time. When we decorated for Christmas, we went to put up the stockings and there his was. I took it out and looked at it for a bit, and my husband said, "What should we do with it? Can it go?" Meaning, this insane man wanted to throw out my baby dog's stocking. I'd love to share whatever crack he is on to make him think I'd agree to something so crazy. It went back in the box - but not up on the mantle. And my tears were at the surface.

Every day when I come home from work, I open the door as if he's going to be there. I unlock it and then push in carefully, ready to block the mutt from running out of the house. And of course, he isn't there and then I get sad. That doesn't usually bring tears, because it's an every day thing. It's just a sadness that comes over me.

When I cook, I look for him. I made ziti the other night and had some extra grated mozzarella on the plate. I went to put it down on the floor for him to eat, because 100% of the time, when I'm cooking, he's looking for a handout. Obviously, he was not there so I threw the cheese out and got depressed. Pizza crust is another bummer. I eat the pizza and look to feed him the crust..and he's not there.

And sometimes, I long to sit on the couch under a blanket and watch tv, just chilling and relaxing, and have my puppy sit with me and cover him with the blanket too and just have him near me with his head on my lap. And of course that brings the tears, because that's what I miss the most. Just having a bestie who is happy just to be around me, as I was happy just to be around him,

I try to look at the pluses of not having a dog - primarily the freedom to go out until whatever time we want or to go away on vacation without needing a dog sitter, and the not-getting-up-twice-a-night-to-let-him-out thing (as we did for the last 15 years; that dog never learned to sleep through the night no matter what we did). But to me, the hole in my heart is the biggest minus and no amount of sleep or worry-free vacation could outweigh that.

Today's Playlist

Here's what I'm listening to today (there's some new-to-me stuff I'm digging, which is a change from me having the same 40 songs on repeat all day, errry day):

  1. Hello - Adele (sorry, this one has me. My cousin and I have an inside joke going with it, and it just made me love it more.)
  2. Fall to Pieces - Velvet Revolver (RIP Scott Weiland)
  3. The Knock - Hop Along
  4. Waitress - Hop Along
  5. Sprained Ankle - Julien Baker
  6. Too Late To Die Young - Beach Slang
  7. Come Undone - Duran Duran (bringin' it back)
  8. Drown - Bring Me The Horizon (still love this song; I just can't quit it)
  9. Fall in Love - Phantogram
  10. Love, Reign O'er Me - Pearl Jam
  11. Hard to Imagine - Pearl Jam
  12. Paralyzed - Failure Anthem (kinda cheesy generic fake-metal ballad, but I like it)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bad Work Ethic(s)

I have this co-worker. In the past, I also considered her a good friend and we were quite close. She is a lot of fun - wild, outspoken, hysterically funny. But over the past year or so, I can't get past the person she is at work in order to appreciate the person she is when she's not.

Her desk is right outside my office. I sit in the office that used to house our VP, so it's a big office with big glass walls with an admin's desk just outside of it. I face her all day long, and all day long I watch her do absolutely nothing. She is supposed to be the admin to the VP (who now sits at the other end of the hallway, far from her), but the VP gives her zero work to do. That's partially because she is the laziest person I have ever met and partially because she screws up everything she touches.

So right now, I'm looking out at her. What is she doing? She is staring at her screen and smiling, typing away. Now, we know that she isn't typing anything for work, because she has no work to do. Like, there is literally not one single thing she could actually be typing for work. So we know that she is Skyping with either one of the boys here who she flirts with at her desk for extended periods of time, or with one of the girls who are 15 years younger than her but she still recruits them as friends and talks about mundane bullshit with them at her desk for extended periods of time while everyone else is working. So basically, she follows up her extended bs chatfests at her desk with extended Skype bs sessions.

So why does this affect me? I'll tell you one reason. My department used to do employee activities. We tried to do different things each season and keep things interesting and fun for employees. Then, we were asked to have her do them so she would have something to do. I gave the responsibility to  to her, and she proceeded to delegate everything back to my team but still sent out the email announcements. That meant that we did all the heavy lifting and she got the credit.

Now, we are taking the activities back. We have been doing the same tired, boring things for years despite my asking her to spice things up and add some new ideas. So now we are trying to handle things, and she doesn't like it. She is pushing back and holding on and passive-aggressively trying to ruin things. And even if I have liked her as a person in the past, if not as an employee, how can I continue to have any patience for this kind of behavior?

I have high expectations of my friends - I can't help that. I give a lot and I expect a lot in return...but it's not just that. I also expect my friends to be good, honest people. A little crazy, a little unbalanced, a little trash-talky...yes. But at heart, good people with strong morals and solid ethics. The older I get, the less patience I have for people who aren't good at heart and the quicker I am to let them go.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thinking About the New Year - a Draft

It's about this time of year that I start thinking about the year that is ending as well as the approaching of a new one. I don't put much salt into the idea that on December 31, everything from the year before ends and come midnight, it's a brand new you. I really think that's a formula for failure. I feel like the changing of the year simply gives me time to reflect on how things are going, what I'm happy with, and what I'd like to improve or change. And what I really need to do is to put a plan into place for the things I want to change, because making a promise without considering how to carry it through is just empty and useless.

2015 was pretty damn good. The past few years have been, really. I have very little to complain about and very few things that I feel like I need to dig myself out of in the new year. My family life is fantastic - hubby and I are doing great, TJK and I are in such a great place, my extended family and I are cruising along just as I would want. For the new year, I feel like I need to concentrate on my parents more. It means a lot to my mom and probably to my dad too. Life gets so busy with work and a kid and all the obligations that come with both, so I don't touch base as often as I should. I think what I can do there is to put a reminder on my calendar once a week to call them, and once every other week to stop over or invite them over. I know that won't always work, because we simply don't always have the time (nor do they - they're busier now that they have retired than they were when they were working!). But it's important to put some more focus on them, and that's what I will do.

I also need to focus a bit more on my best friend. She lives in South Carolina, and it's been really hard to stay in touch (other than online). I need to call her more and be there for her and support her, especially since her dad died. I have cut people out of my life over the past few years for being bad friends; she had always been an amazing friend and my biggest supporter. I need to treat her as such.

There is always the obvious one: the be healthier, to lose a few pounds, to make exercise a more solid part of my every day routine. And I am, in fact, setting that as a goal for 2016. For such a long time, I felt strong and powerful - it wasn't about beauty or thinness or vanity (although it helped with those as well, to be honest) - and I don't have that strength anymore. I miss it, and that's what I want back. So rather than setting weight loss goals, I am going to set workout and healthy eating goals. I've been out of it so long (and am so busy), I need to be realistic so that I can meet the goals and build on them.

  • For January and February, work out twice a week.
  • For March and April, work out three times a week.
  • By May, be ready to work out consistently 3-4 times a week.
  • On January 4, start juicing again for breakfasts.
  • Only order healthy foods to be delivered.
  • For January and February, cook 2 healthy meals per week,
  • By February, be ready to cook healthy meals at least 3 times per week,

The last one is about my favorite topic - travel. This is the one that is easiest for me to keep because it's something I love to do. And my resolution is pretty simple - to make the very most out of the 4 weeks of vacation I get from work. Use every day and every moment. When I travel, be in the moment. Don't be so stuck behind the camera or thinking about what's next that I miss the moment I am in. Be adventurous. Don't be afraid of anything, from terrorism to embarrassment. Do everything without fear. Branch out. Do the crazy things.

So basically, for 2016 I have a few things to focus on:
- my parents
- my best friend
- my health
- living each moment

Monday, December 07, 2015


It's really hard to be a Giants fan.

