Tag Archives: nostalgia

A Brothers’ Diptych

Right before Xmas this past year, the bee came up with a great gift idea for his mom. The previous year he had given her, along with his 3 older brothers, a framed copy of a photograph taken of the boys sometime around 1984. In the picture, all the brothers at that time (the youngest wouldn’t turn up until 1991) posed for a picture in front of the fireplace in the family’s living room.

As with most kids, it’s usually a chore to get them to sit still for a minute, let alone the time needed to organize a proper photo but his mom managed to get a group shot where at least half of them are actually looking at the camera. Two outta four ain’t bad, right?

So this past holiday season, bee decided it might be cool to recreate the scene, some 26 years later, in much the same fashion. The original fireplace was unavailable since they had moved from that house in the early 90’s but we were lucky enough to find a suitable replacement to hold the photo shoot.

With myself behind the camera and some 80 or so shutter clicks later, I was pretty sure we had found a great match-up to the original. The framing and tone of the second picture doesn’t perfectly mimic the original but I think, as a collective effort, we did pretty darn good.

top photo: circa 1984, bottom photo: December 2010

A lot can change in a quarter century but I find it quite refreshing that a lot manages to stay so much the same.

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Filed under (me), projects, the bee

On Books And Their Covers

The other day a friend of mine sent me a text saying she had been reading my blog and enjoying it. She mentioned, in particular, the post I did recently which featured my passport photo taken in highschool. Since she attended the same trip the photo was taken for she remarked that it reminded her of when we first became good friends, which made me smile.

Then she said that before we were friends she always thought that I thought I was “too cool for school”. This also made me smile, just not for the same reason.

I told her that I was pretty sure she was right about that. The more I thought about it the more I started to understand the purpose behind my chilly exterior of long ago. Then I realized that I probably still carried around that same demeanor depending on the situation which meant I couldn’t really blame it on the foolishness of youth.

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When I started my freshman year of highschool I had absolutely no friends. ZERO. I went from a public junior high where I had my safe little group of like-minded comrades to a Catholic prep school where 90% of the kids got a brand new car on their 17th birthday and where I had to muster up all the strength within me not to self-destruct when my mom would pick me up in her white ’89 Ford Bronco ala O.J. Simpson.

I was going through a very rebellious stage of my life. Within the year I had gone from being an only child, to a full-time sister/babysitter. My close-knit circle of friends and extracurricular activities became distant memories of a life that I once knew but had a hard time grasping onto now. I went from being a comfortable and somewhat well-adjusted youth to a melancholy shadow of my former self, thrust into a world of the torturous unknown.

I spent the first few months of school avoiding people, which meant steering clear of the cafeteria altogether. Instead I opted to spend lunch and any and all free periods I had in the library. Alone. In a corner. Reading something, ANYthing so as not to die of embarrassment for being the lamest of all the lame loser’s in all the land. I was embarrassed at how badly my life had spun out of control and there was very little in the way of safety or familiarity in anything to give me comfort.

I ended up becoming friends with a girl who I had spent most of junior high despising. I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual though neither of us ever had the nerve to bring that up. We found solace in our outsider status and chose instead of being miserable alone to do it as a team. Together we smoked & drank and convinced ourselves that it was everyone ELSE who had the problem. That THEY were missing out for not knowing how cool WE were.

At the end of my freshman year, I was really no better off than I had been at the beginning. The one friend I made, moved away at the end of the school year when her dad got transferred. In retrospect it was the best thing that could have happened. Ours was the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie (circa 2003) of friendships; less about being good friends than not wanting to admit how alone and desperate we would appear without the other.

The summer before sophomore year I turned over a new leaf.  I decided it was much less important to be aloof and unreachable and decided to make these changes on both the inside and out. I bleached my hair as blonde as it would let me and chose not to concern myself with the prospect of having or NOT having friends. This new attitude suited me very well and it didn’t take long before those who barely acknowledged my existence prior, started to actually pay me mind.

Although my outlook on life (and hair) had brightened a bit I really wasn’t any different from the person I had been before. I still refused to buy into the typical highschool bullshit; kissing the asses of some and snubbing others just because. It didn’t feel right and I knew my new-found “popularity” (in quotes because I was really by no means popular, just less wildly unpopular than I had been before) had little to do with anything but outward appearances so I continued to tread warily around those I hadn’t fully sussed out.

