Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Boundaries?

Is it just my perception, or do a lot of people have boundary issues?

I've been feeling that a lot lately.  Recently, I've encountered an abundance of men who think it's okay to touch me, put their arm around me - or even kiss me - without my express consent.  Why do they think that's okay?  That's not okay!  DO NOT TOUCH PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW.

Last Friday, I crossed paths with a plethora of boundary-blind citizens.  I was in New York, working as an extra for a television show, and there was a 20-something guy who would not. stop. touching me. I'd had this problem before on set, but with someone whom I'd come in contact with on a previous occasion and was already friendly with (though the touching was still inappropriate and unwanted).  This time, however, this guy and I hadn't spoken one word to each other before he decided to come up and put his arm around me.  I politely pushed him away, but when he did it a second time I said, "What makes you think it's okay to touch me?  Stop touching me!"  He stopped, but didn't seem phased by my reaction.  Whatever.

Later, on the ferry ride back to my car, I had a much creepier incident.  The ferry was less than halfway full and I was seated with nobody around me, my bags in front of the adjacent seat.  I got on my phone to call Husband and a large man holding a smelly sandwich came up and stood in front of me, motioning for me to move my bags so that he could sit down.  I moved them, though I regretted it immediately.  He sat down directly beside me, began eating his sandwich, and put his arm around the back of my chair, as though we were a couple.  What.  No.

Here's a helpful diagram of the incident:

Clearly, this dude could have sat in one of many open seats, but he chose to encroach upon my personal space.  I tried to speak, flustered, to Husband on the phone, but I couldn't concentrate.  I got up and walked to the back of the ferry where I stayed until the boat docked.  I carried my pepper spray in hand as I walked to my car, where I encountered...

A girl peeing.  Right next to my driver's side door.  What the HELL.  NO.

Okay, look.  I get it if you have to pee really bad and there's nowhere to go, but this was the ferry parking lot.  She just got off the ferry.  There are bathrooms on the ferry.  There are bathrooms in the ferry terminal.  The parking lot is NOT A BATHROOM.  IT IS NOT OKAY TO PEE IN A PARKING LOT SO CLOSE TO SOMEONE'S CAR THAT THEY'LL HAVE TO STEP OVER A PUDDLE TO DRIVE AWAY.

At that point, it was all I could do to not lose my shit.  I did not want to end a long day by fighting a drunk girl and getting arrested, so I held my tongue, waited until she pulled up her panties, got into my car, and drove away, incredulous of the day I'd had.  I blamed the solar flares, but really, people just need to learn some manners.

On the way home, I called my husband to complain and he pointed out that I was hired that day to kiss a stranger during a scene (I didn't end up having to do it) and that it seemed ironic I was complaining about people not respecting my personal boundaries.  Here's why that's irrelevant:  boundaries are defined by the individual.  If I agreed to kiss a stranger and that stranger kissed me, then that person is not violating my boundary.  If, however, I was hired to kiss a stranger, I wasn't used in that scene, and a random stranger came up and kissed me anyway, that person IS violating my boundary.  See the distinction?

Anyway, maybe the people who do this kind of stuff don't really care how they make other people feel.  Maybe I'm too sensitive.  Maybe I should be less friendly and learn to scowl rather than smile at strangers.  Maybe I need to carry a stun gun instead of pepper spray.  Whatever the case may be, I would like to invite the creepy, gross people of the world to just stop being creepy and gross.  That would be great.  Thanks.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Great Hamster Infestation of 1999.

Back in 1999, Husband and I were living in sin in a cheap apartment in Natomas, just outside of Sacramento. We were working at Applebee's - he as a bartender and I as a hostess - and we were newly engaged.

When we moved out on our own, we began acquiring all the things newly-independent young adults need:  cheap silverware from Walmart, furniture from thrift shops, and a shaky line of credit.  Since we were young and dumb and nowhere near ready for a baby, we decided that adopting pets would be the next logical step in building our life together.

First, we went to the SPCA and picked out a dachshund named Nala and a kitten we named Mona.

Nala hated kids but she loved us.  And barking.

Mona was the cutest kitten I'd ever seen or have seen since.  She was a fluffy white with an orange tipped tail and ears, with blue eyes.  It was apparent as soon as we got her home and she began passing blood that she was not healthy.  We took her to the vet, who said he could do nothing to help her, and she died within a week.  It broke my heart.

To ease the pain of Mona's death, we decided to replace her with two dwarf hamsters.  At the time, the idea of having baby hamsters seemed really exciting, so we picked a male and a female, a small hamster aquarium and supplies, and we placed them in a safe, high spot in our living room.

Before too long, our dreams of becoming grandparents to a bunch of rodents came true when a small litter of gross, pink, bug-looking things appeared in the corner of the aquarium, nestled into a little space burrowed out of the wood shavings.  As the five or six little guys grew, it became evident that this family was quickly outgrowing its home, so we bought another aquarium to add to the mix, along with some plastic tubing so that they could get back and forth.  We put the whole condo on the floor of the guest room since we didn't have a table that would fit it, and kept the door shut so that our dog wouldn't eat/spook our prized pets.