I mean, it's hard for numerous reasons, not just the obvious one: they blow nearly every game even when they have been outplaying and outscoring in the first 3 quarters. Or at least the first half. There is never a time as a Giants fan that I feel safe, like: Ok, they are up by 20 in the 4th quarter, I can rest easy now. Nope. I was at the Meltdown at the Meadowlands, after all, and watched the meltdown in person. So I understand heartbreaking football and the inconsolable pain that comes with blindly supporting a disappointing team.

The reason I am finding it harder and harder to be a Giants fan is that I have no one to watch Giants football with. My husband is a die-hard Steelers fan, and so is my daughter. My brother in law is also a Steelers fan, and so is his family (to include my niece and occasionally my sister - although she supports the suckass Redskins with their suckass racist name, so the Steelers are at least an improvement there).

Growing up, we were a Giants and Yankees (and later, Devils) house. My dad taught us about football by watching every game with us and walking us through the plays (and teaching us how to say "The Giants suck" in a variety of ways). It was a part of my Sunday to watch my team with my family. When my sister became a turncoat Skins fan, it was an unacceptable betrayal and something we rarely talk about even today (other than during Skins/Giants games where we still bet $1 as we did back in the day).

Now, I have a house full of Steelers fans. I have black and gold all around me and I'm missing the Blue and Red. They watch the games together and I watch too, of course, but I don't have the same rooting interest so I'm not as into it. I see my husband teach TJK about football, and use the methods I taught him for teaching kids about sports (which my dad used to teach me), and I feel sad that she isn't learning about Giants football. When they cheer, I want to cheer with them and be super into it. I want to wave a Terrible Towel along with them. I feel left out and like I am missing something. Because I am. I'm missing the camaraderie that professional sports watching provides.

I can't become a Steelers fan because I bleed blue for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew and have done so my whole life. I can't steal TJK away to be a Giants fan because it's part of the blood-sworn contract between my husband and me: TJK is a Yankees fan for me and a Steelers fan for him and a Devils fan for both of us. So I'm at a strange crossroads of loving my team but being so lonely in loving my team, and hating my team for sucking and having no one to commiserate with about it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Jersey Girl Contemplates Living Elsewhere in the World

I love New Jersey. Obviously. I love being close to the beach and the mountains and farmland and authentic ethnic food (from every ethnicity!) and especially to New York City. I love having everything I could ever need practically within walking distance (and most within actual walking distance). I never thought I would ever consider leaving here. It's home, and has been for my whole life.

The older I get, the more I reconsider my whole "Born Jersey, Live Jersey, Die Jersey" motto. Maybe it has come with the extensive travel I have done...but then, I have been seeing the world since I was 21. Maybe it's all the traffic...but then, I've been in one long continuous traffic jam since I learned to drive. Maybe it's all the people and noise...but then, when I'm in quiet places I can't sleep.

The truth is, I think I can handle all of those things individually. It's more that cumulatively, over the past X number of years, it is getting to me. I would love to experience my 7-mile commute to work not taking 45 minutes. It would be great to go to Shop Rite and not have to hit people with my cart and then stand on line for 30 minutes. How awesome would I feel to not have noise and light pollution present at all times?

About a year ago, we went out to Denver. We stayed a few nights in the city and then head to the Rocky Mountains. I was sure I would hate it because I hate nature and all that comes with it...and because my husband convinced me to stay in a cabin. But I didn't hate it, especially the cabin. It was small, but had a really nice kitchen, fireplace, flat screen tv, WiFi, king size Sleep Number bed, jacuzzi, waterfall all the things my luxury loving side could want. But it was quiet. It was in the woods (but still a quick drive to civilization). There was a babbling brook near it, and that was the only sound we could hear (other than the male elk bellowing to his ladyfriends that he was in the mood for some lovin'). And I really liked it. I liked being slightly disconnected - quiet, calmed, peaceful.

Last month we went to Asheville. We stayed in a quite remote cabin this time - higher luxury with more distance. It was 45 minutes to civilization. This was really hard for me at first. It was so quiet, I had to listen to myself think. When I stood on the deck and looked out, all I saw were trees and distant mountains. My first thought (especially after seeing the spider that had taken up residence with us) was to get the hell out of there. I wanted to head directly to the closest Four Seasons and call it a day. But I tried to let loose. This is something I am actively working on during my travels - stopping my brain from being 10 steps ahead of me and just enjoying and acknowledging the moment I am in. And that's what I did (after our friendly neighborhood spider man had been kicked to the curb). I sat in the moment and listened to the quiet. I looked at the views and I took it all in, and I realized that I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of my best memories of that trip are of the time we spent in the cabin - cuddled under blankets by the fire watching a movie, standing on the deck looking at those views without saying a word, really just taking it all in.

Due to my husband's job, we aren't going anywhere for at least 10 years. By then, TJK will be in college and we will have some options. I have no idea what we will do or where will go or if we will go at all. But for the first time in my life I am contemplating going somewhere that I can hibernate. Well, at least part of the time. Because you know I am not giving up my dinners out or brewery visits or shopping trips or Sundays at the diner or real pizza and bagels...and there's the Jersey Girl in me, coming out once again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Birthday Eve

Last night was my Birthday Eve. I had plans with friends (and the daughters) for some time, and those plans had zero to do with my birthday. We were going to go for dinner and then come back to a friend's house and watch some bad tv whilst having drinks and gossiping.

When I showed up at the house last night, my daughter was already there. I walked into the kitchen to find one of my favorite songs ("Black" by Pearl Jam) playing for me on my daughter's phone. On the kitchen island was a bottle of Walking Dead beer by Terrapin, with all kinds of my favorite candy surrounding it and coming from the top like a flower (the kids made it!). I opened the gifts to find a really awesome book about hidden secrets of Paris (because I WILL be going to Paris again, despite ISIS's threats to the contrary), and gorgeous necklace, and 2 bottles of exceptional beer. Not to mention some great little notes from the kids, some very kind words from my friends, and then a delicious dinner out with the ladies.

I can't tell you how much this meant to me. It was all just so thoughtful - all about me, so personal, so unexpected, so lovely. They know me so well and know how to show how much they care about me. That's not an easy thing to find in a friend these days. So many people are self-centered and can't think outside of themselves, but last night I was made to feel so special. Doesn't everyone deserve that every once in a while, especially on their birthday?

When I'm thinking this year about what I'm thankful for...last night is near the top of my list!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Can You Be So Sure?

So let's talk about Paris and terrorism and ISIS and bombing and Syrian refugees and all that fun stuff.

All over Facebook are posts about not letting Syrian refugees into the Unites States because they are a threat to our safety. Or in the converse, letting them in because it's the American Way to welcome refugees with open arms. There are posts about bombing the hell out of ISIS because of what they have done to the West. And there are opposing posts about not bombing because that just perpetrates the Middle Eastern view of the US and attracts even more terrorists to their side. Some posts are insistent that Obama is not doing enough to stop terrorism and should be leading the way, and others are sure he is too involved and should back off and let Muslim countries lead.

No matter which side people are on, the one thing they are sure of is that they are 100% right. Not only are they 100% right, but anyone who doesn't agree with them is SO STUPID!!1!1!!

There are the most brilliant minds - political minds, military minds - trying to solve the crisis in the Middle East. We have had our best minds working on this problem for decades, if not over a century. And they have not been able to solve it. They have ideas, all of which seem logical, and none have worked. Every new party in office tries their brand of solution, but no one has found the way to make peace.

But you, oh you! You have all the answers and are so sure about it. Anyone who can't see that you are right is an idiot! You watched Fox News who told you that Muslims can't be trusted, and you are puking that back up like it's fact. You watched MSNBC who told you that bombing is bad, and you recite it as gospel.

