Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This is a Lame Excuse for a Post

So I last posted on 4/22 which is lame but I've been feeling lazy. In that time I went to NYC and saw a play that a friend was in - it involved Ninja Nuns and a woman smearing egg in her hair on stage. More on that later.

This week I went to Detroit. Did you know that they are famous for their hot dogs? Me neither. So I tried a "Coney" which involves a hot dog (apparently they have high standards for hot dogs in Michigan), mustard, onions and chili.

It sounded good until I bit into it. Then I made a face. Then I threw it in the trash. I was informed by kid behind the counter that "the exterior is crunchy because it's a natural casing". Ack! Then I made another face. Then I left.

I'm ready for a non-natural casing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marry Him or Perhaps Not, Because That's CRAZY...

I was once engaged to a nice enough guy. Had I married him I would have been settling. Not because there was necessarily anything wrong with him, but I wasn't in love. I sometimes think about what my life would have been like had I ended up with him. I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that I would have eventually become unhappy and more than likely would have ended up with 2.5 kids, a house, a dog and would most certainly be a divorce statistic.

Why on earth am I telling you this? Because I came across this article. She's a woman who answered her ticking biological clock with a sperm donor. I commend her for being a single mother, but the part I don't understand is her suggestion that if you don't find Mr. Right, and you want to have children, that you are in a lose-lose situation - settle now or settle later, you'll eventually have to settle if you want a man. She maintains that women out there are turning away perfectly good men because of annoying habits. She suggests that you should look past these things because eventually your hot romance will turn into a partnership where these things don't matter. Then she goes on to say that most married women, even when complaining about their awful husbands, would rather keep them than be alone. This is her supporting evidence that settling is ok because aren't we all really eventually in a situation where it's a wash.

So I gave up a relationship that surely would have yielded a perfectly fine family. Someone who was similar enough in family values and probably would have been a good father, all for the far flung idea that I could be and wanted to be in love. I used to joke that women are ruined by romance novels. We have these fabricated high expectations about what a relationship should be and that some day some guy will sweep us off our feet.

Anyone who has ever read a romance novel or watched a chick flick knows the general plot line - boy and girl meet and dislike one another, boy and girl have bonding experience and have crazy monkey sex, a 3rd party interferes and causes some massive misunderstanding and it appears that true love will go unrealized and then finally they are reunited, have crazy monkey sex and vow their undying love.

I still believe that's a pile of crap. However I will say this. A smart man (whom I almost dated but didn't because I ditched the opportunity to meet him for the chance to go out with a guy who turned out to be a loser) said to me after listening to me complain that a guy I was seeing didn't call me enough, "Hey, if you know that's what's important to you and he's not getting it done then why do you stick around - he's not going to change?". Good point.

My dating criteria became very simple:

An all around nice guy.
A guy who calls me enough so I know where I rate in his life.
A guy who is not intimidated by me.
A guy who is smarter than me in areas that I am not smart but smart enough to know that I am smarter than him in some areas too.
A guy who knows when I disagree with him that I'm not fighting, I'm just discussing.
A guy who shares similar family values.
A guy with whom I have some shared interests.
A guy that I like sleeping with.


I found all of these things in my husband. I felt like I could spend the rest of my life with him the second day I knew him. Crazy? Sure, but it's true. It took him a bit longer, but that's why I like him - I'm the snap judgement, he's the ponder-er, but we usually end up the same place. So in short, I didn't need to settle because he was the one who fit. That's not to say he's perfect (nor am I), he's just not doing the specific things that would have been deal breakers for me.

He used to tell me that he liked that I wasn't a crazy female. What he fails to recognize is that in almost every previous relationship, I was a crazy female. We've all been like that at one point or another. It's the simple fact that he met the criteria which made me a happy person. I was getting everything I needed, so I didn't have to go all psycho on him. Providing you're not actually crazy, I think this logic holds water.

Perhaps we won't always be in wedded bliss but nothing can take away that we started there. I don't harbor any resentment around what might have been and I don't believe he does either. Sure, I complain about stupid crap he does - his inane amount of socks, his inability to clean-up anything...ever and his amazing propensity to dawdle. At the end of the day I wouldn't trade him in because I love him, not because I don't want to be alone.

