Friday, March 31, 2006

News Flash: It's Too Early for Flip-Flops!

Why is it that the second the weather gets above 50 degrees, people break out their beachwear? The dress code for girls on campus consists solely of flip-flops, sloppy pants or skirts, and hoodies (enough with the hoodies, already). I can't imagine women in France walking around that way--it's just so lazy. I can kind of understand sandals (though I still think people should wait until April), but I honestly don't think ff's should be worn unless (1). you're going to the beach or pool; (2). at home where absolutely no one can see you; (3). you're about to shower at the gym and don't want to contract athlete's foot in the public facilities; or (4). all of your other shoes have been destroyed in a fire and you're just wearing the ff's on the way to Payless.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Oh, yeah, we got the house

After a harrowing weekend of not discussing the issue one bit, we found out on Monday that the nameless, faceless investors owning the property on Oxford Street accepted Shawn's bid. He was convinced he wouldn't get it...I believed he would. A little about this house: it has a huge cement backyard that Shawn has alreayd mentally redone with a jacuzzi, Zen garden, a small bar, a few trees, and weatherproof patio furniture; the front is white stucco with brown trim (I think we should paint the trim a vibrant blue); there's a wood burning stove in the center of the living room so that he and I may fulfill our life long dream of playing Little House on the Prairie every day; two bedrooms and a large bathroom upstairs, and a small powder room next to the small kitchen. Oh, and the refrigerator in the mud room. It will most likely be easy to move the fridge into the kitchen. My dream is to take out the powder room entirely to expand the kitchen into the mud room; that way, we could create a much larger, eat in kitchen. Shawn suggested adding French doors which would also be totally hot. Additionally costs so far: $16,987 (give or take). We would also like to purchase window boxes for the three windows in front and possibly shutters. Oh, dear lord, I'm becoming a sub-urban-ite; a strange class of home owners who live in urban areas but are as obsessed with home improvement as the suburban neighbors they mock.

I have noticed lately that among the new class of WB/UPN schlocky shows like Gilmore Bitches and One Pine Tree Mountain, Summerlock, and Southeastern Alexa Beach are the return of the stars from past melodramatic hour long shows geared toward 14 year olds. Jennie Garth aka Kelly from 90210 is on a show now that will probably last a coupel weeks, the guy who played Bailey in Party of Five was on another show last night (he looks exactly the same except he has a slight wrinkle in between his eyebrows, but then again, Bailey always was a worrier), and the older brother from Pof5--the one with the perpetual five o'clock shadow--now stars in the run away hit, Lost. I know I recently saw someone else in that genre on a new show, but I can't think who it was. I am happy that Duckie from Sixteen Candles has his own (very very very stupid) sitcom with fellow former 80s teen scenester, Charlie Sheen and I am even happy that Doogie Howser has an equally bad TV comedy too, though it distresses me to look at him b/c he has aged which reminds me that I am older which reminds me that I shouldn't be watching shows on the WB any more, I should be acting mature. This phenomena of recently returned TV icons makes me nervous that Tori Spelling will pop up some where. I won't be able to handle that. She's one of those many Hollywood TCOFP's (Talentless Children of Famous People) who still appears in fashion magazines on a regular basis even though she hasn't done jack shit and still has a horsey face.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nine lives

On the way home from the subway yesterday, some kid on a mud bike raced toward me on the sidewalk. He almost hit me, but veered off between two cars, jumped off his bike and let go of it. The bike sailed into the air, hit the windshield of a passing car, and bounced off into the street. The car didn't even stop. It was very strange. It was almost like the guy was aiming at the car, but who knows. I said, Are you okay? Was that my fault? Another guy across the street asked the same thing. The kid didn't answer. He picked up his bike, inspected it, and walked off. So then I started wondering about how close I had actually come to being hurt; if the kid hadn't veered off, he would've hit me at full speed. That made me think of other ways I could've died in my lifetime.

1. Every kid has to almost choke on a coin. I sucked a nickel down my windpipe while watching Mutal of Omaha's Wild Kingdom when I was four or five. My uncle picked me up by my ankles and thwacked me on the back until it shot out. Then I got ice cream.