I wonder if any of these people have ever had a thought that was truly their own. When I'm trying to decide what I think is right in these types of cases, I read everything I can. I watch every news channel and hear out every pundit. I take in every bit of information I can, on all sides of the spectrum. And then I make a decision. And then, maybe I will read or hear some new piece of information that shifts my opinion. Or maybe it confirms my opinion. But I take it in and evaluate and create my own opinion...which is just an opinion. And even with all the research and thought I give, I'd never claim my way is the only way.

In a case like this, however, no one know what the right thing to do is. No one. Not Obama, not the presidential candidates, not the military leaders, not the political pundits, and certainly not you or me.

What will the repercussions be if we let refugees in? Will there be an increased chance of a homeland terror attack, with the terrorists sneaking in amongst the refugees? Will we turn the opinions of Muslims around by showing the generosity of spirit of the American people and our way of life?

What will the repercussions be if we don't let them in? Will it drive more Muslims to radicalize because it will be more proof that the US is against them? Will it halt local terror attacks because we have kept a bad element out of our society?

All we can do at this point is make educated guesses. All we can do is trust our leaders are doing all they can to keep us safe and to eliminate the threats that face us. So when I see people who are teachers or stay-at-home moms or cops or accountants who are so sure of the answers that they think the rest of us are stupid, I can't help but be filled with wonder at how they somehow know more than the people actually deeply involved and educated on the details of these issues. And I'm staggered by their arrogance and ignorance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today's Playlist

Playing in my office today:
  1. Ex's and Oh's - Ellie King
  2. Drown - Bring Me The Horizon
  3. Fall In Love - Phantogram
  4. Something From Nothing - Foo Fighters
  5. Corduroy - Pearl Jam
  6. Stardog Champion - Mother Love Bone
  7. Tennessee - Arrested Development
  8. Bag - White Lung
  9. Northern Lights - 30 Seconds to Mars
  10. Pretty Noose - Soundgarden

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A BearWolf Attacked Us in Asheville

I am petrified of nature. Like, I hate and am afraid of 98% of everything the outdoors has to offer. I don't like bugs or wild animals or dirt or walking on dirt with bugs flying at me and the threat of wild animals attacking at every turn. It's just not my thing. I am a city girl through and through. But about a year ago, my husband and I went to Denver and took a side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We stayed just outside the park in a lovely little town called Estes Park, in a lovely little cabin surrounded by woods and a creek and real live elk. Of course, the cabin was luxe and had all the amenities I could ever want, but I did enjoy that cabin in the woods. I even enjoyed watching the elk as it was mating season and the dynamics were fascinating. The male was in charge, sure, and he would bellow to keep his harem in line. But then you'd see one female roll her eyes at him and another female would be like, hell yeah, I'm eye rolling too, this guy is just too much. And they would stand up and walk away. He'd yell and yell but they'd just keep walking and there was nothing he could do. I mean, he still had like 50 more ladies in his crew so he wasn't suffering, but it was kind of empowering to see the ladies say, I've had enough of your yelling and I'm out.

When it was time to pick a place to stay in Asheville, we looked in the city itself at some of the more upscale hotels, and we also looked in the mountains for a pretty, remote place to stay. I agreed to stay in the mountains (in a 3 bedroom cabin with a wall of windows overlooking the view, 2 hot tubs, 3 full bathrooms, a flat screen tv over the fireplace, and a game room with a pool trust me, we were not roughing it) because I had a good experience in the Rockies so I was willing to try it again.

To jump to the end of the story - I loved the cabin, I loved the woods, I loved the whole experience of coming back there at night and sitting in front of the fireplace under blankets with my family and watching a movie, and waking up in the morning to a house filled with natural light and a view of utter gorgeousness. It was really delightful. But back to the beginning of the story...

We got to the cabin at about 11pm, and it was dark as hell up there. This cabin was wayyyy up on the mountain, and only part of the road was paved. So for about 25 minutes of the 40 minute drive up, we were on a one lane, unpaved, edge-of-cliff road. In the pitch black dark. This was the route on the GPS, to show you how windy and remote this road was:

Who creates roads that curves and twist and jackknife like this? Mountain people, that's who, to torture city folk.
 We get to the cabin and need a flashlight to get from the car to the front door. It is that dark. I can't see if a bear or deer or mountain lion is about to eat me, and I am petrified. The front door has a light on, which is great, except that since it is the only light for miles, it has attracted every moth in Western North Carolina (WNC, they call it. The people call it that, not the moths. I was too afraid of the moths to ask them what they call it.). We fight the moths off and get into the cabin. Whew, it's really nice and the internet didn't lie when it said this was a great place to stay. We check out all the rooms, and I check every pocket of space for squatters who could be holed up there for the winter and find none, so I'm happy. Yep, I'm that brand of crazy.

I go into the bedroom to change into my jammies and I hear Hubby and TJK's voices raise a bit. I listen carefully through the wall and hear them talking about some kind of bug in the kitchen. I try not to freak out - I mean, we have bugs in NJ too and you can just throw your shoe at them and it's all good. Or you can be like TJK and usher them gently out the window or door so they can go haunt someone else's life. Anyway, I start to come out of the bedroom and TJK comes running in and tells me not to come out.

"You don't want to see what's out there, Mommy. You won't like it."
"What is it? What kind of bug?"
"It's a spider but not the normal kind, it's like the kind you see in books."
"How big is it? Like scary big?"
She nods. "Yeah, its like this big," and she puts her forefingers and thumbs together to make the biggest circle I've ever seen.
"You're exaggerating."
"No, I'm not. I came in here to stop you from seeing it because I know you will freak out, but if you don't believe me, go look for yourself."
"No thank you, I have chosen to believe you and will stay in this room. Is Daddy killing it?"
"Daddy says it's too big to smoosh and he doesn't know what to do with it. If he tries to hit it and misses it might jump on him and bite him and he'll die of poisoning. So he is going to trap it under something and then figure it out. I need to go help him, bye," and with that she left me alone to imagine myself covered in bugs and scratching myself like crazy,

So eventually, they got the thing under a glass, onto a plate, and flung him off the deck into the woods. Of course, I couldn't sleep all night because I was sure he was angry and had made his way back into the house to eat my face while I was sleeping. Thankfully this did not happen and I still have my face.

The next morning, the cabin was filled with light and the view was stunning. We could see the mountains in the distance, the changing leaves on the trees, and no one else around for miles. As long as I didn't remind myself that if I was murdered up there, no one would hear me scream or find my body, I was truly in heaven. TJK and I went out on the deck and just stood in awe of the beauty of the scenery, and then talked about whether we could live in a place like this if hand-sized spiders didn't exist.

All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye I see a huge beast making its way towards us. It wasn't lumbering, as you would have expected of a bear that was going to eat you, but it was more barreling towards us like a big fuzzy freight train with an appetite for human flesh. We both screamed bloody murder and I grabbed her and ran into the house, trying to shut the door before the animal could make a solid breakfast out of us. Then I see Hubby's face - rolling his eyes and laughing at us from inside the glass doors, and I can't imagine why he thinks it is funny that we just barely escaped being murdered.

TJK and I turn back to see the beast we have just escaped, only to find that it was not a bear at all, but a big, fluffy dog that has now rolled over on her back so we can rub her belly. My heart is still racing and I start laughing, and TJK yells at the mutt, "I THOUGHT YOU WERE A WOLF! THAT WAS MEAN!"
The picture is facing this way because she was legit just laying on her back the whole time begging to be massaged. She looks like neither bear nor wolf, in reality.
We pet the dog for some time and fell in love with her. We found out from her tags that her name was, in fact, Bear. So I was kind of right that a Bear tried to eat us except that instead of "eating us" she "forced us to pet her by being cute." Same, same. And also, she has one brown eye and one light blue eye, which means she was really part wolf or at least part Siberian Husky so TJK says, same, same.