I don't know why rabbits are the only fluffy animals with a reputation for procreation, because hamsters are out of control.  It wasn't long before another litter of tiny pink hamsters appeared.  And then another.  And then another.  Suddenly, the offspring were starting to look a little fishy.  One had only three legs.  We named that one tripod.
Tripod.  Sorry it's blurry.  1999.  Disposable cameras.

We tried to keep up with the demand for square footage by adding on more and more rooms, more and more tubing.  We improvised where need-be with coolers and such.  Cleaning the thing was next to impossible.  I have no idea how many we had, but I want to say that we were up to 30 or so when we realized that they were starting to escape.  Husband and I were sitting in the living room one evening watching television when we saw something dart across the hall and into the kitchen.  We'd chase one around and put it back, only to find ourselves chasing another one an hour later.  It was stressful and exhausting.

But, how were they getting out??  The walls were high where the tanks weren't covered.  Were they climbing on one another's shoulders?  Could they jump really high when we weren't around?  Did they have elaborate, Mission Impossible-style plans of escape?  Were they tiny little magicians??

Not one of ours.  As far as I know.

We never figured it out, but eventually we gathered up the hamsters we could find and took them to a pet store where they were sold to other young, stupid, unsuspecting couples.  Then we moved.

Years later, I was feeling nostalgic and decided to look up our old apartment complex online.  As I scrolled through the resident reviews, I came across a woman who complained of an out-of-control rodent infestation.  I would like to say to that person, and to anyone else who happened to be terrorized by my errant one-time pets, I am very sorry.  I apologize from the bottom of my heart.  I know that my apology won't bring back the boxes of cereal and crackers that you lost to these adorable pests, but I hope that you can forgive me and Husband for being so dumb as to think that we could handle a family of circus creatures by ourselves.

It feels good to get that off my chest.  Phew.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vanity What?

Do you guys know about vanity sizing?

It's so stupid.  Vanity sizing is when a store makes their clothes bigger than standard sizes would dictate so that when you go in to buy something, you'l wear a smaller size and feel good about yourself.

I find this ridiculous for two reasons:

1.  I can never buy anything without trying it on first because there's no way of knowing what the hell size I wear from store-to-store.

2.  I have no business buying a size 0 or 2 in anything.

I mean, come on.

I've lost some weight in the past couple of months, mostly due to the fact that I've been working out more and I began eating pescatarian (no meat other than seafood).  As a result, many of my clothes are too big now, so I've been doing some shopping.  I went from wearing a size 6 to a size 4 - or, that's what I thought, until I went shopping at Express.

Now, I've always liked Express.  Their jeans fit me well and they always have coupons and/or sales.  The only thing I hate about Express is that their vanity sizing is OUT OF CONTROL.  Last time I bought jeans there, they were a size 2.

You guys.  I am 5'8" and 135 pounds.  My measurements are 34-26-37.  I have never seen a sizing chart that would put me in a size 2, because that's just insane.  But, the jeans were comfortable, they looked good, and they were on sale, so I bought them.

Now that the weather has gotten warmer and I received some early birthday money, I decided to go shopping for my first pair of shorts in...oh man...ten years?  A long time.  I don't even remember ever buying shorts as an adult, but I must have at some point.  I always wear skirts, but I got it in my head that I should have shorts and I had a coupon, so off I went to Express.

I picked out a couple of pairs of shorts to try on, both size 4, a size S tank top, and a size XS dress because that's the only size that was left and it was on clearance.  I left the store with a pair of size 0 shorts, an XS tank top, and the dress.  WHAT.

Note my non-stick figure, draped in an XS tank top and a size 0 shorts.

Look, I get it:  people like buying clothes in small sizes.  But if I - a tall, healthy woman - am buying an XS, does that mean that truly skinny people can't shop there at all?  I think they go as far down as a 00 and maybe an XXS, but how much smaller could that possibly be?  And when Express shoppers go to other stores, do they feel bad about themselves since they have to buy clothes that are two sizes larger?

I just wish sizing was standard for women's clothes, as it is for men's.  Menswear has it right.  Size 32-32?  Why, that's 32 inches in the waist and 32 inches long, of course.  Anything else wouldn't make sense!

Anyway, I guess I'll make sure not to lose any more weight since I'd rather not shop in children's stores, which I can only assume is where the kind salespeople of Express would usher me if I no longer fill out their size 0.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Bless me, Blogger, for I have sinned.

I am so ashamed of myself.

I did something yesterday that I swore I'd never do.  I told myself that it would be a one-time thing, that nobody would have to know about it.  I justified my actions to myself and to those around me, but I knew when I was doing it that it was wrong and now I can't go back and I feel like a terrible person.

I took my son to an audition.

While it feels good to confess, I can't shake the feeling that you are all judging me as harshly as I'm judging myself right now.  Go ahead.  You aren't wrong.

In my defense, I feel like I was kind of tricked into doing it.  I know how that sounds, but hear me out.

