Sunday, February 27, 2011

Early Spring.

It seems that winter has already ended for Charleston. I keep nervously checking the seven day forecast, but it's supposed to be continually pleasant--at least in the mid-sixties--and definitely not cold anymore. Today it got up to eighty degrees. The neighborhood gang took advantage of the incredible weather by lounging lazily in the yard for most of the weekend. I wore a tank top and a skirt, and I'm proud to announce that I've caught my first rays of 2011.

Even the flowering buds think it's safe to come out and I hope they're right. Sometimes I feel a little cheated, like I didn't get the chance to properly tell winter farewell until next year, or to wear my favorite pair of fuzzy pants one more time, or to try a new soup recipe. 

Instead, we're doing things like bringing my beach chair out of the garage, taking photos of the Morris Island Lighthouse on Folly Beach, eating an amazing homemade brunch with a gorgeous fruit platter, and enjoying time with friends and neighbors. It's not a bad situation. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding Kitty Kat (Or, How Eighties Nostalgia Can Keep A Gal Busy at Night)

Hi Friends!

Last night was the last evening of the term, and after my students finished up their business I found myself...rather bored. So I did what any thirty-something gal would do.

I googled eighties toys, movies, actors, songs, and everything I could think of! Then, on Ebay, I stumbled across the one toy that I've searched for since my childhood. A stuffed cat, more specifically, a "Furrever Friend," which was a stuffed cat made by the brand Kenner. The cats came with super-long,  detachable tails that you could wrap around your neck or  shorten to whatever length you pleased. I got my cat on Christmas morning, and wore her wrapped around me like a feather boa when I went to Mass.

Her name was Snowy Tail, or at least that was what the box said, but I renamed her Kitty Kat.

Before you all start laughing, just wait--it gets sillier!

Marie, my younger sister, had her own favorite stuffed animal: a lamb that played music whenever you wound her up. Her name was Little Lamb. (Weren't we creative?) Anyhoo, Little Lamb and Kitty Kat were the best of friends. We did everything with them, from eating breakfast in the morning to playing outside with them. (Their noses got rather smudgy.)

Then one day, a horrible thing happened. Kitty Kat vanished. My grandmother had somehow gotten her mixed up with the toys to go to charity! I was devastated, and Marie was sad along with me. We knew Little Lamb would miss the friendship, and we ourselves would miss the imaginative adventures.

So now you see why I'm stoked to find an exact copy of Snowy Tail. The ebay cat comes with all the accessories, even the combs. You can see it here.

Marie hasn't gotten me a birthday gift yet, so I posted the link on her facebook, hoping she'd get the hint. She and I both agree we need to buy the toy, but since I have a PayPal account and she doesn't, it looks like I'll have to make the arrangements.

What toys from the eighties do you miss, readers? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Let's Nix the Pre-Spring Sweets.

Hi Everyone!

Hope your hump-day is going swimmingly! I'm personally swimming in a sea of SUGAR, I have to confess.

For some reason, all week long, nay, all MONTH long, I've noticed an abundance of sweets in the workplace. And it does not matter which job I'm performing. If I'm at the publishing office, my boss offers me either candy (everything from gourmet chocolates to plain ole M&Ms) or baked goods that his new wife has prepared, such as pie or cake! What's worse, he does it RIGHT during my afternoon slump, when a burst of calories can save me from a crash.

Same thing with ECPI lately. There's been a bake sale, a raffle (and of course my students all won prizes, meaning they came back to the room with things like candy bars), and generally just JUNK FOOD EVERYWHERE.

This morning, for example, a fellow coworker offered me a cookie. And it was not even 8 a.m.! I politely declined, saying it was "too early to eat a cookie," and that coworker, along with another (pregnant and therefore always hungry) coworker looked at me like I was crazy and declared that it's "NEVER too early for cookies." Finally defeated, I took the smallest one off the plate. I took a few bites, then threw the rest in the garbage when no one was looking.

