Final Saturday in the City

Probably not my last ever, as I intend to revisit this place when I can, but our last as true residents I'm sure. We'll be pulling out of here in the wee hours of next Saturday morning. Blurgh.

We couldn't have had better weather. There was very low humidity and the temps didn't get much higher than 80 F! Shawn woke me up early to tell me about tickets we could get to Race for this week (woo hoo, one last Broadway show!), so I went to the gym and then Morton Williams to stock up on Mud Truck coffee, although I can order it online from Baton Rouge after this stash runs out.

After I had a shower we went to a street festival nearby for lunch -- gotta love that $5 Thai combo special. YUM! Then we walked to the subway ... found the entrance we needed was closed ... and walked on up to 14th Street. The inconvenience was more tolerable because of the stunning weather.

We took the train to Grand Central and walked over to the UN. Despite having liquid (in the form of sunblock and Nalgenes full of water), we were able to get through security, check our bag and go the basement to mail postcards officially from non-U.S. soil. I wish we'd done it sooner because it was certainly an educational thing and probably would have been something our families would have liked. We did not do a tour - just mailed the cards and collected our bag.

We grabbed an M-15 bus; of course it had a broken speaker, so the driver announcing each stop was painful to the ears. We rode to South Ferry, the last stop, and hopped on the free ferry to Governor's Island.

So-Much-FUN. We rented bikes (I'll add pictures soon) and rode around the island, which gives views of the Statue of Liberty, Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Very much worth the cost of the rental, and we got even more exercise to boot!

After returning our bikes and ferrying back to our home island, we walked back through the closing street festival for a necklace that I'd kept thinking about the entire day -- it's a little silver star. And it was still there! Shawn purchased it for me (huzzah, my husband has now bought me jewelry other than my wedding ring!) and we went on for our last sushi dinner at our favorite place.

Super exhausted, we got home and watched Young Frankenstein. It must have been funnier when it first came out! But it was good enough, and now Shawn's juggling, I'm computing and we're both avoiding packing. I think we need to get to it ... maybe tomorrow.

(More likely it will be a Thursday mad dash to get everything packed before the truck loaders show up at noon on Friday ... I certainly hope the weather is like this for that work, because then it would go quickly and painlessly!)

Edit: here's an image of the star necklace!

star necklace

Seven Days, Seven Books

Books I read
Originally uploaded by silvermari
While on vacation I managed to read seven books. I would have read more, but there was limited access to NEW material. This was the only time I've wished for a Nook or Kindle or similar. Mostly I wished I'd packed more books. Anyway, highlights of what I read:

Little Altars Everywhere, by Rebecca Wells
This is set in Louisiana and is about a family named Walker. So of course I bought it! It's the book that comes before Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, which I'm sure I read when it was making it big, but I intend to re-read or at least re-watch the movie. Any recommendations for LA-themed movies or books would be welcomed. This one mentioned three books, and I'll look into procuring those when I'm down south.

No Lifeguard on Duty, by Janice Dickinson
I know of "the world's first supermodel" because of her judging on America's Next Top Model. This was about her life well before that, in that ANTM isn't even mentioned (I think it got a book of its own later). This was OK, but mostly felt sorry for her.

The Summons, by John Grisham
I think I read this in a day. Nothing special about this legal drama except there was very little involving a court case and in fact there wasn't even a scene that took place during a trial.

How I Write, Janet Evanovich, et al
Big text made this a really fast read, also it was in Q&A format. It has some good practical tips ... and HILARIOUS excerpts from Stephanie Plum books (honestly I should re-read the entire series). I don't know that I have any better idea of how to put together a story, but good reference and maybe once I have a story to tell I can apply those tips.

Dearly Devoted Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
This was the lone book of interest in the stack of about 20 that were for sale in the ship's gift shop. Lucky me, it was the next I needed to read in the series. I love Dexter, and although I enjoy the direction that the Showtime series has taken the characters more than the original books, I do like the books and they're tense and fun reads.

The Turing Option
This was one of Shawn's books. It came to that. He thought I wouldn't like this one, but I was desperate. It wasn't too bad, but just sci fi stuff from the 80s (?) that had funny projections about the future (120 MB would be more than enough memory to run a human brain, etc.!). It left a lot of things unanswered and wasn't well written or tight from that aspect, but better than twiddling my thumbs.

Uh ... this was the one I didn't understand AT ALL. I finished it in New York, the day after we got back. It was another sci fi novel. It apparently was revolutionary because of its imagery. I just didn't get it, but again, better than twiddling my thumbs.

No TV allowed me lots of time to read before bed, plus there was plenty of waiting time in lines, before shows, etc. And of course I was able to read on deck, on the beach and so forth.

Video: International Juggler

Shawn, International Juggler from Mari on Vimeo.

I meant to take video of Shawn juggling on every beach ... but I didn't remember until Jamaica, our last port! But rest assured that he juggled in our cabin all along the way. He's getting quite good and can do tricks to amaze and defy gravity! This video is just a standard juggle, I think.

This is the Ocean

This is the Ocean from Mari on Vimeo.