We didn't see any wildlife after that - not a squirrel, nor a chipmunk, nor bear nor wolf nor tarantula. The only wildlife we saw were birds, and me drinking a lot of beer and dancing a bit. Which is the only kind of wildlife I really like: myself.

All in all, I did love the cabin and I loved Bear and I loved the mountain and I did not love the spider but I got over it mostly. And I can't wait to go back.

Monday, November 09, 2015


So I was in Ashville over the past few days, enjoying a little break from work and the daily grind. We did some hiking, some relaxing, some southern-food eating, and some craft beer drinking. We didn't have nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do, so we are already planning Trip Number Two to the AVL.

We were in one of the craft breweries down there (and wow, are there a lot of craft breweries down there) when I saw a poster hanging on the ladies room wall:

I posted it on Twitter with an appreciative comment, because really, how can anyone think taking advantage of someone who is intoxicated isn't sleazy besides legit rapists? And I hashtagged it with #feminist because consent is a feminist topic, y'all (I say y'all now, because I was just in the south. I will be back to my usual usage of the Jersey term "youse" fairly soon, I'm sure) and I think it's good for feminists to be able to see that stuff like this is being posted in bar bathrooms. It's some progress and it felt good to share it.

Oh, but I forgot what a misogynistic asshole Twitter can be. I forgot that there are men who troll the #feminist hashtag just to poke and annoy. I forgot that these men have a sad hobby of trying to degrade people they don't even know, simply because a hashtag makes them feel sad about themselves because women have voices too. But I did remember that I don't need to allow them to poke me to get their jollies.

Some mom's-basement-dweller decided that because I posted the above picture with the comment: "Loving Asheville and its anti-rape, pro-consent efforts in bars," he needed to come for me. His first line of attack was to ask if both people were drunk, were both raped? Then, when I wouldn't bite, he told me I was straw-manning him (I think he needs a dictionary) and called me "bad girl." Again, I would not bite and he came back with how I had no argument and that Twitter is not my personal echo chamber (sorry but yes, Twitter is everyone's own personal echo chamber). And then he called me darling, which ya know, I just love from someone I don't even know and who is coming at me.

In the old days (circa probably 2010, 2011, 2012) I would have fought with this person on the internet until he cried real tears because I could not let anyone think I was weak or that they were right. Because really, this poster says very clearly that taking advantage of someone who is intoxicated is sleazy. If I'm drunk and you're drunk and we have sex, neither took advantage so that's not the issue here. Let's focus on the post at hand. If you are going to troll, do it accurately and not like some amateur.

My point is that now, I was able to just say, "Go away, troll" and let it be. I didn't feel the need to get sucked into an online battle of words with a semi-armed person whose opinion means nothing to me. I am sure enough in my convictions and intent that I don't need to defend myself to this stranger.

I think that's maturity, no? Even if it was done while sampling ALL THE BEER the Asheville had to offer?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


We are off on another little mini-vacation today. When TJK gets out of school, we are hitting the open road and heading south about 10 hours or so and camping out in the mountains.

Now come on,  you know me. I don't do camping, nor it's fancified sister, glamping. We are renting a "cabin" in the Blue Ridge Mountains, complete with hot tub, fireplace, pool table, and 3 bedrooms. It has ginormous windows on the side that overlooks the woods (and hopefully the changing leaves), and a large deck where we can sit and admire the view. Apparently, we are stopping along the way for some cave exploring, but I am mostly looking forward to eating at some good restaurants, doing some shopping, and checking out some good breweries. We'll bring some growlers back to the cabin, pour a pint, and hop in the hot tub. This is the exact vacation I need right now (minus the 10 hour drive) - nice and relaxing, peaceful, no drama.

Work has been hellish for me and Hubby, and TJK has been having some tough days at school. Yesterday in particular was hard for her - not the school work, but just coping with the changes 6th grade can bring. So I am hopeful that a vacation away from it all will recharge us.

There's nothing like getting away from life to recharge your batteries.

Monday, November 02, 2015

2016 Travel Plans

Again I feel the need to map out some travel plans for 2016, so I'm taking to this here blog to get some ideas out:

  • Portugal
  • European cruise (would love something in the south of France/Morocco...or something in South America instead?)
  • Dublin to Shannon via the North (vs the South route we took the last time)
  • Maybe a long weekend to the Exumas in the Bahamas for Spring Break
  • Maybe a long weekend/5 day trip to San Diego

And then Summer 2017 will be maybe a 2 week (maybe 10 day?) trip with M&S to Paris and perhaps elsewhere in France.

Doggie Dilemma

So here's the thing about no longer having a dog.

It has made life so much easier, and yet so much lonelier.

We can now pick up and go out, at any time, for any length of time, without having to worry about coming back to let Gypsy out lest he pee on the floor. We can go away for the weekend (as we are doing this coming weekend - yay!) without having to get someone to stay at the house to watch him, and then have to spend time cleaning the house and changing sheets and doing all the prep work for someone to stay at the house, in addition to packing and prepping to go away. That part of it really kicks ass, because we are very spontaneous and we love to go out. My husband is particularly happy that our lives have changed in this way, and I am enjoying the freedom it has given us.


There is still not a day that I come into my house and don't expect to be nearly licked to death by my dog, even though he has been gone for a couple of months now. There isn't a time when I sit on the couch to watch tv and I don't look to call him up to lay with/on me. There isn't an occasion when I cook and drop crumbs and don't expect the dog to eat them before they hit the floor.

On Saturday night, we were over at a friend's house celebrating Halloween. It was post-trick-or-treating, and the kids were trading candy and playing while the adults sat around and talked and had drinks. My friend's daughter came up and sat on my lap at one point and told me I was her favorite person in my family...then my husband, and then my daughter (probably because my daughter is older and doesn't always want to let her play with the older kids). Then she corrected herself - I was first, followed by Gypsy, and then hubby and then TJK. Ugh, she didn't know Gypsy had died because she hadn't been over in a while. I choked back a sob and didn't even have the heart to tell her that Gypsy was gone.

Everywhere we go, we see dogs. Everyone in our neighborhood has dogs, and we live right next to a huge park so everyone walks their dogs past our house. And I basically want to roll around on the ground and cuddle and/or wrestle with every single one. And then I just want a dog so badly again. I want a boxer. Or maybe a bulldog. Or another pittie, a white one with black markings. Or a little chi-chi dog like a yorkie or shitzu that I can put in my Louis Vuitton bag and carry with me everywhere. Or any dog, really. An ugly dog will do just fine because even the ugly ones are still cute.

And I know my husband would never go for it. At the end of Gypsy's life, he was the one getting up 10 times a night to let him out and still stepping in a puddle of pee the next morning. And honestly, it was really hard for me at the end, too. Gypsy couldn't hear and could barely see. He had accidents every day, usually multiple times per day. He walked sideways because his balance was off. He couldn't walk down the stairs anymore, and our house is full of staircases. He couldn't jump up on the couch by himself so you'd have to hoist him - and he was 65 pounds. And then, of course, there was the very end, which was so difficult and so awful and I never want to go through it again.

And that, honestly, is why I will probably never have a dog again. I love dogs so much and love having them as pets/family members...but they don't live forever and I can't deal with that again.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Not One of the Guys

So here's the thing about being "one of the guys" - you never really are. They still look at you as the cool girl who likes football and beer, or the cool girl who can tell dirty jokes, or the cool girl who can talk to you about your problems with girls and give you solid advice without being lecture-y or annoying, or the cool girl who finds great memes. You are still not one of the guys.

