Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Things That Happened in 2010

Inspired by Arleen's blog post recapping her 2010, I thought I'd be a copy-cat and do the same. So grab a cup of coffee, or a stiff drink, or just bypass the mixer altogether and grab the nearest bottle of booze, and join me as we take a journey down memory lane. 2010...let's see if I can even find ten things worth writing about!

1. I visited New York City for the first time.

I've been obsessed with New York since I was in the fourth grade. You know how I can pinpoint the exact grade I was in? My obsession was synonymous with my goal to become a writer, and when I was in the fourth grade, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. At first, the fixation was purely logistical: most of the major publishing houses were in New York, so it just made sense to move there at some point to get my writing career off the ground. It wasn't until I got older (and with the help of Sex and the City) that I realized what a cool town New York City actually was.

So why did it take me so long to visit? The usual crap: no money to travel, travel plans falling through, yadda, yadda, yadda. This year, it finally happened. Ever since she visited the city on her high school senior class trip, my sister has always wanted to go back, and this year was the perfect time to go because this was the year she turned 21. Since you only turn 21 once, why not do it with some flair and celebrate in one of the coolest cities in the world? So in March, we packed our bags and headed for the Big Apple.

It was a fun trip. We saw Wicked, got lost a few times, toured Central Park, reconnected with our inner children at the BADASS TOYS 'R US IN TIMES SQUARE, and Laura didn't get carded one damn time. I want to go back. And I still haven't given up on my dream of becoming a writer or moving there.

Laura (left) and I at Top of the Rock

Times Square, holla!

2. I visited southern California for the first time.

This is a bit of a fallacy, actually. I was born in Orange, California, but my family moved to Florida when I was a year old, so I don't remember going to places like Griffith's Observatory the first time around. Since I don't remember it, it doesn't count, so I consider this trip my first visit to Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Back in July, my friend, Meagan, and her husband, Edwin, moved to Pasadena because Edwin was offered a job at Caltech. Prior to that, they lived in Tallahassee, which was only a mere four hours north of Tampa. I've known Meagan since we were thirteen, and considering that the farthest we've ever lived apart during our friendship was four hours, I was a little bummed that they would be moving across the country. The silver lining, however, was that it would give me the opportunity to explore southern California when I visited them, so in October I flew out west as a a birthday present to myself.

I. LOVE. SOUTHERN. CALIFORNIA. Honestly, I didn't think I would like it all that much. I had preconceived notions that all the people there were stuck-up and plastic and that L.A. wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I'm glad I was wrong. The people I interacted with were actually friendlier than the people in Tampa, and we went to so many cool places (including Griffith's Observatory). One of the highlights? Seeing the Journey star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame IN THE FLESH.

Yeah, that's me with the Journey star. Jealous?

Even though I haven't given up on my dream of living in New York, after this trip, I now want to live in Pasadena and/or L.A. I face a conundrum of sorts: is it possible to live in two awesomely cool cities in one's lifetime? Guess I'll have to get started on my whole, "Marry Curtis Stone Plan" to find out (because if I married him, I could actually afford to live in both places--maybe Australia, too!).

3. I got a dog.

Back in August, my sister gave me Ava, a one and-a-half (now two)-year old, eleven-pound miniature schnauzer. The arrangement started out rocky, but we've made some breakthroughs and now I can't imagine not having her. I won't go into a whole diatribe about how she has enriched my life and how I'm not quite as selfish as I used to be since I got her, so I will just say this: she is bitchin'. And cute.

4. I completed Apartment Fivers.

2010 saw me finish my manuscript for Apartment Fivers, a novel about my friends, roommates and experiences in college. (The title is a nickname I gave to my roommates and to myself because we lived in Apartment 5. Yay, creativity!) It was a labor of love four years in the making. I still have to go back and edit it, but the hardest part is over with, in my opinion. Hopefully, 2011 will see me complete it for good and send it to agents.

5. Lover of Many, Father of None turned a year old.

I'm just surprised that a bullshit blog about Steve Perry has lasted for as long as it has--and that my reservoir of ridiculousness has not dried up. I started the blog in March of last year out of complete boredom and it's still going strong. Normally, my projects (writing or otherwise) don't get beyond the idea phase, or if they do, they fizzle out incredibly quickly. Not so with this one. This blog has been a blast to write, and I intend on keeping it up until I stop believin'. (See what I did there?)

6. My bad theme park karma continued.

When I say "bad theme park karma," I mean it in the best possible way. Honestly, I do. The little quirks I encounter at theme parks only serve to make the trips much more memorable, and I hope this "bad karma" doesn't run out. 2009 saw me projectile vomit at the Magic Kingdom, and in 2010 the hits kept on comin'. I'm talking getting stuck on rides and vomiting on rides, people! Good stuff!

7. I got a promotion at work.

I still don't know what the hell I do, but I got a pay increase, so that's pretty awesome.

8. I got my very first taste of the coolest blues club ever.

I first visited the Bradfordville Blues Club during this excursion with Meagan and Edwin, and immediately fell in love. The BBC is the kind of place people write songs about. It's literally a little shack at the end of this long dirt road in north Florida, off the beaten path, and it has the best live blues music you will ever hear. It's the kind of place where you make friends with people on the dance floor, and where the musicians are up close and personal. Oh, and it also has bonfires.

As 2010 was coming to a close, I found myself in a social rut. I wanted to expand my social circle and try new things, but still wound up doing the same. Exact. Activities. My friend Ali mentioned Events and Adventures, I looked into it, and ended up joining. It's a social club for singles and it has something going on literally every day. Last week I went to an icebreaker event for new members, and tomorrow I'm going to a New Year's Eve party at a restaurant downtown, a restaurant I've always wanted to try but never got around to it. I've met a few nice people already at the icebreaker event, and I'm excited to see how many more I will meet, and how many stories I will come away with in 2011.

10. I started reviewing coffee shops for

I started writing for because I thought it would give me good exposure; however, I reaped an additional benefit that I didn't count on: it opened me up to meeting new people. Because of this gig, I met Dave and Susan Ward of Buddy Brew Coffee, as well as other coffee bloggers and enthusiasts. I got to try out new cafes and chat with the people that worked in them. I've tasted amazing coffee and stumbled upon a whole subculture that I never would have known about had it not been for this gig. It's been good to me, and I can't wait to see what will happen next year.

Well, would you look at that! Looks like I did find ten things worth writing about! And you know what? Looking back, 2010 was a pretty amazing year. 2011, you have big shoes to fill.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joffrey's is Deliciously Quirky

New review is up. It's short and sweet and you should peep it out.

Joffrey's is deliciously quirky

I Have Committed Digital Suicide

Well, sort of. Last night, I digitally offed myself from both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Ever since social networking took off, I've heard opponents of it cite various reasons as to why they don't utilize it: it cheapens relationships ("digital" relationships don't fulfill you like real-life relationships do), it's not cognitively fulfilling (let's face it, it doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to read a status update that says, "OMG Buffy marathon is on!"), and it's the first step down a slippery slope that will eventually lead to an Orwellian society a la 1984. For me, those factors played but minor roles in my decision to deactivate my accounts. The thing that made me quit cold turkey? It's all a bunch of bullshit.

