My dog ate my posts?

Oh. Hi. How are you? Anyone still out there? Did I lose both of you? Wondering where I was? What I was doing? Why I haven’t written? Who I am? Well…I’ll pretend you’re nodding and explain. Or better yet – I’ll give you a choice of explanations and you pick your fav.

  1. I’ve been super busy with my glamorous lifestyle and haven’t had a minute to stop to post all the sexy details.
  2. I’m so dedicated to my husband and my kids that my entire focus has been on them.
  3. Work has sucked me in and I barely have time to breathe let alone write a blog!
  4. I got locked out of my account on WordPress. Then I realized that a new password would be sent to my email that I started the blog with. Then I realized that I started the blog with an email from my old job. Then I realized that I no longer have access to that email. Then I called WordPress and they said I should start a new blog…and say sayonara to all my old posts. Then I cried and sat shiva for my blog, decided it was over and tried to go about my business. Then I thought I’d start a new blog with different topics, etc. Maybe this was my chance to grow and change! Then I realized I love my little blog and I had no interest in growing and changing. So I called WordPress back and spoke to a “tech”, which means I paid a fee to get my old blog back – which I wish was presented as an option to me during the first call. Then I wrote an email to WordPress telling them that their customer service was terrible and it caused me days of pain. Then they refunded my money and said they were sorry.
  5. I had to finish House of Cards season 3.

Only one of these is the reason – although I did finish season 3 of House of Cards (it’s Claire’s world, Frank is just living in it).

Anyway, crisis over. I’m back! I’ve missed you.

Happy New Year! I’m talking to you Chinese people….

I thought I’d share my favorite non-PC story involving my favorite Chinese friend in honor of today. I’m sure she won’t mind. If you are offended easily or think this is insensitive – please stop reading now. I totally understand. I once wrote a note to the New York Times condemning an Indian Cultural Day they had in Central Park called “Curry in the Park”. I was outraged that they would define all of the beauty that is the Indian culture and reduce it to a seasoning used in the food.  How dare they! They wrote back that it was, in fact, a showcase of Indian food. Oh. Anyway – I get it. Racism is terrible. But sometimes….it’s funny. On to my story.

Let me set the scene.

I worked in a very serious, very conservative private bank in New York City. This was the defining job of my career. All my biggest successes and f’ups happened here. It’s also where I learned the type of team that I wanted to be in (and lead eventually). We were hardworking, sarcastic, funny and silly. If you made a mistake in our team, you wouldn’t be walked through how to do it better – you would be teased and laughed at. There was no training or “on-boarding”. You just worked like hell to figure things out while the rest of the team rolled their eyes. It sounds rough. But it was amazing. You developed all the skills you needed to be a good planner – including the king of all skills – thick skin.

We were also quite a mixed bag. Cold, stylish leader without a heart? Check. Smart, creative Chinese gal who bordered on being mean? Check! Rich, Hermes wearing Euro daughter of a client? Put together, chic New Yorker with an accent? Check and check! And me, a married Indian gal with a baby in her late 20’s. Let’s just say we didn’t blend into a crowd.

Sorry about all the back story but you need to know this in order to really appreciate the situation. So because we dealt with billionaires and people who managed billionaires, the atmosphere in the office was always quiet and well-heeled. Except in our area. We were always laughing and shouting and eating. A mark of most good event groups. We also kept to ourselves most of the time – not that anyone was knocking down our door to be included.

Then, one fateful holiday season – it happened. Our guard was down. We were invited to join the secret Santa gift exchange on our floor. We decided to do it. We even decided to go to the party for the gift exchange. All of us. Except the head of the group who spent December in Prague or something. We were going to assimilate! At least for that hour.

We all shuffled into the conference room and pretended to be excited. One by one we opened our gifts. Oh look, the strange dude in graphics got me a cookbook. How nice. The lady in accounting got someone a candle. Charming. You get the point.

Then. Our Chinese gal opened the first of 2 gifts from her secret Santa. Hmmm. Geisha stickers. She smiled. We stared. We started to feel the corners of our mouth convulsing – we looked at the floor. We looked at the ceiling. We looked anywhere to avoid eye contact with her. We prayed the next gift wouldn’t be ethnic specific. We were wrong. She opened a box of Chinese rubber stamps. Ok – at least this was the right bucket of stereotyped gift. (You say Chinese, I say Japanese…) There was no ill intent. The person meant no harm. But we were all dying. Literally bursting at the seams laughing. We never participated in a gift exchange again. True story.

