Friday, October 31, 2008
Speaking of Scott and I when we were children, here we were on the first day of school. I never understood why kids though our mom dressed us funny:
Just kidding, this wasn't the first day of school....this was actually Halloween,probably about 1980ish or so. Notice I have the pumpkin full of candy in my hands, and Scott's hands are empty.
And in case you have read the blog before this, here is a photo of Scott and me in our "pinching baby" days. Scott was still in basic training for pinchers at this point (and yes, those are probably the stairs I pushed him down):
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I think mostly because of the candy, but more-so because I like dressing up.
This photo was taken in 1996 when my parents used to make me clean the house and wear a French Maid's outfit to do so! (They must have been mad about me stealing Scott's candy.)
Okay, once again I tease....I actually never really learned how to clean the house. That shot was taken when I was in college- my dad and me before I went out with all of my sorority sisters for a wild party.....err, I mean volunteering my time to go trick-or-treating with little children. I taught them how to eat just one piece too! And I also taught them about sharing their candy....with adults who are taking them trick-or-treating..... My mom and dad would be proud!
Speaking of my dad, he reads my blog! Aaaaand upon my request, he did indeed send me some of his Vietnam photos, which I hadn't seen since I was a little kid. Much like me, my dad also works at a college (The University of Akron, my alma mater) and he does a class on the Vietnam war. These are a selection of some of his photos from the powerpoint he uses for that class.
Much like me, my dad loves to take pictures. My dad and I are a lot a like in some ways. Except......when it comes to Halloween candy, I think my dad has a lot better control about eating "just one piece".
PS- Love you Daddy!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I know you guys love the stories of my childhood, and I think some of you might appreciate hearing about my early journeys, before I even knew how to spell Shanghai, let alone realize I’d be traveling there. Italy was a little bit more familiar, because my Grandma Valentino came from there and I knew that all of our Thanksgivings were extra delicious, and probably a little different from my friends’ Thanksgivings, because we ate Italian food- things like squid and wedding soup, in addition to our turkey and stuffing. I didn’t know much about Hong Kong, but it reminded me a lot of an Atari game I liked to play…the game with a big monkey who rolled barrels to trip up opposing players. And last, I was the little girl who thought Vietnam was just a strange place where my Daddy liked to visit, wearing camouflage green clothing, and wander through swampy rice fields, all of which was depicted when he would show us his US Army slide shows in the darkened family room circa 1981. Speaking of 1981, when I was about five, my Grandma and Grandad used to take us to this place in Barberton, Ohio called Lake Anna. There were ducks and swans at Lake Anna so we used to take stale bread for them to eat. Stale bread wasn’t good enough for people to eat, but the ducks never seemed to mind it too much! We would skip through the park, actually half running and half skipping and stand as close to the water as possible without falling in and reach over so close to the ducks that they would practically be eating out of our hands.
Scott and I would sit in the back seat, patiently waiting to get to the lake. Scott was a kid who could always eat. He was never fat or pudgy, he just liked to eat. We usually got Frozen Custard (this awesomely creamy, dreamy, smooth ambrosia, not to be confused with frozen yogurt or ice cream or anything of that sort), or sometimes we had Barberton Chicken. I never knew why fried chicken was so famous there….I just knew I lived for fried chicken and this stuff made my mouth water….it was served with these potatoes that were much like French fries and this stuff called “hot sauce” which was a ricey tomatoey type of goop that you slopped on over top of your potatoes and I’m not sure what exactly was in it, all I know is that it tasted pretty darn good.
So with our tummies full of greasy Barberton chicken and creamy custard, we were ready to share our stale bread with the ducks. I learned all about sharing when I was a young child and I was always willing to lend my friends a Barbie doll or a grape popsicle or a ride on the handlebars of my bike. No problem! I loved sharing my things and realized that giving to others brought me great joy as well. If one person can enjoy something, even better if two people can enjoy it!
