Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Signs of Spring

As I am writing this, a light rain is falling outside. Easter evening is upon us and the cats are eagerly watching the birds at the feeder. Max and Moxie are chattering their jaws in frustration at the birds flying to and fro. The window is open, and although it is a bit chilly, the air is brisk enough to be refreshing. I poured myself a glass of red wine and figured I would type out some thoughts about the season.

For the first time since last fall, I drove with the windows down on Good Friday. The first day when you can do that, or open the windows to the house to air it out, truly reawakens you to the new season. I have begun making plans on what I want to do with the yard, what I want to grow, where I want to clean out, etc.

This was such a crazy winter that we never thought it would end. I called it the winter of a hundred small storms. We never got a snowfall of more than 6 to 8 inches but there just seemed to be so many of them!

On Friday night after bartending, I stopped by a friend's house for drinks and smelled a skunk that had recently sprayed. First one of the season. It must be that same skunk I always see diving into a drainage pipe by his house.

From the back bedroom on Saturday I heard the red crested pileated woodpecker squawking. I looked for him but he remained hidden. So he's back too. We have heard him knocking on trees behind us but no sightings yet. Just that loud recognizable squawk.

Back to those birds, we have just had a rush of them come back these past two weeks. Finally saw my first robin of the season. We've seen mockingbirds, cardinals, juncos, wrens, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, nut-thatches, and 2 sets of mourning doves.

I had to pick up extra birdseed because I thought they were going through it all until I caught a couple of squirrels tag-teaming the bird feeders on either side of the house! Argh! So I picked up this powder called "Squirrel Away" or something like that. You mix 1 teaspoon in with every 5 pounds of bird food. It is a hot pepper based powder which does not affect the birds but the squirrels hate it. Fingers crossed it works. I actually like the squirrels but I am tired of feeding them too.

Lastly, crocuses and daffodils are coming up I see. I think I will plant marigolds again. They always do well and seem to last well into the fall. A new season always brings hope and change. Even winter as you hope for the holidays. Between you and me, I'll take spring!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

These are the Scars of Our Lives

Scars: the deep or raised marks which tell tales of our bodies.  When men have scars, it is deemed rough, sexy, and mysterious. Guys show off their scars proudly recounting harrowing events such as fights or injuries usually involving blood loss at some point. Think Joaquin Phoenix or Harrison Ford.  Uh, not me. LOL

Women with scars do not have the same luxury.  They are seen as detrimental to beauty and in need of being covered up. Such is the sad state of our superficial society.

I was looking at my hand the other day and came across an old scar on my palm where it meets the middle finger. When I was seven, my family was visiting family friends, the Grants, on their farm in the South Jersey countryside. We kids were out in one of their small barns where the eldest teenage daughter, Debbie was showing us their dogs.

I put my hand out to pet a large Doberman in a gated pen when the mean old dog chomped down on my hand puncturing it with one of its fangs.  I screamed, Debbie was mortified, and that was the end of the fun for the evening. Luckily for me, all I needed was a butterfly stitch. The tetanus shot actually hurt more than the dog bite. To this day I still feel worse for Debbie than for me! She was so upset.

When I had the chicken pox, Mom told me not to scratch as Moms always do. Did any of us ever listen? I had three small pock scars going down the side of my nose as if they were circular steps, each one beneath the other. They have faded so much now that only I can see the light remmants of them.

One day in my teens years, while bike riding home in Wenonah, I learned a hard lesson that I shouldn't pretend to "skid out."  I fell hard on the pavement and slid for about 5 feet on my forearm. Mom painfully picked gravel and sand out of my skin for hours. The rest had to grow out. I was still having gravel poke through my skins weeks later. That scar was deep and white for about 15 years.

Thankfully, I was on the light end of the acne scarring. My teen years were seemed constantly riddled with acne. I never thought my face would clear up.  There are only a couple of faded reminders from that difficult time in high school.

On my senior trip, my class went to a water park down by Walt Disney World. All of my classmates' parents had sent sun block down with us. Did any of us actually wear it? NOPE! I ended up with one large blister from one end of my shoulders across my back to the other.  Others in my senior class had sun poisoning far worse.  After it scabbed up and the scabs fell off (ICK), I was left with freckles across my back which last to this day.