A panoramic view from our deck.

It's Bananas - B-A-N-A-N-A-S

I can’t believe I didn’t mention this before. When we get to the New York airport, we’ve got plenty of cushion time. We’re nothing if not early birds when it comes to air travel. Anyway, Shawn took our big suitcase (remember the water) to check, and I stay put with the small carry-ons.

It’s super early – pre-6 a.m. – but everyone who walks in the doors looks around at the crowds in a panic, wide eyes and hearts beating too quickly. Eyes dart, looking for escape, or at least the shortest line. Eventually that leads to acceptance, and they trudge in line like everyone else. But the panicked faces continue to flow into the terminal. And I just stood there and watched, fretting as more and more time ticked off the clock (what a way to start a vacation, right?)

After about 30 minutes of that (i.e. how inefficient can American’s check in system be? VERY!), a group of 20-something girls comes through, and they each have small rollers. There’s something stuck underneath one. It’s small and white-ish, and it’s hard to tell what it is. I thought she’d dropped something and I was going to tell her, but then her suitcase rolled over it and it was obvious – AN UNPEELED BANANA.

Seeing as how I had no paper towels and no way to navigate with two rollers anyway, I just stood there and watched as people smashed it, slipped on it and wheeled through it. It got caught underneath a few suitcases as well, until finally a cleaner happened by and wiped it up. Nobody fell, thank goodness, but it was still ridiculous.

Butch, our cruise director, told us to look for those “once in a lifetime experiences.” I’d say seeing an unpeeled banana act interrupt the day of dozens of travelers is something I’ll only see once in my lifetime!

State Room Video

Cruise 2010 Cabin Video from Mari on Vimeo.

This is the video of our cabin on the Carnival Liberty cruise. I mistakenly say the bed is smaller than ours, when in fact it is larger -- two twins together make a king, and at home we have a queen. I realized it a few days later but was too lazy to reshoot this clip. Enjoy!

Edit: Also, our stateroom was 8352 (in case I ever need to know that)


Last day working from home, at least for now. I just carted the two computers, monitor and phone, plus assorted cords, to FedEx. After a somewhat harrowing walk with my granny cart loaded down with more than 50 pounds of equipment, it took more than an hour to get everything shipped, mostly due to the incompetence of the employees working there. I guess you can't expect much more than that.

What's done is done, and although I didn't find out how much shipping was (i.e. no way to make a judgment call as to whether it actually made SENSE to ship everything vs. recycling it), too late now and hopefully I won't get in trouble. What are they going to do, fire me? Badum-dum-shee.

I didn't expect to feel quite so sad, or feel so empty when looking at the big expanse of my desk. It's dirty and there's still my printer, laptop, speakers, keyboard and external hard drive. But it's not the same. My life will never be the same.

For this I am happy, and excited. But at the same time I'm beyond scared and certainly sad to say goodbye to the way of life I've known for so long -- four years working, with nearly two and a half from my NYC apartment.

Shawn is my constant, my bliss which I follow. So I can't feel entirely bad.

I have started packing some things -- had to do some today to make way to get all the computer stuff together. But I've got a long way to go and many boxes to fill. I have a feeling my goodbye to the city will involve more packing and less touring, but maybe we can take a break tomorrow for a jaunt to governor's island and/or the UN. There is some shopping to do and a few museums I'd still like to see/revisit. I just don't know that there's time.

Screaming Banshee

Or actually a dinosaur ... but don't worry. It's just a costume!

Last webcamming session from NYC in all likelihood. *tears*

Traveling Woman

Oh geez. I am the world's worst traveler. Like I mentioned, it's the anticipation that gets me. The packing, the pre-worrying about the lines, missing connections, etc. And I've just had my share of travel ... and it continues! Some samples of recent hiccups:

In the taxi in Miami, en route to the cruise ship. The driver feels the need to tell us that we would have much more fun if we were going with more people on the trip, i.e. take some friends next time. I'm seething, mostly because I don't think that's an appropriate thing for him to say to us. It felt all around rude and judgy. And besides, who takes friends on a honeymoon cruise? ARGH!

Will be mentioned in cruise-related posts, but we had a bit of stress involved in getting on/off the boat and taking part in our excursions. We carefully planned everything in advance only to have times change on some of the excursions and/or the time we were in port be shorter than expected. Basically we missed one (but got a refund) and missed some shopping because I was too stressed to take a chance to walk over to the shopping center before getting in the giant line to re-board the ship.

In the Miami airport, we are five-ish hours early, because Carnival never gave specific information about debarkation or when we could expect to be off the ship. We certainly didn't want to schedule a flight before we could get to the airport, so we had hedged our bets and chosen an early afternoon flight.

As we're checking in, a woman comes up from behind and rolls her GINORMOUS suitcase into my foot and leg. I instinctively scream and she looks at me with disdain and sidles up to her screen without so much of an acknowledgment of what she had done. I'm left with a small scrape on my ankle and a giant bruise on my calf. Charming.

We check in our bag, only to realize that we could have tried for an early flight. If we got on an earlier flight now our bag wouldn't make it until much later, so we'd just be hanging out at the NYC airport instead of the Miami one.