Seriously. It's bullshit. Advocates of social networking say that it helps you reconnect with long-lost friends and family members. Bullshit. The cold, hard, truth is that it helps you stalk people with whom you used to go to high school because you want to see who turned out fat or bald before the ten-year reunion rolls around. Most of my Facebook "friends" were people whose lives I was curious about. I "reconnected" with high school classmates because I wanted to see what they looked like now or if they were pregnant, not because I was genuinely hoping to rekindle old friendships. Hell, I wasn't friends with most of them in high school! Why would I be friends with them now? The ones I honestly cared about keeping in touch with after we graduated I have. And you know how many that was? Two. Out of the entire Taylor County High School class of 2002 that was just shy of 200 people. Same thing goes for college classmates. Before I deactivated my Facebook account, I had 105 friends. Out of that amount, the people who I considered my actual friends numbered around 20 or so. The rest were people I wanted to digitally spy on.

Advocates of social networking say that sites like Twitter and Facebook can help you promote your blog, your business or your cause. Bullshit. Ever since promoting this blog, my Steve Perry blog and my Examiner stories on those sites, I saw no explosion in site visitors. To date, I've earned a whopping $7 on, an amount I probably would have earned regardless of whether I posted a link to Twitter or not. And I've had that account since spring of this year. Out of all three, my Steve Perry blog gets the most visitors, but I don't think it's because I shared it on Facebook. Judging from the reader emails I get, people either hear about it via word of mouth or they stumble across it as a result of a Google search. Facebook and Twitter played very minuscule roles, if they were even involved at all.

Advocates of social networking seem to ignore this fact, but most of the information on Facebook and Twitter is a bunch of mundane bullshit. Logging on and seeing status updates that were a bunch of emo song lyrics, or that were cryptic and said something along the lines of, "SOME people need to check themselves before they open their mouths" were starting to take its toll on me. I started to actually hate people and their exhibitionism, and what was worse was that I was no better. I figured that if most of what people posted online was frivolous and boring, I was no exception.

Advocates of social networking also seem to ignore the fact that reading through mundane bullshit and creeping on strangers' profiles day after day isn't fulfilling. My life wasn't enriched after I saw a friend of a friend's wedding picture or someone commented on a photo I uploaded. It wasn't enriched when someone happened to change their status to lyrics from a Passion Pit song. I didn't see anything spectacular on an old high school classmate's profile. Facebook and Twitter didn't add anything to my life, so I sure as hell am not losing anything by quitting them. For the past six years, I've wasted countless hours on a task that ultimately didn't benefit me in any way, and I'm tired of it. I'm about to embark on a new year, and it's time I got off my lazy ass and worked harder on making and maintaining real world friendships instead of letting a computer do it for me. It's time I finally buckled down and organized my bank statements and bills instead of getting distracted by Facebook. It's time I finally proof-read my manuscript instead of reading someone's "Note" about their 15 favorite albums. It's time I started doing something to enrich my life and well-being.

My online presence isn't gone for good. I'm done with Facebook and Twitter, but I'll still be writing for and keeping up with my blogs. I still have email and Gchat and Google Reader. I still have my BlackBerry. Most importantly, I have the phone numbers and email addresses of people who are actually my friends, and they have mine. Maybe now I can devote more time to having actual conversations with them instead of finding out information on a profile. Maybe now I can get back to being real.

Edit: I have since re-opened both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, blah blah blah.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Theme Park Karma Strikes Again!

I have an interesting history with theme parks. At first I thought the randomness/weirdness was limited only to Disney (see here and here for examples of what I'm talking about), but on Saturday, I discovered that it extended to Universal's Islands of Adventure as well.

I love theme park rides, but I've always had this fear of getting stuck on one, particularly during a part in which I'm hanging upside down, going down a steep hill, going up a steep hill, or at the top of the highest part of the ride. So when my friend Arleen and I got stuck on the Jurassic Park river ride, I was a little concerned. To be fair, the ride is pretty calm, the most exciting part being the drop at the end, but what had me worried was that it stopped a few feet before we dropped. I automatically assumed it was experiencing technical difficulties, and was a little uneasy at having to go through with the drop after it just broke down. I mean, what's to stop it from breaking down again while we're in mid free fall? I could just imagine the scenario: going over the edge and being in that moment where you experience a bit of weightlessness, your heart jumping into your throat. All of a sudden, there's a loud SCREEECH! and the ride comes to a jolting stop, slamming you forward into your lap bar. You get the wind knocked out of you, and find yourself staring straight down to the bottom of the pool, feeling like you're going to fall out of your seat, and white-knuckle the lap bar like it's the only thing separating you from death.

Okay. That might sound a little far-fetched, but still. I wasn't looking forward to going down a drop right after the ride had just (presumably) broken down. Being the awesome friend that I am, I couldn't keep these worries all to myself; I had to bring someone else into my world of irrational fear. So I voiced my concerns to Arleen, whose face then clouded over with anguish as she considered possibilities that had never even crossed her mind before I opened my pie hole.

Luckily, when the ride started back up after about thirty seconds or so, we went over the drop without any problems, and continued our theme park journey. It was at The Hulk roller coaster where we got another surprise. It was our second ride on that coaster and we were in the second row. We had just boarded and were about to buckle up, when the employees manning the ride told us we had to get off briefly. Turns out there was a "Code 5" (hand to God, they used that phrase), which meant that someone puked in the first row. Not only was the puker in the first row, he (or she) was in the seat directly in front of Arleen. We frantically checked our clothes for any sign that we had sat in splash-back, and watched as workers cleaned up the first row, filling a whole trash bag with Code 5. We held our breaths to see if they and their cleaning equipment would migrate to where we had been sitting, but luckily our row was bypassed. However, we still had to sit out that particular trip while the first two rows aired out.

Theme park karma. Gotta love it. Until next time...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Need Your Vote!

What do I want for Christmas this year? Your "like." Seriously. I entered a writing contest in which I had to make up a fake Christmas movie and then write a review of said movie. The winner gets a movie poster of their movie, money, and some other crap. I should mention that my movie stars Dolph Lundgren, so if you want to see this glorious bastard on a movie poster, please "like" it! The three entries with the most Facebook "likes" automatically get added to the shortlist. And if you're in the spirit of giving and want to give (see what I did there?) this link to a friend so they can vote, I'd be much obliged. Thanks!

Click Here to vote.

P.S. If I win, you can bet your sweet bippy I will post pictures of the movie poster. It will be glorious.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Awhile back, I noticed a phenomenon happening where I work: people who were working on the first floor of my building would walk to the second floor solely to use the bathroom. I came up with a theory that they were doing it because they needed to poop, but today I found out the actual reason, which is way more random and awesome than my theory: the first floor bathroom is too cold for them to take their pants off in.

That's right! The decreased temperature makes the toilet bowls too cold to sit on, so they migrate up to the second floor to use the bathroom. I like this line of reasoning better than the one I came up with.

P.S. Thank you to Taylor for getting to the bottom of things! She is officially The Second Floor Mystery Solver.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adventures With Ava

Every time I take my dog for a walk, I'm really not sure what to expect. I love Ava, but she is really a very quirky dog, and nowhere is this more exemplified than her interaction with humans and other dogs.