C has a little texting group and it's all guys plus me. They make jokes about sex and society and all of that, and I'm in on the joke. They include me because I don't take life too seriously (except on this blog where I take everything way too seriously....maybe because I vent here, I can keep my seriousness at bay the rest of the time?).

So the other night, C is complaining about his ex, A. He was telling us about a big argument they had and how awful she is. Honestly, I think he is the one doing something wrong, but I don't judge. It's not my life, and he's a grown man who has to make his own decisions. I didn't express this on this group text - all I said was that it was probably best to unfriend A on Facebook so that she wouldn't see his every move on there.

So everyone is commenting back and forth, basically saying that A should mind her own business and that A is wrong for making life unpleasant by expressing her opinion on something that had to do with their daughter, when my husband says, "Yeah, women suck!" then follows up with, "Oh, sorry, didn't realize you were on this feed, TJG" which yes, of course you did and you were just trying to be cute. I replied "Oh, sorry, didn't realize I just threw out the dinner I made for you, K" (really, a very, very tame comment because I would never emasculate him in front of the boys, as I certainly could have) and then all hell broke loose. Then come the "bitches be crazy" memes and the "feminists are evil - TJG and A are both feminists so they stick together" comments (how was I sticking with A, exactly???) and "TJG, you need to be more of a TJG right now and less of an A" and on and on and on.

What. The. Fuck.

This just showed me that despite probably being on the thread for a year with these guys, joking about everything and being considered one of the guys, they all still went after me (and have never done so with each other) based on my being a woman. The bitch and feminist comments were just so out of line - and what can you say back? At a point like that, if you fight back, it just proves their point. In fact, after that one single comment I made, someone said, "TJG was all, how can I prove the point?"

So basically, I'm, just done. I can't be part of something where as long as I play by their rules, I'm cool but as soon as I disrupt their boycode, I'm a bitch. No thank you.

Then, on top of that, when C wants real advice and wants to talk things through for real, who does he contact? Me. Off line with the boys, he forwarded all of A's emails to me so he could get my take and ask for advice. Which really just proves the point, doesn't it? I'm not one of the boys. I'm a woman with a woman's patience and understanding and ability to give sound advice. When you want to bust balls, you do it with that group. When you want a real conversation, you come to me. However, when we are on that busting-balls thread, you think you can tear me to shreds too? Nope. Not happening.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A PostScript to Yesterday's Post

It's become even clearer to me that my kid takes after me.

Without going into all the details, she sucks at homework. She is smart as a whip and tests way above her grade level (she tests at the high school level in math and english) but can't seem to get her homework or projects done. THIS IS ME, 100%.

I was forever getting the comment "does not work up to her potential" on my report cards, because while they knew I was smart, school was not my priority. My friends were. Boys were. Music and good times were. It's the same with TJK. So smart but doesn't care all that much about the work. She wants good grades, but I think that's more to please us than herself. Grammar School TJK is Grammar School TJG.

I don't get the comparisons with my sister, who was very focused on her grades, always did her assignments, always studied, always did well. And I think that's what annoys me. My parents see my kid as smart so she's like my sister. Can they not see that it might be offensive to me that they attribute my kid's smarts to her aunt instead of her mom?

Next time this comes up, I'm addressing it. Because obviously, it's bothering me more than it should.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pretty Smart

I'm pretty much using this as a place to vent about things that annoy me, so here's the next one on my list.

My kid is really awesome. Everyone says so, and not just the people who *have* to say so. She happens to be really, really smart and impresses us regularly with her intelligence.

I happen to be pretty smart as well. I didn't get good grades in high school because A) I was lazy about school work and B) boys. But I was always smart, and when I went to college, I got great grades. I've proven my intelligence through my career and through the fact that I can have an intelligent conversation about just about anything.

Anyway, every time my daughter shows her smarts (getting good grades, making a logical point, fashioning an advanced argument for her position on something), my parents say "Oh, you take after Aunt K!" as if none of her intelligence could have possibly come from me.

This all goes pretty deep. Growing up, K was the smart one and I was the pretty one...even though I was smart too, and K was pretty, too. It did some damage to my sister and me - although I think more to her than to me - and my parents are aware that they screwed up by categorizing us this way. So now, to hear my parents comment on my daughter's intelligence and still make it a compliment on my sister's's really annoying.

I wonder if, as my niece grows up and is beautiful (which, of course she will!), will they say "Oh, she takes after her Aunt TJG!"???

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Random Complaint of the Day

I am going to randomly complain about something that drives me crazy.

So you are just a general internet moron, right, going about your business of chatting with other internet morons about stuff that no one but you and the other morons care about. And that's easy to ignore, because WTF-ever, most people pay no mind to people like you. But then, you start in. You comment on this one's weight. You comment on that one's hair. You comment on this one's clothing. You comment that that one is too old to post pictures of themselves in clothes like that.

And then, you comment about how women should stop using editing software because everyone can tell that they used it. Um, okay, what now?

Are imperfect people just not supposed to ever post pictures of themselves? What makes you the arbiter or what is acceptable to post? Is it just what offends your particular aesthetic, and if so, how should people go about learning what your aesthetic is so we don't incur your wrath for having the gall to post pictures of ourselves?

Now this isn't personal to me. I am just speaking for all imperfect people on the internet. I am confident enough (in my appearance and overall) to let these kinds of comments roll off my back if they were directed towards me. This is just a pet peeve of mine, particularly as a woman, because I feel like we should be lifting each other up and not tearing each other down. But look, people are mean and dumb and we just have to ignore them.

But it's really Part Two of this complaint that makes me the craziest.

As you are ripping people to shreds (as bullies are wont to do), your grammar is atrocious. Your spelling is nearly unreadable. You are grown-ass and yet still write like a 13-year-old from 2005 texts So here you are, tearing someone down for their looks while you are showing how stupid you are.

"Y r U soooo ugly postin picx of urself like dat? Way 2 old 4 a bikkini lollll"

Really? If a thought like that goes through your head at any point of  your life, you are the last person who should be criticizing anything about anyone, ever. Take a good hard look at who you are and how you live, and then just try shutting the fuck up and fixing yourself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Rant About How Much Red Robin Sucks

I've never been a big fan of Red Robin (as a non-burger eater) but having a child, we go there more often than I'd like. We went there more often when she was little because it's generally loud in there, so if your kid acts up it's no biggie because 80 other kids are acting up too. This makes it an *awesome* place for adults to go! (I hope you sense the sarcasm there).

We hadn't been there in some time (probably close to a year) so when TJK requested it the other night, I couldn't really argue. So off we went. It was a Monday night so the place was pretty empty, which was good for the screaming-kids front. Our waitress came over pretty quickly and took drink orders. Great. She then told us to use the tablet on the table to order our appetizers. Say what, now?

The devil.
I've been to other chain restaurants that have tabletop tablets so you can pay your bill from there (and/or have your kid beg you through the whole meal to pay for games for her to play, despite the fact that she has her own iphone...but I digress). But having to order our own meal from a computer? That just seems to be to be a step too far.

But we went along. We tried ordering some kind of appetizer combo thingee with boneless wings and pretzel bites. It didn't work. So we had to call the waitress over, and rather than just being able to write down our order, she had to order it on the tablet. She had a hard time figuring out what to do to order the combo as well. Ugh. She finally figured it out, and then she took our order herself for our main meal.

I ordered a chicken sandwich. The chicken was rubbery and the bun was stale. Not my idea of a good meal, and I'm pretty easygoing when it comes to fast service places like this.

After the meal, TJK begged for something called Fruffles or something like that. We looked and looked for the waitress but she was nowhere to be found. We decided to take advantage of the tablet and ordered the Fruffles on there. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes go by. No Fruffles. Twenty five, thirty minutes, and we are looking for the server like crazy. We finally find her and ask her to just cancel the goddamned Fruffles - we were sick of waiting. Just take them off the check.