There is no doubt, due to this type of behavior, that I might have come across as a little rough around the edges initially. In fact, another friend of mine confided that before we became friends how she thought I looked as though I had “throwing knives for eyes” when we would pass each other in the hallway. Not entirely sure I know what that means but I’m thinking it’s not good. My personae became my bullet proof glass and the only way I knew to protect myself from the firing range of viciousness and cruelty that was a highschool hallway. Or gymnasium. Or cafeteria. Or parking lot.

Nowhere was safe.

***

I still feel like that.

A lot.

Not as much as I did as an angst-ridden teen but most days I still find it hard to locate a place where I “fit”. I’m a homebody for good reason: it’s safe there. Home offers me comfort and solitude and it’s filled to the brim with the things that I love. Nothing at home makes baseless judgements about me or ridicules me behind my back for the way I talk or dress or think. My home welcomes me back inside everyday even when I leave it behind for hours or days at a time.

Home is the one place where I can put away the pretense, the mask, the look of indifference and just be me and whole again.

Whoever that is.

It’s not anyone’s fault but my own that I’ve been categorized as a bitch or mean or a loner at one time or another. There is a time and a place where all those monikers ring true. I’d like to think of myself as multi-faceted but if I do that probably means some of those facets are going to be less than desirable. Those who had the nerve to tell me how they perceived me are my friends for a reason. They saw a glimmering crack in my exterior and instead of kicking me aside they chipped away to find something unexpected, something they liked.

To those who did, I thank  you. I’d REALLY be a friendless loser if you hadn’t.

And to those who still read this blog despite the questionable content and lapses in comedic judgement, I thank you too.

Y’all are awesome and A-OK

in my book.

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Filed under (me), home, just a thought...

The Quest for Perfection Only Leads to Despair

Growing up I longed to have green eyes like my grandmother. I thought by having green eyes I’d be just that much better: prettier, confident, more likeable. It’s not like I had a PROBLEM with brown eyes in general, just the fact that I had to have them. I wanted to be different and unordinary and in my immediate family filled with eyes of brown, their presence became my oppressor.  

In the 8th grade I wore a pair of disposable purple contacts for almost the entire school year. I wore them long after their life-span until they were yellowed and itchy. (There’s a really good reason they’re labeled as disposable.) I didn’t care though. I suffered through it because I wanted to be just that much closer to my idea of personal perfection.  

It was also around this time that I bought my first straightening iron. With that discovery I was taking great strides toward finding my “best” self. One without kinky-frizzy hair overtaking my head and face. Now I had the sleek and smooth strands that it seemed all the rest of the world had without struggle.  

i was making "sexy-face" in this picture which is WAY more embarrassment than i'm ready to deal with just yet...

I soon learned that all these methods of “improvement” were really just a means of trickery to hide my own self-loathing. For the moment I would feel better about myself because it was like I had duped mother nature: “Haha, bitch. Look at me now! I’m AWESOME! No thanks to you… ”  

living the lie

But contacts must come out at night (unless you want to peel them off your eyeballs the next morning) and at the slightest hint of humidity, even the most fastidiously flattened hair will curl when confronted with moisture. It’s physics. Or something…  

After years of fighting my ocular pigmentation and follicular genetics I decided to toss the lenses once and for all and chop off my hair. I no longer had to worry about spending hours on my tresses or what might happen to it if exposed to certain elements. Extra hold hairspray and Bed Head wax were my good friends and little, if anything, could permeate my super coif…  

giving the camera my best "jerk-face" and Ronald McDonald a run for his money

It wasn’t too long before I began to miss my long hair and all the hassle it had once caused me. Talk about indecisiveness. I just couldn’t figure out what it was that would make me happy with the way I looked. If it wasn’t my hair bothering me then it was my jiggly thighs, chunky arms, convex belly, excessive body hair, et al.  

I began to realize that something had to give. Since I was kind of stuck with my physical attributes no matter how much it des-troyed me to accept, it became clear that something had to be me. I had to start being happy with what I did have and not focus so much on the flaws.   

Isn’t it less plausible that “perfect” people are not without flaw themselves but rather that they refuse to let it ruin them? Food for thought…  

I know I’m not covering ground-breaking content by saying all this. I think most sane/living people have this revelation at one point or another otherwise they end up insane/dead. Since I’m not all that keen on joining the latter just yet, it became clear that I had to start thinking highly of myself* otherwise I couldn’t expect anyone else to.  