Ava thinks every person was put on Earth solely to pet her and generally show her love and affection. Give her a minute of attention, and she will be your new BFF. This is generally not a problem, except when we go on our walks and encounter complete strangers. Whenever she sees an oncoming human, she first stops, dead in her tracks, and observes them for a few seconds, almost as if she's making sure that yes, that is a real live human coming toward her. Once she verifies the human's authenticity, she goes from 0 to 60 in .01 seconds. She bursts forth and starts fighting against the restraint of her leash, frantically trying to run and clamor her way toward the target. Meanwhile, I'm having a mini panic attack at the thought of my dog intruding on the stranger's personal boundaries and inciting an awkward conversation that goes a little something like this:

Stranger: (to Ava) Well, hello there! (reaches down to pet Ava, who is lapping up the attention like the cuddle-whore that she is) You are just so cute!

Me: Say, "Thank you!" (immediately feels stupid that I told a canine, who can neither understand nor speak English, to say "thank you" like I would a toddler)

Stranger: (still petting Ava) How old is she?

Me: (still wallowing in my shame over the whole "thank you" bit) She just turned two.

Stranger: Well, she is adorable. (still petting my dog)

Me: Thank you. (uncomfortable moment is then shared between me and the stranger as we both contemplate how to end this interaction)

Me: have a good day! (desperately tries to wrangle Ava away as she clamors toward the retreating stranger)

It gets even more awkward when the approaching stranger has no desire to pet my dog, and just wants to continue his or her stroll or jog uninterrupted. When I still had her on the retractable leash, it was difficult to get her out of the line of fire, and there was many a time people nearly tripped over her when she would go into her, "Love me! Love me!" attack. It was pretty embarrassing, encasing me in an envelope of shame that would last the duration of our walk.

It gets even more interesting when we approach a complete stranger who also has a dog. As Ava doesn't care too much for dogs, but loves the shit out of humans, she is caught in a personal conflict: does she try to establish herself as the dominant one, or should she just bypass the other dog altogether and go straight for the human? She makes the decision to do both, and ends up darting forward, then backwards, toward the other dog, then the human, growling, and then whining because she is both confused and sad that the stranger is not petting her. Again, I'm trying to wrangle her back while shame and embarrassment engulf me.

Going on a walk with Ava is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Fantasy White Trash Wedding

Before you continue reading, I should direct you to this post on my Steve Perry blog, more specifically, to the edit at the end of the entry, as that is the only part that relates to that which I am about to write. You can skip the rest of the crap if you're pressed for time or are too lazy to read two entire blog posts.

Awhile ago, my friend Taylor introduced me to the genius that is Rob Dyrdek. Several "Fantasy Factory" episodes and a couple of "Rob and Big" marathons later, I have decided that I will someday marry him. He's hilarious and doesn't take himself too seriously and hello--he has a whole warehouse dedicated specifically to whimsy and flights of fancy! Who wouldn't want to marry him?

This fantasy has never been well-constructed, as I never really thought out what kind of wedding ceremony we'd have beyond it being at the Fantasy Factory, namely because I'd get distracted by "Jersey Shore" or Tic Tacs or something and direct my attention elsewhere. But earlier today, when Taylor was giving me shit for not including Rob in my list of potential sugar daddies on Lover of Many, Father of None (I feel like an asshole, but I'm linking to it anyway), we managed to flesh-out a ceremony that was so white trash and fabulous that I'm already disappointed at the fact that my actual future hypothetical wedding ceremony will probably be classier and not nearly as epic. Here goes:

The wedding would be held at The Fantasy Factory. Taylor, who is a notary, will be officiating a la Joey in "Friends" (yeah, yeah, I know it's in Spanish, but a) everybody pretty much has already seen this scene with maybe the exception of people who are stranded on a desert island/in a cave/on a mountain/live in Perry and b) all you really need to see is that Joey is marrying Monica and Chandler). She is also wearing a crazy costume just like Joey, although whether or not it's a war getup is completely up to her. Rob would be dressed as Bobby Light and I would be dressed as Mrs. Claus since Rob is the Sugar Daddy Santa Claus. Except I would be a sexy, young Mrs. Claus because I am sure he wouldn't be turned on by a grandmotherly-type figure, as that would be weird and off-putting. Bobby Light, Steve Perry and Chanel would all collaborate on a song called, "Dirty Girl pt. 3: Dirty Girl Gets Married" just for the occasion. The reception afterward would be filled with fun, frivolity and sweet skateboarding. It would pretty much be the best wedding in the history of weddings.

Like I said, I'm so excited at how my fake wedding would go down that I'm already disappointed in my hypothetical real one: the ceremony would be a boring Catholic Mass and the reception afterwards will feature songs that have been played at every other wedding: the Electric Slide, the Cha-Cha Slide and Celine Dion's and Mariah Carey's entire song catalogs. There would be no Bobby Light. Or skateboards. Or Steve Perry. BORRRRIIIINNNGGG!

Taylor did guarantee that if I hired her on as my wedding planner, she would make sure that I would get a white trash wedding that's comparable to my Fantasy Factory fake one, and I plan to hold her to that. She said that we couldn't use the internet for any sort of planning since it's a fad and won't likely be around too much longer and that we could invite people via a mass text. Sounds like the beginning of a fabulous white trash wedding to me!

Sweet Shoe Deal

So I don't really know what to blog about, as most of the ideas I've had involve writing about my work, and I don't really want to discuss my daytime gig here. So instead, I'll throw up this picture of these sweet shoes I got from Ross this weekend for $17.

My friend Ali and I went shopping Sunday with the intent of buying work clothes (pants for me, an outfit for her), but we got distracted and, in my case, buying shoes is a lot more fun than buying boring ol' work pants. AND I can wear the shoes at work, so I still win.

Next weekend: a pedicure, both as a birthday treat to myself AND so I can rock these with pretty toes!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Dog is Socially Awkward

I didn't want to accept it at first, but after today's excursion to the dog park, making it the fourth excursion since I've gotten Ava, I have no choice but to admit that she's socially awkward around other dogs. In all honesty, I was expecting a little social awkwardness when I first got her. My sister never took her out in public a lot when she owned her, so I knew she was bound to be a little anxious around other members of her own kind. I witnessed this firsthand the first weekend I had her. I met my friend AA and her little Dotson, Rammy, at the dog park, and Ava's behavior was akin to that weird kid in kindergarten who never played with the other kids and instead preferred to sit in the corner and eat dried glue off the carpet. Rammy would try to engage in play; Ava would whimper and run off to a far area of the park where she was perfectly content to sniff the ground. Multiple times during the visit, while Rammy and the other dogs would be frolicking together, my friend would ask, "Where's Ava?" and we would see her standing off by herself, staring into space. It was disheartening, but I was confident that the more I took her out, the more she would get used to other dogs, eventually out-growing her social awkwardness.

Last week, I thought we had made a breakthrough, as she actually played with another little dog. It was only for a short time, as the little dog's owners had to leave, but there was actually playtime occurring. Not only that, but she wasn't as terrified of the bigger dogs like she used to be. Sure, she was still like, "WTF is going on?" when they would come up, but instead of trying to hide behind my legs, she would at least stay still while they sniffed her butt and reciprocate the process. I never thought I would be so excited to see my dog willingly sniff another dog's ass. I was encouraged. The next time we went to the dog park, I was sure she would be cured and engage with the others like a real dog.