So I think this woman's suggestion is absolute crap. If you're a relatively well grounded person, don't settle, just prioritize your needs and be patient. Oh, and be sure to get really drunk every once in a while. I'm just sayin'...that's what worked for me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Judge Not Lest You be Judged (Matthew 7:1)

Warning: This post will probably make my mother happy, make my friends wonder if I've signed back on the Catholic bandwagon and is generally sappy and not at all like myself.

I find myself in an unusual situation. A neighbor of mine as I was growing up has a son who got into some serious trouble a few years ago. What I know is what was written in the local paper. I assure you, the coverage was not pretty. I haven't thought about it in a few years until yesterday my father called to tell me his parents have the opportunity to write a letter pleading his case. My father, being the helpful guy that he is (quite neighborly!), volunteered the best letter writer he knows to assist (that's me, in case you were confused). I wasn't really sure how I felt about this. Certainly I'm not the greatest writer in the world (clearly evidenced by my "average" rating) but I suppose in a pinch I'm better than most.

Typically I turn on my letter writing skills when I'm pissed over a consumer injustice or want to send a funny letter to a friend, but this situation is unique. I'm faced with a bit of an ethical dilemma. Do you help someone who is incarcerated? Did he do it? Absolutely - no question. But I certainly didn't know why. Part of me hoped that his mother would lose my email address or feel uncomfortable sending me the email. I figured if I didn't receive the email I was off the hook. I asked a few co-workers what they would do. For sure it was a sticky one and they all agreed that if I was uncomfortable I should just look it over, correct the grammar and send it back.

This morning I woke up early, husband and I had breakfast on the balcony, I read about a friend going into labor last night and decided I would clean the house and we could go for a walk later to enjoy the nice day. Then I checked my email and there it was. With a huge sigh I started reading. Then I had questions so I called and talked to his parents. As I was awkwardly talking to them and asking all sorts of personal questions to understand the sequence of events, I had visions of them doing their nightly walks at dusk around the block with the dog and I was thinking about the little kid I used to see on the bus when we were in elementary school and then I started to feel really bad.

Shit it sucks to have a conscience sometimes.

And so I spent my afternoon writing, editing and trying my best to plead this kid's case. I kept thinking that his entire life was flushed down the toilet because he was injured on the job and became addicted to pain killers. I started thinking about how that could happen to anyone. I was pissed because when the kid was sent to jail before sentencing he managed to find drugs (allegedly from a guard) and did some more unfortunate stuff while all hopped up. On top of all of these things they didn't acknowledge that he was an addict (which should have been considered as a factor in sentencing) and it was his first offense to which they showed zero leniency (gave him consecutive sentences instead of concurrent). I felt angry that so many things had gone wrong for a guy that probably should have led a fairly uneventful normal life.

The only good thing that's come out of this is that he's clean and he's a model prisoner. The guards like him and is apparently asked frequently how a guy like him managed to get himself locked-up. Who knows what will happen if he gets out. I guess everyone deserves a second chance and a fair break. Will I feel bad if he spirals out of control again, yes. Would I feel worse if he could have gotten out to lead a productive life and he didn't because I didn't help, absolutely. I guess it's not my place to choose. Who knows, maybe someday the tables will be turned and someone will help me. I have to believe that things happen for a reason because if they don't, then that's just shit.

I don't know if his mother will like my letter or not. If she does, I sure hope it's good enough. I tried my best. I read it to my husband, I almost cried. I hope that's a good sign.

Calling All Cat People

I know, I know, not another YouTube clip, but I promise this is a funny one. It reminds me of the cat my roommates and I had in college. She was large (22lbs) and was very lazy. She really only liked men and would tolerate women if they fed her (she tricked us with her affection which is why she was fed so often, hence the 22 lbs). She also liked to drag her behind on men's pants when they would visit. It was a hot way to meet guys and impress our fathers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Moore Brothers - Wine and BYO Pairings for Dummies (like me)

If you know me, you know that I love the sampler case from Moore Brothers. It's one of the few reasons to roll over the bridge to Jersey. 12 bottles, 2 price points ($125 or $175), with tasting notes. It's brilliant and rarely is there an unpleasant bottle in the bunch. Now they've taken it to the next level and issued a wine pairing list for some of the Philly BYOs.

Check it out here:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arbol Cafe - Northern Liberties

I'll preface this rant by saying I haven't been to the Arbol Cafe and it's not likely I ever will. I stumbled onto this article and comments in City Paper about this restaurant located north of Spring Garden in NoLibs.

