Monthly Archives: March 2007

Socializing at Trader Joe's

I got out of class early tonight and headed over to Trader Joe’s to pick up some basic food items that keep things running over here in apartment 2024. Wandering through the store, I tossed ground turkey, lettuce, frozen spinach and Basque Shephard’s Cheese (a 100% sheep’s milk cheese to which I am positively addicted) into my cart before I turned down the juice, snack & nut aisle and ran smack into my friend Angela.

She had a full shopping cart and was contemplating a package of sliced, dehydrated banana in the hopes of finding something to munch on at work. I recommended raw almonds as they are good, but not so wonderful that you can’t stop eating them.

It had been weeks since we had seen each other so it was terrific to have an unscheduled run-in. We started chatting away, when she looked at her cart and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get this all home.”

“My car is here, I’d be happy to give you a ride.”

“That would be perfect! Thank you!”

Not being someone who often shops with friends, it was a kick to finish up the errand laughing and talking. I caught her up on some of the recent fun I’ve been having in the dating world and heard how things in her work and love lives were chugging along. Dropping her off in front of her house, the traffic patterns stayed clear long enough for me to hop out and give her a hug before she dashed for her door with three overfilled bags of groceries.

These moments of unplanned, unanticipated encounters with friends are part of what I live for. And part of why Philadelphia is home.

What was once lost

Yesterday morning, just before 11 am, I found myself racing through Reading Terminal Market, looking for the stairs that would take me up to the administrative offices. As I walked, I pulled my gloves off and folded my umbrella, trying to get myself presentable for the meeting I was about to have. The scarf came next, and as I unraveled it from my neck, I heard a clink that sounded something like a few beans being dropping into an empty jar. The sound registered in my head and I thought briefly about whether I could have pulled a necklace off with my scarf, before remembered that I wasn’t wearing a necklace.

I kept going and arrived at the meeting slightly breathless and two minutes late. As we sat down to talk, I shook my head gently to get my hair out of my face and realized that I only felt the jangling of earrings from one side of my head. Reaching up, I confirmed that I was only wearing one earring and that the other one must have been what I heard fall. I pulled the lone earring off as discreetly as I could while talking and tucked it into my bag. The meeting went really well (if it becomes what I hope it becomes, I will be telling you all more about it soon) and I was on my way.

As I headed back downstairs, I started to retrack my steps, hoping that maybe I would be able to find the errant earring. I was already starting to feel the pangs of loss that come when you no longer have something you like as I peered under tables and along the sides of stalls. It was a pair that my sister’s friend had made for her and I had coveted for a few years. During my last trip home I had finally managed to talk Raina into surrendering them to me (I was successful mostly because Raina recently stretched her ears to accomodate large hunks of wood and so can’t really wear regular earrings anymore) and I didn’t particularly want to tell her that I had lost one.

I had only been looking for about 90 seconds when I glanced around a plastic garbage can and spotted the earring, sitting there quietly as if it was waiting for me to come back for it. I reached down and snatched it up, celebrating internally that I had found it. A few people had been watching me as I looked under the tables and when I straightened up I made eye contact with one man who gave me a grin and a thumbs up sign.

Finding something you’ve lost in a public place is, at least in my book, one of the top five most satisfying things that can happen in life.

Means of Procrastination–Carnival of the Mundane

I’ve been sitting in front my computer for hours, trying to figure out how make a short story for my narrativity theory class work.  It’s about how the small scents and sights of life can transport us to other times and places.  Which, if you think about it, is a fairly mundane story topic.  While I sort all this out, why don’t we go and see how other people handle the mundane.

Over at Living the Romantic Comedy, Billy pulls his readers in with pictures of his girlfriend’s dogs.

Meanwhile, Kerry works herself into a frothy rage at the inadequacies of Yahoo mail at No Accent Yet.

In a post entitled Hi, Oprah, Cheryl ponders how a woman could reach adulthood without knowing how to pump her own gas.

Batya ruminates on the cycles of life as her community buries their local pediatrician, a woman who loved to dance.

Alex addresses the signs, symptoms and treatments of chicken pox.

MadKane rhymes her way through a request for a spam filter that actually works.

Karen works out a system for either relieving or increasing your suffering in life.

Is Alton Brown a seafood psychic?  Sparky’s experience seem to indicate that he is!

Nance loves Hugh Laurie and believes that men should either be nice to look at or smart, but not both at the same time.

Deezee examines those pesky roadside signs that tell us exactly how fast we are driving, in an attempt to guilt us into slowing down.

Mark presents the lost powerpoint slides of Barbie.

I think I’ve had enough mundane entertainment to propel me back into schoolwork.  Thanks to all the CotM players for keeping me refreshed and entertained!