August of that summer in '88 my parents went away. I don't remember where, but it left my sister, brother, and I alone for the week. Can we say senior party! It was awesome, my big sister sprung for the keg, we bought something like two bags of chips, and about 200 people showed up from four separate high school classes. 

My brother and I attempted to keep control of our crazy classmates. Toothpaste tubes were squeezed out in the laundry baskets. Pizza was put in the microwave on "high" for two hours. Classmates were caught making out in the laundry room. Dad was still finding beer bottles in the bushes months later while raking leaves. It was a truly epic party.  My friends still say "Remember that party!?"

About ¾ of the way through the party, my sister and I went up to the local liquor store in Woodbury Heights to get a second keg when I walked into an automatic door and cracked my head open. I quickly put my wallet up to my head to stop the bleeding as I felt blood pouring down my face. The clerk was in shock as I was screaming "Where is the fucking bathroom!?" 

After a trip to the emergency room where I ordered the doctor to get me out of there in ½ hour due to having 200 people at my house, I was stitched up with 7 stitches leaving a nice scar running from the top of my nose upwards.  Once we got back to the house, we called the cops on our own party, opting to have them clear the house for us. Afterwards, 15 of our closest friends chilled while I nursed my head wound with multiple bottles of Bud.

My twenties with all the crazy partying were pretty uneventful in the scar department. I usually passed out before any damage could be done. I also realized that my physical fitness was better off contained in the gym instead of being outdoors, given my clumsy nature.

I did suffer a nasty cut on my forearm one winter evening. I was returning back with John from an antiques show when I sliced my forearm open with a pricey Civil War saber  It was the most expensive scar yet. It wasn't that bad though, just a white small scar I glance at almost every day.  I think Harrison Ford has several up on me in the scar department.

Scars. Mine aren't too sexy, but they do tell some interesting stories.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pulling Back

A few people have asked me if I will be doing my recycled magazine drive again this year over the 4th anniversary of my Mom's passing.  For those of you that do not know, over the past three years I have collected magazines during the month of April and then donated them to the hospital where my Mom spent her final weeks at. She always complained that there where never enough magazines in the waiting rooms to read while waiting.  It's a memory which still makes me smile even to this day because she just loved her magazines.

I have decided not to do the recycled magazine drive for the simple reason that I will be focusing on  myself more. I need to. I find myself getting exhausted from work and volunteerism. I have wrote about it before but still keep going back to helping others. I know it is in my nature!  For right now though, I am going to pull back from certain things which I do and focus more on what I need to do for myself. That means less bartending, less volunteerism, and more home life and writing.

I am looking forward to the Spring and warm weather, working on the yard, and finishing up projects around the house. You can work and work and work and may have more money but in the end your end up sacrificing something of yourself as well. I need to prevent that from happening.  I think my Mom would be fine with me not collecting the magazines this year. I believe she would be happy that I am focusing on myself, my family and my home.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I Learned From My First College Job

I was fortunate enough that my parents were able to pay for my college at Rutgers University. I had enough free time to visit a plethora of New Brunswick bars with names like the Corner Tavern, the Golden Rail, The Knight Club, and the Scarlet Pub (Go Scarlet Knights!).  I also had a enough time to join my fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, which was one of the best social experiences I have ever had.

My parents did make the point of stating that any "extras" at college such as the fraternity and my beer nights had to be paid for be myself. That meant money for dollar pitcher night at the Corner Tavern had to come from somewhere.  I needed work!

My first job at Rutgers was in the Fall of 1988. I figured I wanted some extra cash freshman year so I took a part time job a couple shifts during the week. I didn't want anything too strenuous. Something fun where I could meet cool people. The coolest store I could think of on campus was Benneton. It was and still is a hip, diverse clothing store for young men and women.

Benneton's ad campaigns feature teens and twentysomethings from around the world. Such cool and diverse people! I wanted to be one of them!!!  After all, I was the new freshman student who had just joined over 10 different community organizations trying to save the world! Now, I would look the hip part too! (Side bar:  by sophomore year, I decided not to save the world.)

I applied to Benneton and was hired almost immediately. They must have had a need for geeky skinny white boys in their diversity campaign. My training class consisted of a Hispanic young lady, an African American man, and a German young guy named Franz who was very mean to me. He was a junior... whatever. He had no idea what good beer was. He thought it was Becks. Hadn't he ever heard of Meister Brau? (Or Meister Chow as we lovingly referred to it in the fraternity.)