She goes to the kitchen and we can hear her yelling, "What happened to the Fruffles!?!?" Now, had we ordered them directly through her, she would have known we ordered something and would have followed up on them. But in this case, we ordered through the tablet and she was unaware that we had any items outstanding from the kitchen.

We go to pay the bill on the tablet, which is fine. I truly don't mind that because when I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. I don't like waiting for the server to come and give the bill and come back to get the card and come back to drop it off. But then, on the tablet, which has taken our order through most of the meal, it recommends that we give a 20% tip. Seriously? I'm tipping a server 20% when the tablet did most of the work? Makes no sense to me.

I get that the tablet on the table puts the power in the customers' hands, supposedly. But to me, all it did was disengage the server and keep us waiting longer than we should have. Honestly, after this experience, I don't think we will be back to Red Robin. I feel like when I go out to eat, even if it is a "fast sit down" type of restaurant, someone should take my order and make sure it gets to me.

That's my spoiled brat review of my shitty experience at Red Robin.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Well, the Devils beat the Rangers on Sunday, which is always amazing. Then the Giants lost to the Eagles last night, which is always sucky. And of course, the Yankees season is over and has been for some time. So now I'm left wondering if I root for the Mets because they are my husband's team, or if I root for the Cubs because A) who isn't rooting for the Cubbies? and B) they are my next husband's team (Eddie Vedder, of course).
I went to the NY Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago with my girlfriends and bought a beautiful Frida Kahlo-inspired necklace. I'm wearing it today for the first time and getting so many compliments on it. Glad I splurged on something I loved.
Only two weeks till we hit the road for Asheville! I can't wait. I'm all in for the craft beer and mountains and huge cabin house (complete with 3 bedrooms and a fireplace and a game room with a pool table!), but I'm so excited to go to their Friday night drum circle. It just sounds like a weird, local, hippie thing to do and I'm all about it.
Totally obsessed with The Walking Dead this season. Its only been two episodes but they have been so good. I don't get why there has been so little Daryl, but at least we got Carol back this week and she kicked serious ass. Love this show!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Divorce's Casualties

Spent a great weekend with my cousin and his daughter. We went apple picking and to wineries for hard cider and to beer gardens and brewpubs and just all over upstate NY, wherever good times were to be had. I love weekends like this, out in the cool, crisp fall air, wearing my finest autumn clothes (camel-colored sweater with like-colored tall leather boots and, of course, a badass cape).

My cousin is divorced from his wife, with whom I used to be pretty close. We've traveled all over Europe together and also to the Dominican Republic, and I felt like we had a kinship. I felt like she was a long lost sister of mine, really.

I don't know what went wrong in their marriage, but when their relationship soured, so did mine and hers. I don't dislike her; I have no ill feelings towards her at all, really. Things didn't work out for them for whatever reason and that's too bad, but it happens.

The thing about me is that when something bad happens to someone I love, I close ranks. My cousin was very surprised and hurt by her instigation of the divorce, so I am all in for him. Ride or die. I only know his side of the story, and I'm well aware that she probably has a good reason for her actions. But she never reached out to me to talk or to explain or to get advice, and I didn't reach out to see how she was doing or what she felt or if she needed my shoulder. I guess that's what divorce breeds when it comes to families.

On weekends like this, I feel bad for her. I'm out with her daughter, watching her bond like crazy with my daughter, watching them develop what appears to be a lifelong friendship, and she is missing that. They smile and laugh and sing and run around together and it's just about the most precious thing I've ever seen.
Cousins/Godsisters under a perfect autumn sky.
My cousin and I both post the pictures on Facebook and I know she sees (we are still FB friends, although I'm not sure why). I put myself in her place, and I know I would just be overcome with the sadness of missing out on so much. And truth be told - I wish she were there. I wish it could be the 6 of us - two couples and our kids - out having a fun time together. In fact, my cousin was telling me how she told her mother "You should meet Sizzle and TrueJerseyGirl, they are so much fun!" and his wife had to say, "Yes, I know them, honey." More evidence that her kid is having all these good times and making memories without her. I don't know how you deal with that.

Divorce ends so many things, not just the marriage. It ends friendships, too. And that's really sad for all involved.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Lady and Her Bag(s)

But first...It's funny that I used to write on this here blog and people would actually read it and comment, and that due to my writing, I was asked to be on Wife Swap (the original version - I was never a blogging celebrity) when they were looking for crazy, zany wives who like to party! Now, no one reads this and I feel ok about it. It's become somewhat of a repository for random shit I think of during my day, a place where I don't have to worry about pleasing anyone or hurting anyone's feelings. I kind of like that.
I saw someone on Twitter complaining about a woman who spent $700 or $800 on a purse. The comment was something like, "Why would you spend that much on a purse? I'd have bought food or clothes or something!" I hate this mentality.

I have been very successful in my life. I went to college and studied hard. When I graduated, I was a temporary worker. Then a secretary. Then an HR Assistant (basically, a glorified secretary). I went back to school to advance my studies in my area of expertise. And I was promoted and promoted and promoted. And I have worked my ass off and put up with a lot of shit to get where I am today, with the salary I am making. I am proud of myself, and with good reason. I've earned every penny I have made. And that gives me the right to spend it however I want. My family has food, clothing, a fully-paid-off house, three fully-paid-off cars, numerous vacation each year. My daughter has everything she could possibly want. We have a good savings plan and a college fund for TJK. So tell me this - why does it offend when I want to buy something nice for myself? Is it just jealousy? Do people make those comments because they wish they could buy that Louis Vuitton or Gucci too, but since they can't, they cast it as a negative and as something "frivolous"?

My husband also works very hard. He is in a very different job than I am - his is very physical where mine is mental - but we both work hard and earn very good money for what we do. I don't recall anyone telling him it was wasteful or stupid to buy a motorcycle, and then every accessory to go with it. But somehow, when a woman buys an expensive bag, it's a sin. Why is that? Why are we made to feel that the things we enjoy are silly?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Today's Playlist

  1. Mene, Brand New
  2. Drown, Bring Me The Horizon
  3. Everlong, The Color Morale
  4. Love is Blindness, Jack White
  5. Hard To Imagine, Pearl Jam
  6. I Bought My Eyes, Ty Segal Band
  7. Something From Nothing, Foo Fighters
  8. A Deep Slow Panic, AFI
  9. Chandelier (Piano Version), Sia
  10. Left of Center, Suzanne Vega
Note: When the song Chandelier came out, all I could do was sing in my worst voice "the chan-DA- LIIIEEEEERRRRR!!!" I thought it was really pretty annoying, even if the singer's voice was good. Then I heard the piano version and while I still sing that part in my worst voice (because it's truly the only voice  I've got), I started to love it. I looked up the lyrics and really fell in love because it seemed to actually suit me pretty well:

Party girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down
I'm the one "for a good time call"
Phone's blowin' up, ringing my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love...
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist...
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night
Feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Last Night's Democratic Debate

Last night was the first debate for the candidates for Democratic nominee for President. Everyone who knows me at all knows that I will be voting for one of these people - the Republicans can't come close to putting together anything that I could support. So while I watched the RNC debates for the sheer entertainment value, I watched the DNC debate to see who I will support for President of the United States of America.

Firstly, just on the debate itself, wasn't it nice to watch adults talk about serious issues like adults? There was no circus, no badmouthing each other, no ugliness. No denial of science. No talk of whether any of the candidates heard god speaking to them about running. Just a debate about solutions. They disagreed but were never nasty to each other, and they made me proud to be a Democrat.

So now, to the candidates and where I stood before and after.