I submitted myself for a commercial job on that was asking for "real moms".  Like with most casting notices, I just clicked "submit", picked a photo, and completely forgot about it.  Then on Wednesday, I got an email saying that they'd like to see me for an audition and that if I have a child aged 3-12, I should bring him or her with me if at all possible.

The email didn't say anything about auditioning the child, you see, just that they wanted me to bring my child with me.  I thought it was weird, but then I reasoned that maybe they just wanted to see how we interact with our kids, or--you know what?  I did assume that they were probably casting the kids too, but I just didn't want to admit it to myself.

As luck would have it, in order for me to make it to this audition, I would have had to bring The Kid with me anyway.  Husband is out of town right now and I wouldn't have been able to get to NYC and back in time to pick The Kid up from school.  Since I thought I might regret missing out on the opportunity, I decided to go ahead and take him out of school at noon and bring him with me.  So, that's what I did.

When we showed up at the casting, we were the only ones there.  I signed in, then the casting director took us back to a little white room with a camera and a mark and asked us to stand there.  She asked The Kid his name and his age and he was adorable and perfect (probably because I'd bribed him with the promise of ice cream later on).  She asked me to say my name, smile, turn both directions, show her my hands, and then look at my phone and pretend to text.  I just hopped on Twitter for a few seconds instead.  And that was that.  Easy.  Painless.  That's how they get ya.

Callbacks are on Monday, and I have mixed feelings about whether I'm hoping to receive one or not.  On one hand, I could use the money.  On the other hand, I don't want to take The Kid out of school again.  And I don't want him to become a child actor.  Because a lot of child actors turn into terrible adults.  Is this a slippery slope?

I had to write a note for him today that said, "Please excuse my child from school on the afternoon of 5/29.  He had an audition."  I almost didn't send the note, I was so embarrassed.  I never in my life thought I'd have to write that note.  Oh, the shame!

The bright side to all this is that we shared a delightful day of mother-son bonding in the city.  New York is so beautiful this time of year, and it was the perfect spring day to take it in. We rode the train to the audition but walked back to the ferry, logging almost four miles on the soles of our shoes.  The Kid's legs got tired often, so we had to stop many times--sometimes for cupcakes or chocolate dipped macaroons or iced tea or pizza.  Walking takes a lot of energy.

What ever happens with this job, at least we made a memory.  I hope he looks back at that day and remembers fondly the time we spent together.  And not the potential exploitation of his childhood.  Oh, God, what have I done?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Insomnia and GPS Fails: An Angry Tirade.

I'm a friendly drunk, but the meanest tired person you'll ever meet.  And I'm SO FREAKING TIRED.

I haven't been sleeping well lately.  A busy schedule combined with stress and exciting opportunities on the horizon are all to blame.  Last night, I slept two hours.  TWO HOURS.  I've watched movies longer than that.  I had to get up at 3 AM to leave by 3:45 so I could make my call time of 7:15 in the Catskills.  I know it seems silly to a lot of people to go so far out of my way to do extra work, but this was a fun opportunity that paid well and so it was totally worth it.

The only problem was the sleep.  I took some Zzzzquil at 8, took a shower, and went to bed at 9.  I saw every hour until 1.  The harder I tried to go to sleep, the more vehemently my body rejected the idea.

 "Oh, ho-ho!  Sleep?  Silly girl!  You have to be up in six hours...I mean five...I mean four...I mean three...there's no time for sleep!"

It was terrible.  When sleep finally did come and I peeled my puffy, red, irritated eyes open two hours later, I knew this was going to be a hard day.

It WAS.  Have you ever tried driving for three pre-dawn hours without a good night's sleep?  It's excruciating.  To make matters worse, I've lost my voice due to what I can only assume is a reaction to all the beautiful flowers blooming in my neighborhood right now.  Normally, I keep myself awake by blasting the stereo and singing along at the top of my lungs, but I couldn't find enough Marvin Gaye songs to put that plan into action.  Instead, I drank two Red Bulls and opened the windows periodically.

I would like to thank Benefit Boing industrial strength concealer and an
Instagram filter for making this photo possible.
The job was great fun and I actually ended up working with a very sweet girl whom I'd met on two other occasions, so I'm quite glad I went.

The drive home, though?  The drive home was worse than the drive there.  You see, I had no idea where I was, other than the fact that Dirty Dancing had been set somewhere nearby.  I set my car's GPS to take me home, and she told me to get off on a very crowded exit before correcting herself and being all, "Whoops!  Actually, turn around right after you pay this toll.  Then pay that toll again, going the other way and get back on the road you were already on.  The one that had no traffic."  So, that was 45 minutes and $5 I'll never get back.

I decided to trust Google instead, but wouldn't you know it?  Google's satellites apparently don't work ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN.  This makes no sense to me.  We're closer to the satellites, yet nothing bounces back at me from up there?  I don't get it.

