Blissful Moments With Just the Right Amount of Terror

A rare occasion: all seems well aboard the Barrel of Monkeys

A rare occasion: all seems well aboard the Barrel of Monkeys

My dad would have turned 60 this week. He exemplified all the phrases the French use to describe an excellent human being – joie de vivre, je ne sais quoi…OK, I’m out. Je ne parle pas Francais. (Thanks, Google Translate!) But you get what I mean. You really and truly cannot find a soul on God’s green earth that had met my dad and didn’t love him. Well, except for the people he cut off on the road and on the sea – not the world’s greatest driver of cars and certainly not of boats, as you’re about to find out. To honor this occasion, I solicited happy memories and hilarious stories of my father’s many mishaps. I was shooting for 60, but I should have known this request would far surpass my expectations.

Below are submissions from family and friends presented in no particular order and with minimal editing, save for some snarky insertions from yours truly. Because most people had several stories to share, I tried to keep these in bite-sized chunks. To me, the most astounding thing is that there were so few repeats of stories, except the broken wine jugs and the fruit flies. You’ll see common themes: lots of vacation follies and a lot of people sensing they were in danger while out on our old boat, the Barrel of Monkeys. Yet, we all kept taking trips and setting sail – not wanting to miss the adventure. I stole the title from AJ’s story, the last of the bunch. I promise it will make sense when you get to Uncle Anthony’s stories.  Continue reading

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Beeeeest Friend

Mere babes back in 2007.

Mere babes back in 2007.

Hopefully you read that title as being a drawn out, multi-syllabic rendering of “best” and not as pronounced like “beast.”

This week, one of my most favorite people on the face of the earth, Miss Katie Booker, has packed up all her things, left her wildly successful job and will move 3,000 miles across the country back home to California. I am equal parts happy for her and sad for me. This occasion seems like a monumental opportunity to wax poetic publicly about how much I love her and how better my life is by having her in it. I am lucky enough that there are several people I can say this about, but….none of them are moving this week.

I’ll always remember Bid Day 2005 when we all nervously milled around at Theta, trying to meet each other and not say anything stupid. Somehow it turned out that Katie and I were the only two living on South Campus and I became her official chauffeur of the new member ed process. Those 10-minute rides to and from the house forged our friendship for everything that followed: adventures, fun nights out, becoming real adults and dealing with sadness and disappointment. We went from being within spitting distance of each other in our tiny bedroom at the house, to a 30 minute train ride from NJ to NYC, to a 4 hour bus ride from Boston to NYC. We’ve always made it work and don’t let more than a couple months pass between seeing each other. Now it’s a cross-country flight, but I’m happy to have someone to visit in San Francisco.  Continue reading

Thank You, I Love You, I’m Sorry, Goodbye: When Hurricane Sandy Makes You Demolish Your Home

My little house in the snow.

My little house in the snow.

I knew it was coming, knew it had to happen and know that its occurrence is simply the first step in a string of good things to come. Recently, I found myself growing annoyed that it hadn’t happened yet. But once I found out it was scheduled, once it became real, it punched me in the gut and all but knocked the wind out of me.

Our lovely little house at 202 Joseph St. meets its demise Wednesday after sitting uninhabitable all winter and spring, gutted to its studs and stripped bare of all the wonders inside that made it our home. Like I said, I knew this was coming for months, but wasn’t anywhere near prepared to hear the news. I’ve powered through this whole process knowing that the demolition of the house would usher in a new house, a bigger, more storm-proof one with swankier amenities and enough space for everyone to get their own bedroom. A house just like that had been the plan for my parents’ retirement, except they were going to give our current structure a makeover because it was so important to keep the original structure, which my grandfather and great uncle built with their own hands.

I’m trying to think positive thoughts here, but it’s hard. I knew I’d be sad when it was finally time to tear the old girl down – I just didn’t think I’d be this sad. Continue reading

When Life Crumbles Your Cookie

I have failed you, green besprinkled friends.

I have failed you, green besprinkled friends.

We all know what to do you when life hands you lemons, just as we all know about cookies and the way they sometimes crumble. On my way back to Boston after a nomadic Memorial Day Weekend, I had in my bag some rather precious cargo – two Ninja Turtle cookies from the greatest business establishment known to man, Colonial Bakery. A series of unfavorable circumstances (crazy early flight, lots of rushing, bag packed with a laptop and other stuff) convened to put me awkwardly juggling bags, shoes, jackets and my boarding pass through security. In the hubbub, my cookies crumbled to the fine pulp at your left. (Don’t worry, I was going to be nice and share with the RyGuy.)

