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.