My first day there I was introduced to the manager Sue Ann who wasn't much older than me. She acted like she was right out of a prep school, way above me in terms of social standing. She was nice at first but ultimately very pretentious. I figured I could win her over.

Well it didn't go as well as I expected. It was pretty much understood that I was Sue Ann's Benneton servant. After sizing me up for 10 minutes, she stated that she figured all I could do for my first day was fold sweaters. So that's all I did for 5 hours ... was fold wool and mohair sweaters while breaking out in hives. Did I mention I was allergic to wool and mohair? Just my luck. Franz laughed at me. "Hahaha, you fold sweaters. You get swelling bumps. I already on floor. Haha, freshman boy only fold sweaters."

After 5 hours of folding sweaters, Sue Ann informed me that she didn't like the sweater that Mom had bought me (I think it was from Chess King or Oak Tree), so I would have to buy Benneton's clothes and wear them exclusively. BUT she added ... I did got a 10% discount.  Uh... excuse me, wasn't I working here for minimum wage? I couldn't afford to buy clothes AND have enough left over for pitcher night at the Corner Tavern!

At the end of my shift, I thanked Sue Ann for the day and promptly informed her I decided I didn't like Benneton clothes after folding sweaters for 5 hours. Did they have anything, say, in cashmere or rayon, something a little more hip?  She said absolutely not and that this wasn't Chess King! I said OK thanks, I will work elsewhere and I walked! I learned the art of begging for money from my parents the rest of the semester  (And very well I might add.  Mother taught me the art of Jewish guilt very well!)

I also learned I was allergic to wool and mohair, I hated drab colors, and I hated JUST HATED folding sweaters!!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Items You Need Several Of!

These are items that I feel you should have in your home, office, car, yacht, plane, or perhaps golf cart. This list is not gender specific, although two are kid and dog specific. I don't profess to knowing anything that women may need, but I figure kids like snacks and dogs like treats. Plus, it gave me a nice round figure of 20 items. Oh crap, there are 21. Anyway, read on:

1. boxes of tissues (As someone who has bad allergies, I can't have enough tissues. I should really buy stock in Kleenex.)

2. lip balm (My friend Jen and I bonded on this one. We each apparently have several in our homes, office, and cars.)

3. mints or gum (Always a must when you are meeting friends or going into a work meeting after a garlicky lunch at the local pasta joint.)

4. cell phone chargers (You never know when you need it or when too much time on Facebook zaps the power from that battery.)

5. flashlights … with good batteries (Good for locating whatever fell under the desk or that loose change under the car seat.)

6. Tide detergent pens (I have saved many a friend with coffee spillage. I have also saved my work shirts from that Taco Bell run on the way home from work.)

 7. antibacterial gels (Just don't drink it like some crazy kids are now doing. Wait 'til you get home for the alcohol.)

8. Band-aids (Grandpa Leslie Haynes taught me always to have a couple on hand. My Dad reiterated this!)

9. eyeglass spray/cleaner (Works on cell phone screens as well as glasses.)

10. mini sewing kits (Two words: Hems n buttons.)

11. dental floss (Do you really want that hunk of steak gristle staring back at you in your rear  view mirror?)

12. baby wipes (For messy kids and messy adults.)

13. hand lotion (Mom always taught me to moisturize that dry skin.)

14. plastic bags (You never know when you will need to carry a dozen items home from work or for those yardsale purchases which do not come with bags.)

15. spare change/couple dollars (For the parking meter or the afternoon office run to Dunkin Donuts.)

16. umbrella (Duh.)

17. gloves (For that Nor'Easter which crops up in mid March and you left the gloves at home.)

18. a pen and or sharpie marker (Pencils are sooo last century.)

19. snacks (Caught at the office late? Car break down waiting for a tow? Just home and hungry?)

20. dog treats (Don't mix these up with the snacks.)

21. cough drops or any suck candy (Saves you from the tickle in your throat r.)