I mention all this because for most of my adulthood my “career” has existed in complete opposition with this theory.  

Instead of looking for change inside of myself I kept expecting each of my jobs to hold the answers to my professional pursuits. I never had a good idea of what it was I wanted to do when I “grew up”. I figured with enough time and effort put forth I could shape my job(s) into something that would last the test of time, make me happy and secure. Clearly, this never happened.  

I have never had a job that I wanted. I have only had work that I needed. For the last 5 years I have had 3 jobs all of which I have taken on out of sheer desperation. The need for money has always been the determining factor in seeking employment; my personal needs from a job have always taken a back burner because of this.  

It’s not that I think my story is all that different or all that much worse than anybody elses out there. We have all hated our jobs at one point or another. We have all faced workplace injustices and convinced ourselves that we deserve better than (because in my experience we usually do) what our jobs can offer us.  

The difference is this: I’m not playing second fiddle in my life anymore.  

When I started at my current job, 3 years ago, I was definitely bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was eager to please and willing to take on ANYTHING that was up for grabs. It was never a means to be a show-off or better than anyone but to prove, mainly to myself, that I was a hard-working, fast-learner who would rather be busy at work than twiddling my thumbs, clockwatching and praying for day’s end.  

I won’t bore you with the specifics now since I’ve gone into quite elaborate detail about both my rise and fall from grace at work before. I will, however, say this: There was a time when I thought I could make my current job work for me. I envisioned an almost perfect future for myself and my family given the opportunities this job could afford me. I considered myself lucky for having a job that some people work towards and look forward to having their whole life.  

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my quest for “perfection” in a career path I hadn’t really wanted was only leading me to despair. I needed to be happy and if I couldn’t feel that way with what I was doing then I had to be the one to make the change because lord knows the job wasn’t going to just start getting better. I had to learn to accept imperfection from both life AND myself.  

It certainly hasn’t been easy but I’m not about to give up.  

It’s been incredibly hard for the über practical person I am to commit to taking such a risk. To embark upon a chapter full of the unknown has left me riddled with questions in search of answers:  

Q: What if I quit my job and then CAN’T just CANNOT find another job and I have to shuffle back with my tail between my legs begging for employment?  

A: That’s not going to happen because the fact of the matter is that job is NOT right for me. I’ve done my time there, worked my butt off and if it comes down to absolutely needing money I WILL find another job; full-time/part-time/whatever it takes. Even if it means I must take a considerable pay cut, as long as I am happily living in the moment and satisfied by my way of life then that’s all that matters.  

Q: What if I find myself completely unable to handle the prospects of self-employment/entrepreneurship and all the hardships/inconsistencies that are involved?  

A: Then I get myself another crappy corporate job somewhere else and hope it’s not as bad as the place I left behind except I can’t imagine ever being that desperate because I’d rather have sold off all my personal property and/or sell oranges by the freeway than go back to cube-hell. (15 internet points if you can correctly identify the origins of the probably imprecise, definitely pilfered orange quotes!!!)  

Q: What if I realize I’ve made a terrible mistake and the 9-5 corporate life really is for me?  

A: Not gonna happen. Not now, not never. Just, NO.  

I will never be perfect and, moreover, do not wish that for myself anymore. Perfection is boring, stagnant, tepid, flat and EASY. That’s right, the quest for perfection is a pursuit for the easy way out. It always has been for me, anyway. Looking perfect makes it easier to get by, you don’t have to use your intelligence or personality as much and that’s just sad. Working the perfect job is also easy because you will likely never feel the rush of a real challenge, the thrill of seeking out something new and unfamiliar.  

I’m not looking for that anymore. I’m looking to live the shit out of my life.  

Starting… NOW.  

So, if you’re looking for a hard-working, smart-mouthed, wannabe writer/blogger extraordinaire, cat obsessed, manic-depressive misanthrope… I’m totes your gal. 

*My definition of thinking highly of myself fluctuates often. One day thom could mean: I am the effin’ cat’s pajamas! I totally rock at life and I’m going to conquer the pants off of the UNIVERSE!!! Give it another day and thom sounds more like: At least I’m not the biggest heinous-faced loser on the planet. Probably…

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Filed under (me), just a thought..., work

Who, (me)me?