Random Friday–I am mellow gold

1. There’s Gotta be a Change, Jonny Lang (Lie to Me)

2. Your Love is Everything, JUDE (Sarah)

3. Lock Your Devils Up, Nathan (Travelling Roadshow)

4. Sick of Me, Ani DiFranco (Reckoning)

5. Even So, Rachael Yamagata (Happenstance)

6. Lucy, The Black Crowes (I Am Sam)

7. Beercan, Beck (Mellow Gold)

8. Tappy Tappy, The Gypsy Moths (Live on KBOO)

9. Bowl of Oranges, Bright Eyes (Lifted or The Story is in the Soil)
10. Looking East, Jackson Browne (Looking East)

The Gypsy Moths were my sister’s first band, back in the days when she had first moved out of my parents’ house and was just starting out on this path to make music her life. The band started out with just the two girls, although by the time this particular song was recorded, they had added a drummer and bass player.

Raina and Meredith have been friends since middle school and by the time they were 21, had been playing music together for nearly ten years. They learned to harmonize together and pushed one another to further and more challenging heights on guitar. When they played together, there was an incredible syncronicity that was hypnotic to watch.

The band slowly fell apart when dynamics of dating and jealousy subsumed the magic. Raina headed out on her own while Meredith chose to have a baby.

Tappy Tappy is a song that went through several iterations before landing on Despite the Crushing Weight of Gravity as Nameless Ship. On that album the intro is played by a small assortment of string instruments that are collected and amplified into the sound of an orchestra. When Raina plays that song in performance, she alters the tuning enough so that she can get a similar effect by firmly tapping the strings, turning the guitar into a melodic percussion instrument. Which is why it’s called Tappy Tappy.

I had to go to great lengths to get my copy of this live jam session that was originally broadcast on KBOO, the public access radio station in Portland (when I was in the 4th grade, I got to act in a radio play that aired on the station). I missed it when it originally aired and so I got in touch with the host of the show to see if I could get a copy. He extorted a contribution to the station from me, saying that he would be happy to send me a copy. Weeks went by as I bugged him via email for my copy. Finally he told me that he had already given all the copies of the show to my sister. It took me another several months to get her to send me the copy. Of course now, you the live disc is available on CD Baby. The injustice. To this day I still get pledge requests from KBOO.

If you’ve made it this far and still want more, check out my fellow Random Friday spinners:


Announcements, announcements, announcements

Tomorrow I’m hosting the Carnival of the Mundane. The last time I did this back last September was a hoot, and so I’m looking forward to it once more. If you have a blog post that’s particularly mundane, please feel free to send it my way for inclusion.

Over at Fork You, we’ve got a couple of things brewing with Di Bruno Bros, which is really kind of exciting. They have added us to their affiliate program and are offering a 15% discount off all website purchases to Fork You viewers through Thursday, March 22nd. In order to get the discount, be sure to use that link to get over there and punch in the discount code BB15 when you’re checking out.

Since I typed announcements in the title three times (in my head I sing it the way they used to do at camp), I figure I need to include a third announcement. So, mark your calenders for Sunday, April 15th at 5 pm. That’s the date and time that my sister, Raina Rose, will be performing in the chapel of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Half the proceeds go to the musical instrument fund at the church and the other half go to Raina.

Burnt toast down the hall

About half an hour ago, I was sitting at my desk, vaguely thinking about buckling down and getting some homework done, when an acrid smell started niggling at my olfactory senses.  Just as I registered the smell, I started hearing the far-off sound of a smoke detector going off in one of my neighbor’s apartments.  I ignored it, knowing how easy it is to set off our smoke detectors, but soon the smell got stronger and the building system went off.  I sighed, put some shoes on and headed out into the hallway to find out if I actually need to evacuate.

Just as I opened my door, the building manager and Emilio came striding down the hallway and went into Mr. Levine’s apartment.  After they passed by, I went down the hall to check in with Mrs. B, who was standing in her doorway with her part-time housekeeper.  With her hands on her hips, she slowly shook her head back and forth and shouted in order to be heard over the alarm, “I worry about him.”  With a toss of her head, she indicated that she was talking about Mr. Levine.  I nodded agreement and shrugged my shoulders helplessly.  Just then Emilio came out and yelled that there was nothing to worry about and we could go back to our apartments.  That it was just badly burnt toast.  The few small clusters of neighbors that had gathered in the hallway by the elevators dissolved, and everyone returned home.

I’ve been worrying about Mr. Levine myself.  He’s lived in the building as long as I’ve been alive.  I remember one summer when I was about six, he and his wife invited Raina and me over for cookies and to see the stuffed mechanical dog they kept in their apartment in place of a real pet.  His wife died some years back, and his body has gotten increasingly frail.  During one of the ice storms in February I spotted him struggling with the lock at his front door, his head black and blue and bandaged.  I walked over to see if I could help and asked him what had happened.  He had a hard time getting all the words out, but was able to sketch the story about with a few sentences and some hand gestures.  He had slipped on a patch of icy sidewalk and had gone down.  When I saw him, he was just getting home from the hospital.