Thanks to my friends Jen and Melissa for the idea and input!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Raccoon, a Buck, and the Meaning of Life

As I have mentioned before, I have an hour commute in which to ponder life's questions and mysteries.  I left my house this morning at 7:30 as usual. It was raining, dreary, and gray. As soon as I pulled away from the house, I spied a lowly raccoon scampering across my yard into the woods. I smiled to myself and continued out of the Lake. Then I thought, "Gee, I hope he is not rabid."
Long commutes make you think about a whole range of stuff:  the good, bad, and in-between. I was thinking back to last week, and then the week before that, and the week before that. It all seems to go by so quickly. I worry that I don't do enough in life and will have regrets down the road.
I make plans with friends so there is something to look forward to but the time in between seems sometimes so repetitive. Sure I work out (haha, try to), bartend on the side, write the blog, try and keep a house up, but going to work each day to the same job which obviously isn't my "dream job" makes me wonder, "Is that all there is?"  I am busy but I feel like I am busy without a greater purpose.
People say having kids fills the void and others do volunteer work. Kids aren't in my future and I am fine with that. It is a personal choice for me. My niece and nephew give me great satisfaction.  Full time volunteer work is nice for high society people who don't need to work but for the majority of us, ya need to pay those bills. You then volunteer when you aren't too exhausted.
I once read that if you do something you love and do it really well, career, success, and satisfaction will naturally follow.  Well that is a load of crap.  It doesn't happen that easy all wrapped up in a box with a bow. If it does, you are either extremely lucky or forgot that it actually took 30 years for that to happen which you then condensed down to 5 due to a senior moment.
I worry that I am not living life to its fullest. Am I doing everything to have a meaningful, satisfyingly productive life? Should I take drastic changes to get to where I think I should be?  Am I making a difference in this world? Totally deep questions which I don't profess to know the answers to. I figure and hope that there are others asking themselves the same thing.  Sometimes it helps my worrisome nature to know that others are in the same boat as I.
After my long commute of ponderisms, I turned on the radio to listen to just anything light. I was still on driving on Route 78 through a wooded area between Lenhartsville and Kutztown and there by the side of the road stood a majestic buck. He had 10 points on his rack that I was able to count. Just beautiful. Sometimes the beauty of nature just helps put my worrisome existence into perspective.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Please Return Borrowed Items

We have all been guilty of not returning things at one time or another. Why is it that this becomes particularly bothersome as we get older? Maybe it's just about common courtesy that our society seems to be lacking more and more these days.  I am not complaining about those items maybe you forgot to get back to me after a couple weeks. We are talking months here … years even!  To celebrate my general annoyance over people not returning borrowed items, I offer the following essay. I am going to say what all of you have all been thinking.

To my exgirlfriend in college whom I lent the sweatshirt to with my fraternity letters:  After we broke up, you never gave me my 'letters' back even after I repeatedly requested them. After finding you on Facebook last year, it seems that some of us peaked early. I'm just sayin'…

To my club-going friend whom I lent that dance mix CD waaay back in 1998 when we both worked at the Ritz-Carlton:  Isn't it ironic that you severely twisted your ankle from dancing the week after I reminded you that you still had my mix CD?  And to top it off, you still never gave it back to me.

To the person whom I lent the book "Traveling Colorful Mexico":  I hope you got Montezuma's Revenge when you finally took that trip. You can keep the book now.

To my friend whom I lent Frommers "500 Places You Should Visit Before They Disappear":  Let's be real, you will never go to the Colca Valley in Peru or see the Windmills of Kinderdijk in Holland. You get nervous leaving Pennyslvania. Please give me my book back. I would like to think that one day I may go to these places. OK we know I won't, but at least I have been to Tijuana and Montreal.

To the person who came to my Holiday Open House whom I sent home with baked goods in that good Tupperware.  It is proper to at least ask if I want the Tupperware back. It wasn't just a supermarket deli container! Please don't assume it is yours to keep. It makes an ass out of you … oh you get the drift.

To that person whom I lent that movie to:  You said you would watch it in a week and return it. Well it's been a month and a half. I will come looking for it at the end of March. You are lucky I don't charge late fees like the old Blockbuster (may they rest in peace.) 

Yes this is a bit harsh. But is it really?  It is annoying when people don't return items you have lent out. I am not the lending library. This is loaning and borrowing between friends. I understand about being forgetful in some circumstances but in a lot of them, it is just discourteous behavior. If there is an apology along with the item, I will, 9 times out of 10, accept it and be done with it. Unfortunately though,  it has made me think twice about loaning items out.

Oh and by the way, if I you lent me something and I haven't given it back to you, please let me know. In that case, it is just an oversight on my part. I do lead a busy life. :)