I’m new to this whole meme thing but it really couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been feeling highly uninspired and generally exhausted these past few weeks which, needless to say, has taken a major toll on my mind grapes…

Maybe you’re wondering:

What the hell IS a meme?

Don’t feel bad. I read this and I’m still not entirely sure.

No matter!

We are DOING this people.

Ok, so here’s the jizz on this one:

I was tagged in this meme by Jules over at Mean Girl Garage. She is sarcastic and snarky which, clearly? = AWESOME. She’s damn good at this whole blogging thing; she posts regularly (WHAT now?!), is highly entertaining AND entrepreneurial. She is a co-founder of Studio 30+ which is a home for 30-something (plus!) bloggers to come together, share ideas, bitch, moan, rant, rave and find other like-minded comrades in blog-land.

Basically Jules is the 3o+ age bloggers networking messiah.

A moment of silence in honor of Her Holy Presence, please…

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Memes have rules and here they are:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award.  My gratitude knows no bounds, mi’ lady…
  • Share 7 things about yourself.  ONLY seven?!   *sigh*   FINE.
  • Pass along the award to 15 bloggers who you think are fantastic.  Hmmm… This makes me feel funny. I could EASILY think of 15 worthy bloggers but since I’m more of a “doer” than a “delegater”, imma leave this one up to y’all. do you want to do this meme? AWE-SOME! you totally should…

Now, let’s get on with it…

1.  I can be very stubborn. Being this way can often be misconstrued as plain ol’ ignorance but I assure you it’s not the case. For instance: I know that technically, the proper name for the colorful fruity ice-creamy substance you might find in your grocer’s freezer is actually sherbet or sorbet, however I have never called it anything but sherBERT and I don’t plan on changing my ways anytime soon. Also, both (me) and the bee verbalize the abbreviation “vs.” so that it sounds like the word “verse” as opposed to the correct pronunciation of “versUS“. Is this a common thing? I’m not really sure, I just know that we both grew up in different areas and managed to carry-on with this incorrectitude into our adult lives. No plans on changing there either…

2.  I rarely wash my hair. At most my head hits water only twice a week, but usually just once. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I am lazy.
  • I have very thick curly/wavy hair that not only requires a LOT of maintenance to look decent but actually looks better with some head grease to weigh it down and keep that bitch in check.
  • I am lazy.

3.  As a kid, I was convinced that I was black. Well, at least somewhat. This idea was put in my head because of some of my physical dissimilarities with my family members. I was the only one in my immediate family with coarse/curly hair and DARK brown eyes. Also, I once saw a picture of Harry Belafonte in a magazine and mistook him for my paternal Grandfather. Now that I’ve shared this I think the only thing this proves is that I was a childhood racist.

4.  I used to think that I was  “selectively” ambidextrous but now I know there really is no such thing. What does exist is something called cross-dominance which Wikipedia explains as “a motor skill manifestation where a person favors one hand for some tasks and the other hand for others.” For me, this means that although I generally write with my right hand, I eat with my left. I also have much more control over the left side of my body when it comes to physical activities. Not that I’m much of a partaker in sports (UNDERSTATEMENT ALERT!) but I hold a bat/tennis racket in my left and swing a golf club from my left side exclusively. In any of those activities, my right side is kind of useless. I can only wink with my left eye and curl the left side of my lip (think Elvis). The two times I’ve ever gone snowboarding I was goofy-footed all the way. I actually can write with my left hand, just not as well:

 

5.  On a similar note: I also have extremely dexterous feet. Sort of like monkey feet. Beyond being able to pick up items with my toes, the bee is often astounded at my ability to splay them out and move and wiggle them with such range. I attribute this to my past as a dancer and, no, I do not mean “dancer” as in another word for “stripper”. That being said, I have no issues with exotic dancers or those who get naked for money (more power to ya) but anytime I mention my past as a “dancer” I usually get the ol’ arched eyebrow look followed by a “REALLY?!“. No. I have a hard enough time getting naked in front of a mirror so doing so in  front of strangers is not high on my list of priorities.

WARNING!!!

Pictures of feet to follow:

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got nuttin' but love for ya...

 

'cept this one's got a mean left hook...

ps - the littlest piggy has a FREAKISHLY small toenail. seriously, it's like practically invisible...