Up until recently, he was still filled with a sense of fun.  When we would pass in the hallway he’d always stops to harmlessly flirt and joke.  He’d sometimes teasingly get into a boxing stance and mock-challenge me to “put my dukes up.”  The last time he did that though, it took his body so long to find the position that it nearly made me weep watch.  However, I kept smiling for him.  More and more now, he keeps his head down when he’s walking by and says hi with a sketch of a wave.

I’m afraid that he’s getting to the point where he can’t live alone anymore.  I don’t know if he has children, but I rarely see anyone coming to visit him, so if he does, I imagine they don’t live nearby.  Watching people I’ve known for years rapidly degrade without family support is one of the tougher things about living in a building with a large number of older people.

Fork You: Get Your Irish Up

The next episode of Fork You is now available for your viewing pleasure.  We made this one on my first day back from a week-long bout with the flu, so please forgive the coughing.  I tried not to cough on the food too much, and I washed my hands repeatedly, so things were basically safe to eat.  Thankfully, corned beef and cabbage is one of Scott’s signature dishes, so it was safe to trust him with the majority of the work.  I managed to restrain myself from ripping the utensils out of his hands most of the time.

The Irish Soda Bread was a particularly delicious surprise, but make sure to eat it promptly, as I discovered that it really didn’t age well.  But fresh from the oven with some butter and honey, it was nearly transcendent.

Choosing home

When I moved to Philadelphia back in January of 2002, I thought of the move as a temporary. I figured that I would spend three or four or possibly even five years here before heading back out west. I had been a west coast girl my entire life and the idea of making myself at home anyplace else didn’t seem possible.

But then years passed and I started to really dig in to Philadelphia. It became so that I had far more friends here than I did back there in Portland. I started to establish some professional networks and discovered that Center City was really my own little small town. My church became like a second home and now I watch the three and four-year-olds running around after the service, remembering when they were anticipated concepts, stunned at how fast they’ve grown up.

From time to time, I read Robert Fulghum’s online journal. He’s the one who wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Before he found fame with that book, he worked as a Unitarian Universalist minister and art professor. It’s no wonder I like him. His occasional posts always interest me, because he has the ability to find inspiration and beauty in the very small, everyday tasks and activities of life. I aspire to see and capture the world in the way he does. It was his entry entitled “Wandering Home Wondering” that inspired me to think about home, because he opens that essay with the question “where’s home for you?”

For a large portion of this fall, I thought that I would be leaving Philadelphia to pursue more grad school when I finished my current program in December. I was excited by the idea of more education, but really struggled with the thought of leaving this city. While I haven’t given up on the concept of further school, I’ve come to realize that I’m just not ready to leave. This feeling has been further cemented recently because one of my favorite one-removed first cousins and her partner have decided to move to Philly to be close to their new grandbaby. They’ve been living in Portland, but come May they’ll be east coasters and I can’t wait to have them around.

I still don’t know if Philadelphia is for me forever, but I also know that I don’t have to make any decisions right now. And right now life here is really terrific. So I’m calling it home.

Feeling good once more

I am totally, completely and in all ways exhausted.  But it’s a good exhausted that comes from a full day of doing stuff, which means that I am almost, entirely back to normal (except for the occasional hacking cough).

Yesterday afternoon I found myself stuck in some minor traffic, trying to get across town to see some friends at a happy hour before I had to leave for a search committee dinner.  I could have felt frustrated at the backup, but I couldn’t help but instead feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy.  Gratitude that I was up and moving and joy at the fact that I was alive, it was 6:15 pm and the sun was still out.  I was so filled with a sense of well-being that I dug into my bag for my cellphone to call my mom.

When you feel that good, it’s important to share.

Random Friday–ready for no hard times

Set the old pod/digital music devise to it’s random/shuffle setting and share the first ten songs it unearths. Please no skipping, omitting or avoiding songs, the fun is in the surprise.

1. Mt. Hood Moth Infestation, Raina Rose (Despite the Crushing Weight of Gravity)
2. A Girl Like You, Edwyn Collins (Empire Records)
3. When Love Was Young, Iris Dement (Infamous Angel)
4. Swing, Beth Amsel (The Reverie)
5. Gambling Bar Room Blues, Jimmie Rodgers (No Hard Times)
6. Both Hands, Ani DiFranco (Living in Clip)
7. Moonlight, Bob Dylan (Love & Theft)
8. Love Express, Jim Brunberg (Love Expresss)
9. Love and Happiness, Al Green (Al Green Greatest Hits)
10. Burn that Broken Bed, Calexico/Iron & Wine (In the Reins)

I swear I had no conscious hand in setting up this particular set. It is just happy coincidence that Raina’s song floated to the top this week. All in all, it’s a pretty good set. It’s got a fairly nice balance between men and women. There are some famous folk and some indie friends of my sister’s. And anytime Al Green bubbles up I am happy. We can always use a little extra love and happiness.

The others…