I winged it for a while before finally getting a Google signal again.  While I love Google since it tells me traffic patterns, I do not love that it took me on a trek through the woods and gravel roads, passing five dead deer along the way, to get me home.  There are lots of highways in between the Catskills and my house, and I barely used any of them today.  As an added bonus, Google satellites also don't work in the woods.  Even when they bring you out there themselves.  Just as I was anticipating the next turn instruction, instead I heard, "GPS signal lost".  Oh.  Thanks, Google.  I'll just ask this dead possum how to get home (I saw two of those too).
The sky was pretty today, though.  That was nice.

Eventually, I did get home, but not on the advice of any of my very expensive devices.  I just saw a highway I recognized and took it until everything looked familiar again, even though my phone was about to route me through more traffic lights.  Sometimes, technology is a pain in the ass.

The only good thing about being lost when you're very very very tired is that it's hard to fall asleep when you're busy braking for bunnies and potholes and stoplights.  So, I did make it home safely, after many hours on the road.  When I got home is when I had my mental breakdown.  Just some fits of crying and wanting to throw things and scream and rage.  I took a nap for an hour and woke up even angrier than before.  WHY CAN'T I SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT??? WHY ARE HUSBAND AND THE KID SO FREAKING LOUD???  WHY IS THE STUPID SUN SHINING ON THIS HORRIBLY GORGEOUS DAY????

My point is, I'm tired.  I hate everyone who is not tired right now because I'm so jealous of them I can't see straight.  Or, maybe I'm so tired I can't see straight?  One or the other.  Whatever.  I'm taking some pills and going to sleep.  If it doesn't work this time, expect another angry tirade tomorrow.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Unfocused Free-Spirit.

It's weird how we, as a society, expect everyone to have our lives all figured out by our early twenties. For those of you who've been on one path all your whole life and are content with it, I'm totally jealous, because that is NOT ME.  I've always been a bit of a wanderer.  Some say I'm unfocused, but a friend recently described me as a free-spirit, so I'm going with that from now on.  I'm in the process of writing a book about all the odd jobs I've held, and the variety of weirdness in the work I've done throughout my life surprises even me.

The arts and entertainment industry has beckoned me in many ways throughout the years.  As a teenager, I wanted to be a model, but lacked the self-confidence and proximity to a major US city to make that happen.  Then, I wanted to be an actress, but Hollywood is a tough place for an insecure 20-year-old girl.  I would go on auditions--or even to restaurants--and compare myself to other women my age, knowing that I was always the fattest and ugliest person in the room.  I left L.A. beaten down, even less confident than when I arrived.  Shortly after moving away from Southern California, during one of my "carpe diem!" moods, I answered an ad looking for a female vocalist and was introduced to a dear friend whom I credit with starting my career as a singer/songwriter.  Well, I say career, but mostly I just wrote and recorded my songs in my bedroom.  I wasn't doing it for money, but it was validating when a little came trickling in.  

After a soul-crushing experience with a cocky producer, I decided to give the music business a little break and just be a mom.  About two years in, out of survival mode and in dire need of some sort of artistic outlet, I began my blog, Year31.  I'd always kept a journal and enjoyed writing, so a blog seemed like a good fit for me.  Blogging led to networking with other bloggers, specifically with film bloggers, which got me to thinking about writing screenplays.  I wrote three feature-length screenplays within a year and I was sure that I was going to keep doing that.  I wrote, directed, and starred in a short film.

Husband and I talked about moving back to California (we were in Kansas at this time), but then a dream job offer came in for him and we moved to Philadelphia instead.  I was a little bummed, but I soldiered on, starting a new blog in the process and trying to come up with a new plan of what I wanted to do with my life.

I decided to write a book and, due to a severe head cold on my writing weekend away, I ended up transcribing my old love letters rather than writing anything original.  That's how Dear Rick, Dear Teri  was born.  I got a rash when I published that, thinking of my parents and other family members reading about my young love life and sexual awakening, but I'm glad I did it, because I got a lot of wonderful messages from people who read it.

In the last two years, I've been writing less but I began painting and making collages again.  I'm no DaVinci, but creating art that I can hang on my walls is a great form of therapy for me.  In this digital age, people don't work with their hands enough, if you ask me.

At the beginning of this year, I found a job that led me back into acting.  Although I can't divulge what that job is, I can tell you that it entails creating aliases and pretending to be someone else a few days a week.  I applied to be an extra in a a television pilot that was shooting locally, and I did that for two days before I decided that it was something I'd like to do more.  While extra work requires little acting, I find it enjoyable and it's nice to get out of the house and on a set, so I try to do it two or three times a month.  Meanwhile, I'm about to start an improv class and submitting for other roles here and there, hoping that if I throw a big enough handful of spaghetti at the wall, one of the noodles will stick (I'm not great with analogies, okay??).  I've had some auditions and one great musical opportunity has arisen that may or may not lead to something exciting for me.  I've learned not to get my hopes up too high when it comes to this sort of thing, because 90% of the time it doesn't work out as I'd hoped.  But I still do hope.  A little.  Because hope is good.

I still have two or three unfinished screenplays a few unfinished songs, a novel, and the book about my jobs sitting on my hard drive.  Sometimes, I'll pull one up and work on it for a bit, chipping away when I have a few moments to myself that don't include motherly duties or work duties or wifely duties. Sometimes, I'll get sad that I'm 34 years old with no one job title, and I'll start to feel like my life has less value than other people's lives.  I know that's not true, of course, but that little voice in the back of my head can be mighty convincing when he wants to be.  