It gets worse! Later, when I went to refill my coffee, there was a box of doughnuts in the breakroom. The little note on the box said "Enjoy! No calories involved!" or something asinine like that. And even though the doughnuts were store bought, and not from Krispie Kreme, I still grabbed one and took a few bites. Ulgh.

How am I supposed to resist all these temptations? Now that the holidays have been over for a while, my birthday is in the past, and the weather is warming up, I need to get my ass in gear and avoid these superfluous sweets! I know I just posted a blog about the joys of food, and I still believe in it, but these between-meals-baked-goods have GOT to go away.

Who's with me?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sun Porch

I've spent most of this afternoon in the sunshine, soaking up its goodness with my neighbor Aaron, plus my roommate and Stefan. It's an incredibly beautiful day.

But even on the most beautiful days, we can't escape life. I received a call that my good friend Chuck, who lived in Myrtle Beach, passed away this weekend. I knew he had cancer and struggled with it, but I had no idea he was about to leave us.

Fortunately, Chuck led a robust life. He had many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He had lots of friends--some of them young women like myself and my friend Amanda. He had a zest for life that a lot of almost-eighty-year-olds can't match. I used to visit him at his condo whenever I was in the area. He was always hospitable, inviting me inside for a cup of coffee or making me a snack. "Help yourself to whatever you'd like," he'd say. Then we'd spend hours talking about life, the news, his family, or whatever struck us. We had a lot of laughs on those afternoons.

 So I feel peaceful with his passing, yet I do wish I'd had the chance to have one last discussion with him on his sun porch.

I'll miss him this summer when I visit Myrtle.


For once tonight (or this morning?) I'm not going to blog about my own life. (Shocking, I know!) Instead, I keep thinking about one of my best friends. This friend has been with me since the high school days, back when we were innocent and had no clue what to expect from our futures. She fell in love way before I did, when we were in the twelfth grade. And even though she and the guy parted ways at the time, a wonderful thing happened--they met again, as adults. They fell back in love and got married a few years ago.

But shortly after 2011 began, my friend told me that her marriage had fallen apart. Her husband no longer wanted to be with her; he'd met another person and didn't care about his sacred commitment to my friend. She is stunned and heart broken by the affair, desperate to repair the marriage, but her husband is not interested in the supposed life they were building.

Each time I talk to my friend, whether it is on the telephone, a social networking site, or just through a text message, I feel helpless and devastated by her despair. I'm fortunate enough, at this point in my life, to be in a loving relationship. Yet when I speak with her, her unbearable pain transfers to me, almost crippling my heart with what she must be feeling.

How does love just go away like that? In my own life, I've had love go sour--but I've never had it disappear completely. Is that even possible? Is it truly possible that her husband no longer loves her, after all these years? Is it possible that he can walk into the home they made, see the woman who was a wonderful step parent to his own kids, a loyal wife and partner, and feel nothing--not even guilt? I apologize for this depressing entry, my readers, but I am baffled and saddened by this news. I suppose I have been foolish, and I have forgotten that in life there are no guarantees.

At this point, I've got no choice but to keep reaching out to my old friend, and trying to support her as she goes through her emotional hell. It is so hard. That's the thing about pain and joy. They are both so transferrable. We must strive to be joyful as much as possible, especially around those who lack it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Little Bee

Not too long ago, I purchased a book, by poet Nick Flynn, called Blind Huber. It's a beautiful collection of verse, all about the grace and mystery of the honey bee.

And today, a bee died unfortunately at the hands of my vehicle. I climbed into my car this morning, then noticed the poor thing, apparently already injured, clinging onto my car as I sped down the highway.
I rolled my window down to see if the bee would move, then up again, not knowing that the critter had wedged itself inside my window jamb. When I realized that the bee was dead, I felt what can only be described as grief.

It seems almost silly to really convey here how sad I felt when I realized what had happened. I know it is "just a bee," and there are plenty of them, but the notion that the bee suffered is what hurts my heart. For as long as I remember, I've always had compassion for the most unlikely creatures--even insects. I've always pondered how it feels to be an insect, and to meet sudden death at a shoe, or a window.