Eh, not so much. I wouldn't say she's regressing, but I also don't think she'll make any more progress. During today's visit, she explored the park, but wouldn't engage with the other dogs other than to sniff butts and call it a day. I have to think that maybe she just isn't a dog park kind of girl, but there's another part of me that refuses to give up, like a father who doesn't want to accept that his son would rather write emo poetry than play sports. So I will continue to listen to the part of me that's mired in denial and continue to take her to the dog park in the hopes that one day she'll meet at least one dog that she'll voluntarily play with. I'll love her no matter what her quirks are, but I can't yet accept the fact that I'm the owner of the dog equivalent of "that kid" in kindergarten.

Photographic evidence of Ava's social awkwardness: watching the other dogs and owners play while standing as far away as humanly possible.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Sister is Adopted

Just kidding, she really isn't. But when she was around ten years old, I managed to convince her that she was. I was sitting outside on the porch of our parents' house, trying to read, and she was annoying me. I don't remember what, exactly, she was doing that annoyed me, but back then, it didn't take much. Just her mere presence was enough to drive me bat-shit crazy sometimes. So as a joke, I decided to tell her she was adopted, but my intention wasn't to take it as far as I did. It was originally supposed to go something like this:

Laura: (doing annoying things)
Me: Stop it, you're annoying me.
Laura: (doing even more annoying things to annoy me further)
Me: There's no way we're related. You must be adopted.
Laura: Tee-hee-hee! No I'm not! (does more annoying things then runs away, her job done)

It was supposed to be done in an it's-obvious-I'm-messing-with-you kind of way, but that message must have gotten lost in the multitude of synapses on the way to my brain, because here's what happened instead:

Laura: (doing annoying things)
Me: Stop it, you're annoying me.
Laura: (doing even more annoying things to annoy me further)
Me: You know you're adopted, right?
Laura: No I'm not. (efforts are re-doubled in annoying me)
Me: Yes you are. Why do you think there aren't as many pictures of you as a baby as there are of me?*
Laura: (stops doing annoying things) Because. They just didn't take as many pictures of me, I guess. (goes back to doing annoying things)
Me: It's because those are the only pictures the adoption agency had.
Laura: (stops doing annoying things entirely and is wavering between belief and disbelief) You're lying.
Me: No I'm not. You're adopted.
Laura: (clearly doubting the legitimacy of her status in our family) If I go ask Mom, she'll say I'm not adopted.
Me: If you're so sure you're not adopted, then why do you need to go and ask Mom if you are?
Laura: (goes into the house to ask Mom)

It was supposed to end there. She would ask Mom if she were adopted, Mom would tell her she wasn't, I could go back to reading, and she would leave me alone. Instead, I heard my mom calling for me a minute or so later: "Sarah, come in here."

Crap. I was going to get in trouble, and this issue wasn't even worth getting into trouble over. It seemed harmless enough. Older siblings mess with their younger counterparts all the time! If I'd had a quarter for every joke I played on Laura before this particular instance, I would have had enough money to pay for my college tuition. Reluctantly, I walked into the house and to the kitchen where my mom was standing with Laura, and got something I hadn't bargained for:

Me: What?
Mom: I thought we agreed that we wouldn't tell Laura she was adopted until she was older.

I was stunned. Mom was playing along? This was better than I expected! I was still completely caught off-guard, so all I could manage to choke out was, "I'm sorry," but it was enough. Laura's doubts had been confirmed, and, faced with a major revelation her ten year-old mind wasn't equipped to handle, she did the only thing she could do: she burst into tears. It was loud, and woke up my father, who had been asleep in my parents' bedroom (he worked midnights at FDLE back then). Pissed that he had been awakened from his slumber, he demanded to know what was going on. My sister ran to him, and between sobs, informed him that I told her she was adopted. I sure as hell wasn't going to go down alone, so I quickly pointed at mom and said, "Hey, Mom helped too!" Poor Pops had to do damage control. After calming Laura down and reassuring her that she was a 100% legit member of our household, he gave me and Mom a stern talking-to ("You should have known better," blah blah blah) while we attempted to put on our most sobering facial expressions, and finally went back to bed.

I wish I could say I felt remorse for this particular joke, but I don't. I actually consider it a pretty impressive feat that I was able to convince someone who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she wasn't adopted that she was. That takes some mad powers of persuasion. And don't worry about my sister. She didn't suffer any sort of emotional or mental trauma from this incident, and today we get along swimmingly and are the best of friends.

*There are plenty of pictures of my sister as a baby, and for those of you who know us, one look at her will tell you there is absolutely NO WAY she is adopted. No way. We look too much alike. But being the first-born, my parents went picture crazy and there is literally an entire album of me doing nothing except being a baby in various scenarios: in my playpen, in the bathtub, in mom or dad's arms. If you put the pictures together, in order, and flip through them, it would probably be an animation of me. It was a tad overkill. They learned their lesson, so when Laura came around, they only took a few key photos and that was it. So where I have piles and piles of useless photos, Laura might have less, but they are all worth saving.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Awkward Moments With Mom

I love my mom. She doesn't put up with anybody's crap, she tries to do her best by me and my sister, and she never makes me do the dishes after a meal when I visit, even though I offer. However, when I lived at home, she had the uncanny ability to watch the most awkward television shows and movies with me, and it drove me crazy.

The first instance occurred when she decided to watch an episode of Dawson's Creek with me. During my freshman year of high school, I was big into Dawson's Creek. On Wednesday nights, I couldn't wait to come home from church youth group, curl up on the couch, and get lost in the lives of Joey, Dawson, Pacey, and the whorish girl for an hour. Growing up, there was only one television set in our house, and it was located in the living room, so whenever you decided to tune into your favorite show, you had to accept the fact that somebody else might join you. However, I thought Dawson's Creek was exempt from this unwritten rule, because normally my parents would hang out in their room (not having sex, you pervs), my sister would be in hers (trying to dance like Jennifer Lopez), and I would have DC all to myself. But one night, my mom, curious as to what the hype was all about, decided to watch an episode with me. I was pissed. I had been waiting all week for my DC time, and I didn't want my mom to tarnish it with her parental judgement.

As my luck would have it, the one time she decided to watch it with me, the episode was about sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. That's pretty much all they talked about for the entire hour. Being fifteen years old and watching a TV show about sex with your mom is mortifying. I didn't look at her one time. I just prayed that maybe a miracle would happen, like when they would start talking about sex, she would think they were talking about jai alai. It could happen. God could do anything. That's what we were told in church youth group. Unfortunately, God did not perform a miracle and Mom was well-aware that the DC kids were talking about sex. After the episode was over, she announced that it wasn't an appropriate TV show for me to watch, and Dawson's Creek was banned in our household, leaving me no choice but to ride my bike over to my friend Dawn's house and watch it there.

After the Dawson's Creek incident, not only would my mom continue to watch awkward programming with me, she started to comment on the uncomfortable parts as well. One night during an episode of ER, a scene came on where Noah Wylie's character was having sex with his girlfriend. You couldn't really see anything, just shadows, but you could hear it, and I was hoping that the scene would end before Mom had a chance to say something. No dice. She chimed in, "Wow, they didn't leave much to the imagination as to what they're doing, huh?" I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. This time, however, she did not ban me from watching ER, a decision in which the underlying logic eludes me to this day. She was oh-so-offended by the DC kids talking about sex, but other than the uncomfortable moment we shared, she didn't seem bothered by that scene in ER. I think it was because ER was one of her favorite shows, and to ban it meant she wouldn't be able to watch it either.