I worked in food service from ages 16-22 and the best part about being a waitress is the tips. So the issue here is that the owners are paying their staff $7 bucks and hour and taking their tips - without telling the general public. For anyone who has worked in food service you know this is a raw deal. To make matters worse they claim that they're paying their waitstaff more than minimum wage so that customers don't need to tip - interesting considering no one seemed to know that. Aside from the fact that I don't know any waitress that would work for minimum wage, isn't that the point of dealing with everyone's BS with a smile - to make good money.

In a city that has one of the highest tip averages in the country, it's shameful to 1. take tips without telling the customers or 2. not make the patrons aware of this practice. I'm happy to pay for a meal, I am not happy to give another 20% to the owner, just because.

I would also like to point out what happens when you pay an hourly wage to service staff - it's called most of Europe. This is the one time I miss home while traveling. How on earth would this scenario motivate anyone to serve you well? Obviously there are good servers in other countries, but I believe that we have consistently more attentive service here than anywhere else I've dined. Come to think of it, even in Europe they let their servers keep the lousy 5% you might choose to leave. A tip is a tip - it's for service rendered by a human being, not the decor you provide.

So here's a restaurant that I would encourage you to not try. Who cares if the food is good, the owners need to get a clue.

Update: In all fairness I'm posting the owner's response. Perhaps if she had properly explained herself in her original post on City Paper this wouldn't have been such a big hub-bub. Apparently the Consumerist also picked up the mud slinging - I love a good Philly fight.

Ode to my Unburdened Life with Brunch

Ahhh, another "morning after beer fueled evening" brunch at Honey's Sit-N-Eat. (I will pause for a few moments to allow those of you who can't partake of the brunch to languish this fact.) And we resume. I was feeling a bit off this morning and despite the fact that I have never ever chosen Lox over eggs, I did in fact do just that this morning. It was the perfect combo of cream cheese, tomato, cucumber and oniony goodness. I'm still thinking about it hours later. The husband and brother-in-law had the whole wheat pancakes. These aren't just any pancakes, they have granola and fruit baked into them. So good in fact that when my BIL threw in the towel 2/3 of the way through my sister carried the torch home by finishing his pancakes as well as her own omelette. I'm thinking we need to put her up against that Asian hot dog eating guy in Coney Island. I'm accepting bets.

Sis & BIL had to go home straight away - he had baseball practice and she has taken up farming as a hobby. I inquired about the neighbors and their feelings about her mini farm in the side yard. She said she got some looks from the neighbor across the street. There's apparently an informal home owner's association, i.e. old neighbors who saw fit to set random rules. One of which has something to do with what you can and can not do with gardens. They have thrown caution to the wind by digging out part of the side yard for the vegetation. I told her that the next time the mother of five comes out to give her nasty looks she should just yell, "Go back to your breeding and leave us alone!". Perhaps this is why I'm currently enrolled in a Dale Carnegie program.

Upon arrival at home, husband made an immediate beeline to the bedroom to pass out in a carb induced coma. He is happily napping. The house needs a good cleaning but perhaps I would be better served taking a nap as well. I can hear my work husband from 35 miles away making some sort of comment right now about how we need to have some kids so we aren't such lazy asses.

You know what, we got out of bed at 9AM today and actually left the house. That was a big accomplishment for us and at the end of the day, you're just jealous. So there.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Everybody Loves a Jolly Rancher...

Conversation over drinks this evening with my husband:

Him: I want to go out to the Aldi in West Philly.
Me: Ok, why?
Him: They're having a special on a bunch of German things.
Me: Like what?
Him: Bavarian sweet mustard and blah, blah, blah, something that's hard to make but they have frozen and so no one makes them and they buy them frozen.
Me: Do we like that blah, blah, blah frozen stuff?
Him: Maybe, but I need it.

So I will have some sort of frozen something and German mustard that is basically honey mustard but with more seeds.

It's a little known fact that Aldi is a German supermarket chain. Most of you probably don't know that because you don't actually go there. "Why?" you may ask. I'll tell you why. It's a rotten place that people shop for generic food products in poor neighborhoods. It is most certainly not the Whole Foods.