And of course, I have had people scoff at me. (Particularly Christians, who love to point out how "animals don't go to heaven--only people do, because only people have souls.") Fortunately, my wonderful boyfriend is not one of these people. He told me that he would keep the little bee in his thoughts, after I sorrowfully told him the story over the telephone.

And perhaps this spring, I'll see a bee land on a flower and feel more reverence for the good that comes from these amazing beings. Perhaps tonight, I'll read one of Flynn's poems about the intelligence of the bees in its honor. And despite the fact that bees probably don't go to heaven with grandmothers and other cherished lives on earth, I'd like to think that the spirit of the bee has found a place where the blooms are plentiful.

Photo via

So Now EATING is Taboo??

Friends, I've made a startling observation.

I've noticed lately that it is no longer "chic" to eat.

One of the first signs that I would get along with Andy Thomas, the guy whose book I'm co-writing, was the fact that we ate together at our very first business meeting. And I'm not talking about delicately nibbling some pastry-thing as you talk--I'm talking about full-on scarfing down a complete meal.

But lately, no one eats, at least not in business. And I get along with people who aren't afraid to eat! Frankly, these freaks who order nothing but a black coffee really irk me...yet I must admit that sometimes I find myself hurrying through my bagel (after arriving a few minutes early) so that I, too, look as though I only need a cup of joe.
(I can't let them see me with a smear of cream cheese on my chin, after all! It's so undignified! And think of the calories in cream cheese!)

But it's not just the calories that keep people from eating during business. I think that eating has become a sign of weakness. I'm serious. I keep hearing people, men and women, proudly declaring things like "I've only had a scone all day long," or "I haven't eaten since 8 a.m....I just forgot to eat today."
I mean, are these people SERIOUS? I can't even function without food. I don't know if these people think that a lack of needing food makes them cooler or tougher or WHAT the hell ever it is, but I am NOT on board.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm about to order a pizza. AND EAT IT.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

THE Best Time O' Year... right now. That's right--before it even really becomes spring. These late days of winter are what I love, when the spring-oriented fashion starts rolling in, when the random 70-degree day brings a lump of anticipation to my throat.

And these late winter days are also great for thinking about what winter's good points were: oysters, sleek hair, leftovers that remain perfectly refrigerated in the car, cozy knits, cuddling with a sweetie...the list goes on. When spring is in sight, it's easy to get that funny mixture of--how did Eliot put it?--memory and desire. I feel a bit of nostalgia for what happened over the better days of winter, like a holiday gathering or a fresh oyster, yet I also feel anticipation for spring's warm kiss.

By the dog days of summer, the joy and beauty that erupt at this seasonal cusp are long gone. Our thighs are sticking to leather car seats, our magazines are showing us shearling boots already, and frankly, it's too damn hot.

Let's take a moment as February winds down to think about how we can really savor March and April. For me, it's that first musky inhale of my beloved beach house. <3

Workday Fashion Woes.

Ulgh. Some days, you just CAN'T get dressed for work. I swear, I totally live for Fridays, when I can throw on my blue jeans and go to the office wearing ...not exactly casual clothes (I don't do tees and tank tops) but something a bit less professional.

I have a confession. I happen to hate professional attire. Button-down blouses, slacks with a crease--all of it makes me want to cringe. But since I have two jobs where I must dress professionallly at least the majority of the week, I'm forced to house at least a few work-friendly pieces in my closet.

I think part of the reason I don't like work clothes is that I'm much too busty to wear those structured, professional blouses. I know you're all thinking "give me a break," (unless you, too, own a set of boobs) but it's absolutely true. It's dern near impossible to find a structured blouse that fits my cuves just right, yet not so well that it's too racy for the office. And if it's decent for the office then it doesn't fit my curves. You get the idea. No sale.

So I always end up wearing these flowy shirts that most women my age would reserve for after work hours, coupled with the same tired pairs of pants, all in rotation. I'm so sick of them all! I don't have the body or the finances to have a fantastic work-wardrobe--it's hard enough to love my nonwork clothing. I just wish I could have great clothes for my morning routine. But I don't shop enough to do so. But maybe if I found great stuff, I'd do more shopping.