And travel continues -- on Monday I'm taking a trip for job hunting purposes. It was certainly not in my plans, but you never know what's going to be thrown in your path. And I'm going to do my best to stay positive and turn things into a good situation for me. If nothing else, this will be amazing experience and help me become more employable. I can learn from any missteps and practice public speaking (!) and general interview techniques.

I know I prayed for employment, but I forgot to mention that I'd like it to come a couple weeks after we moved so I could get our apartment settled!

Quick Cruising

For whatever reason I'm not feeling like writing. A lot of things are going on, and I'm feeling pulled in a hundred directions. In reality I just have to slow down, enjoy the time I have left and deal with the rest, including snatches of time in the city I'll never get back. Be careful what you wish and pray for, because getting them can impact your other plans!

But onto the cruise ... Overall a good time, but in hindsight I wished we'd stayed longer in the ports and had fewer "fun days at sea" on the ship.

We weren't as impressed with the food as we thought we might be. Also the "golden dining room" was pretentious ... and unnecessarily so, especially since nearly ever surface was painted gold -- and clearly paint. Yikes. We did eat breakfast in the silver dining room one morning, and although it was a little less tacky, we mostly stuck with the buffet. I will say this that there was always a lot of food, but I wouldn't say it was very good quality -- except the fruit, and I did like the coffee OK.

The shows were pretty good. At first I was unimpressed because the dancers weren't an par with what I've seen on Broadway. But as the cruise progressed I realized -- we're on a moving ship! So it is probably a lot more difficult to hit your marks when they're moving. So I appreciated their work much more after that realization!

The first night's welcome show was overly hokey though. F-U-N was the name of the game, i.e. that's the Carnival tagline and almost everything includes the word (Fun Ship, Fun Times, etc.). Anyway, the medley of songs HAD to be the result of a Google search for "songs with fun" -- everything from "All I wanna do" to "Girls just wanna" ... But otherwise the variety song shows were good. I especially liked the Around the World one -- the Irish and French dance sets were especially fun to watch. All together their sets and costumes were flashy and over the top. But I guess they want people to think they're getting what they pay for!

One night there was a juggling show, which was right up Shawn's alley. The two jugglers, The Village Idiots, were from Oklahoma! They also had a juggling workshop the next afternoon.

I posted photos on Flickr (click thru for a few captions and the photo titles). I plan to write posts about each port and a post about ways things could be improved to suit me (although again I'm not the target demographic, some of these are no brainers). I'll also read through the journal/notes I kept of the trip and share some snippets that make most sense. Until then...


Oddly I still feel like I'm on the ship -- a bit of rocking motion. Maybe just feeling slightly dizzy or perhaps an inner ear issue. I do know that I'm still tired from the travel and commotion of it all. Otherwise, headlines are: we did not get sea sick and we did not get sunburned (although Shawn's shoulders got red in Cozumel). We had a good time overall.

I took loads of notes on the trip, and I will probably do a series of posts about what we liked and what we didn't. I intend to send customer feedback to Carnival on ways they could improve, but we also came to realize we're not the target demographic for cruising. More on those thoughts later. I'll also do a post each about the ports, create a photo album on Flickr and post a video or two on Vimeo.

But that will wait until I make it through this work trip. Tomorrow morning I have to wake up at 5 a.m., put on work clothes and take the train south for one last trip. For now I'm going to unpack our FreshDirect delivery and PACK a bag for my trip tomorrow. Here's one photo, rum punch in Jamaica:

Techno-Break: Cruising

With this post I've crossed the halfway point to my goal of 300 posts in a year. I should be able to catch up, given diligent blogging about the upcoming move as well as post-wrap up of our cruise. (After a full week of NO computer access, which means I won't type at all ... for the longest break ever for me since ...)

We leave the apartment tomorrow VERY early. Our flight leaves around 7 am, and we will be in Miami by 10. Gives us cushion time for delays, and in any case want to get on the ship around 12:30 or 1. (Leaves around 4.)

I'm not the best traveler. I am OK, in that I can navigate airport terminals, and I'm quick through security and stowing my luggage. But it's the ANTICIPATION of the delays, the hassle, the gretchy feeling that makes me all tense.

I was also a bundle of nerves today because I had two Skype interviews for "perfect-for-me" jobs I may have mentioned before. Very much blessings, and I'm hopeful they will turn into real live job offers. It's not too soon to hope, and I've done all I can at this point -- thank you notes sent, references given, etc. I'll follow up upon my return and even if nothing works out before we move, I'll hope my good luck in landing interviews (and relevant job openings EXISTING) continues.

We're trying to pack this evening. I've put my small rolly suitcase together, and I know we're overthinking everything BUT this is who we are. Will be glad when we make it to the ship with our luggage and can REALLY relax. In the mean time I'll do my best to pre-relax while we pack.

This is our honeymoon, after all, so going into it with all the love and anticipation that should go into that type of vacation.