Today, though, I'm feeling lucky.  I'm lucky that I have had the opportunity to try so many different things and make so many different forms of art.  I'm lucky that I've been blessed with several artistic talents, even if I've never focused on a single one to nurture.  I don't need to be rich and famous, after all, so I'll just continue being a free-spirit and trying whatever new thing strikes my fancy.  Unfocused?  Let's go with well-rounded.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Right Back Where I Started.

Back when The Kid was a baby, I began tracing my family tree online.  I started it on a whim and it kept me up into the wee hours of many a morning, because once you start finding Civil War records on your great-great-great-grandparents and reading transcripts of their old journals online, it's nearly impossible to stop.  One ancestor leads to another, and before you know it, it's four o'clock in the morning and you have eighteen search tabs open.  I got as far back as the relatives who came over from Europe in the 1700s before I hit a dead end.  At that point, I moved on to other projects and kind of forgot about the whole thing.

Years went by, life went on, we moved across the country.

Last autumn, weak and coughing on the couch as I watched one of those new genealogy shows on television, I logged back in to my account to have another look at my family tree.  As I retraced my roots and refreshed my memory, I realized something that was almost too good to be true:  my seven-times great grandparents, the first immigrants from Europe in that bloodline, were buried about thirty miles from where I currently live.

My cross-country move had brought me back to where my family had begun!  How fortuitous!  I was going to see those dead people, and I was going to see them right away.  Or, their headstones, rather.  I would not bring a shovel.

It may seem strange that I was so excited to go hunt for a couple of graves, but the sense of urgency was so great that I didn't even contemplate waiting until I was over my illness to venture out.  I left the next morning.

Maybe it was because I knew that The Kid would get bored easily, or maybe it was because Husband never seemed very interested in or excited about genealogy, but I wanted to go alone.  My first stop was at a grocery store in the town of Churchville, PA, where I picked up two lily plants in the hopes that I could find the graves to place them on.  It seemed somehow wrong to show up empty handed to a cemetery, even if these particular stones haven't had visitors in a century or more.

As luck would have it, I had two sets of seven-times great grandparents buried in the same county.  The first set, Isaac and Sarah Edwards, I know very little about.  They had eight children (including my six-times great grandfather) and a great deal of land in Northampton Township, PA.  Isaac was one of the first trustees of the Southampton Baptist Church, and while I have no information about where he is buried, I figured that the cemetery at that church would be a good bet, so off I went.

When I arrived at the church and graveyard, I realized that this probably wasn't the best plan.  While both are still there, the church is now an historical landmark.  It doesn't have running water, electricity, or a congregation, so it remains locked up unless someone rents it out for a wedding.  The graveyard is accessible, but most of the stones are illegible, being so old and weathered.  There was a number listed on the door to call for information, and a very nice woman answered the phone.  She said that there was a map of the stones inside the church, and so I wandered around the yard searching for my ancestors as I waited for her to come and let me in.

There were several bodies by the name of Edwards buried here, but none of which I could trace back to myself, unfortunately.  It was a nice morning, though, and aside from getting my feet very wet, I enjoyed my walking tour of the grounds.  Though I felt a little disappointed and a bit intimidated at the idea of searching through another cemetery, I moved on to my next destination with a sense of hope and optimism.

The next cemetery was a bit easier to navigate.  When I arrived, I discovered that it was located behind a working church and school.  My first stop was in the church office to ask for a map.

There was no map.

There was, however, a nice young woman behind a desk who informed me as to where the oldest graves were, and thus, where I should begin my search.

Who was I looking for?

John Gill was born in 1750 in York, England.  He learned the trade of shoe making from his father, and moved to London where he worked as a shoe maker for a bit.  Not long after, he emigrated to America, manufacturing shoes in Philadelphia.  His wife Sidney was also a first generation American, having emigrated from Ireland at the age of twelve in 1775.  Eventually, the two married and bought a farm in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, where they had at least two daughters--one of which was my six-times great grandmother, and the other of which is buried right next to them.

And I found them within five minutes.

John's was the easiest to read:

That's my great great great great great great great grandma Sydney to John's left, and my aunt Sidney to his right.  I'm glad I brought flowers.  :)

My feet are very dirty from the combination of wet grass and cheaply dyed black leather, but here I am standing directly on top of them:

 Some say it's sacreligious to stand over a grave, but I challenge anyone to walk through a graveyard of this age and not do it.  It's pretty much impossible.

I've heard family rumors that I could possibly be a direct descendant of Henry VIII, though my own investigations into that matter have led me only to dead ends thus far.  There's only so much research that can be done online, and one day I'd love to visit England and Ireland to continue tracing my roots and find out more about my ancestors.