I know what you’re thinking. How awful – that person should have been reprimanded. Oh no. You didn’t go to HR for this stuff. You thanked the Gods that this happened so you could hold it over your co-worker’s head! That’s how we rolled.

For months after we talked, relived, re-enacted the moment. It was like a Christmas miracle to our team. It’s been 14 years or so since that day, and it still brings me joy.

Here’s to the year of the goat!

(Please note that the Chinese gal and I remain the closest of friends and she had to help me remember some details. I remembered the gift giver as a boy, it was a girl. I remembered 3 gifts. It was only 2. Thank god for her. Chinese people. They’re good to have around)

Bacon and me

It is not a love story.
If you know me.
If you’ve read this blog.
You know I don’t eat meat.
Have never had meat.
Until today.
Long meat story short.
I was at a conference I didn’t plan.
For lunch they had unlabeled food.
I focused on the sandwiches and avoided the meat ones.
There was a cold noodle side salad. It had chicken. I moved on.
There was a another salad. I decided that it would be ok because :
A) it looked safe and green
B) they already had a meat side so this HAD to be ok.
I’m a naive vegetarian fool.
As I shoved the last of it down I saw this

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I moved the plate away slowly and chugged my water.
I don’t remember what the conference was about.
I think it was about bacon.

LMIAGPTL

You probably don’t know what that means. Or more accurately, what it stands for. It’s an acronym for a Facebook page about the community that I live in – Lower Makefield Is A Great Place To Live. Do you have this too? Is there a Chester County Is A Great Place To Live, Upper Darby Is etc.? Somehow I can’t imagine the same thing happening in other, bigger towns. It seems so quaint and so ours. You’re probably thinking what I first thought, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But you do. You do have time for that. And it’s amazing.

It’s a place for neighbors to share a heads-up on traffic, weather and other happenings. Would you believe it’s a better source for local news than my local news? It is. I wrote a post a while back about a new grocery store opening in our neighborhood – well this FB page kept us all current on the opening, and now it keeps us current on when the good jarred sauce is on sale. Stop rolling your eyes and judging. I love those updates. I also love knowing that there’s a two car accident and to avoid the mall for an hour on a Sunday.

I’ll also admit that I knew nothing (nor cared) about local politics until I joined the group. But what I’ve learned is that local politicking is far juicer than the state. Right now we are in the midst of ousting a woman we believe is wrongfully representing us….because it was discovered that she lives in South Carolina now but is still on local boards! Scandal! Outrage! Justice! I’m telling you, it does not get better.

The site can veer off into drama sometimes, but who doesn’t love drama!? Case in point…(insert Law and Order music)…IF you happen to be driving by and want a Starbucks but it’s super cold out so you decide just to park in the fire lane while you dash in and out, a photo of your car will likely appear on this site – under the photo will be many comments chiding you for the lazy beast that you are. Or if…(Law and Order music again)…there’s a medical/police emergency within 10 miles of our community, I’m pretty sure we know about it the second the call comes in. It can be a little big brotherish, I admit, but for nosey rosies like me – it’s my jam.

Here’s the flip side of this page. It’s a hardcore business tool. It has over 3,000 members (some more active than others). These people stroll/troll/view this site every week, every day, every hour (people like me!) When my husband first started his small business, he spent alot of money on advertising in several different ways. It’s 5 months later and every single customer he has – 100% of his book – is from this site directly or from a referral. It’s no joke. It’s powerful. It giveth, and if you suck- it taketh away. I am now a complete and utter believer in social media marketing. It changed the trajectory of his company. It’s also how we find our favorite take-out joints, so there’s that.

And the site isn’t all about marketing and selling and policing. During the Halloween season folks would ask for random items they needed to complete a costume – and they almost always walked away with what they were asking for. The most commented and followed posts are about filling a local pantry or helping a family in need. Last year this site and the people on it, furnished atleast two homes with the things that family needed and couldn’t afford.

And the photos. I love the photos. I know everyone thinks their hometown is beautiful, but ours really is!  Ok I said it. My town is better than your town. Did I mention that we have some of the best Indian food and bagels outside of New York City, maybe even better than inside of New York City – and did I mention our local brewery is better than any in Seattle?? Just kidding folks. Calm down. In reality, if your town has a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods, our entire community bows down to you. You win. It’s not a competition you say? Sure it is. Everything is.

I hope you have a page like this, if you don’t  – go make it happen. It’s worth it. At the very least you’ll know which Chinese restaurant to order dinner from tonight.