I painted my toenails (purple, natch) for the first time in ages (maybe over a year?) -- in anticipation of taking pictures of bare feet at all our stops and in various stages of recline on the ship. So you have that to look forward to on my return! Right?

In any case, talk to you then.


I am hungry, and it's almost all I can think about. Very troubling but expected. I don't want to buy groceries and can't bring myself to eat the scrappy things we have left in our cupboard. The worst, and poor Shawn.

Last night Shawn and I decided to take advantage of a break in the rain and take part in a free movie screening on the Hudson River. It's like Screen on the Green in DC, except with NYC in the background instead of the Capitol Building.

We walked a mile and a half, only to find that the event was canceled due to inclement weather. I suppose that could be true if there were any more storms slated to come through ... but there weren't. Oh well. We got a 3+ mile round trip walk in really nice weather.

Evening wasn't a total wash because we were home to watch the season premiere of Psych. Man, that show cracks me up. What I HATED was the weird credit card advertisement bumper that featured the actors in character. Ick.

Similarly, I hated the Closer's "Salt" tie in -- you could see the movie ad on a bus in the background of an early scene, and then the safe word at the end was "salt." Grrrr. Would I be as peeved if the movie in question didn't feature AJ? Probably not.

Unrelated: SO excited for Ramona and Beezus movie. Seriously.

Boxes Boxes Everywhere

My boxes are actually full of other, flat boxes. There are about nine boxes of boxes in total throughout our apartment. Here's a mini slide show to give the full effect. I didn't use a flash though, so the pictures are kind of blurry and rushed (kind of how I feel).

I write like?

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Not sure about this. The first one said James Joyce, but then I pasted four other posts and got this each time ... I've never read his stuff, although I've heard of him because of the blogosphere explosion following his suicide in 2008. My reality TV post said I write like Stephenie Meyer. Wonder how the algorithm works on this thing!

Read and Watch: Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?: A NovelNotes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?: A Novel by Zoë Heller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this up at Greenflea for $4. The movie was in our Blockbuster queue and got to the top BEFORE I had a chance to read the book. So, once I'd seen the film, I decided to go ahead and read the book now (clearly I'm buzzing through my cruise reading prematurely).

A quick read that wasn't as tense as the movie, and there was a change to one of the major characters that made the movie better than the book, in my opinion.

It deals with sexual abuse of a child, and the double standard when the adult is a woman (although Roman Polanski anyone?). So the book (and movie) wouldn't be for everyone, but I found them entertaining enough and I liked the language choices in the book and the perspective of the narrator.

View all my reviews

My Now

I tried to leave a comment on's post "What's your 'now'?" and was thwarted by the computer -- or something. So going to post my list of 15 words that describe my now here:


Righting the Ship

I still haven't figured out the blog's RSS feed -- why it just wasn't working. It is working again for me, but I'm not 100% convinced of its health.

I AM happy that FeedBurner stopped including FriendFeed followers in the subscriber count. 20 is much more realistic than 244 for this piece of internet real estate. (And it's more like 4 people who actually read regularly -- hey-oh!)

Other technical glitches include my regular website and the inability to connect via FTP to my server. The place I host with says the problem can't be theirs, so my next step it to talk to Time Warner. Is it wrong that I want to just wait until I have a different ISP to test the connection? I'm convinced the issue is with the web server, since I can connect to other FTPs without issue. Grrrr. Oh, and I also tried on my work computer ... and was able to connect. So something is fishy. Windows 7 failure? THAT would be my luck I know...

Probably what I should do is switch this blog to be my main page and then drop the web host entirely, just paying for the domain name.

Random: updated its site navigation, so when I ordered Thai last night (I know, bad wife) I failed to check "pay by CC" (I think it used to default to that?) and the delivery guy needed cash. Uh ... Luckily I just called the restaurant and charged the order, but so humiliating ... and still makes me feel yucky. Clearly I have issues...

Got a pair of kicks repaired yesterday -- they had been ripped to shreds on my last visit to Old Town Alexandria. For $15 they've got new heels and should last a while, once I start wearing them regularly (please oh please oh please). Nothing concrete to report on the job hunt ... yet. Being away all next week will probably put a hitch in things BUT we need the vacation more than the possibility of employment. We'll see if I still feel that way in a few weeks when I'm sitting in our new apartment going stir crazy.

Hey, I guess I can always just blog my boredom.

Complete: Baby Blue Bow Tie

Baby Blue Bow Tie Perspective

Hooray! I finally finished this labor of love, a blue and white baby blanket for Baby Gunther! Just in the nick of time ... he's scheduled to make his appearance in the world on August 1. Now I just need to get it in the mail, on its way to Woodbridge, VA. Hope his parents like it. A few more photos in my crochet set on Flickr.

Some notes on the process and pattern (also on my Ravelry, membership required):

The kit I purchased from Herrschners contained the right amount of “weight” listed in the pattern, but not enough yardage. And even after they sent me an additional skein of blue and white (one each), I still didn’t have enough blue to make the pattern to size. I basically needed twice as much yarn as was included in the kit, and a bit more than what was listed in the pattern. Perhaps I just have loose tension, but I don’t think it’s THAT loose.