After I graduated from high school, I got a job at the poor man's Blockbuster, also known as Movie Gallery. One of the perks of employment was free rentals, so one night I brought home The Good Girl, a movie I had been wanting to see for some time. My mom wanted to see it too, so it didn't surprise me that when I went to watch it, she took her customary place on the love seat to join me. Around the middle of the movie, a sex scene between Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal came on, and even though I was eighteen, a college freshman, had a part-time job, and was a voting citizen, I still had to fight the urge to bury my face in my hands and telepathically will my mom to go away. Mom, however, stayed put and decided to do her part to make the situation even more suicide-inducing than it already was by chiming in with her never-failing commentary: "Wow, they're really going at it, huh?" Judging by the heat I felt in my face, I knew it was as red as a tomato, and I sat through the rest of the movie wrapped in a blanket of unease and anxiety, worried at what else she would say.

I love my mom, and when I have children of my own someday, I hope to be half as good to them as she is to me and Laura. But when the day comes where I am watching a movie or some TV with my kids and a dubious scene comes on, I'm just going to stare straight ahead, not say a word, not make eye contact, and pretend it's jai alai.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ava's New Toy

I'd always assumed Ava was one of those dogs that never played with toys. I never saw her play with any of her toys when she lived with my sister, and she hasn't played with any of her toys since she moved in with me. I figured she was the type to play with humans or other dogs, but when it came to toys, she just wasn't interested. And then I found out that, yes, she does play with toys, but not necessarily the type you'd expect.

It dawned on me earlier tonight, when I came out of the shower to find Ava chewing on the shoelaces of one of my shoes. I thought back to the other times I'd find something in her mouth that wasn't supposed to be there: old tissue out of the trash can, a sock, a clump of hair (gross, I know). I realized that out of all those things, socks seemed to be her favorite, so I rooted around in a dresser drawer, pulled out an old sock that I never wear, and gave it to her. Bingo. She accepted the sock with the same amount of zeal other dogs accept a Kong toy filled with frozen peanut butter. She ran around the apartment with it in her mouth. She shook it from side to side, play-growling. She would drop it, run a few feet away, look at it, and then run back full-force and attack it. Never mind the other toys in her entertainment arsenal: Socky is now her new (and only) favorite toy. Talk about low maintenance. Who would have thought that the one thing to keep her entertained was something I had in my drawer all along?

Ava and Socky. Note the discarded toy off to the side.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Musings

Exactly what the title says, boos.

1. I read somewhere that authors of music blogs can get press passes to concerts. I don't think it's for big acts like Dave Matthews Band or John Mayer, but still--there are plenty of awesome smaller bands that put on a good show. I briefly flirted with the idea of starting my own music blog to test out this theory, but, sadly, I'm not really "in" with the indie music crowd, as most of what I listen to is of the same caliber as Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. Therefore, my blog would suck. I also doubt they give out press passes to any Joe Schmo with a free Blogger account and a love of music--you probably have to be affiliated with a name, like Rolling Stone or Spin or something.

2. Speaking of music, I always thought being a musician would be cool. Namely because musicians get to travel and say, "I'm playing a gig" seriously. I think I would be an awesome musician--I love to travel, and think doing so all the time would be so much fun, like a great adventure, and I would always talk about gigs--playing them, going to them, what have you. I just like the word "gig," to be honest, and am sad that I can't use it in conversations seriously or more often. Sometimes I try to think of my day job as my daytime gig, but that just sounds stupid and then I feel foolish. But if I were a musician, I really would be doing gigs all the time.

Unfortunately, being a musician requires having some sort of musical talent, of which I have none. I used to sing in the youth choir at my church when I was in high school, but my voice was average; I played the saxophone from 7th grade through the fall semester of sophomore year of high school, but I was average at that, too. Actually, if I had kept it up and hadn't switched to a number 3 reed (which makes playing low notes next to impossible--for me, anyway), and hadn't been apathetic when it came to practicing, I might have been okay. I can't say for sure. Playing music is such a weird concept, as it's both creative and technical, and I don't think my brain can handle both at the same time. Back when I played regularly, (and even now, when I pick it up from time to time), I just played notes on the page, which I think is different than actually playing music. Music has feeling, it has soul, it's a living thing, but notes on a page are just that--notes on a page.

I remember when I first started playing the saxophone. I was riding home with my dad from band practice, and declared that my new life goal was to be a jazz musician. My dad responded something to the effect of, "Don't give up on writing." Even he knew then that music probably wasn't a realistic option for me. :-)

3. Despite not having any musical talent (or the desire to make music for music's sake), I have stumbled upon a loophole where I could reap the benefits of being a musician without actually having to have a lot of talent. Mumford & Sons has a song called "Winter Winds" that features a horn section. The horn part doesn't look to be all that hard, so my sax and I could easily blend in. Bonus: since the horns are loud, my poor playing would be completely drowned out! The song would still sound good and I would get to travel with the band and talk about gigs! It's a win-win! Now all I have to do is go over to the UK, meet the band (perhaps at one of their gigs) and convince them to let me be part of the horn section. Easy peasy.

4. Gig. Gig, gig, gig, gig.

That is all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Blast From the Past

I've been writing since the fourth grade. Most of it is crap, with the rare exception. During high school, I dabbled in poetry, which resulted in an extremely embarrassing collection of terrible poems. I didn't really know what I was doing, and didn't bother with methods like iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets or haiku. As egotistical as it sounds, I honestly thought I was just naturally gifted, and proudly passed around my creations for my friends to read and admire.
During the latter part of high school, I was also a crazy huge Dave Matthews Band fan, thanks to my friend M, and the both of us harbored this crush on Dave that some might label (with good reason) just a tad bit obsessive. It was just a matter of time, then, that my love of writing bad poetry and my obsessive love of Dave Matthews would collide to form the emo pile of mush I call this poem (by the way, I typed this straight from my journal--no editing):

Catholic Prince (for Dave :-) ): A poem of prose and passion

Come to me, my Catholic Prince,

In the shadows of the night with the moon full and bright.

Creep silently up to my window and sing me a tune;

Sweep me off my feet with your sweet, lilting voice.

Come to my room, my Catholic Prince,

Take me into your arms and whisper softly into my ear

The things this girl has long wanted to hear.

Press me close to your chest, where your heartbeat I'll feel,

Trace your fingers along my cheek and down my neck,

Press your lips against mine and run your fingers through my hair.

Time has stopped; all I see is you, all I feel is you, all I want is you.

Let's make memories, writings on the wall,

Just for tonight, don't think, don't talk.

And when the morning comes, silently you'll go;

But when falls the dark, come you once more,

To take me back to that world where time stands still,

And all there is, is you.