If they hadn't lived, then I wouldn't live.  I think that's what is so exciting about genealogy to me.  So many puzzle pieces had to fall into place just for me to exist as who I am.  If Sidney hadn't met John, if one of them had emigrated a year earlier or later, if George Edwards hadn't moved to Ohio to become an Innkeeper, who knows what would have happened?  And all that is only on my mom's side!

I like to imagine a future in which my great-great-great-great grandchild is sitting down to a computer (or using the microchip in his or her head, whatever) to research the family blood lines.  Everything from here on out will be so well-documented that he or she won't even mentally be able to process all of the information within a lifetime, but I hope I'm discovered.  If you are that grandchild and you've come across this blog post, then hello!  I hope you're a fine person and you appreciate my contribution to your DNA.  If you are not a good person, then please try harder--you have it in you.  Just keep on digging.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hey, Girlfriend!

My life has been fun lately.

About a week and a half ago, I worked as an extra on a television pilot for ABC.  The casting call was for people aged 21-27 to play law students in some classroom scenes.  I haven't been 27 for *mumble mumble* years now, but I submitted myself anyway on the off-chance they'd pick me and I could earn a little extra cash.  I assumed they were desperate for warm bodies when they actually put me on the call sheet.  I figured I'd be one of the out-of-focus people, thrown into a corner in the back to fill up empty space.

As luck would have it, the AD put me in a very, VERY visible seat, one away from a main character, three rows up from another main character, and four rows below another main character.  We shot three different outfits over two days (15 hours each), so if the show airs, I'll let you all know in advance so you can keep an eye out for me.  It shouldn't be hard to spot me--I'm the lone old lady in a sea of kids who were all too young to understand my Felicity references.

Turns out that a television set is a great place to meet friends:  you're stuck together for hours at a time with no cell phones allowed and little else to do other than make conversation with those around you.  I met several lovely people on set, but one whom I hit it off with particularly well.  Her name is Nikki and I can't believe it took us so long to meet because I'm pretty sure we've been been best friends our whole lives, only we just didn't know it.  Or maybe in another life?  What I'm saying is we get along like peas and carrots.

The weird thing about making friends as an adult is that it's uncomfortably similar to dating.  You meet someone, you like them, you hope they like you too, and then you exchange phone numbers/social media profiles so that you can keep in touch and, if all goes well, get together again.  The exchanges can get pretty awkward:

We ended up getting together for lunch, which was very date-y too.  We only had a couple of hours and there was so much to fit in, in terms of getting to know one another, that the conversation flowed freely and breathlessly.  I have high hopes for this relationship.  I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but there's talk of a sketch comedy partnership, complete with short films.

Speaking of films, I've decided to pursue more acting/extra work.  Although a lot of people seem to loathe it, I really enjoy working in the background of a scene.  There's hardly any pressure on you to perform as an actor, you get to see behind the curtain of big productions, there are famous people there, and you get paid.  Awesome, right?  I have no illusions of becoming a famous actress--or even getting a principal role--at this point in my life, but I do hope to get one or two extra jobs a month, just for fun.  If you ever catch me taking myself too seriously as an actress, you have my permission to shoot me--or maybe just shave my head or something.  Shooting me would be a bit of an over-reaction.  What's wrong with you that you'd want to shoot me, anyway?  Jeesh.  Psycho.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Things I think are super-wonderful right now. Winter 2014 Edition.

Sometimes I find happiness within myself.  Sometimes I find it in other things.  Here are 11 things that have been making me happy lately:

Lace Tops.  Yay!  Lace is back!  It's so pretty and romantic and feminine.  I currently own four lacy tops and I'd get more if it wouldn't turn me into the "crazy lace lady".  I'm sure the trend will be over eventually, but I'll ride this one out until the death rattle.

Express skinny jeans.  I thought I couldn't wear skinny jeans, because they always make me look like I've got sausage legs (okay, they point out the fact that I have sausage legs), however, by some miracle, I can wear Express's version.  I think it's got to do with the amount of spandex blended in, or maybe it's because the bottoms don't taper in too much - but whatever it is, these actually look good on me.  They're pretty much all I wear now.  Bonus:  they don't cut off my circulation, like all the brands of skinny jeans I've tried in the past.  Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Hollywood Game Night.  Have you seen this show?  It's so much fun.  It's two teams of three celebrities and one non-celebrity each, drinking cocktails and playing outrageously fun games, most of them based on pop-culture knowledge.  Husband turned me on to it a while back and now I'm addicted.  I even applied to go on the show, and they called me back!  There is no way I won't get chosen to be a contestant, because this game was basically tailor-made for me.  You'll see this first-hand, when I come back and blog with a link to a clip of me winning $25K with the help of Kristin Chenoweth.*

The Soundtrack To Frozen.  I cannot remember a day when I did not have "Let it Go" stuck in my head.  I am okay with this.  Thank you to Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel, and The Roots for saving my sanity and mixing it up with this brand new version of the song:

Home Ownership.  We bought this house!  Renting was nice (especially the not paying for repairs part), but I really appreciate the fact that we won't have to move in the foreseeable future.  I hate moving.  Now that the house is ours, I plan on searching every sneaky nook and cranny for old cigar boxes full of cash that I'm sure the original owner must have stashed before his/her death.*  Because I need money now.  To pay for the house.  It was expensive.

