Monthly Archives: February 2005

Mormons and Vaginas

My co-worker/boss Elissa and I have been interviewing students to participate in our summer internship program. Right now we’re meeting with Public Health and Creative Arts in Therapy students, who attend the campus in Center City. Because I’m hardly at this campus, I don’t many of these students, in many cases, these interviews are the first time I meet them. So I was pleasantly surprised when a cute boy I didn’t know came into the interview room. He seemed smart, bright and interested in community service and so my “hmmm, interesting” antenna started sending signals to my brain. But with all cute, smart, bright and interesting boys, when they seem too good to be true, they probably are. My first indication was when he mentioned that he grew up in Utah. When he said a couple minutes later that he wanted to stay in Philadelphia this summer because he was involved in his church, my heart sank.
I knew what was wrong with him.
He’s a Mormon.
Mormons wear special underwear, breed prolifically and have a historical tradition of polygamy, it’s just not my game.

Tonight I braved the Nor’easter that’s dumping snow on the east coast (I’ve heard of Nor’easters, but I think this may be my first intimate contact with one) to be a volunteer usher at the Vagina Monologues at the Prince Music Theater. I’d never seen the Vagina Monologues until tonight, and I’m glad I saw it. I’ve read snippets of it, but there is nothing like seeing it live. Much has been written about the VM, I don’t think I have anything new or groundbreaking to add, except that it made me realize how lucky I am. I’ve always had a pretty darn good relationship with my vagina. We get along pretty well, in fact, I’m awfully fond of it. (On another note, I have to say that being a volunteer usher is one of the best secrets I’ve discovered recently. Donate an extra hour or two and see the show for free. I love it!).


My treadmill cut me off…

I was never an athlete. I’ve never played a team sport or single-mindedly pursued a solitary sport. P.E. class was an exercise in torture, whether the class was twice a week or every day. I was uniquely gifted with both insecurity and a certain amount of clumsiness along with a certain something that invited teasing and no small amount of ridicule from my peers (especially the ones who could pinpoint weakness with a single sniff). Without desks that other classes furnished, to anchor these emotional vultures to individual locations, the increased access that gym class gave them to me turned it into the period of the day where I just worked really hard not to burst into tears.

There was one instance though, where easy access to tears paid off. Towards the end of 8th grade, the guidance counselors from the neighborhood high school came to my middle school to get us registered for our coming matriculation and pick classes for the coming year. P.E. was compulsory for all 9th graders, a reality I was not willing to accept. So, sitting there with Mr. Skye (my counselor for all four years of high school) and my mom, I started weeping. I know I freaked out Mr. Skye, I’m sure he thought that if he put me in a P.E. class, that I might turn suicidal. When I got my schedule in August, P.E. was absent from my schedule. I hadn’t been waived from the requirement, at that point I was just putting it off. But when I got thrown from a horse two years later and broke my ankle, I found my escape route. I never took P.E. again.

So about two years ago, with this baggage firmly packed, I started exercising on a regular basis. I live in a building with with a small gym, that costs $50 a year. I had no excuse. I wanted to get healthier and lose some weight. I started walking on a treadmill several times a week. My boyfriend at the time was a runner and wanted a running partner. He encouraged me to start running a little bit during my walks. It started out that I could run a REALLY slow five minutes. I remember the first time I ran 15 minutes straight, I was really thrilled. The relationship ended, but I kept running.

And yesterday I hit a milestone. For the first time in my life, my treadmill cut me off. Let me say that again, MY TREADMILL CUT ME OFF! I had run for 60 minutes straight (wow!) and the treadmill shifted into cool down mode. I turned the treadmill right back on, so I could finish my five miles. I’m pretty darn pleased with myself these days, that I’ve committed to running and stuck with it. I’m going to do the Broad Street Run in May, which is ten miles, so I do still have a ways to go, but I’m confident that I’ll get there.

Having gotten to this point in my athletic pursuit, so far away from the kid I was in gym class, I wish that just one of the gym teachers I had could have shown me how much fun it is to be active and exercise. If only one of them had said, “you can run the mile, but you have to build up to it. Start by running five minutes and then build on that. Every day do just a little more and you’ll get there.” But no one ever said that. They just said, “Okay, today’s the day we’re doing the mile, start jogging.” I’m really happy that I’ve developed this relationship with my body and it’s ability to move and I’m not stopping, but I’m sad for the kid I was then. I don’t think I would appreciate my achievements now without having been the kid was, so I’m just going to keep working towards my little goals, a little more each day, knowing that she’s cheering me on.

Beat the Winter Blues

Tonight I went to Jen Hurley’s 7th annual “Beat the Winter Blues” party. Everyone is supposed to wear blue, there is blue punch (which tastes like cough syrup, but has a high alcohol content and then all of the sudden it tastes kind of good) blue food (my uncle Andy would be horrified at this party, the only major conviction he has in life is that you don’t eat foods that are blue), blue leis, blue lights and blue hair (but not the kind that is only found on little old ladies). If you don’t come to the party wearing blue, you are then painted blue or drawn upon with a blue eye liner. It was a good party, made better by the fact that I invited my roommate and he in turn invited about ten of his friends. They really bulked up the party, which it needed and extended it’s life by about an hour and a half. I have no major conclusions about the party at this time, maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to make some of the moments at the party clever and cute and appropriate for parental consumption (hi mom and dad) but for now I must sleep.