2. When I was about 6 or 7, my parents and my stepdad's boss and the boss' wife went into a bar at a Holiday Inn. The bar didn't allow kids so my mom asked me to stay outside the bar in a hallway by the vending machines while they went in for a drink or two. While I was there, some weird looking guy came over and started talking to me about how he really liked little girls and how he wished he had a little girl of his own. He actually asked me if I wanted any candy. He said he was going to go get change for a dollar from the lobby. I went into the bar and told my mom. The boss' wife came back out with me. She pretended to be having a drink of water from the fountain until he returned. He put money in the machine and tried to talk to me again. She yelled at him and told him to be ashamed of himself. He yelled back and said, I used to have a little girl of my own! I was just talking to her. He took off. I slipped my hand in the candy machine to grab the M&M's that he'd bought for me.

3. Never go into the wave pool at Adventure Island. It is not fun. It is dangerous, particularily if you're not a confident swimmer, can't see in the water, and are only four feet tall. I almost drowned at Adventure Island, or at least it felt like it. The life guard reached into the water and pulled me out. There was no need for mouth to mouth rescucitation, but I didn't go in again.

As an adult, there's only been one time that I felt the coppery taste of fear in my mouth and that was at three AM one night driving down the Tampa Causeway after acting in this weekend long mystery theatre thing (you know, where there's a loose story line and guests pay for the weekend to try to figure out who did what. I played the femme fatale. It was totally dumb and I wasn't very good at it. I spent most of my time locked up in the hotel room). A car came up out of nowhere, going way too fast, and I had to swerve off the road to avoid being hit by it. The driver was obviously drunk, swerving back and forth across the yellow lines. I waited until the tailights disappeared over the bridge before I put the car into gear. I expected to get to the other side and see the car flipped over. There was nothing.

Or how about the times you don't know about at all, when you meet or pass someone intent on doing another person harm, maybe looking for someone to hurt. Why do they pass over you? I always tell myself it's because I look like such a nice person--but not too nice, and that's why no one has ever tried to rob, kill, rape, or kidnap me. That I know of, anyway.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fishy Fishtown

We looked at three more houses yesterday at lunch. Okay, but first I have to explain the bus ride over there--the Number 3 down Cecil Ave. to the blue line elevated Berks stop. Not a very eventful trip until 4th street when a pack of loud white people got on. A mother and daughter team sat across from me, both toothless though the daughter probably wasn't older than forty. The daughter said, I don't got no money for the fare. Her mom said, I don't neither. She went up to the front of the bus and poured a bunch of change in the till. The bus driver didn't say anything, suggesting that this happens a lot and that some money is better than none. In the seat above them was another toothless man in a baseball cap with a Camel cigarette tucked behind his ear, a droopy moustache, and a prison tattoo in the webbing by his thumb. He was being talked at by a woman he seemed to have met at the bus stop, an older lady with tri colored hair and a nose piercing who was saying something about how beer is bottled. There I sat in my perky, button-up designer (though purchased at a consignment shop) raincoat and brown suede boots, my image personifying the Sesame Street challenge, Which one of these things does not belong? We passed crumbling buildings, falling down wire fences, garbage heaps, and homes with boarded up windows or burnt roofs. Urban blight--I'd ask why no one does anything about it, but the answer is clear: poor people don't matter in America. I just didn't realize how bad it is. When I got off the bus, I had to walk across a large abandoned lot littered with trash and cigarette butts. I felt incredibly conspicuous. I was already imagining how sorry Shawn would feel after he learned I'd been gang-raped by a pack of fifteen year olds b/c he told me to take the bus to this location. Obviously, I made it. Later, Dominic told us that his wife doesn't even like to be there in the daytime and would never walk in that area at night. Kali said that in her neighborhood (sort of near Port Richmond) there are free-range dogs---outdoor dogs who ostensively belong to someone but who roam the streets all day. Are we in Cambodia?

Okay, so the first house we looked at was on Wilt Street--a cute two story home with an ornate fireplace (non working) and ugly carpeting downstairs. I don't remember much more about it, except that it had a small back yard, but the people next door to ours had bags of garbage in their yard along with a dozen cans of Miller High Life. Dominic said, Hey, at least they have good taste in beer! (He was kidding. I hope). Ix-nay on that house. The second place was the Ikea house, the kitchen done up with all new shiny silver appliances and modern shelving, a skylight above the stairs, big closets, and a black and white tiled bathroom beyond one of the bedrooms. Dominic pointed out that having to go through a bedroom to get to the bathroom was a problem. Shawn readily agreed, b/c he's set on the Oxford St. house and we could've been shown a fully furnished three story in Bella Vista for $10,000 cheaper and he still would've said no. Shawn and I had a hissing fight in the front room while Dominic pretended to be examining the woodwork in the kitchen. Last house was a giganto three story place down the street from where the ambulance was the night before (see previous entry). A really run down exterior, but if you were someone with any restoration talent, it could be an awesome place to fix up.