So this begs the question - why is my husband, who is having a mini affair with Whole Foods, interested in going to such a place? The simple answer is the following (and please excuse my SAT-like format):

America is to Target as....
Germany is to Aldi

It's the place that is cheap but cool. Unfortunately here it is more like this:

America is to Aldi as...
Being homeless and unemployed is to eating badly and shopping with coupons.

He recognizes this fact but signed up for their weekly circular anyway (online of course so I couldn't throw it in the trash).

Now before you get on my case for not giving it a chance, let me share the following story. Many moons ago he found an Aldi circular in the mail with an advertisement for a mop. He was highly dissatisfied with our lack of mop and thus dragged me to the Aldi, kicking and screaming, to get a mop. We arrived and he gave me a serious guilt trip about being a snob. So I gave in and looked around.

I found the least offensive thing in the store and bought it - Jolly Rancher lollipops.

Several days later I was sitting home and I thought I would have a lollipop so I opened the bag. Digging around I couldn't find a watermelon or strawberry lollipop. Odd, they were all lime and tamarind. In retrospect this should have been my first clue - after all, what the hell kind of flavor is tamarind for a lollipop? What is tamarind anyway? I selected lime and started licking away.

After the third lick I noticed a funny sensation in my mouth. I kept licking and my mouth was soon assaulted by a horrific burning sensation. My first thought was "Dear God! These cheap ass candies are expired and I'm going to end up poisoned! I knew Aldi was going to kill me!". I grabbed the bag. That's when I noticed several things:

1. The bag was almost entirely in Spanish.
2. There was some Latin pop star on the packaging.
3. Chili powder was in the first three ingredients.

I trashed the lollipop and the rest of the bag while desperately trying to rinse my mouth out.

I used to have a theory that everyone loves a Jolly Rancher. I admit now that I was wrong, so very wrong.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another Funny...

Yet another funny blog to add to your reader: Not Hating Just Saying.  Here's a funny post.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dear Frommer's - Please Update your Travel Guide

This weekend we went up to NYC for a friend's birthday. I thought Amtrak would be a pleasant and quick way to get there. I was somewhere in North Philly staring out the window when I saw two homeless dudes having sex right next to the train tracks. Mind you this was at 5 o'clock in the afternoon in broad daylight. I'm not really a fan of watching random people have sex. There's a reason why amateur porn doesn't sell as well as the real deal - its unattractive. Watching people that don't look good get it on is pretty icky, but somehow it seems even worse when they look like crackheads.

My husband of course noticed nothing. I've included this little map so you can avert your eyes as you pass the area that I like to call "Homeless Sexy Time". Do not, under any circumstances look to the right while going Northbound in the red circled area. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The rest of the ride wasn't helped by the constant chatter of the rodeo clown looking fool next to us. He was apparently from Lancaster and decided he was going to explain the Amish religion and its people to the Asian lady across from him. She clearly had no idea what an Amish person was and I'm sure his description didn't help. "Y'know they don't have cars or lights." She looked confused.

A 300 year old religious sect and that's his explanation...

You know what...I'm pretty sure the two dudes back there having sexy time don't have lights in their cardboard boxes or a car and something tells me they ain't Amish.

Despite the train ride, we had a good evening at Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village. Pretty good selection of beer and a nice atmosphere. This was only improved upon when we stuffed ourselves the next morning at Le Pain Quotidien with bread and praline spread. Since we first went to this place in Brussels we never pass up a chance to stop. (There aren't too many things I would rather be doing than eating their black bean humus tartine.)

We then dragged our food stuffed bellies to the Whitney for the Biennial. I'll start by saying I like modern art and I'm not one of those people that say stupid things like - "Man, I could totally go out and paint a bunch of Campbells soup cans, that's not art." But I do have to say that I'm quite certain some of these people got their asses kicked in high school. Case in point - look at this thing. Do you remember when Beetlejuice's arms got all long and spindly? That's what this looks like. Or maybe like black rubber sausages flying out of the wall.

I did see alot that I liked by Matthew Brannon & Karen Kilimnik. You can check them out if you like although I recommend paying the $15 and seeing it for yourself. Plus if you do you can stuff yourself full of black bean tartines and isn't that really what it's all about?

So after a good day I acquiesced and let my husband talk me into taking NJ Transit home. Immediately I was visually and audibly assaulted by these people who were training their two year old for some sort of child fighting ring. Sort of like dog fighting involving diapers and small people. They entertained themselves by letting her slap both of them wildly. Then when she would stop, her mother would antagonize her by saying "Daddy's mine!" which would send the kid into a wailing tizzy. She would hit her mother and then put a death grip on her father while screaming "Noooooo Daddy Mine!". Good times, good times.