All that said, the pattern is adorable and the resulting “bow ties” that are created with single crochet and chain (read: it takes forever), plus the puffy stripes created after the fact, made a darling blanket that I’m quite proud of. I also loved the border and the long double crochet, which was done across groups of double crochet to make a really nice diagonal design around the border.

Read: The Way We Were

The Way We WereThe Way We Were by Marcia Willett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a bad book, but the dialogue was what got me. It wasn't so much dialogue as back-and-forth monologues. Bizarre, and I can't imagine ANYONE speaking that way (although thinking that way, definitely).

There's also the non-linear storyline, in that it jumps back and forth through time. I hated it at first, but as the story kept going I liked it, and Willett is clear by labeling the sections by year. So it's pretty easy to know exactly where you are in time.

I didn't like the over-abundance of characters. There were at least 20 to keep track of, and 5-10 main characters, depending on how you define "main" ... so it was just a bit much, especially for a 300 page book.

Overall it was mostly inspiring in an "I should be able to do this too" kind of way. We'll see...

View all my reviews

New Shades

I'll have MANY more snaps of these glasses in action from our honeymoon cruise, coming up in a few short days. But seriously, how cute is my husband?!

High Horse

I've slowly felt the welcoming of my New York church (more than two years later), but mostly it's just a place I go worship and then retreat. I know a lot of the experience is up to me, but I've covered those thoughts in other posts.

Today included the report from annual conference. The first report was great, and the second left me seething. So much so that I thought I might get up and walk out, as if anyone would have noticed I left!

The woman started off OK, and then was able to put into words everything I find deplorable about the elitist mentality that thrives, including (perhaps especially) in the church.

She was talking about the discussions and debate around gay marriages, a hot topic in the church conference. She said that the NY conference has been able to become much more prayerful and graceful in its debate ... and that she wanted to point out that the NY conference is very diverse in its views, race, ethnicity, etc., unlike the one-dimensional conferences you'd find elsewhere in the United States where everyone is the same.

As a product of one of these "other" conferences, I took great issue to that. It was difficult for me to sit still while she yammered on, including about how she disagreed with the theology of one of the guest speakers (making sure to point out that he was from Nashville -- the horror!) but no specific topic given that she found distasteful or wrong.

Her point seemed to be that the "other" conferences are all of like minds, mainly agreeing that gay marriage shouldn't be allowed in the church. I haven't researched this to know if it's true, but in my heart I know it's not. This is an issue the the church as a whole and conferences across the country struggle with.

And this is definitely oversimplification, but isn't her prejudice against other, non-liberal, non-elite conferences along the same lines of prejudice against gay marriage?

It upset me terribly, and Shawn got an earful when we ate lunch today. I should probably drop it and not even publish this post. Yeah right.

Driving Gloves

Yesterday Shawn and I went out to Queens for a test drive -- a 2010 Honda Accord. Our salesman was OK, and we know he's just doing his job, but ... the odd pressure at the end, when we'd told him we were just shopping and really needed to compare the best price he could give us with the best price we could get in Baton Rouge. Basically it's going to come down to price. (Because we're pretty much set on a Honda ... although I didn't know we weren't supposed to tell him that!)

So color us surprised when the best he could do for us was the MSRP from the website. Uh ... we've gotten lower quotes from other dealers in this area via email. So, he kinda "screwed the pooch" on that one. Ick.

Driving the car was really fun, and it was the first (and probably only time) that I used my New York driver's license IN New York.

Still a lot to do before the move and getting everything lined up. Just wanted to share this anecdote about the stupidity of salesmen ... or basically a major flaw in the car sales structure. It's no wonder they're losing money. Gretch!

In other pre-moving news ... want to know how to make a ~480 square foot studio apartment feel even smaller? Just add boxes. Maybe some pictures to follow...

The good news: this time next week we'll be enjoying a "fun day at sea."

My Own Paparazzi

I constantly think about blogging, and how to do it better. There's nothing "right" or "wrong," but ...

I read a lot of others' blogs. Sometimes just a post, other times devouring everything a blogger has written and following her recommendations for other blogs. (Recently Better Off Wed and Motherload ... you can see where my priorities lie) I'm always on the lookout for more, for inspiration, for entertainment.

And I'm noticing some trends, at least among what I read. Although it's not entirely coalesced in my mind in a way that can easily be articulated I do want to talk/write/think about the blog as self promotion and self documentation (self preservation?).

I do see that basically we can use a blog, when we're writing about ourselves, as our own gossip magazine. The blogger is the editor and star. Photos of thrifty/clever outfits and cute write-ups of adventures. Using phrasing and poses and layouts reminiscent of US Weekly, Life & Styles, etc. But leaving out the self-snark ... any snark will be directed to others (or launched on Facebook, which is an even more popular way of self promotion than blogging).

(I don't read gossip mags on a regular basis, because I would basically break the bank if I got started, but I do enjoy Jezebel's weekly feature Midweek Madness ... which generated this post idea.)

