Happy Birthday Dad

Well, times certainly have changed.

Well, times certainly have changed.

 

Today, my dad would have turned 58. Since he’s no longer with us, I wanted to do something to mark the day (pun actually not intended) and yesterday had a stroke of slightly selfish genius. Whenever I would come up to Massachusetts to visit Ryan, Dad would always – without fail – ask if we went to Pizzeria Regina. We never did during the long distance days, but have split pies on several occasions since I moved.

He had probably visited Regina about three times in the preceding 15 years. I’d assume he first encountered the North End’s finest pizza (in my not-so-humble opinion) while visiting Aunt Celeste. He dragged a big group of us there to eat in 2004 during the DNC pretty late at night after a then-14-year-old AJ got us turned away from a 21-plus party. When a satellite opened in Paramus, he drove many miles out of his way to get it. This I don’t really understand, because everyone knows Regina’s just regular pizza outside the North End. You need the original oven to get the good stuff. And, besides, in New Jersey, Reservoir is just as good.

But I digress.

It would have felt wrong to let the day pass without acknowledging it and yet I’m entirely sure how I’ve spent it the past two years in Boston. Maybe I went home? I don’t know. Continue reading

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I Hate ‘Girls’ But…

As a functional member of society with no desire ever to live anywhere near Brooklyn and nothing in my wardrobe from American Apparel, the party line is that I hate Girls. Like, despise it. I don’t find Lena Dunham particularly charming for many reasons, some of which I can’t explain.

However, I find the following line from an episode of the second season to be hilarious:

“Let’s have the kind of night where it’s 5 a.m. and one of us has definitely punched someone who used to be on the Disney channel.”

And except for the fact that she says things like “This place looks amaze,” Shoshanna is the only tolerable character on it.

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

Hurricane Sandy: Still an Enormous Bitch

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My story about the LBI Trailer Park. Clearly, I’m not a photographer.

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But this was a good one. Not sure if it’s still online anywhere. I may just retype it in one day. You should read it.

Hurricane Sandy, aside from being a horrible jerk, has so many knotted, sticky stories in her undercurrent that we’ll have to untangle in the coming months and years. There’s the story about how messed up the flood insurance system is. There’s the story about us damaging our planet so much that it’s turning against us. There’s the substory of that one that our seas are rising and some of our favorite places are in very real danger of extinction.

One of the stories that makes me the saddest is that the iteration of our country that gave us our Shore is gone. If you’re unfamiliar, hearing that hundreds of vacation homes were ruined may not stir many emotions. These don’t all belong to millionaires though.  In most areas of the 127-mile coastline, small unassuming bungalows are passed down through regular families over many decades – like mine. More on that in a second.

In my old life as a reporter, I wrote a story about the only trailer park on Long Beach Island. LBI went through a similar period of destruction and rebuilding after the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962. I’m sure lots of old stock housing was destroyed or knocked down and bigger, more expensive houses replaced little beach shacks. A drive down Long Beach Boulevard can feel like a tour of the 1%’s summer playground, but at the southern end sandcastles give way to sandboxes. 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

An Attempt at Curating Enjoyable Phrases

booksI am staunchly anti-Kindle. I get why people like them. I even get why I would probably like one. But I refuse. I just like holding a physical book in my hands. Also, having iTunes-like ease of purchasing books would make me even poorer than I am.

When I worked as a newspaper reporter, boomers repeatedly waxed poetic to me about how much they just loved the feel of the newspaper between their fingers and couldn’t imagine a morning in which they didn’t sit at their kitchen table, drink their coffee, read their newspaper….to which I would think in my head, “Yeah? And when you’re done you hop in your Model T and drive to work, right?” Except I would smile and tell them that, even though I had a newspaper placed on my desk every morning (Thanks Nick), I much preferred reading all the same stories on my computer screen (in the days before pay walls, but that’s another story for another time), as do most people younger than 40. When I have time to spread a paper out and leisurely page through it, I do. But this isn’t often and certainly not feasible upon arrival at work.

I think I’ve turned into the millennial version of the paper-defending boomer with my weird Kindle-phobia. I wouldn’t mind an iPad for magazine subscriptions, because those things pile up forever and only get more raggedy. But books…those are non-negotiable. Continue reading

Sandy, the 900-mile-wide Chip on my Shoulder

Looks like Sandy threw a pretty wild party. Unfortunately, that bitch didn’t invite us and isn’t planning on helping us clean up.

So, two weeks ago, we had a little weather event here on the East Coast. Maybe you’ve heard of it – Hurricane /Superstorm/ Frankenstorm Sandy? This beast pretty much took over my life, stole my attention span and routinely woke me up in the middle of the night.

My family’s dear, little lagoon-side (and only) home was battened down and evacuated to ride out the worst storm it’s ever faced alone. The day before the mandatory barrier island evac order, Mark taped up the windows, put a few valuables on top of beds and off the floor, and put some towels in the doorways. Last summer, Irene coaxed the rising bay water just two feet from our back door and no one thought we’d be as lucky this time.

But I never thought it would be as bad as it was. Our little house took on more than three feet of water, most likely courtesy of a storm surge rising from the end of the lagoon that normally brings us mallards to feed.

I only know the extent of the damage because last Friday, 12 whole days after Sandy absolutely ravaged the Jersey Shore, my mom and AJ were bused over to our island from the mainland and given an hour to collect our most important belongings. This trip only included primary residents of the island, i.e. people with no other home to speak of. (Most dwellings on this strip of sand are summer homes and it’s pretty lonely in the off-season. I don’t know how I survived three long winters, but sometimes, when the clatter outside my Boston apartment get so loud I can hear conversations and car horns from three blocks away, I really miss it.) Continue reading

When You Become a Sad Kid, You Will Develop a Highly Inappropriate Sense of Humor

This picture will all make sense when you get toward the bottom, I promise. Also, it’s just hilarious. Can you imagine Mitt Romney trying to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day? Nope, neither can I. Vote Democrat.

I stay sane by finding comedy in everyday life. If I didn’t, I would be hugely bored all the time and that’s not really how you want to go through life. This strategy usually results in me cracking inappropriate jokes, saying all the wrong things and frequently alienating people. I don’t make a lot of friends easily this way, but, hey, at least I’m not bored. My father’s sudden, tragic death has only heightened this quirk. I’ve noticed, though, that fellow Sad Kids have developed this freakish trait as well.

Recently, I came across this McSweeney’s post, Six Pieces of Highly Autobiographical Bereavement Advice and nearly lost it trying not to laugh at my desk on my lunch break. Now, someone not accustomed to loss – say, someone who sadly had to bury their great-grandmother when they were 7 and then never dealt with death again – would read this and probably think to themselves rationally, “Oh dear me, this is not funny. No, no, this is horrible. What is wrong with this monstrous person laughing at the death of her mother like this?” I read this  and was like “OH MY GOD THIS IS SOME FUNNY SHIT.” I shared it with my brother, who agreed.  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?

Scary Beautiful…or, you know, just plain scary

Probably not the best attitude to have about invention and design, but this pretty much proves that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I get the whole “fashion is art that you wear” thing (and I really only get that from watching The Devil Wears Prada a thousand times), but for Pete’s sake, it shouldn’t look like some sort of torture apparatus. Seriously, this chick staggers around like a newborn giraffe.

Is the world any better for having these “shoes” in it? Not really – but I had an excuse to rant, which I always appreciate.