Somewhere I think Scott missed this lesson. I remember one time sitting in the backseat, swinging my feet (which didn’t quite reach the ground) back and forth and patiently waiting to get to Lake Anna to feed the ducks, I noticed this chewing noise. I looked over and there was Scott eating every last piece of the stale bread. His cheeks full of bread, he grinned a missing-my-two-front-teeth-and-just-got-a-dollar-from-the-tooth-ferry smile. “Sssshhhh Sissy. Don’t tell.”
My eyes were big round blue saucers. I couldn’t believe Scotty would eat all of the food we brought for the ducks. Wouldn’t they be hungry? I was a pretty good kid (although some may beg to differ) and I did know we were supposed to share our bread that was earmarked (there’s that word again) for the ducks. Not for Scott who just ate three legs, one wing, and a thigh! (I’m talking about the Barberton fried chicken here, not the ducks we were about to feed.) But I kept my mouth shut. I don’t know what good I thought this was going to do, since pretty soon Grandma and Grandad would catch on and see that there was nothing left to feed the ducks.
Laurieeee????? Scottyyyyy? What are you two doing back there???
As usual, we’d both smile our shit-eat grins. “NOSSING!”
I think my grandparents got a kick out of our antics, but my parents didn’t.
Even though I loved to share, I hated cute little babies, because I was envious and had to be the center of attention. My mom would hear me asking Scott in the backseat of the car “Now Scott….when we see a baby what are we going to do?”
His answer was always the same: “PINCH THEM!!!” (I trained him to answer that way.)
So my mom loooooooves to share the stories of how I would convince Scott to come with me and pinch babies. One time in McDonalds we saw a baby and I ran up and pinched it. Scott ran up behind and pinched it too. The mother of the baby was FURIOUS, as was my mother after she realized what we’d done. She took my arm and yanked me out of there and my grandma took Scott’s arm and yanked him out of there.
For some reason my friends think this story is hilarious.. Poor Scott. When we were little, I wore the pants. I was envious of Scott too, because he was the baby of the family, so it was easier just to boss him around and be at my beckon call. I used to do mean things like shove him down the basement stairs and I had him so well trained that he would stick up for me. Bloody and bruised, he would crawl back upstairs, and my mom would ask “What the hell did Laurie DO to you!?!??” And through his tears and blood he would plead “Mommy, don’t be so hard on her.”
Poor little guy. This brings a tear to my eye now. Melts my little jealous, baby-hating heart! I *was* kind of mean! I’m glad I learned that there’s more to being a good kid than just sharing grape popsicles. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so bossy with Scott. But then one day he got bigger than me and stood his ground, so I guess it wasn’t allllllll that bad for him.
I truly had a wonderful childhood and with the exception of a few quirks and mean-spirited pinching episodes, I was a pretty good kid I think. Mom, if you’re reading this, please leave a comment so all of my readers believe me!!
I’m nostalgic now, after writing this post. Dad, if you’re reading, can you please email me some of your army pictures from Vietnam? Scott, if you’re reading this, can we play Donkey Kong on the Atari next time I’m in Ohio? Grandma, if you’re reading this, can we get frozen custard?
Okay, all of this stuff sounds reallllllly good. I loved my childhood and the thought of re-living some of these memories is making me very happy.
If it were 27 years ago, I’d be skipping! Hell, might as well skip right now…..
Monday, October 27, 2008
I've been thinking about belief systems (and things that contradict our beliefs) a lot lately .....especially before my trip begins in a couple short months. I experience this phenomenon often in my own life and try to "flip it upside down" and open myself to other perspectives. Perfect example- the upcoming election. Now whether you know me or not, you may be able to gauge from my writing that I am not very interested in discussing politics, nor religion. I am an Independent and in this blog I do not deem it appropriate to discuss what I'm liberal about and what I'm conservative about (although as a disclaimer I should mention that it may be difficult to avoid some of that naturally coming out in my writing.)