Throughout the campaigns thus far, I have been torn between Hillary and Bernie. I was hoping that the debate would clear that up for me. One thing that quickly became clear was that there is no other candidate currently in the race who would get my vote. Webb: too cantankerous, too whiny, too Dixiecrat, too much like a Republican. Chaffee: too wishy-washy, too weak, too many excuses for bad votes ("it was my first day and my dad just died" is the new "the dog ate my homework"). O'Malley: too reserved, too docile, too soft. The thing I will say for O'Malley is that in my mind, he has to get a little spicier but then he could be set up for another run down the road. And hell if he doesn't look presidential! With the three of them, I didn't really get a feel for why any of them want to be President or why they were running. They either had no passion, or misplaced passion ("I am not getting as much time as everyone else" is not the most passionate thing I want to hear from your face).

So, it's Bernie and Hillary. I've long supported Hillary, for lots of reasons. Some have to do with her qualifications (which are ginormous), some have to do with her being a woman and really wanting a smart and qualified woman to get into the White House, and some have to do with her having put in enough time standing behind Bill to now get her own chance. I did leave her for Obama in 2008, which was a really hard decision to make but one I would make again if I felt it was right for the country. Last night, I thought Hillary looked presidential, confident, comfortable, and smart. Plus, she was funny and personable, which is something she struggles with. I thought she kicked ass in the debate. I still worry about her changing her mind and position for political reasons. It's fine to change your mind based on new information (which we all should do), but I worry that she does it as the wind blows right or left. That concerns me. but she is such a smart and capable woman who understands politics from every angle and seems like she would know how to get things done.

When I heard Bernie was running, I was excited. A true liberal! An *unapologetic* liberal! Woohoo! And I am still excited after watching him last night. My concerns with him are his electability and his single-minded focus on the poor/middle class. It's great to be from a liberal state and understand what Democratic Socialism is and know that it's not the devil seeping in to make us all communists or some other crooked thinking. I just wonder if he is the nominee, how many uneducated voters would simply not vote for him because he is a "Socialist"? As Anderson Cooper said, the attack ads write themselves. If people can be convinced that Obama is a socialist and hate him for it, what will they do with a man who labels himself as a socialist? And while I agree with all he says about focusing on the poor and middle class, I am concerned that it's all he has to offer. I'm afraid the debate last night didn't convince me otherwise. But here's the thing - I love his honesty. I love his forthrightness. I love that I totally believe every single word that comes out of his mouth. It's so rare in politics to have someone reach this level and still be true to themselves.

The thing that stands out to me is that the thing I love about Bernie is the thing I worry about in Hillary. He is sincere and honest and you never doubt his word. She is so political that you're never sure if she is speaking from the heart or if it's a political move. And then, the thing I love about Hillary is her political savvy and knowledge of the system, and that's one thing I think Bernie lacks as an overall candidate.

I looked at last night's debate as a way to clear things up in my mind, to help me decide who would better represent me as a candidate and eventual President. I don't think it cleared anything for me. I still like everything I liked about Bernie and still have the same concerns about him...and the same goes for Hillary.

The good news is that whichever becomes the eventual nominee (and eventual President, knock wood), I will be happy to support them.Clinton/Sanders 2016!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tween Friendships

It's hard to know what to do when your daughter is friends with someone, so you became friends with the mom, and now the girls are no longer friends but you are still friends with the mom. It's also really hard to figure out what I'm trying to say in that sentence.

TJK has been friends with Sam since kindergarten. Sam lives right around the corner and they walk and ride bikes to each other's houses and have sleepovers and hang out nearly every day. Well, they used to.

Now, TJK is not so fond of Sam anymore, and from what she told me, I can understand why. Sam is kind of whiny and she cries over everything and overreacts and storms off - basically, she is full of tantrums and that gets old, especially when you are nearly 12. They aren't little kids anymore. They are on the cusp of being teenagers and that kind of behavior can get annoying really quickly.

TJK has lots of other friends. Now, instead of going to Sam's, she is hanging out with any one of 8 or 10 other girls. So while I noticed she was no longer hanging out with Sam, I wasn't too worried because she is still surrounded by friends and isn't longing for her friendship with Sam. But Sam's mom emailed me yesterday, asking for help.

Sam doesn't have a lot of other friends. In fact, last year her mom told me that TJK was her only friend (and TJK acknowledged this and said that was one of the main reasons she hung out with her - she felt bad). So her mom is looking for me to help build a bridge between the girls, which I get because hers is suffering and it sucks to watch your kid suffer.

But TJK is good. She is fine with not hanging out with Sam anymore. She sees her in school and that's enough for her. I talked it all through with her last night and she has actually given it thought and weighed her options and taken the time to look at the entirety of their friendship...and based on what she has experienced, she has decided it's not worth it anymore.

Sam's mom told me that Sam is seeing a therapist. She seems to be a very sensitive kid who has just a small handful of friends who she holds up to nearly impossible standards, and then feels disappointed and angry when they can't meet those standards. TJK feels that she has been a really good friend to Sam - comforting her continuously when she gets sad or has a tantrum - and Sam doesn't seem to appreciate it. I can't blame TJK for saying "that's it, I've had enough."

But, when I'm friends with Sam's mom and I see her struggling and in pain because her daughter is struggling and in pain, it's hard to know how to guide TJK. I want to value and trust her opinions and decisions about who she wants to be friends with (and reinforce the idea that she gets to decide who is in and out of her life - she doesn't have to stay in relationships that make her feel bad or sad). But I also want her to be able to have compassion for her friend who is going through a rough time, and cut her some slack. That balance is not so easy, because tweens can be painfully black-and-white without seeing the many shades of grey.

So I'm going to see Sam's mom tonight, and we will talk and try to come up with a solution that helps her daughter while not hurting mine. And then, if the attempt does not work, we will see if she and I can remain friends when my kid wants nothing to do with hers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Like-Minded But Still Unique"

I went to the New York Botanical Garden with two of my girlfriends on Saturday. It's shocking to think I have never been there when it's right in the Bronx and so close to home, but it's true. It was really beautiful - peaceful. serene, relaxing. We went for the Frida Kahlo exhibit, which was nice. They had only 14 of her paintings there, so that part was kind of a disappointment. But in the conservatory, they had a whole exhibit of plants that are indigenous to Mexico and which you would see in Frida's garden as well as her paintings. I thought that was very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What struck me most about the day was just spending time with these particular friends. I have really only had one friend throughout my life who loves art and museums, and that's Jose. He and I generally head into the city once or twice a year to catch something at MOMA or some weird exhibit he has found in SOHO or something.

Finding out that these two friends of mine, who are fairly new friends made over the past couple of years, are art geeks too made me so happy. Making plans for this day was so easy and it all just fell together.

Louise picked Shari and I up at my house, dropping their daughters off to play with mine. As we drove to the Bronx, we talked about everything. These ladies don't hold back. I told them my niece was being baptized the next day, and that led us into a talk about religion. Louise plainly and matter-of-factly said, "Well, I don't believe in God so I didn't have my daughter baptized." She never even paused to consider whether we would think this was blasphemy or that she was the devil and we'd no longer allow our girls to play with hers. She just said it, because it's who she is. And she knew that she was speaking to two other strong-minded women who respect other's opinions and cultures, so even if we didn't agree with her, we would accept what she had said and not judge. Of course, Shari and I both went on to say that we did not believe in God either, but we did baptize our girls. It led to a wonderful discussion of religion and the world and America where we shared ideas and opinions and had a wonderfully civil conversation.