And I kind of love it. I'm not adept at it, because my life feels just ... so vanilla. But others can -- and do -- turn a hum-drum life into a humming blog enterprise, complete with sponsors and giveaways and actual readers.

I don't get dressed up ... ever, so daily outfit posts are out. And even if I did, I'm not sure my style is worth publishing or that I'd be able to stand a blog with photo after photo of myself. Weight loss is out of the question; I think it's boring. I can't crochet enough ... or make up my own patterns ... to justify a crochet-focused blog. Writing about the job hunt just seems like a bad idea. Hair and makeup? Don't make me laugh! (Although perhaps I should start thinking about what content I can and do create instead of what this blog can't be.)

Like I've written before, I love the archive I'm creating. A record of myself and my life. And I'm OK that the value goes no farther than me and a few close associates. I'm not sure about taking a next step and making entertaining others -- the anonymous blog-o-verse -- my top priority. (And scared/certain that if I tried I'd be a big fat failure!)

Some of my favorite blogs are really open and honest. Including about their kids. In a Jon & Kate Plus 8 kind of way you can see the kids grow up, with everything documented, even if you're a total stranger. (And most often I am ... I can't think of any of my new parent friends who blog about their kids, or anything for that matter.)

And although this is so getting ahead of myself and future thinking I don't know if I could open up my child's life to that kind of scrutiny EVEN IF no one was reading. But at the same time I would love to make use of the new media tools and my straight up LOVE of blogging to document the experience from trying to conceive (TTC) through birth to Kindergarten, high school graduation and everything in between. Turning the traditional baby book on its head. BUT it's a little too personal, invasive and possibly weird. (Also, what happens when kid #2 comes along? Does she get her own blog, or do you fold them together in one overarching family blog?)

But I think about Erma Bombeck and how amazingly she wrote column after column about her life and managed to maintain her family's dignity and general privacy while spilling the best, funniest parts of their lives. And there are bloggers out there doing the same who I'd like to emulate. So much to consider, and clearly putting the cart before the horse with pre-worrying...

Bottom line - I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just doing it because this is what I do, with a healthy pinch of narcissism thrown in for good measure. Thanks for reading.

Reality TV and Me

I'm not sure that my TV viewing tastes mirror that of the United States as a whole, as I haven't watched a reality show religiously since America's Next Top Model during the years directly following college. But I still know who all the reality TV stars are because of my pop culture consumption online.

I don't like competition-y shows on HGTV or Food Network and have never seen a full episode of American Idol or most of the copy cats, despite being fond of AI's two biggest stars Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. (I did watch an episode of America's Got Talent at my cousin's house recently, and it was OK but didn't become required viewing for me.)

I do my part in keeping bad dramas and sitcoms on the air though. I was a loyal viewer of Saving Grace, mostly because of its setting -- Oklahoma City -- but was completely wounded by its series ending and wished I'd never watched an episode. I still find myself thinking about Olivia from Fringe and worrying about how they're going to get her back from the alternate universe! I love cop, hospital and legal dramas, hokey family and workplace sitcoms, and basically everything that Shawn hates about TV.

Lately I've become enamored with a different type of reality TV. House Hunters is my go-to show. I love and hate it. Love the properties and seeing different price points around the country (and world, in the case of International). Hate the b*tchy, gripe-y home buyers ... nothing is ever good enough and heaven forbid they have vinyl floors or laminate counters. I also get a big laugh when 2,000 square feet is "tiny and unlivable."

Last night a Baton Rouge-area episode came on. E-GADS.

In looking for the link to that episode I inadvertently peeled back the veneer and found out what is sort of obvious w/ the show -- it's all staged. They find home buyers who are already under contract and then film "back in time" two houses they didn't choose. I can't imagine this is always true for the international version, BUT who knows. I'm just a gullible American television consumer.

Oil and Baton Rouge

I've been reading about my future home, subscribing to Baton Rouge bloggers and watching the official sites for the city (in addition to scouring the interwebs for relevant job openings).

Here's a post from the visitors' bureau blog that I read about a month ago, about the (non-) impact of the oil disaster on the capital city.
While the Baton Rouge economy is closely tied to the petrochemical industry, visitors to our region have not experienced any change in services due to the spill.  Baton Rouge is located approximated 160 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, and as such, has experienced no environmental or physical impact from the spill.
I hope this remains the case, and beyond that pray for a resolution to the disaster!

Video: Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell cover, via The Daily What


Who knew that the <> had a real name? These are things I come across in my regular reading. Random, but the more you know...

For some reason my FeedBurner isn't pinging properly so posts are showing up much delayed -- sometimes as much as 12 hours late -- at least in my reader. So sorry about that. I fiddled with some settings so maybe it will be better.

Skyping an interview went OK. We'll see what comes of it. Don't want to talk too much about it or jinx things. Trying to get lots of things in the works, a la The Five O'Clock Club.

Weird story about an alligator on the LSU campus.

Interesting story about native English speakers' inability to understand passive sentences. Pretty weird, via @GrammarGirl.