The upshot is that Shawn put in a bid for the Oxford house. We went to Dominic's to sign the papers. Dominic lives in a palatial mansion, a three story palace with a Gone with the Wind staircase, huge third floor deck, chandeliers, a big back yard, what can only be described as a parlor with ornate antique sofas and paintings from local artists--a totally cool place that Shawn and I will be moving into when Shawn defaults on his mortgage.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coming soon: Trashy Neighbors

Shawn and I did not get the bid on the house we wanted on Miller Street. He took it very hard. I wasn't so so disappointed b/c I know we'll find something else and the back yard was somewhat claustrophobic and there was a basketball hoop nearby--it's possible that every night at midnight, some 15 year old would be out there practicing lay ups until 2 AM. We drove around Fishtown last night to look at a few other properities Dominick suggested. We were walking over to one of the houses a little further North when we saw some sidewalk drama unfolding across the street; a body flat on the sidewalk and a girl yelling and swinging at three fat guys standing nearby. One of the guys tried to hold her back while she continued to swing, her t-shirt riding up to show the white ring of her stomach hanging over the top of her jeans. An ambulance came and the girl knelt down and embraced the person on the ground, who couldn't have been that bad off, because he hugged back and there wasn't a pool of blood around him. The girl kept saying, "Leave him alone! Leave him alone!" though I didn't see anyone trying to interfere. Meanwhile, Shawn was commenting on the structure of the house we were supposedly looking at, but I wasn't listening, instead imagining living on this block where sad little street fights break out and people throw bottles at one another. We're going to try to look at a couple of other places at lunchtime, but I didn't like Fishtown last night.

I've been reading a badly written book called Manhattan Gothic on the subway ride to and from work. Be sure never to check it out from the library. 2 major problems that cause me to roll my eyes.

1. The dialogue doesn't remain consistent with the characters. For instance, the protagonist is involved with an Italian countess (aren't we all?) who speaks English, but in a somewhat stilted, old world way. That's fine. I mean, the novel is supposed to take place now, but it's not like the author has her saying, Dost thee wish for a bit of ale? But every once in awhile, the Countess will say something completely out of character like, "Well, why did you break up with her then?" (pg. 76).

2. Overuse of adverbs. Really, totally, completely. "I walked slowly down the corridor, boldly looking into each room, wondering quietly if she was being totally honest with me." I made that up, but adverbs = lazy writing.

Meanwhile, I haven't written any fiction in forever, so I shouldn't bitch. At least he's published (she typed, bitterly).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Good Luck, Your Coffee Sucks

I am trying very hard to patronize a new local coffee shop on 9th street, just steps away from Starbucks. It's a cute place with unaffordable local art on the walls and the stiff looking pastries that all coffee shops seem to offer. However, the coffee just isn't as good as it is at Starbucks. Perhaps it's unfair to hold a small operation up to a mutli-kajillion dollar conglomerate like Starbucks who can afford to have 20 people per store in the back scrubbing out the coffee machines, grinding fresh beans, and maintaining just the right temp and aroma. Still, I drink coffee every morning and some mornings, I just want it to be good instead of okay. Attention struggling coffee shops with artistic themes: Put less effort into decor and more effort into making really, really good coffee. I'd like to like the Bean on South Street but their brew consistently tastes stale and bitter. And David Cross has allowed himself to be quoted on a Starbucks coffee sleeve. Very sad?

In other news, Shawn and I are still waiting to find out from Dominick if the owners are going to accept the bid he put in for their property. He's completely stressed out. I feel like we'll get the place but it would be nice to know for certain. I considered rebuilding the house in Sim land to see how we could decorate it, but then I came to my sense. I play the game enough as it is.