About Time.  I bought this movie before I'd seen it, and it took me nearly a week to get around to watching it, but OH MY GOD THIS IS A GOOD MOVIE.  I've watched it twice in the last 24 hours, and I plan on devouring the special features before I go to bed tonight.  This film is thought-provoking and romantic and sweet and funny and beautiful, all set to a gorgeous soundtrack/score.  I defy you to watch this movie and not fall in love with the two main characters--and possibly all the supporting characters--before the two hours is up.  I plan on playing it on a loop at least until American Hustle is out on blu-ray (also a super-wonderful movie), possibly longer.  Watch it.

Red Lipstick.  The great thing about wearing red lipstick is that you don't have to spend a lot of time on your makeup; red lipstick looks great with little to no eye makeup on.  I've found my two favorite red lipsticks:  Guerlain Rouge Automatique #120 and Bite Beauty high pigment pencil in Cranberry.  The pencil was a limited edition, available around Christmastime, so of course once I run out I'll never find it again.  Luckily, a little goes a long way so I expect it will last a long time.

Plants.  I recently began going to this place near us called Produce Junction (which is another thing that I think is super-wonderful, but I digress).  Aside from having dirt-cheap fruits and vegetables, Produce Junction also sells plants and flowers for insanely low prices.  It started with a $3 orchid, and now every time I go there, I pick up something new to keep alive.  Last time I got two:  a large hydrangea and a large tulip plant, for a grand total of $5.  I want a 5-foot tropical plant next--they're $9.  Something about having plants in my house makes me feel happy.  Maybe it's because they clean the air?  I don't know.  Whatever.  I love them.

My Bobble Bottle.  I've been using a Bobble bottle for at least a year and a half now, and I love it.  When I leave the house, I have to have my keys, my cell phone, and my Bobble bottle, or I feel completely naked.  For those of you not in-the-know, a Bobble bottle is a (BPA-free) plastic water bottle with a built-in carbon filter.  You just replace the filter every few months and - voila! - clean, delicious, water.  Anytime, anywhere.  Without this bottle, I guarantee you that I would drink at least 90% less water than I do now.  Also, they are made in the USA and have excellent customer service.  One of my filters was leaking, so I emailed the company and they sent me two free filters to replace the one faulty one.  If you want to drink more water, one of these babies is the way to go.  You can get them at Target, online, or sometimes at Old Navy.

Coconut Oil.  You've probably seen one of the bajillion "101 uses for coconut oil!" lists floating around out there.  So did I, so when Costco had a 78 oz. jar of the organic stuff on sale for $13, I tossed it in my cart along with my batteries and organic mixed greens.  OH MY GOD.  I can't believe I have been ignoring coconut oil my whole life.  I bake with it!  I moisturize with it!  I cook popcorn in it!  I condition my hair with it!  I wash my face with it! COCONUT OIL IS A MIRACLE.  Not only am I prettier and healthier because of it, but now my whole house smells like coconut, which is maybe the best part.  I know it sounds weird to use it for everything, but I dare you to try it and not love it.  It is perfect.

Chocolate chip scones  I make these about once a week now.  Even though they're not exactly *healthy*, I feel better about eating them than I would chocolate chip cookies, which are my favorite thing on the planet.  Here is my recipe, perfected after several attempts:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup  + 2 Tbsp coconut oil + 1/4 cup butter (or all coconut oil) (or all butter)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla
Another egg or 2 Tbsp of egg beaters 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the first four ingredients in a big bowl with a fork, then add the coconut oil and/or butter.  [If you're using coconut oil (which is delicious), make sure it's very cold.  I like to measure it out before I do anything else, then put it in the freezer until I need it.]  Use a pastry blender to to cut and mix the oil or butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like a coarse meal.

Mix the chocolate chips in evenly.

Take a liquid measuring cup and measure out the milk.  Whisk your egg and vanilla into the measuring cup with the milk.  I said 1 Tbsp of vanilla, but really, I just squeeze a good amount in.  I don't think you can have too much vanilla.

Using a fork, mix a little bit at a time of the wet ingredients into the dry.  Use your hands to mix it together really well at the end.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times if it's too wet.  Don't add too much flour, but just enough so that you can work with it without getting your hands and counter all sticky.

Cut the dough into two halves, make each half into a disc about an inch to an inch and a half thick.  With a knife, cut each round, like a pie, into eight pieces.  Flour your knife if it starts to stick.  

Move each slice onto a baking sheet covered in parchment, placing them about an inch apart.  One batch takes me two baking sheets, which I bake at the same time.

Beat your extra egg with a small splash of milk and paint the tops of the scones with the mixture.  This makes them pretty, but if you don't want to waste an extra egg just to make them shiny and pretty, I don't blame you.  Especially if you, like me, use expensive pasture-raised eggs.  It just feels wasteful.  Husband eats egg beaters, so I just use those, with no milk added.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Careful not to over bake, or they'll dry out.