My sweet moo nephew wants a Titanic toy for his birthday, but not just any toy. He wants one that floats, but also breaks apart and sinks -- in the exact way the real Titanic broke apart and sank. Oh, and it needs the same number of life boats as the real Titanic had, and its smoke stacks need to make real smoke. It should also come with a small, hard, plastic toy iceberg. Somehow I imagine I'll be letting him down. BUT maybe he's ready for a model kit to build his own, although it wouldn't be bathtub-ready. Hrm.

My summer is slipping away, and I'm OK with that. I'm doing my best not to take city life for granted, but I'm also impatient and ready to get moving. I go to sleep at night thinking about packing and how things will fit together, loading the truck, the drive, etc.

NaBloPoMo isn't something I'm participating in this month, but I really dig their writing prompts. Today's is If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be? Or would you change anything at all? Hard to say, because a change to my BODY wouldn't be for appearance's sake, although it would be nice to not have to work so hard to lose weight.

On that note I need to get out and get moving. Eschewing the gym today for a big walk -- post office, library and then back to rest, trying to head off this summer head cold at the pass. Hope it's all in my mind!

The Sweetest

Hope the Skype connection holds up tomorrow. Fingers crossed for me, but I have to believe there's something greater than me at work here. Let it unfold ... and all that jazz.

(P.S. Increased posting because I realized how far behind I am in my "300 posts in 2010" goal, given that we're past the halfway mark of the year (!) and I'm only at 134... Bear with me in any case as I play catch up! And feel free to send post ideas my way.)

Write More

My husband's advice. Need to take it to heart. But write what? Remains to be seen, but I don't think blog posts are what he has in mind!

I'm reading a book, "The Way We Were," (not related to the Streisand-Redford movie) written by a woman whose author blurb says she was encouraged to write by her second husband, and this is her eighth tenth book. And it is awful, at least from a literary perspective. It's another non-linear storyline, which I know is a legitimate technique when done properly, but what's worse is her dialogue. EGADS. The characters talk in paragraphs and there's very little actual conversation. I don't know. It's easy to be critical and b*tch about published authors' work instead of doing it myself.

I have the time. I guess mostly afraid of confirming that I'm no good.

Kissed a Nerd

Via The Intersection

The Fifth of July

Originally uploaded by "O62"

(Pic of the floating fireworks I said
were "neat" ... clearly I'm not a
real New Yorker!)
Our last Fourth of July in NYC was pretty great and low key. We started with church, and cousin Kellie met us there. It was another loooooong service, but we were in a fan's path, so it was comfortable and the songs were good, sermon too.

Then caught the crosstown bus and headed to the Upper West Side, home of brunch-y places. We ate at a funny place called Fred's ... and I geeked out on some delicious-o coffee. We parted ways after that, but plans to meet up for fireworks later.

Kellie was at our apartment at 7, and we scooted over to Hudson River Park to wait for the dark. Hanging around and listening to hipster doofus conversations, enjoying the warmth. Crazy kids running around and wanting to try juggling like Shawn. He even let them try. One of them said "You must be some kind of juggling expert!"

Finally the fireworks began, and we hastily threw together our picnic blanket and stadium seat backs and ran to the sidewalk to watch the light show over the river. It was really good -- solid 20 minutes of lights. We were too far south to hear the music, but good none-the-less. Our favorite moment was just after the show started and some goomba turned to his buddies and said "All right, I'm going to the bathroom now." That sent Kellie and me into a fit of giggles!

Being a real New Yorker, Kellie was able to navigate us around the crowds, even in the wind-y crazy streets that are the West Village. We got back to the apartment, enjoyed some AC and watched the fireworks again -- this time on TV. I recorded the special. We watched Justin Bieber ... he wasn't even AT the show -- it was pre-recorded (in Prospect Park?) ... AND HE'S CANADIAN. Geez. Shawn liked LeAnn Rimes, although I'd never heard her version of "Swinging," I like that tune a lot. (Looked it up, originally John Anderson.)

And here we are at the Fifth of July, an anti-holiday first celebrated by me seven years ago. "Good times." Anyway, great that there's no work/it's a federal holiday and we've already had our revelry so we can just relax. Of course the museums and other outstanding items on our "things to do in NYC" list are closed, so we're going to do a little shopping. Shawn needs a new pair of shoes! And hopefully we'll end the weekend with another cousin visit. We plan to have dinner tonight with Lisa!

Read: Third Husband and Straight Up

Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My mom recommended this book and it's the kind of thing I like -- short essays a la Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry. This woman is good, but not THAT good. Overall I enjoyed it, and it made a couple workouts go by quickly because I was entertained. I didn't like the Jennifer Aniston bashing (or the converse worship of Brangelina ... yuck), and I'm not a big fan of dog and chicken kissing, although to each her own. I also took issue to something she wrote in the intro about no good female characters in literature (other than what she writes in her own books).

Some of the essays made me tear up -- especially when she talked about her parents and family love. And some made me laugh out loud (good thing I have exceptional balance on the elliptical machine!). Overall it's good for what it is, but I'm glad I didn't buy it and that I was able to check it out at the library. NYPL for the win.