Here’s some recent shots of Afton Lake, located in the heart of our bustling downtown (ha!). Photo cred to a fellow LMIAGPTL member kind enough to let me borrow the pics – thank you Nick Primola!

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I’d rather be the hammer than the nail

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Everything is connected. All the time. Don’t you think? Let me explain. My husband and I snuck off to see the movie Wild on Friday night. It was the first book I read when I joined my book club a few years ago. Great book. Great movie. Great book club. But this isn’t about the movie or the book club. This is about the soundtrack to the movie. I need to back up a few years.

In 2010 my husband turned the big 4-0. He only wanted one thing to celebrate – a trip to Munich, Germany for Octoberfest. Turned out that 2010 was a celebratory year for that event (I can’t remember if it was 150 years or 100 years). Either way it was a big year for them too. So we went, and it was a blast. Him and I are really good travel companions (not in an Amazing Race kind of way, but in a relaxed House Hunters International kind of way). We stayed about a mile from the fairgrounds and headed there the first night we arrived. It was out of control and amazing. Crowded. Loud. Did I mention crowded? Our favorite haus introduced us to all kinds of characters (we were almost lured into a tricky situation but that’s another story). We had a blast. A couple of notes for those who have never been. There are a lot of Italians there. A lot. Molto. Also, John Denver is their God. Everywhere you go – in every tent – every 5 minutes – they play Take me home, country roads. The entire place stops and all the Italians and all the brauhaus servers sing along holding hands. True story. I’m off the rails. Back to why everything is connected.

By the third night we were pretty much done with all the fest fun. My husband suggested we find a small, local pub off the beaten track and spend the evening there instead. And because he has a tracking device for such places, we found one on the other side of town. Quiet. Small. Almost empty. Dark. Perfect. We settled in with our beers, ordered some food and chatted with the two other people in there. Did you know Germans are very friendly? Did you know Germans in a bar with beers are even friendlier? They are. After about an hour of hanging out there, the doors to the pub flew open and an entire oompah band walked in. Have you ever seen an oompah band? Sorry I’m asking so many questions. Oompah bands aren’t petite. Here’s what they kinda looked liked.

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Imagine this group with those instruments walking into a small, dark, pub – you notice. Turns out that the oompah band are regulars here. And they don’t just put their instruments down and relax, oh no. They play. They play loud. By the time they got there, we were ready for some excitement and my husband started hooting and hollering as he often does and recording them with his phone. We bought them beers. We sang along. It was great fun. At the end of the night they played Simon and Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa. My husband leaped out of his seat and started yelling and screaming. What can I say? He likes Simon and Garfunkel – and we were so happy not to be hearing John Denver. They played really well and I thought I knew the song but couldn’t remember. My husband turned to me and said,” you know, I’d rather be a hammer than the nail…yes I would, yes I would.” I nodded and smiled. Oh yeah, I said, sure I remember. Truthfully I had no idea.

Days after we got home from the trip we would play that song and even John Denver to remind us of the trip. We even made the kids listen, showed them all the videos. Eventually the videos got deleted, because unless our kids in them – they really don’t seem to make the cut.

A few months after the trip we were still thinking/talking/singing about our time away. My husband decided to Youtube videos of Octoberfest one night – that’s how desperate we were to relive our time. He watched videos of all the differnt brauhaus fun. Then he typed in El Candor Pasa Oompah band. And the first video that popped up was the one he clicked. He turned it up. It ended. He watched it again. Turned it up louder. It was a dark video of an oompah band playing the song in a small pub. No way. He called me over. He said, “do you recognize this?” He played the video and it looked kind of familiar – but it was so dark, I couldn’t make it out. Then he turned it up and pointed to the corner of the room – where there was a dude recording a video of the band and hooting and hollering. NO!! It couldn’t be!! But it was. Someone else from that bar had recorded the band too – and in the background was my husband holding up a phone and yelling. You couldn’t really make out his face, it was blurry – but it was him! Come on!! That’s fantastical no? I feel my kids rolling their eyes somewhere out there in the universe. We’ve told them the story a few million times. It’s a good story.

Ok I’m getting excited again. Back to the movie. Told you it wasn’t really a review. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s the one thing that kept my husband awake the whole time. And I know he liked the movie, even though he kept tapping me and asking,” when does it get WILD?” every few minutes. He’s hysterical.  I’ll ask one last question. What song do you think they played all throughout the movie? Yep. That’s the one.

Everything is connected, even if it involves oompah bands and book clubs.