So from a very fair, neutral and objective stance, I've been trying to listen with an open mind to each candidate's platform without hearing the bashing of the opponent and all the muckraking that goes on. Boy is that ever difficult! What happened to just telling me what YOU stand for and what you're going to DO instead of name-calling and childish taunting of your opponent? Through all the haze that this muck has created, I am trying to understand viewpoints which are converse to my own.
And I *get* them. I really do. You have to dig through your own "muck" (sometimes it takes a pretty strong shovel) and really get into someone else's head and understand their backgrounds and their own experiences to see why they feel the way they feel. Over the weekend I watched "Religioulous". This documentary explored religious beliefs and Bill Mauer attempted to get people to "prove" why they believe what they believe. Definitely an interesting flick, but a few of my observations from the movie:
- He picked people who had a hard time articulating their beliefs (to put it mildly). I think they were put on the spot and didn't really have a chance to formulate a sensible reply.
- The film spent a lot of time with Bill questioning Christianity, and very little time questioning Judaism, Islam, and other religions. He never mentioned/questioned Buddhist or Hindu beliefs.
- There is a Holy Land that has been re-created in Orlando! It seemed a bit kitschy, in a Jesus Christ Superstar, sort of way. But for some odd reason, I really want to go there now.
- I don't think that anyone should *have* to prove what they believe to anyone. A person's beliefs are an individual choice and it's unfair to make a person defend them.
- After thinking about it for awhile, I realize I am pretty open to understanding everyone else's reasons for believing what they believe. Religions were created to feel a sense of community when practicing one's faith. I am pretty sure they didn't intend the inevitable though- that these religions have caused many wars and much controversy in regards to church and state and their separation. I grew up in the Catholic faith and I still embrace many aspects of my religion. There is a priest at St. Francis of Assisi (near Penn Station) who is an oratory genius! I love going to mass, just because I love hearing him speak. I also have realized that some of my practices and positive thinking exercises are very Buddhist in nature. In addition, I respect and admire the sense of family of the Jewish faith. But allllllllll of that being said, I think religious is a private thing and I would never push my religion upon others. Same goes double for politics.
Okay....I think that's all I want to say on that topic and I am getting off what I originally intended. And that's our beliefs and things that contradict them.
So I think I'll share a story to end today's blog. Aside from seeing four (yes FOUR) movies this weekend, I also went to an exhibit at the Neue Gallery on 86th Street and 5th Avenue. The featured artist was Alfred Kubin whose art is very very dark and macabre. Many of his sketches/paintings reminded me of an R-rated version of a Tim Burton movie.
Sad, tormented man Kubin was. He witnessed his mother's death at the age of ten, was seduced by a pregnant woman at the age of 11- further complicating his fragile condition, and soon became obsessed with death and dying. He attempted suicide at his mother's grave. Kubin suffered acute anxiety and sexual paranoia and it all came out in his drawings.
This first dark and dreary piece is called "Indischer Brautwagon", which means Indian Bridal Carriage. I love how this piece depicts a wedding, what we traditionally know as white and cheerful and happy. Instead Kobin depicts the wedding as morbid and dark and funeralesque. (Ha! If you are a follower of my former blog, you know allllllll about my dark humor and thoughts on weddings. But we'll bring that blog back out on a rainy day......) At any rate, I think this was my favorite piece in the whole museum. I wonder if they served jordan almonds???
This next one is called "Krankheit" which means "Disease". It's a skeletal like man on a camel trampling over people's heads. I wonder if Kubin was thinking "heads are gonna roll" when he published his art?
I observed quite a few more that I liked. Many of them depicted pregnant women as tormentors and dark hooded men surrounding dark sunken-faced creatures. I loved it! I guess this visit fits nicely with stepping out of one's comfort zone, because I usually don't enjoy this sort of art, but for some reason I am really enchanted, impressed, and fascinated with this Kubin character.
PS- If anyone from the Neue Gallery asks you. I KNOW NOTHING about how these photos got from my phone to this blog!!!!!!!
PPS- If anyone from the Neue Gallery is reading, I (I mean-- the phone that took these photos) didn't use flash. Not saying it was my phone, just sayin'......And my name is not really Laurie. You can't prove anything!!