Straight up and Dirty Straight up and Dirty by Stephanie Klein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read Stephanie Klein's Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp a while back, and liked it. I've read her blog for at least that long, although I never delved into the archives to get the full story this book, her first, covers.

It was a little weird knowing what her kids look like and knowing her husband's real name (he comes in at the end of this book, albeit with a pseudonym, like everyone in the book). It did make reading it a little less suspenseful, knowing that she gets her happy ending (and is still happily living and blogging it!).

The writing style is good and she's very confessional. It's likened to "Carrie Bradshaw" of course, as any single gal in the city who blogs/writes successfully is heir apparent. But that seemed more true for this book, as she was constantly dating, being wooed and visiting the hot spots and Hamptons mentioned on Sex and the City.

The flow of the book was awkward, and I was often confused because it jumped around her divorce, the central event of the book -- so you'd read about her getting over it and dating, then jump back to good times with her first husband before they were married, then forward to just before the divorce, back again to the wedding -- and on and on. I guess non-linear story telling is en vogue, but I think I prefer a little more clear cut narrative.

Picked up the book for $4 at Strand -- a nice hard cover that looks really cool because its cover is dozens of thumbnail images of her. I read it now instead of on the cruise BECAUSE it was hard cover. And I made it through in just over a day. So a quick, fun read.

View all my reviews

Facebook Thoughts

I have major issues with Facebook and its high school mentality, even among adults (a group that I scarily consider myself a part of). Facebook often leaves me feeling bad, even when the negativity is not directed at me. And I'll admit that Facebook also tinges me green. I like being able to keep up with the lives of people who would fade away otherwise, but I hate that I feel jealous and otherwise unworthy, even when I love my life! But this is a different type of ickiness that exists. Me calling it out just puts me in the same awful category, I know. But here goes.

Recently a former "mean girl" from my middle school/high school years posted a couple awful things. First, a cell phone picture of a stranger from behind whom she deemed "too fat to be in public" (who was maybe a size 10 or 12, i.e. much smaller than me, which is part of what irked me I know) and all her friends started commenting in on the body snark ... OF A PERFECT STRANGER! A couple days later she posted an outtake video of a black reporter's stand up in which he complained (vividly) about his situation/location/the bug that flew in his mouth ... and she captioned it "watch this guy go ghetto in 15 seconds" ... what retort is there for either of those?

In the end I clicked "hide" so I don't have to be offended directly any more, although I really should just "unfriend." Hateful, mean and cutting posts do upset me, but then also get me feeling high and mighty about being "better than that," when posting this rant proves that I'm not!!!

I think Shawn has the right idea staying off Facebook entirely.

Employment Search

I'm on an email list called "Job of the Week" for PR/media types. The jobs are from all over the country, so I have to search w/in the email to find the rare Louisiana job (there's been one, and it was the joke one of that issue).

Searching for "LA" in the last issue this job came up:

PR and Social Media Specialist, CRAYOLA, Easton, PA

How cool would it be to work for Crayola?

Read: Lonely

Lonely: A Memoir Lonely: A Memoir by Emily White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read most of this earlier this year, right after it came out. Then got busy/distracted and finished the last bit recently. She gets her seemingly happy ending (and reading her current blog seems to be working out), but this is less memoir and more academic report on loneliness research, which I found really helpful.

However, I haven't fully absorbed what the idea of loneliness as a condition/disorder means to me and what, if anything, I want to do about it. I know I'll be more proactive and such in our new hometown. But there wasn't a lot of practical advice in the book, mostly because it doesn't really work like that. Needs more thought on my part, but TBD.

Cranky Britches Continued

Scene, Yesterday:

Arms loaded with laundry -- sack on my back. Elevators open on my floor, and two fat, fluffy cats race by the opening doors -- looking, to me, like deranged rodents. These are same cats who meow incessantly at each other during the day (luckily can only hear them in the hallway, not from in the apartment).

They dare me to exit the elevator and seem to threaten getting on with me. I flip out and hit the close door, letting the elevator sink. Trying to decide what to do. These house cats aren't anything to be afraid of, but I've let myself become frightened and worked up.

Do I tell the doorman and ask him to send someone up to remove the cats or speak to the cat lady who lets them roam in the hall? Or to give me a broom so I can sweep them out of my way as I get into my apartment?

It seems stupid to make an even bigger deal of it, plus my laundry is getting heavy ... so I pull up my big girl panties and hit "8."

The cats race by again when the doors open -- seemingly just to freak me out. I yell into the open door of the cat lady apartment, matching her crazy for crazy, "Not cool. UNCOOL. I really don't like this." as I make my way into my apartment around the corner.

When I go out for a drug store run (I don't like to be low on TP) the cats are back in their apartments, but I still feel agitated.

Bring on the party kid neighbors at LSU! (I'll eat those words in a few months, I'm sure...stay tuned.)

Cranky Britches

Someone wrote an email addressing me as Marilyn. This someone is not a stranger and was asking me to do something, copying four other people.

I replied as best I could and signed off "My Name is Mari."

I think I'm in a bit of a turbo-b*tch mode today.

(How's that different from any other day? ba-dum-bum-shee!)

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