Don't you love a good catch-22?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Visitors and Valentines

Holy Frijoles, what a good few days it's been. The weekend was terrific, thanks to a visit from my best friend Alice and my mama. I tested out the artistic merit of the Blackberry's camera, and tried to capture the beautiful weather and the camaraderie.

As you can see from the photos, it was purrrfect weather for lounging in the park. At one point we all took off our sweaters and lounged in the grass, watching sailboats drift by.

Besides park time, we also had a couple of amazing meals--including a very chilly brunch at Rita's, on Folly Beach. I foolishly booked us a reservation OUTSIDE where the ocean breeze was totally freezing, despite the pleasant sunshine on my James Island porch. Ah, well. At least everyone had their fill of Bloody Marys.

After an eventful weekend, I had the joy of spending Valentine's Monday at work. Fortunately, my hunky boyfriend decided to bring me a delicious pasta dinner (complete with salad and garlic bread!) while I was stuck there. After work, we went downtown and he treated me to one of my favorite drinks, the  sugar and spice martini at Oku.
I would also like to proudly declare that my Blackberry is SUPER TOUGH! I already dropped it into the dishwasher (don't ask) and it didn't even get a scratch. Now that is good engineering.

Happy February!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From Flowers to Berries...

Today I bought my first smartphone and retired my trusty Lotus.
It's the new flip Blackberry.

So far so good I guess. I am NOT used to having a phone this complex. My old Lotus was just as awesome (if not more so) and got the job done beautifully. But I was due for an upgrade this month, and it seemed like the right thing to do. So here I am, awkwardly pressing my new phone's buttons, hoping she'll cooperate.

I've already made a goofy mistake. My friend Sarah wrote on my Facebook status, which proclaimed the news of my new device, "Great! Now we can use Blackberry messenger!" Well, silly me, when my Blackberry made its precious "chirp" sound to alert me to Sarah's message, I didn't realize it was Facebook, and I thought she was already Blackberry-messaging me. So I wrote an awkwardly typed "HellLo?" (still trying to get used to the keypad!) only to discover later that I had commented on my own FB status. Oops.

My younger sister, who still has a fairly simple phone, was skeptical when I called her from my new toy. "Ohh no, it's the CRACKBERRY," she groaned. Talking to her made me miss the simplicity of my old Lotus, whose steadfastness got me through the last two years.
"I like durability," she announced. "I DROPPED my phone the other day, and it just kept on better get a case though. Those things are fragile."

We'll see what happens. Right now, I'm still in the transitional period--I'm mourning my Lotus, and I'm trying to figure out my Berry.

Advice and suggestions are welcome!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Birthday..sorta rhymes with Workday.

So, today was my real birthday, but I had to work all day at ECPI. Even though I had a party on Friday night (it was lovely) it's still a bit disappointing when your ACTUAL date of birth is spent cooped up at work.

That's why my free berry-lemonade from Ruby Tuesday (there's one next door to the school) was a nice surprise in the midst of a dull day. The server even wrote me a greeting:

           Ahh. Such a small gesture, yet somehow so grand.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Yes. I'm Blogging During the SUPERBOWL....

...because I am not watching.

Because I don't give a damn. Because right now, on my Facebook page, my six hundred "friends" are taking turns posting about how the "Black Eyed Peas are butchering a song" during the halftime show. Sorry, but not only do I NOT listen to mainstream sludge like the Black Eyed Peas, (I realize that sounded horribly snooty but I don't) I also don't like professional football. And why would I voluntarily watch a show where a song gets butchered? So I can join in the Facebook feed?

I WILL however, admit that I watched the Saints kick ass last year. It's mostly because last year, the superbowl fell on my birthday, and the Saints are the home-team of my two besties, Jenny and Joy. They threw a lovely party at their house, so I went.

This year, I'm plum not interested in the two teams. I also can't really drink mass quantities of beer the night before I have to teach. Yet, all day long, I've dealt with people asking me "where I'm going to watch the superbowl," and whether I "want the Packers or the Steelers." I just tell everyone that I simply am not interested.