PPPS- I am not paranoid.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The ghost tour was fun, but compared to the tour I took in Albuquerque over labor day weekend, the Providence one left a lot to be desired. I did capture some orbs (I'll explain in a minute), but the New Mexico tour was smaller, the streets were more deserted, the alleyways were more narrow, and the atmosphere was much darker and creepier. I might as well have seen dead bodies slumped over in the corners of the buildings, rotting away as fog rolled over.
Also during my weekend my friends and I took a tour of the "summer cottages" (i.e. mansions) of the Vanderbilt's and the Astors.
The Vanderbilt's is by far the most impressive of Newport. They only lived at this 282729020 room mansion for two months of the year and they shipped in the ornate woodwork and decor from France to resemble the Italian Renaissance. Their mansion is called "The Breakers" and they call it this, because you can hear the breakers of the Atlantic ocean, crashing into the rocky New England shore.
The Astors had an interesting tour too, because everyone there was dressed in character and behaving as if the year were 1891. So they warned us not to ask John Jacob about the Titanic if we ran into him, because he didn't go down with the ship until 1912 and we might freak him out a bit to let him know of this tragedy in advance! The tour guide also noted that my friend Holly and I were quite progressive with our Turkish Trousers!
On that note, I suppose I should get back to the grind and work my Turkish trousers off. Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend.
PS- For those of you who have asked, YES, I DID mean to spell "rime" that way.....ever heard of Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Ever heard of "old English"?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
You see if something bad happens to you (like say for instance someone being short with you when you're just trying to be friendly-- or someone cutting you off on the escalator at the PATH train platform at World Trade Center-- or the parent of a student who is screaming at you when you're simply trying to help resolve a situation)....if something like this happens, there is absolutely no reason to get even.
Why not? Because their karma will come back around. Not worth your energy. The Universe understands the flow necessary to "reward" these people appropriately for their behavior. They will be rewarded with something like a swift kick in the arse. (That word is my Irish euphemism, by the way. I just like the way it sounds.)
Conversely, if you do something nice for someone it comes back to you too. I saw the perfect example of such today. A student on crutches was late for class and trying to find his way. "M*therf^$*ing place! Where the F^$k is my g!d@amn class?" The numbering system *is* a bit haphazard in my building. For example- my office number is 727, the office next door to me is 739 and the classroom across the hall is 732. There are no rooms between us, so there is really no rhyme, nor reason.
At any rate, this student is looking for 728, which *should* be right next door to my office right? I heard another student tell him "You just wait here for a second!" Student #2 proceeded to search the winding halls for the correct room, came back and asked me for help. I had been busy typing away, only half listening to this exchange and I didn't know where 728 was either. Alas we looked at Student #1's schedule and saw it was in fact 722 (not 28) that he needed. 728 doesn't even exist. Student #1 was late, annoyed, and out of breath. Student #2, who was late for a different class himself, took it upon himself to not only show Student #1 to his rooms, but also carry Student #2's books for him. These students had never met and to the best of my knowledge, they just happened to be in the hallway at the same time.
Student Number 2 is going to have something excellent coming his way, say like free Frozen Custard from the outdoor stand at Madison Square Park. Or maybe like an A on a test that he thought he had failed.
But you'll never guess what the Universe *did* in fact, give him. A couple hours later after class, I see him walking by my office again (Student #2 that is)- and I stopped him to commend him, and told him that was really nice of him to help that guy. He said, "No problem, because guess what I found? A $10 bill on the floor on the way to my own class! Otherwise I wouldn't have walked down that other hallway."
....I have GOT to start helping more students find the way to class.