--Sarah Van Blaricum

August 2, 2001

There are number of things wrong with this poem, not the least of which is the fact that I thought Dave was Catholic for some reason (turns out he was raised Quaker or something--my bad!) and that we were obviously on a first name basis with each other (in my head, which is sad). It also reads like something a crazy obsessed Twilight fan would write, provided there was a vampire who was Catholic and who could sing. I would also like to point out that, despite what you may think after reading this, I did have friends in high school, was a happy person and did not clothe myself in all black and do grave rubbings on Halloween or Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. And as embarrassing as this poem is, I'm publishing it on here because I think it's funny as hell, written during the days when I was charmingly pretentious (I like to think so anyway).

Don't fucking judge me. :-)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, or know me personally, you would know that I recently inherited a mini schnauzer. You would also know that the first couple of weeks of my having her were quite the adjustment periods--for the both of us. The first week I was an absolute basket case, getting overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed out incredibly easily. I also didn't go to the gym that entire first week either, which is something I do on a regular basis, because I was terrified to leave the apartment, since she had this habit of barking whenever I left. The second week was a bit better, I wasn't as much of a basket case, although still a bit stressed, and I went to the gym twice--however, I was a straight-up hermit Saturday and Sunday because a) I had no plans and b) I was still stressed over leaving the apartment. Well, kids, I'm proud to say that this week--week three--has been a lot better.

First of all, I stopped stressing out over her barking. I was just over it. Secondly, I had to face the fact that if I wanted her to get over her anxiety at me leaving, I would have to actually leave the apartment. So I went back to my regular gym schedule, and took each time I left as a training opportunity. With the help of my friend A (who also had the same problem with her lab), I had a system that I was using to work with her to overcome her separation anxiety, and today we had a major breakthrough: when I left to go to work and heard her start to bark, I simply rapped on my bedroom window a few times (I keep her crated in my bedroom when I'm not home) and gave the command for her to be quiet. And she got quiet. And she stayed quiet. And I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The magic replicated itself when I left to go to the gym after work: she barked, I rapped on the window, she got quiet, and I did a celebratory fist pump.

This was the first week I was able to truly enjoy my dog. Not gonna lie, those first two weeks I contemplated giving her back to my sister, but I'm really glad I stuck it out, because the progress I'm seeing makes all the hard work and tears worth it. I also had a really good group of friends who were dog owners and encouraged me to stick it out and offered tips, their support and stories of their own. So to A, AA, Taylor, and Carrie--thanks for the support and for putting up with my crazy.

Not gonna lie, I'm feeling like a rock star. :-)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Letter to Mumford & Sons

Hey guys,

I'll just cut out all the, "OMG I LOVE YOUR MUSIC IT CHANGED MY LIFE! XOXOXOXOXOX LOLOLOL!!!" bullshit and get right to it: please come to Florida. More specifically, please come to Tampa, Florida, because, quite frankly, your current U.S. tour dates are frigging breaking my heart. There can be only two reasons why you all are shying away from gracing this fair city with your awesome music: it's hot as Satan's balls and you're afraid of getting a sunburn. So let me address these concerns now.

1. It's hot as Satan's balls. I know. I deal with the weather every day. It's hot. It's muggy. You feel like you need a shower just walking from the store to your car. And I understand how this can be a deterrent from coming to the Sunshine State. But if you look at the heat as being sexy instead of being suffocating, it makes tolerating it, like, .01% better. AND you guys sweat anyway when you're on stage, so you've gotta be used to a little heat. And our stores, apartments, restaurants, places of businesses--you name it--are automatically equipped with air conditioning, so cooling off won't be a problem AND hello! It's effing Florida. We're surrounded on three sides by water. The beach is not that far away.

2. You're afraid of getting a sunburn. Look, you guys are based out of London, so it's safe to say you don't get a lot of sun. I'm sure there aren't a ton of Londoners who are all glowing and tan and smell of coconuts, and the thought of visiting a more tropical environment could be a little scary. I mean, your skin has probably never been fully acquainted with Mr. Sun and his Merry Men of UVA and UVB rays. I'm sure you're thinking you'll go up in flames the moment you step off the plane and into the Floridian environment! But I've got good news! See, you guys and me, we're kindred spirits, as I'm pasty white too! I've lived in Florida my whole life (not counting the first year where I lived in California, where I was born, but I don't really acknowledge that) and if I can survive the atmosphere, you can too. I am also well-equipped with SPF 100--100!--sunblock so I have your back. The sun and his rays won't even penetrate your delicate complexions when I'm through with you.

So now, you guys really have no excuse not to come to the Bay Area. I'll even go another step and suggest possible venues you guys could play at:

-Jannus Landing (This one is really fun; it's got an outdoor stage where you can drink beer and carry on. I saw Flogging Molly here a few years ago and it was a great show.)

-State Theatre (Indoor venue. Saw Blue Oyster Cult back in 2004. It was fun!)

-Ritz Ybor (Not gonna lie, this place looks hella sketchy on the outside but is really nice on the inside. The concert area has plenty of room for people to mill about and enjoy the music.)

So whaddya say? Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, COME DOWN HERE! Just look at the photo up top. That could be you and all the fun you could be having in Florida!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Screamer

In an earlier entry, I mentioned that I had a next door neighbor whom I nicknamed The Screamer. The nickname came about when one day, as I was watching television, I heard him yelling bloody murder at someone in his apartment. To give you an idea of just how loud he is, let me describe the set-up at my complex: I live in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. It's just the right size for me and Ava: not too big, not too small, just right. A wall AC/heat unit is enough to cool and heat the entire thing. With me so far?

So one day a few months ago I was watching television with the AC unit going (which makes a bit of noise, but not too much). Over both the noise of the wall unit and my television, I heard sporadic cursing, more specifically, sporadic use of the word fuck: "FUCK!...FUCKING!...FUCK!..." It was faint, as he was in his apartment, but it was there. Because I'm naturally a nosy person (although I prefer to be labeled as "naturally curious"), I muted my TV and turned off my AC, tip-toed to the door that was closest to where the screaming seemed to be coming from, and listened. I still couldn't make out all of the tirade except for a few of those F-bombs, and I wondered who was on the receiving end of his rage--I concluded that he must have been screaming at someone on the phone, since I never heard anyone fight back.

This surprised me, because I had actually met The Screamer about a month prior, and he seemed hella cool. He's British, and he and his family had moved in earlier this year due to job relocation (whether it was for his job or his wife's job, I don't know). He said they'd be in Tampa for the next four years and really liked Davis Island and would probably stay in the neighborhood the entire time. He was actually the first one of my neighbors I'd met personally (everybody pretty much keeps to themselves in my complex) and I liked him immediately--he was friendly and easy-going. Hearing him scream like that was pretty alarming--like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde switch--but I figured we all have a blow up every once in awhile and, other than telling a few friends because it was a little bizarre, didn't think much else of it.

Until the next time it happened, about a month and a half later. And then the time after that, which was a few weekends ago, which leads me to believe he has some anger issues. I mean, I get that we all blow up once in awhile--but three screamfests spaced months apart? That's not the occasional blow up; that calls for a trip to a counselor.

Sometimes, just for my own amusement, I like to make up back stories for people. I like to think The Screamer is really a stock broker and the reason for his tirades is because he lost a lot of money for a few of his major clients due to the incompetence of a person on his team--probably the new guy. My friend AA thinks that maybe he's part of the mob, and that he's threatening to put a hit on those that fail him. If he is part of the mob, then he's pretty sloppy, in my opinion--Don Corleone would never succumb to outright screaming. That's just not as classy or effective a solution as sneaking a couple of horse heads into a bed in the middle of the night.