I trudged straight to work upon landing and plopped the cookie dust on my desk, sneaking occasional chunks while pondering what to do with this travesty. I shared this picture on Facebook to garner sympathy for my grave misfortune. Condolences rolled in from my Shore friends and I wondered exactly how I would manage eating these.

Then, genius struck: ice cream topping! Two of my most favorite guys (Ben & Jerry – what, did you think I was going to say Mark & AJ?) have been blending baked goods into ice cream for years. Obviously, these two pulverized Michaelangelos were just waiting for the sundae treatment. I shared my stroke of fat kid genius on Facebook and collected a few “likes” of agreement. See, I always try my best to find the upside of a down situation (or else I surely would have cracked up years ago) and this pickle turned into a win-win-win-win (in Michael Scott parlance). Eventually. Continue reading

Adventures in Crock Potting

Expectations: far different from reality.

Expectations: far different from reality.

Late last year, I joined the grand American tradition of lazy cooking when I received a Crock Pot for my birthday. One of the things I’ve noticed since we began living in sin is that Ryan wants to eat dinner earlier than I can prepare it because he gets home so much earlier. Feeling badly that he often waits a long time for me to cook (usually a mediocre meal that creates a disproportionately large mess in the kitchen that he cleans up), I thought a slow cooker could solve this problem by having a meal ready to go as soon as I get home from work. (OK, so this is, like, maybe 60% of my reasoning – I also wanted one because I know from Pinterest that you can use them to make all sorts of cheesy dips.)

UPS tried to drop it off three times to no avail and sent it back to the warehouse and then to my aunt, who ordered it for me (sometimes your neighbor throws away your delivery notices because he doesn’t think anyone by your name lives in the building; sometimes that doesn’t happen and you successfully receive your packages). I finally brought it home after Christmas and christened it with this oatmeal recipe from the P that looked really good: Continue reading

13 Things for 2013

In theory...

In theory…

Yes, yes, we all know – resolutions are overdone and never followed through. I use Jan. 1 as an excuse to implement a few good habits and usually have all but forgotten them by Groundhog Day. I’m hoping that by publicly issuing them I’ll hold myself responsible.

Thirteen “resolutions” seems pretty heavy so I want to think of them more as personal improvements. Maybe that’s less daunting. I’m also hoping that by creating reasonable timelines for each one, I’ll be more motivated to actually complete them. Some require a marked starting point and I’m pretty bad at knowing where I begin and then can’t track progress. I should probably spend the first week of 2013 taking inventory, so to speak. The usual suspects for resolutions for me: practice better posture, eat less salt, take better care of my skin. I’ve probably made these same promises for six years running and I still slouch, only have normal blood pressure by the grace of God, and more than occasionally go to bed with makeup still on. Clearly, these aren’t working out, but I’ve never really made them public before. Perhaps 2013 is the lucky year I finally stick with a program. Continue reading

Skank or Treat: Why Halloween is Every Creepster’s Favorite Holiday

Miss Lohan, for once, actually said it best:

In case you can’t read size 6 font, that’s In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it. It’s quite possible that truer words were never spoken. In the Catholic school bubble, I didn’t realize the scantily-clad Halloween phenomenon existed until college, but I made up for lost time by actually wearing my real Catholic school skirt, a white button-down about 3 sizes too small and Victoria’s Secret knee socks. I really hope my parents have never seen pictures from this because it was basically an unspoken version of me saying “Oh hey, you know that skirt I wore every day for four years because you decided to drop five figures a year on high school? Yeah, here’s what I think about that” and spat on the ground. (I like to think I brought this full circle by wearing my VWA uniform to a high school theme party senior year of college complete with white chapel sweater, sneakers and mesh shorts under an unrolled skirt exactly the way I wore it from 13 to 17. A little sloppier, but much more respectable.)