Monday, October 13, 2008
- Peppermint tea with a hint of lemon and honey
- Warm autumn days, Indian summer, leaves of many colors
- Anything cooked on the grill
- Frosted beer mugs
- The cold taste of beer in the frosted mugs
- People with dimples
- The sound of waves crashing
- Giving directions to tourists on the subway
- Pin-striped suits
- Catching your breath
- Emails from old friends
- Wedding soup
- Steve Madden
- Deepak Chopra
- The smell of fresh cut fruit
- College campuses
- Cobblestone roads
- Driving fast
- The feel of velour blankets
- Fabric softener and fresh warm towels
- Hours of conversation with friends
- Warm fireplaces on cold snowy days
- A day off
- Frequent flyer miles
- Waking up in a new city
- The cheese that melts over the edge of French onion soup
- Old train stations
- Locked gardens in east village
- Smells from the wonder-bread factory near my college campus
- Field-level seating.
- Catching a foul ball in the stands
- Baseball players
- Air-tight alibis
- Jordan almonds
- Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
- "The Giving Tree"
- Standing on the high-dive
- Tons of butter on popcorn
- Vick's VapoRub
- Taking off
- Buttery baklava
- Flexible plans
- Making a to-do list and adding extra things that you've already done just so you can cross them off
- Rolling on the floor
- When Kitty plays fetch with his gray mouse
- Hearing the first three notes of your favorite song
- Long dark eyelashes
- Spontanious meetings
- Voodoo dolls
- Burberry Brit
- The quiet streets of the city early in the morning
- Buffalo Wings
- Great Jones spa
- the lounge chairs on the top level at the Seaport
- Lobster traps
- High heels with jeans
- Standing in the front row listening to live music and singing along
- "Creative Visualization"
- Piper Heidseick brut
- the old Nintendo game "Paperboy"
- leather sofas
- making eye contact with a handsome stranger
- Not being able to control laughter at an inappropriate time, like court or church or something
- The way grass feels on the bottom of your feet
- The voices of men on NPR
- the smell of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil
Friday, October 3, 2008
One of my favorite things about living with a roommate for the first time in ten years is the fact that I get to walk her dogs. At first I was apprehensive about all the pets, I mean-between the two of us there are three cats and two dogs. We are barely pushing mid-thirties and we are the crazy cat & dog ladies?! Nah, it’s really not like that. There have only been a few cat-fights thus far (between the CATS, not between Caroline and me), but other than that it’s been harmonious living.
So last night I was geared up to walk the pooches. One happy-go-lucky black poodle named Gigi and one sweet, doe-eyed, tan-colored cocker spaniel named Moose. They are both geriatric dogs, over 75 in dog years, but you would never know it based on the energy levels.
Okay, let me make sure I have everything:
· Leash for Gigi? Check.
· Leash for Moose? Check.
· Caribiner with keys connected to Moose’s leesh? Check.
· Bag for discarding poop. Oohh. Oops, let me grab one. Okay I have a bag from “Buttercup Bakery”. When I was getting my Indian visa the other day I was in the neigbhorhood and simply *had* to have a golden delicious cupcake (yes, I made it sound like an apple. I’m dieting leave me alone here…) with buttercream frosting (absolutely no way to make that one sound like a piece of fruit….instead I’ll keep it sugar-coated, thank you very much.) I digress. So where were we? Oh, right. The bag. For the dog poop. The Buttercup Bakery bag.
Alright, so my checklist is complete and off we go. The dogs are RACING down the stairs. The condo is on the 4th floor of a walk-up so we go flying down, leashes intertwined, pups flying, and Laurie tumbling down after, Jack & Jill style. This is not an uncommon occurance. The tumbling, that is. Quite often I trip over my own two feet. Which I don’t understand. I mean there is no need for tripping- I am well equipped for dog walking. I have on sneakers, and still my work clothes, so my attire is not dissimilar from Melanie Griffith circa “Working Girl”.
At any rate, tangled leashes and all we make it out the door. First block: safe. No other dogs in sight, no pooping going on yet, and no running into the street. I even managed to untangle the leashes.
Second block. Uh oh. Here goes moose, squatting in a corner. He finishes doing his business and I reach down with the bag to pick it up, all the while gagging and holding my breath, trying not to breath it in. Slippery little suckers! Okay, I get each chunk of poop in the bag and off we go.