Later on, we ate lunch outside at the Gardens - tacos and Mexican beer from the food truck, there to support the Frida exhibit. We talked about family, men, marriage, children, dreams, race, gender, fears, aspirations...all in such a grown up and mature way. And on the ride home, we continued with the talks, and then back at my house we talked some more,

After we went our separate ways, I sent them a text saying that I had such a good time and thanking them for joining me (along with sending them some selfies we took). Louise replied that we needed to do more fun grown-up stuff together, and Shari replied with the title of this post - that she was so happy to have friends who are so like-minded but yet still so unique. I thought to myself, what more could you want?

It's really all you can hope for in a friend: someone who thinks in the same way you do, but who is true to herself and is her own person. I feel so lucky to have these two ladies in my life.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Recharge, Reset, Restart

I am in a total funk at work. Well, that's not completely true. In my location, I am totally crushing it. I have been on my game with employee relations, with coaching, and with organizational strategy. I know, this stuff is super glamorous, right? Whatever, I'm good at it.

Where I'm struggling is with my boss. We seem to be like oil and water and I don't know how to fix it. Our personalities just don't mesh well, and she does not appreciate me or what I do or what I accomplish or even what my location does as a whole. At least that is the feeling I get from her.

It makes me not want to be here anymore. I love my co-workers, I love the company, I love the work I do here. But I don't do well with feeling stressed every single time I have to talk to her because I don't know how she is going to react to me. I'm too old to be all jacked up whenever a call with her is on the horizon.

I make a good living, though. And I have a slight purse/shoe/clothing/jewelry addiction. And I love the fact that I can travel pretty much wherever and stay in whatever hotel I want. I don't want to give up the sweet life which I have worked hard to achieve.

I was thinking last night about my passions. Like, if I didn't have to work for the money, what would I do? Where are my talents? What do I enjoy? What would I choose to do in my free time?

- travel
- fashion
- feminism
- craft beer
- music
- problem solving/mediating

Now if only I could find a job where I could solve people's problems whilst in Paris wearing Louboutins, Russian River beer in hand as I fight The Man to the tune of Fugazi's Suggestion.


Monday, September 28, 2015


  • Still missing my puppy every time I pull up to the house and he's not at the window to greet me.
  • Raging at work right now...someone has crossed me in the most unprofessional way, and I feel like my hands are tied in the way I can approach it. I do not like this feeling, because I feel like it's something I am going to just have to "get over" rather than being able to "crush someone" in retaliation.
  • Had a great date night with the hubby the other night...went to the biergarten in Hoboken and drank lots of good German beer, then had a nice dinner out, then came home and watched Pearl Jam kill it at the concert in Central Park. We had so much fun...just hung out and talked and just made a really nice night of it (TJK was at a bday party and sleepover, so we had the night to ourselves.)
  • Went out to a sports bar/restaurant on Sunday with TJK and Hubby to watch the Steelers game. It's hard to be a Giants fan surrounded by these terrible-towel-waving people, but at least I don't hate the Steelers and can root for them most weeks. Although it's really hard to root for any team with a rapist as a starting quarterback and a dog torturer as a backup. So yeah, there's that. #GoGiants
  • I used to never be able to sleep. Then, I started to be able to sleep and it was awesome. And now I am back to not sleeping. I think it might be the work stuff invading my brain when I am trying to drift off.
  • Randomly decided to go to Maine this coming weekend. For no reason at all - just to go away and forget about real life for a bit. I can't wait to hit up every single craft beer joint up there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Travel Plans and Hopes and Dreams

We are *almost* done traveling for 2015. Just one more road trip coming up, which is going to be out of my comfort zone a bit. We are going to the Carolinas to stay in a cabin in the woods. Now, when I say "cabin" please don't misunderstand me. I found a cabin with a huge wall of windows looking out over the mountains, a pool table in it's game room, and a  hot tub. All just for me, Hubby, and TJK. I'm looking forward to it, just from the standpoint of getting away and relaxing. That's in November...and then we have nothing planned going forward. I HATE that. I need travel to look forward to.

To recap 2015, we went to:

  • San Antonio
  • Vermont
  • Philly (more of a weekend away, but still)
  • London
  • Liverpool
  • Iceland
  • Ohio for the Football Hall of Fame inductions
  • Bahamas
  • Mexico (Cozumel and Costa Maya)
  • The Carolinas
Some places I would really love to look into going in 2016:
  • Portugal
  • Budapest
  • Istanbul/Cappadocia, Turkey
  • South American cruise
  • Northern Ireland (Dublin across the north to Galway)
  • Cuba
  • San Diego (one of my favorite places ever)
  • Napa Valley with the 'Bombs
  • New Orleans
  • Quebec Ice Hotel
  • European cruise (Spain to the south of France, or the Greek Islands)
  • Hawaii
  • Pittsburgh (to take TJK to a Steelers game)
  • The Exhumas in the Bahamas (to swim with pigs!)
Obviously there is no way we can hit all of these, but I always like to make a wish list and then wherever we don't get next year, we can consider for the following year.

And a couple of longer-term ideas for perhaps 2017:
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Norway cruise
  • Paris and Giverny with TJK, Hubby, Shar, and Momo
  • Scotland
And for 2018, which is a big wedding anniversary for us, so I'm hoping to do it big:
  • African safari
  • Hawaii  (if we don't get there before, since our honeymoon was there and I'd love to show it all to TJK)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bad Things Happen In Threes

I am still devastated over the loss of my dog. It's been three weeks, and I am still crying at the drop of a hat. I know three weeks isn't too long, but I thought I would have regained some semblance of composure by now.

My cleaning lady was at my house when I got home from work yesterday, and she started talking about Gypsy and what a good dog he was - that he would follow her around the house and lie down in whatever room she was cleaning, and how quiet the house is now without him. And then I started crying and she teared up too. She said, "This is why I hate them; they break your heart." And I agreed. She hugged me and then I cried a little more, and then when she left, I took out Gypsy's ashes, still in the pretty little shopping bag that they came in. I took the beautifully carved wooden box out of the bag and held it for a minute. I looked around, trying to find the right place to put the box so it would be a memory, but not a morbid memory, for me to see as I walked through the house. I cried again, and said aloud, "I'M NOT READY! I'M NOT READY!" to no one, because I was all alone. I put the ashes back in the pretty bag and put them back on the dining room table.

I am not ready. I am not ready to have the wooden box on display. I'm not ready to see it every day. I am just not ready.

I still expect to see him every day when I come into the house. I still expect to give him scraps while I cook and to have him begging for my meal once it's served. I still want to give him all the shreds of cheese left on the plate when I grate it for dinner. I still shut the door behind me when I answer the door so he won't get out. I still have the constant wonder of where he is because it's been a while since I saw him. I still feel sad when I get up to go to the bathroom and he isn't under my feet, following me and tripping me up because he is so close.
My best friend called me last Monday. Her dog, Maizey, had taken a turn for the worse. She had been at the vet since the previous Friday, and was not getting better. They were trying one more thing, one hail Mary to try to save her, but if it didn't work, they were going to have to put Maizey to sleep the next day.

The treatment they tried didn't work, and Maizey died last Tuesday.

Talking to my bestie about it, I was just overcome. Completely overcome. I tried to be there for her, and I hope I was, but I was still in my own head about my own dog. We cried together, because that is what best friends do.
Last night, I got a text from my mom telling me that my sister's cat was very ill and that my sis was taking him to the vet and it wasn't looking good. They think he got a blood clot and he took a sudden and painful decline.

After 16+ years with Connor, they had to put him to sleep. And again, my heart broke...and not just for my sister. I am still struggling with my own loss and having these losses on top of just doesn't seem fair.
I'm a pragmatic person so I don't believe in any kind of life after death - I think that's something we tell ourselves to make us feel better when we lose someone. Right now, I would give almost anything to be one of those people who says "he's in a better place" or "he's in doggie heaven" or "he went over the rainbow bridge and he's running around with all the other puppies." That would be so nice right now.