Any lady with an active social life during her years in higher education will tell you that those four (five if you’re me) years are rife with opportunities to wear dismal amounts of clothing. Most embrace this. Some crash diet leading up to All Hallow’s Eve. These girls are crazy. On any given college campus or in any bar from Oct. 26-31, you will see any of the following: Sexy Nurse, Sexy Cop, Sexy Firefighter, Sexy Commercial Fisherman, Sexy Cat, Sexy Schoolgirl, Sexy Teacher, Sexy Librarian, Sexy Trash Collector, Sexy Girl Scout, Sexy Soccer Referee and Sexy Pirate.

Because America is the greatest nation on Earth, this year, my friends, this year you can also run into SEXY ROOSTER.

And, frankly, I hope you do. Poultry’s sluttiness has long gone underestimated. Those fine folks over at Yandy.com have actually come up with nine different variations of the Sexy Chef and 27 different Sexy Beer Girl costumes. This weird Sexy Fox get-up is actually their second-best seller but it looks more like Star Fox than a tarty woodland creature. After we collectively reignited our affections for Big Bird, the Skimpy Halloween Costume Gods (for whom apparently nothing is holy) have even decided desecrate Sesame Street. Expect Slutty Snuffaluffagus to follow. With any luck, this will be the only semi-lasting impact Mitt Romney has on society.

I’m not trying to sound like a pearl-clutching prude here. Hey, if you’ve got the figure and don’t mind tramping about town in something skimpy, more power to you, but you should realize that most of us with more than half a brain think you look ridiculous.  Senior year of college, the Hunt coincided with Halloweekend and I chose equine carousing over collegiate tramping. Post-Hunt, we moved the party to the Office in Morristown (day- and night-drinking: something I can no longer accomplish in my old age) where some ladies who were closer to 40 than 30 were knocking back cocktails dressed as sexy nurses and schoolgirls. The bar was empty; what few people were there hadn’t dressed in costume. I’m pretty sure the term douche-chills was invented for this very moment. This very evening inspired me never to dress like a tramp in public after graduating from college. (The length of the skirt I wore yesterday to a sorority alumnae event leaves this up for debate, but I wore tights.) Henceforth, I decided I’d much rather be comfortable on Halloween, which led to the following:

Yep, ZELDA. Long sleeves, weird Forever 21 green dress, brown leggings and brown Uggs. Like being at a bar in your pajamas and the only thing I had to spend extra money on was the shield. (And doesn’t Deb make a fantastic Lucy?) Also, I got hit on by a few nerds. Maybe I can rewear this and be Sexy Sky Fox’s wingwoman?

How to Behave at a Bruce Springsteen Concert

What time is it, Steve? Boss time.

On Saturday, several loved ones and I will partake in New Jersey’s closest attempt at a communal religious experience: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Giants Stadium. Or MetLife. Whatever it’s called. While I haven’t seen nearly as many Bruce shows as some of my countrymen, it’s not my first rodeo.

Typically, in the Garden State, everyone gets along; tailgates are very friendly. We’re all there for the same reason: to see the Boss and the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making legendary E Street Band. However, in the 11 shows I’ve had the good fortune (and made the financial sacrifice) to attend, I’ve noticed some unbecoming behavior both in the Jerz and abroad. We’d all do well to follow some ground rules. Continue reading

Ode to Tommy Cheeseballs

Before Snooki entered the national parlance, before people beyond their 200 regular customers had heard of Karma, before T-shirt time, before the CABS WERE HEEEEEAHH, there was Tommy. Oh, Tommy, I miss you. Things were simpler back then. MTV had only grossly misrepresented the Jersey Shore to a smattering of True Life viewers with Tommy’s buffoonish 40 minutes of fame, rather than the pop-garbage (I refuse to call it “culture”) franchise through which we currently suffer. Continue reading

Bryan Adams: Poet Laureate of Beach Kids

Favorite place ever.

Three months a year, living in Boston becomes really difficult. June, July and August pretty much turn me into a surly, whiny mess, though I try my best to conceal it. No one likes Miss Pissy Pants. It’s not living in an apartment without A/C; it’s not navigating through glacially slow-moving hordes of confused tourists on the T or on the sidewalk, though these things really don’t help. Not being home at the Shore for the summer is quietly strangling my soul and sucking out any happiness I may have had left. I don’t feel much better about it until after Labor Day.  No, I’m not being overly dramatic. These are all accurate, factually true statements.

Don’t get me wrong – summertime Boston certainly has its perks. Pictures like this exist here. But I still have to drive to the beach and can only makes s’mores on our grill. Continue reading