Instead, I've spent the day having a yummy brunch in front of a sunny window, writing an article about local chocolatiers, admiring a pelican from a dock in Mount Pleasant, reading Carson McCullers' novel Clock Without Hands, reading fashion tips in Glamour, enjoying a steak dinner with all the trimmings, and writing this blog.

Sorry NFL.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rock Show.

Stefan and I went to see Dr. Dog last night at the Music Farm. Since he was taking pictures for an online magazine, and I had interviewed one of the band members for the Charleston Scene, we had complimentary admission, and we got our two friends in the door as well.

It was an amazing show. I was exhausted from my long week of work and more work, yet I found my tired spirit swelling with the music as my head bobbed along with the crowd. Until you actually see a show of that caliber, you don't really know the power that music has.
Last night, the music had a power that I would venture to call superhuman. As the musicians growled the melodies into their microphones, and as the audience swooned and swayed, I felt like I was part of a miracle, or a metamorphosis of sorts. I rose on my tip toes and stared ahead, fully aware of the creative force I was witnessing.
I feel certain that if we could somehow harness the magic that took place in that dingy, unsuspecting venue, we could change the entire world.

They rocked. Hard.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

(Field) Trippin'

Wow, what a day yesterday was!

Typically, my Mondays and Wednesdays at ECPI College of Technology are long, strenuous, and well, not a lot of fun. Yesterday, however, was different.

Yesterday was field trip day!

I have two classes, morning and night. For the morning class, we drove over to Summerville, the delightful little town a few minutes away, and visited a few art galleries. My students grumbled about the rain, and the (ten minute) drive, but once they got there, I think they had a marvelous time. Some of them even bought art! (Well technically it was functional art, like locally-roasted pecans, but still.)

Afterwards we had a tasty lunch at a place called The Perfect Wife. It took some doing, let me tell ya, to get them to agree to this independent cafe.

"I want a RACK OF RIBS," one girl proclaimed vehemently. "From RUBY TUESDAY."

"I want that Checkers still open?" another student murmured.

I looked at them incredulously. "Are you serious? You'd rather eat at a chain?"

They finally agreed to check out The Perfect Wife. I'm proud to say they had a good time...after some adjusting.

"This sweet tea is NOT sweet. Can you please pass me four sugar packets?"

Morning Class 

Um, ok.

But overall, the morning field trip went well. In fact, I would say the morning was better than the night. This fact surprises me, because the night class was able to go watch my good friend and a great poet, Bryan Penberthy, read his material downtown. Bryan teaches with me at ECPI, so I knew the students would be pumped.

Well, I thought they'd be pumped.

I have to admit even I was a bit ...deflated when we got to the location of the reading and discovered that the cafe was not serving ANY food that night. We were all famished.

"If I had known that, I would've stopped at McDonalds!" one student whined.

Since I was feeling a little rebellious (it tends to happen when I don't eat), I went across the street to another restaurant, hastily ordered a giant pile of nachos, and brought them back to eat at the cafe. I couldn't abandon my students, after all.

I had crammed just a few nachos down my throat when the owner approached me.

"You cannot eat that in my cafe," he said in his thick accent. "I'll be happy to bring you some cheese if you are hungry."

Night Class 
 I reluctantly ordered a cheese and fruit plate, much to the chagrin of my starving, and all male, students.

"Cheese and fruit?? ...Yeah I think I'm gonna get a piece of that chocolate cake and a Bud Lite," decided one student.

Chocolate Cake 

(Luckily, being on the clock, I wasn't allowed to drink or I would've been tanked, given the lack of victuals.)

In the end, we enjoyed Bryan's poetry, and the students left immediately after. I had requested them to stay for at least MOST of the open mic--but I think they were just too hungry.

As for me, I rounded off the evening with a few more nachos, which I sneakily scarfed while the owner was outside smoking a cigarette, plus the cheese.

I think the main lesson of the story is that when you go on a field trip with students, be prepared for a food crisis, including but not limited to: palate differences, lack of dinner, stolen lunches and the like.

It was still better than school, right?