One of these days, I really hope he takes his screaming outside, or at least to a room in his apartment that's not far away from mine. One of my guilty pleasures is watching other people's drama, and I don't think he'd disappoint. I just hope he doesn't give himself a heart attack first.

EDIT: I have since learned that The Screamer is actually Irish, bad. I'm terrible in identifying accents, unless they're stereotypical.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Seriously. I'm not even going to try to tie this all into one cohesive entry, it's that random. Gotta love the list format.

1. The other night I had a dream that the killer from the "No Country for Old Men" movie tried to kill me. That's right, folks--Javier Bardem, complete with pageboy haircut and his little doo-hickey thing he carries around (haven't seen the movie or read the book, sorry), was after me, as Anton Chigurh. He was sucking out the brains of my friends and family with his doo-hickey thing and every time he started to go after me, I would scream and run to the next place, watch him kill people I know, and then scream and run again as soon as he started for me. I don't remember the exact details of where this all took place, but he kept killing in very public, crowded places, which even in the dream I thought was a little odd.

2. Last night's dream was even weirder. Me and a few other girls had our pictures taken for a magazine, and when the pictures were developed, we handed them to this lady who was making critiques on them. I have no idea who she was, or why she was even critiquing them in the first place, but I do know that when she saw mine, she called me ugly. I told her to fuck off, and then Mike Rowe showed up and asked me why I was being all smart-mouthy. I told him it was because the lady was kind of a bitch and said I was ugly, and then he disappeared and I woke up.

3. I've hired a home-based dog trainer to get a jump-start on training Ava. RELIEF. (Even though I know I'm still freaking out unnecessarily.) We have our training session this Saturday, and it's through a company called Bark Busters. I found them via the IACP website and they have tons of good testimonials, a lot of which say that dogs improved even after the first session. I'm optimistic and can't wait to see how it goes.

4. Is it just me, or is it really annoying when you go to a website based in another country and try to look at some multimedia and you get the message, "This content is not available in your country?" I get a bit put off, to be honest. I mean, it's the internet--there should be no territorial boundaries online! Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the stupid thing? We're supposed to be connected, not turned away because we want to watch a video. Stupid.

That is all. Told you it was a random post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

This little lady is Ava, and she's the newest addition to my household. She's cute. She's good company. She's also a good challenge--at least, that's what I am telling myself.

Don't misunderstand me--Ava is a good little dog. She has a sweet disposition and she loves nothing better than cuddles and snuggling up next to me. It's just that she has a few unacceptable habits of which I'm trying to break her:

1. Alerting on everything. I keep reminding myself that she's only been with me for two days, so she's still not used to her surroundings. Every noise she hears outside causes her little ears to prick and her to growl, make a little gruff, or sometimes a bark. I've been working on this with her, and slowly, but surely, we're making progress. My method is to grab her snout and say, "SHHH!" and then praise her and give her treats when she's quiet. She's pretty receptive to this, although we've still got a ways to go. I also think some of it may be her testing my authority and seeing how much she can get away with. Just a few minutes ago, she made a little bark, with no provocation, and then looked at me as if to say, "Your move, counselor."

2. Socialization. She's not socialized. At least, not a lot, and this is evidenced by her being scared of other dogs when we encounter them on our walks, or other people. I've only had her for two days, but I can tell I've got my work cut out for me on this one. I felt like we took one step forward yesterday and two steps back today. My method to get her socialized is full immersion--walks around the block where she's bound to run into other animals or dogs, taking her on errands with me when I can, and tomorrow we're going to the Davis Island dog park after work, weather pending. Yesterday she did so well--didn't bark at anybody on our walks, and on our errand to Petsmart she was quiet once I got her in the cart and started walking around. I could tell she was a bit overwhelmed and scared, as it was a sensory overload, and she was shaking (which broke my heart), but she seemed to relax the more I petted her and told her she was being a good girl. And she let the Petsmart clerk pet her without any protest. When we got ready to go on our walk after work today, though, she barked bloody murder at a guy who was coming up the stairs as we were going down. The grabbing her snout trick and going "SHHHH!" didn't work--at all. I think the guy took me closing her snout as me trying to stop her from biting him, which wasn't the case at all, and he eventually walked to his apartment via an alternate route.

Later on our walk, we ran into a guy named Jeremiah who had two dogs, and this experience went a bit better. I could tell Ava was scared, but she didn't bark, and allowed the dogs to sniff her and she sniffed them back, even though a couple of times she tried to run away from them (didn't get very far, though, since she was on the leash). She did allow Jeremiah to pet her, and I explained that I just got her and we were working on socialization. He said she was a good dog, and said that the dog park was a good place to take her as well. After Jeremiah, we ran into an old guy who was walking his dog, Samson. I honestly couldn't tell whether Ava was scared or was trying to play with Samson (who was also a little dog--littler than Ava, in fact). I do know that she ran around the old man's legs, which had me frantically following her, trying to untangle the leashes. The old man was nice, but he and Samson did walk on the opposite side of the sidewalk after the leash untangling bit.

3. Separation anxiety. She barks for a minute or two after I leave, then settles and is quiet. It's not a huge problem, but out of all her traits, this is the one that bothers me the most, mainly because I don't want to annoy my neighbors. Yesterday when I was heading out the door, my next door neighbor, The Screamer, (look for a post on him later) came out and complained about her barking. I was nice and explained that I had just gotten her and that I was working on breaking her of her habit, but he just mumbled something about "if she carries on..." and walked back inside his apartment. Everybody I've talked to all have said the same thing: I shouldn't stress, her barking for a few minutes after I immediately leave isn't a big deal, and she's not doing it during inappropriate hours, like late at night. And it's a pet-friendly apartment, he knew that when he moved in, so he should expect to hear a dog bark once in awhile. I know they're right, and that's what I keep telling myself as we work on training, but it still makes me paranoid as all get-out. I freak myself out by imagining worst-case scenarios, like The Screamer rallying all his other friends I never knew he had in the complex and then the whole angry mob comes pounding on my door, demanding I get rid of my dog. Not unlike that scene in Beauty and the Beast where the mob demands to "kill the beast."

I know this one will take some time and I need to be patient, but I have started taking steps to get her more comfortable with me leaving, like putting her in her crate for a few minutes when I'm home and giving her treats through the bars so she'll begin to associate her crate with treats and not always with me leaving. Today after our walk we spent a few minutes going over my "getting ready to leave" routine up until putting her Kong toy in her crate, so she can begin to get used to it. Tomorrow after the dog park will be more of the same. Right now I'm listening to the CDs I play for her when I'm not home so she can get used to the music and not associate music with me leaving. As mentioned before, I bought her a Kong toy (recommended to me by all my other pet parent friends) which I stuff with peanut butter and freeze and give to her so she'll have something to work on while I'm not home. I also give it to her when I am home so she can figure it out, play with it and enjoy it so that when I do put it in her crate, hopefully she'll think "Kong time!" instead of, "Oh, no, she's leaving!" I've also tried to make leaving and coming home as low-key as possible, so she'll know they are not big events. It's a work in progress. We're only two days in; I know I have a long way to go.