Ottomans and Piñatas

It’s December 15th! Our holiday revelry is in full swing. That mixed in with work and school has sent me into overdrive. Just the way I like it. Someone reminded me the other day that I live for this kind of chaos. And in all honesty it’s not all chaos, it’s fun. We get to see some family and friends and I get to torture my kids by dragging them to every Christmas light display within a 30 mile radius while listening to only Christmas tunes (that’s all I play for the month of December. The CIA has nothin’ on me).

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • Thanksgiving led right into our holiday party – where we discovered just how many people the house could fit. The answer….about 10 less than we had. Oh well, it was cozy. We met some new friends and were reminded again of why we love our old friends. Because they’re cray cray. Like us. I submit as evidence a picture of a cream cheese dip snowman below. I rest my crazy case.
  • My husband’s new company is taking off – it’s thrilling to see him not only succeed, but be happy at work. What a concept!
  • Speaking of work. Tomorrow is a milestone for me – 1 year in my new gig. Time goes by fast when you’re having fun and working your ass off. Sorry I said ass.
  • We went away for our annual trip to the Poconos with family. I think we started laughing the moment we got there and did not stop all weekend. We also ate like it was our last meal at every meal. In between the laughing and eating there were activities – oh were there activities! Family Feud (we lost). You Be The Judge (we lost). Wooden Horse Racing (can you guess?). The only winner among us was my son who won a gold medal in a basketball competition (he battled both kids and adults!). The title to this post comes from two fun moments. First. They served FRITTATA’S for breakfast, not Piñatas as some at the table called them.Second. What’s the heaviest object in your home? Survey says….it’s not an ottoman honey. Don’t worry. You have other talents. Ahem.
  • The resort put on a Back to the 80’s show. Can you guess who was singing and dancing to every impersonation? MJ, The B-52’s, Duran Duran. The 80’s were my jam yo.
  • I’m almost done Christmas shopping. I should be completely done by February, the latest.
  • We are in the home stretch of holiday fun, then comes the great hibernation. This is where my family shuts the doors, the windows, the lights and locks down until Easter. Weekends are full of staying at home and not attending parties. Movies at home and boring evenings in front of a fire are the only things on the schedule.
  • Although I totally disagree with their philosophies and ideals – the Chick-fil-A chicken platter will save your life when hosting/attending/being near a party. Go get one now! Then write a stern letter denouncing their politics so you can sleep at night.

Hope you all are enjoying the festive season. Let’s do this again on the flip side ok?

(here’s some pics from the holiday haze)

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Calm Down

I was really excited about the new show How to Get Away With Murder , mainly because I love Viola Davis. I’ve loved her since the movie Doubt. If you’ve never seen that movie, please – stop reading this post and go watch it. Now.
Anyway I was looking forward to it. I was also hoping/thinking that it would maybe be in the vein of Murder, She Wrote. Remember that show?Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury solving crime and riding bikes around scenic New England towns. Good times. And Ofcourse I knew it wouldn’t really be like that. It’s produced by Shonda Salacious Rhimes. Her shows are sex, drugs, rock-and-roll – not tea and scones. Olivia Pope would kick Jessica Fletcher’s ass and then go sleep with the President. But maybe, just maybe this new show would be more understated, a little more subdued then her others.

Umm nope. The first two episodes included murder (to be expected), adultery (the new accessory for powerful women on TV), a raging college campus full of suspected rapists and druggies, a corrupt law firm, corrupt lawyers , corrupt law students, gay sex (good for them), stereotypical threatening frat boys, stereotypical know-it-alls, and yes – even a doe-eyed optimist who literally has his mouth open in shock the whole time. It’s so full of action and deceit that it’s kinda boring. Know what I mean? The writing is good – lots of quotable lines. One of my favorites delivered by a Gilmore Girls alum (oh Rory and Lorelai, I miss you). Remember snooty, mean, icy-on-the-outside-but-good hearted Paris? In this show, Paris grew up, lost any trace of her warmth, gave into her dark side and became a cynical, cold lawyer. When one of the students tries to talk to her, she says,” I know I look nice, but that’s just my face.” Ha! Classic Paris…errr I mean this new character.

It’s a good show. But geez, can’t we pace ourselves? I know the New York Times got into trouble by referring to the show’s lead as another angry black woman. But she really is angry. I mean she’s pissed, from the very first shot. It’s like you can’t be smart, effective and interesting unless your sneering.

Maybe I went into it wrong. Angela Lansbury f’d me up. I’ll give it another shot – or two. But someone needs to give Shonda Rhimes a hug. And then take her to New England on a bike ride. That’s all I’m saying.

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