That was my only source of entertainment until Wesley the Costco Pimp got on the train (yes he still had his work name tag on). This dude was a dead ringer for an older, drunker version of Gregory Hines. Three big rings on his right hand, a fedora and matching tie & pocket square. It started with him screaming somewhere behind me on the train. I think he suffered from Tourettes-Narcolepsy. It's new - screaming profanity one minute and falling asleep the next.

I think they should but this in the tourist guides - Travel by train from Philadelphia to NYC - see Homeless Sexy Time, Rodeo Clowns, Two Year Old Fighting Machines and Tourettes-Narcolepsy. And they say the bus is bad...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lip Balm & Naked Midget Body Builders...Just Another Day at the Office

It was a random day at work. Here are two unrelated observations that I found oddly disturbing.

Observation 1: I found a lip balm in my desk drawer today. I picked it up at a bed & breakfast while attending someone’s wedding. The lip balm has now lasted longer than the marriage. I found this unsettling and told a co-worker about it.

My co-worker, we’ll call him Hu Dat, advised he has a similar problem with wedding matchbooks. He doesn’t have much use for them and he often finds them tucked away, unused, long after the marriage has gone up in flames (no pun intended…ok, maybe a little pun but it was fun wasn't it?).

I suggested he should take up a new hobby like smoking dope or starting fires. Arson and drug abuse will insure he’ll never have left over matches in his house.

Observation 2: We have these new fancy flat panel TVs outside each floor's elevator bank. For some reason the picture on the TV on my floor is constantly frozen. It always seems to freeze up on the most inappropriate stuff. Today it was stuck on a picture of a half naked midget flexing his muscles. So, all day long I walked past a naked midget - I'm not sure how I feel about this but it did make me giggle.

I found this picture on Google. My little person wasn't a cowboy wrestler but imagine looking at this on the wall of your office...all day. *Giggle*

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bizarre-o Universe

As of a week or so ago, we are the proud owners of a MacBook. My Mac people at work were very excited. I had long extolled the virtues of owning a PC so when I told them I was thinking about a Mac they had lots of helpful suggestions about what I needed to buy and delightful software that would make my transition to this Mac world easier. I welcomed the help since I now feel a bit lost. It's sort of like visiting Canada. It looks a lot like home but not quite.

I'm still not entirely sold on the idea that Mac is better, but Apple has sold us so many peripheral devices that we were left with an easy decision. Everything works now as it's intended to work which is a nice change of pace. I haven't seen my husband fighting with the laptop quite as much as he fought with our old one. He seems quite pleased with this change of pace. Despite the fact that everything is a bit reversed we're adjusting well.

I'm still unable to find the actual delete button. Backspace has been coyly named delete but it's just not the same. I'm a keyboard girl; or perhaps more accurately - anti mouse. I find this thing to be a bit too navigation intensive. Can someone please tell me where the real delete key is? Please?

I also miss my left and right click. Now I just have one big button. Something about that just seems wrong or at a minimum..remedial. Next thing you know I'll be zipping around the city on Vespa and then you can just stick a thermometer in this turkey and call me done.

Gobble, gobble.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nordic Walking

A few years ago my mother in law started doing this wacky thing called Nordic Walking. As the name may suggest, it's similar to skiing without the snow. As far as I can tell all this involves is roaming around with some poles in athletic gear.

For years all has been quiet here on the Western front until today...

I saw my first Philadelphia Nordic Walker as I was schlepping home from work. There she was happily Nordic Walking down 17th street. I actually muttered "oh no" out loud and then started grinning like an idiot. Of course I was all alone typing away on my Blackberry so I probably sounded quite silly talking to myself and grinning.

So as any normal technology addicted person does, I promptly went out to Wikipedia. It's there. A quick google search told me that plenty of people are doing this - Reebok makes shoes specifically for the activity. I can't really see how these are different than regular walking shoes, but I suppose if you're going to commit to an activity it only makes sense that you go out and purchase all the gear too. PS - those poles ain't cheap.

So when you see them coming at you down the street - poles flailing with special Reebok shoes - don't be alarmed, just get out of the way.