We were extremely popular this weekend--went over to Carrie's (owner of the white Spirit cat) for dinner and to celebrate my friend Padhraig's birthday. After dinner, a bunch of other people showed up for clover leaf shaped chocolate cake and then departed again to go to Fluid. I met a girl who lives in Fishtown and one of those very earnest conversations you have after drinking 3 apple martinis and 15 glasses of red wine. We exchanged phone numbers. Another girl who was there gave me her e-mail. I am such a girlfriend slut. On Saturday, my friend Jess came into town and we forced her to go to Fishtown with us to look at the house. She seemed to like it. I always forget how funny Jess is. We had lunch at Standard Tap where I ordered a gigantic ham and cheese sandwich piled high with ten pounds of ham. Finally, Saturday night we went to dinner at Shawn's boss' condo; a really beautiful place with high ceilings and a loft bedroom and a girl cat named Mavis. I spent most of the night attempting to win the cat over.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Like, where's my like, calc class anyway?

And here's what I don't like about being on a college campus: you will see girls on their way to class dressed as though they are sleep-walking. This morning, I heard someone behind me, shuffling along in a way was irritating and then this girl zipped by wearing black fuzzy bedroom slippers. The girls also like to appear in flannel pj bottoms. It was twenty degrees yesterday and I saw this person clip-clapping along in green flip flops. I think even jogging pants are offensive if you're not on your way to the gym. I mean, make an effort--push yourself to actually put on jeans. Kids these days!

Shawn made a bid on a house yesterday. We are breathlessly awaiting Dominick, our realtor, to tell us if the offer is accepted, denied, bargained up, laughed at, etc. My top favorite things about the house include: cute foyer with French door, beautiful house front of red brick, strange cubby hole in the stairs that descend to the basement, exposed stone in the basement (which is also big), the pink bathtub, the black and white tile in the kitchen, the formidable black spacecraft refrigerator, the swirly details on the staircase, the nonworking fireplace with the heating grill inside, the hardwood floors throughout, the narrow friendly street, the historic graveyard around the corner, the built in microwave and the dishwasher, the laughter of the little children outside our windows (not really).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm rushing a sorority!

Now that I'm on a campus again, I'm reminded of all of things I like and one or two things I don't. Within short walking distance I can: rent a video, have my hair cut at the Chop Shop, go to the bank, buy tokens, purchase Rice Krispie treats or other necessities from the7-11, check out and return books from the library (being able to return them is key. I just paid off $65 in overdue fees to the Philadelphia Public Library which has no drop boxes and is open from 12-4, Mon.-Thurs. every other week), go to the gym, see a lecture, concert, or art exhibit, browse through Barnes and Noble, order a Starbucks chai vanilla latte, search the Web on a laptop at the new computer lab, buy a beer from Draft Horse, play pool, and stuff my face with falafels, crepes, or Chinese food from the numerous silver kiosks parked on street corners. In my old job I could: run five blocks to buy a crusty, overpriced sandwich and hurry back to eat it b/c we only were given half an hour for lunch and were not allowed to eat at our desks (my stepdad had a similar rule: no eating outside of the kitchen. So in a way, it was a familiar rule). Every day when I walk down the sidewalk and see the Temple flags blowing in the wind, I say thank you, thank you, thank you, to the world.

Monday, March 13, 2006

...Is a very, very, very fine house

We've been looking at houses lately--actually, we've spent two days searching for open houses and have looked at two houses with our new bff and realtor, Dominick, who won us both over by paying for one beer at Royal Tavern after we looked at the first place. He showed us a property in Fishtown owned by a guy named Harmon who put in all new everything. It's a three story, extended trinity with a large back lot, hardwood floors, and exposed brick walls. The stairs wind up and up and the ceilings are high and spacious. It has air conditioning. He had it decorated sparesly, a few New Yorker magazines thrown about along with three guitars. He drank coffee while talking to us at 6 PM at night. Shawn gets nervous and stuttery in these situations, I don't know why. I go the other way and act all relaxed and personable and interested so that probably ever person whose house/apt. we walk through thinks I'm a shoe-in while in real life, I'm thinking, No way, Jose. Jess commented on this behavior when she and Jodie and I were searching for apts. before I moved here. We'd walk out of a crack den and I'd say, Well, that was disgusting, and she'd say, Thank God! I thought you were ready to sign a lease. We found an open house yesterday just by driving around. A gigantic Victorian home with a gorgeous stone back yard including bubbling fountain and a full deck on the second story of the house. They even had a pool room and two separate staircases. We knew immediately that it was out of our price range, though it was fun to walk through. You'd need at least 6 more people to make that house seem full. Shawn was convinced that the owners were going through a divorce b/c there were two separate bedrooms. I think someone died. If we had $350,000, we could've had it. We meet with Dominick today at 1 to discuss our options in terms of mortgage, etc. We're also going to ask him to show us other properties in Fishtown, because we haven't really had a chance to look at other affordable properities. We did slightly cheat on Dominick this weekend by giving out an email contact to the Victorian property realtor, but I would've felt bad if I had left without at least some small sign that we were interested. I didn't want him to feel bad.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"That would be grrrrrrrreeeeeeatttttt...."