Now’s where it gets tricky. The leashes are retractable and I am trying to squeeze them so they don’t have too much slack for the dogs to run out into the street. In addition to holding down the little button on the leashes, I am trying to hold the bag of poop as far away from myself as possible and I can’t discard it, because Gigi might poop too and I only brought one Buttercup bag. And poop she does. At the next block. So I lean down to pick it all up, still squeezing the retractable leash buttons and the leashes twisting all around each other once again. Somehow without vomiting, I get all of it in a bag. Now I just have to find a trash receptacle. Sidenote: one of my biggest complaints about my old neighborhood uptown was the fact that no one cleaned up after their dogs, and now I can understand why, ALTHOUGH I would never be one to neglect an important responsibility, so I guess I can’t understand, after all. But it was a little tempting just to leave the poop and run. I mean no one was looking. But nope, my morals are too imporant. Just can’t do it.
Okay. Walking. Walking. Walkling. Oh crap, another dog! RUNNING! BARKING! LEAPING! The leashes are twisted. The bag of poop is twisted in with the leashes and….. Here we gooooooooooooooooooo!!!!
Okay, other dog hangs a left on Adams Street and we calm down. Trying to untagle the leashes. Still have the bag of poop. That would be when handsome man in suit stops to say hello. Well helloooooo there! Batting the eyelashes. Catching my breath. Untangling the leashes. Dangling the poop bag.
Handsome man in suit: “Hi. I see you have buttercup cupcakes. I love those.”
Me: “Umm…..actually it’s just a bag full of dogshit.”
We laugh for a moment. I untangle the leashes. I find a trash can. And we head back to watch the Vice Presidential debate.
I love my life. I wouldn’t change a doggawn thing.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I am taking a class.....what is it you ask? It is a class that is teaching me how to get the hell out of my own way so I can plow through the world and achieve what I want. Often times I find myself harvesting all the crap, so guess what I reap? You got it- more crap! So now I'm moving over and harvesting some better crops. No more crap crops. I am reaping what I sow.
Laurie Unchained. The first night of my class I learned the story of elephants that are trained by the circus. After observation, one noted that baby elephants were tied to a large thick chain that the strongest beasts could not break, whereas the adult elephants were tied to a small flimsy rope that could easily be pulled free. Why is this? Because as babies the elephants are conditioned to know that no matter how much tugging, pulling, and struggling they commit themselves to- ain't nothing gonna break that chain! As adults, they're conditioned to believe they can't break free, so they are tied to a flimsy rope that they could *easily* break as adults, but they don't do so because they are conditioned to believe they are confined.
Kind of a sad little tale, no?
And what do we as humans do? We are conditioned to believe that we are confined. But the truth is- if we always do what we always have done, we'll always get what we've always gotten. (I feel like my grammar is a little off, but whatever- you get the gist.) There are no limits.
On a completely different (although somewhat related) note, I often walk by this cozy little street on my lunch break. I love it so much- it's one of my favorite in New York City. And I love the story....in 1894 there used to be a hospital here and they built an annex (to replace a saloon/row house) which was connected by the sky bridge at the third floor level. The street is called "Staple Street", because this was also the district of Manhattan where bread, cheese, eggs, and buttter were sold. The staples.
Now, as is the case with much of Manhattan, particularly Tribeca, these buildings are now luxury apartments. After the hospital closed they sat abandoned for awhile in a once vacant, cold, ghostly alleyway where no one wanted to live. An undesirable part of the city, if you will. (It makes me wonder if they are haunted. I'll let you know. I'm doing the Lower Manhattan Ghost Tour one day soon.) At any rate, now it is quite trendy and quite pricey to live here.
Guess sombeody broke through the chains that bound them to abandoned & delapidated buildings in **Tribeca, ehh?
**actually- it was renamed TRIangle BElow CAnal street only recently, it used to be known as more of a Warehouse District, although that wasn't the official name of the neighborhood.