Also coming tomorrow (or really later today) is the story of my five mile run today (yesterday)…


Yesterday I went to the PHENND conference (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development) and once I got there, it was a really interesting day. Getting there was an adventure though. It was held at Widener University in Chester, which is a pretty straight shot down I-95 from my place. I mapquested it before leaving work on Thursday, and it said it would take about 25 minutes to get there. Knowing Philadelphia traffic, I decided that to be safe, I would double the amount of time. I needed to be there at 9 am, so I ended up leaving Center City a little before 8 am, thinking that that would PLENTY of time. It was not to be. I was cruising along 95 through South Philly, feeling really good about the time I was making, when, just past the airport the flowing traffic started to resemble Broad Street after an Eagles game, when you haven’t been smart enough to take Septa. It was absolutely locked down, we were moving about two miles an hour. I passed a couple of exits, but I don’t know that area south of the city well enough to attempt to get off and take surface streets. I did finally get to Widener, after two hours in my car (and XPN was NOT playing good music) magically found a parking spot and located the University Center.
(On a side note, most of the time I really enjoy driving a car with a manual transmission, I get a charge out of really working the gears and getting the most from my little four cylinder engine. However, on days when traffic is moving at a glacial pace, an automatic transmission begins to sound like a really intelligent way to go).
Anyway, the sychronicitious part of this post is this. On Monday I sent my resume to the director of the Civic House as Penn. I had mentioned to a friend (Amy) last weekend that I had seen the job posted and was thinking about applying. The only thing that was holding me back was that the job had been posted since December, because that meant in all likelihood, the interview process was over or close to being over. Amy just happened to know the director, and emailed him about me on Monday. My assumption was correct, they were in the second round of interviews and were hoping to hire someone soon. But David, the director, told her to tell me to send my resume on, just for kicks. I sent it and really expected that would be the last I would hear of it. On Friday, the first workshop I pick to go to was one led by Bruce Schimmel, who started the City Paper years ago. It was really interesting, and actually made me start thinking that maybe I should look into becoming a journalist, I found everything he talked about really fascinating. But who should sit down next to me in the workshop? David, the director of the Civic House! Pretty interesting!
Then, later that afternoon, I’m in a workshop that’s dealing with keeping recent college grads in Philly, and Carol, the woman who was my teacher/advisor at the Philadelphia Center five years ago was there! I sit down after the workshop to talk to her, and a young woman across the table from me looks at me and says, “Didn’t I talk to you on the phone yesterday?” It turns out she works at the Philadelphia Committee to end Homelessness and I had called there about a placement for a medical student. Philadelphia, especially the non-profit/University world is VERY small.

Tonight I’m out to dinner with Georgia, Cindy, Una and Una’s newish boyfriend (I’m not even sure if were allowed to call him her boyfriend yet). We’re going to see Ellis Paul at the Tin Angel and then off to Jen Hurley’s beautiful house for the annual “Beat the Winter Blues” party.

My Kitchen has a turquoise stove…

and counter tops. I painted it yellow last May, and put up some shelves, but it hasn’t changed substantially since 1966 when my grandmother moved in. The cabinets are metal with fake wood grain laminate on the doors. All the shelves used to be lined with turquoise rubber that matched the counter tops, but after 35+ years, it started to harden and crumble off in little bits. I love to cook, and my little windowless galley kitchen is not my ideal, but I still love it. I love that it is MY kitchen. I can cook there, and create food that brings people together, fills their stomachs and leaves them satisfied and content. When I cook, I think and I pray. I tell the food how wonderful and nourishing it is. Combining food and flavors is a language I speak well and really enjoy.
Tonight I was cooking my sister’s speciality, “Quinoa, Bean-wa and Green-wa” is my favorite yellow (matches my walls) Dansk pot. It is from the 1970’s and is the perfect size and shape. Rachael Ray has one just like it on her show, which I get a kick out of. She even said once that it was her favorite (on the show where she cooked a veggie and garbanzo bean stew). I admit it, I love Rachael Ray. She was at Kitchen Kapers on 16th st. a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t get out of work to go see her. The only problem with her is she used an awful lot of pork products. It’s not that I don’t eat pork, but my mom is Jewish, and I have an instantaneous guilt onset when I eat it. Best to stay away!
Anyway, back to the yellow pot. The only problem with it is that the lid has a lip that catches food and liquid and has to be cleaned carefully. I have a brush which is designed for cleaning baby bottles (I don’t really know why I have it, I found it in the apartment when I moved in, I think it must be leftover from when my sister and I were really little and my mom would need to clean our bottles. My grandparents never got rid of a thing)! These days there aren’t any baby bottles around here (thank god!) that need to be cleaned, so I mostly use this long, skinny brush to make sure my pot lid gets clean to my slightly complusive standards. Everytime I do it, I check to make sure that my roommate isn’t around, because he already thinks I’m a little crazy when it comes to cleanliness, no need to further encourage that mostly accurate assumption.

Where I Live…

I live in apartment 2024, in a high rise in Philadelphia. My family has lived in this apartment since 1966. The first time I came to this apartment I was 3 months old, it has been the most consistent home in my life, and I feel so lucky to have such a safe and comfy place to live. On the other hand, it does have it’s problems. Like the fact that I am the youngest peson in the building. The elevator doors are timed to close so that the slowest person with a walker is able to get to the door. It can be a little infuriating.