Whenever I have to ask other people at work to complete a task, I feel like the manager from Office Space. It's difficult to compose an e-mail request without including a line such as "that would be super...If you don't mind...I'd really appreciate it if..." You're obviously telling them to do something which is not optional, so to write "that would be great" is the same thing as typing "as if you have a choice" so maybe it's better to leave off the "thanks so much" at the end. My latest task will involve choosing candidates to interview for an open position we have here. I may also be interviewing them by myself or with Kim. I've never had to do that before. I promise I won't ever ask anything as dumb as "how does this job fit into your overall career plan?" Someone asked me that once during an interview for a fairly low-paying administrative job, and I wanted to reply, "Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of being someone's secretary." The dumbest thing I ever said in a job interview was via phone when the interviewer asked me to list 3 qualities others might use to describe myself. I hate questions like that. I said, "Honest, communicative, and..." My mind was racing to retrieve the word "disarming" from my vocabulary because someone has actually attributed that quality to me, but I could only think of "disingenuious" and I knew that wouldn't be good. I said, "And silly." The interviewer gave this surpised bark of a laugh and I never heard from her again. Julie was telling me about a woman they interviewed who, when asked if she had any questions, wanted to know if she would have her own office and a guaranteed parking space. I've been to one or two interviews were the interviewer seemed more nervous than I was. I hope I don't act like that when we have people in.

I can't stop eating these Rice Krispie treats sold by the 7-11. I'd bet anything I could consume an entire pan of RK treats without any difficulties.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

And another thing about the subway

You get to look at cooler outfits from people on the subway; hipsters, young and old. There's a set of parent hipsters who take the subway around the same time I do. The woman has dyed copper hair and piercings and the dad wears a stocking cap, Cardhardts (sp?), and cool shoes. The kid, of course, is decked out in striped stockings like Pippi, a tiara, and mismatched skirt and shirt. You know they are the kind of parents who have decided to let their child pick out her own clothes in the morning to foster a sense of indepence and identity. The other day, I watched the little girl pull the following out of her father's coat pocket: a pair of sunglasses, keys, and a cookie with lint on it which she ate. On the way home from work on Wed., I unsmartly sat down in the middle of these two teenage black girls, not realizing they were friends and having a conversation. They kept talking over me and I pretended to read my book. Then a guy they knew from school came into the car and joined the conversation. I made the second mistake of reacting to something they said and then the guy started talking to me and they started talking about my reactions, in a benign way, but I was uncomfortable. They exited the train at City Hall. The woman across from me (an aging white punkster with really black hair) said to no one in particular, Thank God. I was about to shoot myself in the head!

FYI, there are times when body piercings go wrong. I saw a nose piercing mistake this morning at the coffee shop; the barrista, who was otherwise cute and had her hair in a 1940s twist, had a very long, prominent nose that turned under and she'd added a medium-sized hoop between the nostrils. It looked horrible, because not only did it emphasize what was clearly her worst feature, it also gave her a distinctly oxish appearance.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

My name is Mikey, yo

In Chicago when I took the El from Sheridan to Chicago Ave., I never ran into the same people twice. Never. So, I was wondering if I would recognize anyone now that I ride the subway again. My first day, this skinny short white guy got on the train at Walnut/Locust. He had a bleary eyed look as if he'd been working the night shift or smoking pot or both and he was wearing this puffy black jacket with "Mikey" stitched in white cursive. This first second I saw him, I thought, He was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He just didn't look right. I also noticed that he had a blue homemade tattoo in the webbing by his thumb on his right hand; the kind of tattoo you do yourself or that you get in prison. I know this sounds totally classist and it is. He got off the train before I did; can't remember which stop, maybe Spring Garden. Anyway, I noticed him mostly because of his jacket. At the end of the day, I was riding back and Mikey got on again. We had both had a full day's work. I wondered if he recognized me. Probably not. I've only seen him one other time since then, but I liked that I saw him twice in the same day.