4. Me. This one isn't one of her habits, but it does affect how she acts, I think. Quite simply, I need to chill out--big time. The process of training her has been a bit overwhelming, and I don't even have the extra stress of crate- and house-training her. Since I brought her home Sunday night, I have been in tears at some point every day from sheer panic, and my sister and several very understanding pet owner friends have been on the other end of my tear-filled neurotic venting. I know I need to stop worrying about my neighbors, stop getting overwhelmed and emotional and just focus on enjoying Ava and training her, but it's easier said than done. At one point today, I was sure I wasn't able to handle it, but luckily I had enough foresight to talk to my sister and my friend Taylor who talked me down from the ledge. I also understand that this is a transition period for Ava, too, and try to keep that in mind. She's probably had to make a bigger transition than me, considering that two days ago she was uprooted from everything she knew (my sister and her apartment) and forced into new surroundings. I know things will get better once we get used to each other and develop a routine, and I'm pretty sure I can probably smooth the entire process a little if I can just get it together, take the bull by the horns and focus on training her. This is a challenge, and I'm trying to look at it as a good one. In the end, I will have the patience of a saint, and Ava will be the best dog she can be.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Obsessed: Mumford and Sons

So my obsession with Mumford and Sons' song, "Little Lion Man" has escalated into an obsession with the whole damn band. Since Amazon is selling digital copies of their album Sigh No More for $5 during the month of August (thanks for the heads up, David!), I had to buy it, and have been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. ALL of the songs are good. I guess the sound is technically classified as folk rock (that's the description that I keep reading anyway), although to me, it sounds a bit Celtic--I think it's the mandolins and banjo. And the lyrics are some of the best I've heard in a long time:

"But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?"
--Little Lion Man

"But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck."
--The Cave

What I especially like about it is that the song material is a bit melancholy. Don't get me wrong, I love a good tune about butterflies and rainbows and love and puppies and kittens and all that good stuff, but there's something to be said about a band or a solo artist that can adequately capture the feeling of heartbreak and going through shit in life in general. Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows used to be able to do that before Rob Thomas started waxing philosophical and Adam Duritz did a song for one of the Shrek movies. God, I miss angry Rob Thomas and depressed Adam Duritz--let's hope Mumford and Sons retains at least some of its haunting sound as it makes more music. Although, not gonna lie, a rousing song about getting drunk in a pub somewhere does sound pretty appealing. Anyway, now I'm just thinking out loud and getting off subject, so let me wrap it up with this: Sigh No More is awesome, and I want to take the gents of Mumford and Sons out for tea. Except I don't drink tea, unless it's iced and cavity-inducing sweet, so we'd have to go to a coffee shop. But we could go to a coffee shop that also serves tea so it wouldn't be a complete culture shock for the guys. Alright, thinking out loud again. Bye.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts on Mary Poppins and Aerosmith

Earlier today (well, I guess technically it's yesterday now), I went to a Mary Poppins sing-along movie at the Tampa Theatre and then to an Aerosmith concert afterwards. Talk about extreme opposites. Anyway, as the title suggests, here are some of my thoughts on and observations of the two events.

Mary Poppins

1. Mary Poppins is kind of cocky. I never picked up on this as a kid, but watching it as an adult, it was the first thing I noticed. Girlfriend has an incredibly high opinion of herself. She constantly admires her image in the mirror throughout the movie and rigs that tape measure to say that she's "Practically Perfect in Every Way" when she measures herself. (C'mon--you know it was rigged. Who owns a tape measure that just so "happens" to say that one is perfect every time one measures him- or herself?) The really crazy thing is, even though she makes no effort to hide her love of self, everybody still loves her. In fact, their admiration is almost to the point of worship, and I include myself in the mix. I can't help it! Like the tape measure says--the bitch can do no wrong.

2. Dick Van Dyke was hot back in the day. Watching the movie resurrected my little girl crush I had on him, when I would watch that movie over and over again, just to see him. Even his incredibly fake Cockney accent didn't take away from his charm. Like my friend AA said: "Bert, take me away!"

3. Speaking of Bert, what was the deal with him and Mary Poppins? Were they lovers? Good friends? Was it unrequited love on Bert's part? I spent the entire movie trying to figure it out. On the one hand, you could infer from that song Bert sings about it being a jolly holiday with Mary that they're dating, but then at the end of the movie, as she flies away on the wind, he tells her not to stay gone for too long, which could mean that they're not. Personally, I think their situation is like this: Bert is head-over-heels for Mary Poppins. She likes him too, but she won't admit it, because, let's face it, she's practically perfect in every way and he's a chimney sweep, a guy who draws murals on the sidewalk and a street performer. He's blue collar all the way, and that doesn't exactly make enough tuppence to wine and dine a woman like Mary Poppins. She needs a guy who can fill that carpet bag with Rolex watches and high-end furniture, and the best Bert can do is a couple of coppers he got for one of his chalk drawings. But that's okay--Bert can come over here to the land of the free and home of the brave and spend the rest of his days with me. I like his chalk drawings.

4. Where does Mary Poppins live? At the very beginning of the movie, it shows her chillin' out in the clouds, and at the end, she flies away, presumably to another family in need of her magical nanny touch. But where does she go in between jobs? One of the girls in our group suggested that maybe she just goes from house to house, which makes sense, but doesn't explain what she's doing up in the clouds at the beginning of the movie. Who knows. Maybe she does live up in the clouds. With the Care Bears. She and Love-a-Lot Bear are roommates. Bert stops by once in awhile.

5. Apparently all you need to do to unite a family that's falling apart is sing songs and do magic. Who knew?! Mary Poppins needs to ride that umbrella of hers across the pond and fix the sky-high divorce rate and help families communicate with each other better. Better yet, she can team up with Dr. Phil! With his no-nonsense approach and her penchant for musical numbers and playing around in chalk drawings, together they would be unstoppable!


1. They can still rock for a bunch of old dudes. Let's not beat around the bush here: the members of Aerosmith are no spring chickens. According to Wikipedia, Steven Tyler is 62 years old, but watching him perform, you'd never know it. On stage, he and the rest of his crew have the energy of men half their ages, and they put on one hell of a good show.

2. With that said, Steven Tyler needs to lay off the spandex. Like, lay off it completely. Look, I know spandex pants and scarves are his thing, but he really really needs to retire those spandex pants (the scarves are still cool, though, he can keep rocking those). During tonight's show he was sporting a pair of silver metallic ones, and it was blatant that he was suffering from a condition that I believe the medical community calls Old Man Ass (OMA). (It also manifests itself in women as Old Lady Ass, or OLA.) It happens to all of us: after a certain age, no matter how skinny you are, or how good a shape you are in, things start to sag. Gravity is a vindictive bitch, and she screws us all over in the end. I'm sure that back in the seventies and eighties, when Steve was a much younger sprite of a man, his rear end probably looked amazing in spandex pants. But it's 2010, and homeboy should consider something more appropriate like jeans. I don't think he'd look bad in a pair of snug jeans (not ones that are so tight they look painted on, though) and a wife beater. He could even rip holes in the knees of his jeans to keep with his rock n' roll persona. Anything but those spandex pants.

Like I said at the beginning, this is just a list of my random thoughts about and observations on Mary Poppins and Aerosmith. You may go back to your regularly scheduled reading.