*The Secret at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this blog post.  I just really like this stuff.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gone Catfishing.

I got a really weird email today from a kind stranger telling me that someone was using my photo to scam people on Facebook.  There was a link to the profile, as well as a name listed:  Sarah Grant.

At first, I thought that the email itself was a fishing scam, and when I clicked on the link, my whole identity would be stolen, my bank account emptied, my car repossessed, my child kidnapped--you know, the usual fears instilled in us all about internet safety.  However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that the email and link were legitimate, and I eventually landed on this page:

Interesting banner choice, "Sarah"--if that IS your name.

That profile picture is me, eight years ago (holy crap!  Was that eight years ago??), in a photo taken for the cover of my single, "High".  Here are photos from the same shoot, on the CD and card insert:

Photo courtesy of my wonderful friend Gilbert

I find the fact that someone is using my picture both deeply disturbing and incredibly intriguing.  I have a lot of questions, such as:

  • What in the world is she doing on her Facebook account that she can't use her own photo?  
  • Is she making money?  
  • Why can't I make money using my photo?  
  • How did she get 928 Facebook friends and 343 Facebook followers?  
  • She's over 12 times more popular than I am, and she barely even posts anything publicly!  What the heck??  
  • Is she meeting men, since her profile says that she's single?  
  • Is Nev Schulman going to call me up for a chat?
  • Is she using other photos of me, that I can't see?  
  • Someone commented under her (my) profile picture saying, "very talented young lady"--is she passing my voice off as hers as well?  

So.  Many.  Questions.

I plan on reporting her profile, of course, but not until I find out more information.  I had Husband send her a friend request so that we could see more of what she posts, but she (or he, possibly) hasn't accepted it yet, and may not at all since Husband didn't change his photo, of us together, before he sent the request.  I would make a fake profile for myself and send her a request, but that seems like a lot of work.

If any of you would like to add this "Sarah" person on Facebook as a friend and report back to me with screenshots, I'd be mighty grateful.  If one of you IS this "Sarah" person, then I would really appreciate it if you would stop using my photo/s.  It's weird.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Excused Absence.

I'm sorry I've been absent so often on my own blog.

I suppose, looking back, I have been posting on a semi-regular basis, but I feel like I've been M.I.A. since...oh...September.  Although most of you probably don't care or haven't noticed, I do have my reasons.  The holidays and cold weather do lend themselves to blog abandonment, but I do feel like I owe an explanation to those of you who care enough to stop by and read what I have to say.

So, here's why I've not been blogging:

1.  Lung Junk.  Obviously.  Aside from being sick and weak and tired all the time, I've found it very difficult to cut through the brain fog and find something interesting to say.  Then, if I'm having a day where I'm feeling better and I want to blog, I've just been so out of practice that I can't put the words together.  

2.  Company.  Since the end of October, my guest room has hosted a steady stream of out-of-town visitors.  I love them all, and I am thrilled to see and spend time with them, but these guests definitely take up a lot of my time before, after, and especially during their visits, hence the blogging (and, let's be honest, writing in general) disruption.  More visitors are planned for February and March, June, July, and August--but I don't doubt that April and May will be booked up at Hotel Brown as well.  Clearly, I need to find a way to manage my time better in order to fit writing into my schedule of running a (free) bed and breakfast.

3.  I Got a Job.  It's not a traditional job in any sense of the word, and I can't talk about what it is that I'll be doing, but I will be working outside of the house on a semi-regular basis from here on out if all goes as planned.  I'm almost done with training.  This is a contract job with a flexible schedule that ought to fit in perfectly with my duties a stay-at-home mom.  Also, it's really weird, challenging, and interesting, which is exactly the kind of thing I enjoy putting on my resume, so...BOOYAH!  Very exciting stuff.  That's all I can divulge about that, so...just forget I said anything.  This conversation never happened.

4.  We're trying to purchase a house.  This one really just creates more stress in my life rather than taking up all that much time, but still - it counts.  When we moved here in 2012, it happened very quickly and we had three days to find a house to rent that was 1) in our budget, 2) in a good school district, and 3) a bearable commute for Husband.  We were very lucky to have found all that in the house we currently live in and, while it's not perfect, it suits our needs nicely.  Our landlord recently informed us that he has to sell this house at the end of our lease this summer, so we are scrambling to get the money and paperwork together to do this so that we don't have to move again.  We still own a money pit house in Kansas, which is rented out for the time being, so that's complicating matters (and stretching our budget).  Hence #3.  But I'm okay with it.  If we can just get through this process and know that we'll be able to live here indefinitely, I'll be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.  *fingers crossed*

5.  There really is no #5, but a list of four things didn't feel long enough.  To round it out, here is a self-explanatory photo dump of the past three months of my life:

So, there you have it.  The dog didn't eat my blog (just all the cookies, that bitch), I didn't get a flat tire, my third aunt twice removed didn't die, but I do have some good excuses for not blogging.  I'll try harder in the coming months to keep Whatever better updated--not for you three readers who come here on a regular basis, but for myself.  The more I blog, the happier I am.  It's a direct correlation.  Science.

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