6.  Ok, I’m going to get pretty serious for a moment:

Like many people out there, I suffer from depression. I currently treat my disease with medication but for a long time I didn’t. There was a time, not too long ago, where I used self-harm to cope with my fractured mental state. I would cut and burn my skin to transfer the pain in my head to my body. I don’t say this to garner sympathy, I say it because it is a part of who I am and I truly wear my scars on my sleeves. I can’t hide most of them and I don’t really care to anymore anyway.

I actually wrote a whole blog post on this subject once but never published it. It’s not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed but I just know there is a stigma with these types of things, plus people I know who don’t know about all this read this blog and I didn’t want to freak anyone out. (there goes that) Anyway, it’s not a huge thing. It’s something I deal with on a day-to-day basis much like any other form of addiction. I’ll probably never NOT have thoughts of self-harm floating around in my head, it’s just that I deal with those urges differently now. Maybe I’ll finally publish that post one day. Maybe.

Now, back to it…

7.  I have pooped myself as an adult and it was not the result of being intoxicated. It was actually the result of needing to fart after eating baked beans. Without going into TOO much detail, I’ll just say that I ended up with what looked baked beans in my underwear after that incident. This was about a year ago.

Did you really think I was gonna do one of these things without mentioning a poop story?

PUH-LEEEEEESE…

I could have gone on and on and ON with this list but thank god there was a limit of 7 because I have a chronic case of verbal diarrhea most days and you folks have better things to do. I’m sure of it.

So, there you have it!

7 (mostly embarrassing) things about myself I’ve never shared in blog form before. Hopefully I haven’t alienated anyone with these admissions but in case I have you should know that I still love you…

and you can suck it.

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Just Kids

Last weekend I got myself a copy of Patti Smith‘s newest book, “Just Kids“. It documents her formative years as an artist and how she met her kindred spirit, Robert Mapplethorpe during a time when she needed a friend the most. The way Patti speaks of Robert makes it hard to discern whether she is speaking of a friend, a lover or a brother and the truth seems to be that he was all that and more. Their intense relationship exceeded that of societal norms and even Robert’s tragic passing at the age of 42.

I’m only a fraction of the way through the book but already I’m having a hard time putting it down. One reason is that Patti Smith is an absolute chanteuse in my mind. Brilliant and beautiful and a fearless renegade. She is at least partly responsible for changing the way art and music is ingested in our culture. The other, bigger reason, is that the love story that unfurls in this book reminds me ever so much of the first, and ultimately chance, meeting I had with my favorite cohort and partner in life.

You might know him as The Bee.

Her book is encapsulated in these words: “It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation”. For (me) and The Bee, it was the summer before 9/11 and in many ways, the last days of an innocence. It was our first taste of real freedom, and our whirlwind love affair with Philadelphia and each other would change me from basically bitter to mostly sweet.

The weekend before my high school graduation I was scheduled to attend a freshman orientation at Temple University. It was a rite of passage for all new matriculates but I couldn’t have been less interested or excited at the prospect of acclimating myself to my new home away from home for the next 4 years or so (because really? it took me closer to 5). The weekend before graduation had always been heralded as Senior Week and because of this god forsaken orientation, I was standing at the edge of a questionable neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia instead of playing beer pong for 48 consecutive hours in a condo in Brigantine with the rest of my compatriots.

Suffice to say, I was pissed.

I quickly found a friend, one of the few high school alums who would be attending Temple along with me (everyone else must have gotten the memo about the senior week/freshman orientation scheduling conflict) and we settled into our familiar time-filling conversations. It was then, standing on the sidewalk outside of my would-be dorm on a warm June day, that I saw a boy that made my heart STRAIGHT-UP skip a beat.

He was alluring in that “I’m not even trying to look this hot” way that had me drawing an immediate comparison to Brandon Boyd (It was 2001 and Incubus was relevant, I swear.) He stood on the steps to the dorm with a girl I assumed was his girlfriend, chatting amongst a group of some other fresh meat. Perhaps the glance we shared was more than fleeting because our next call of duty was to queue up and receive our room assignments for that night and guess who ended up in line behind me?

Our first words exchanged were in the moments after signing the roster where he commented on the spelling of my name. I later found out he was so observant due to the fact that his girlfriend (fyi – not the girl from the steps, bee is just a lady killa) and I shared a name phonetically, if not in print. I thought this was strangely coincidental if only as a means to have something to fall back on in our future conversations. I would soon find out there would be no lapse in things to talk about between us.

Our bond was instantaneous. We walked around together within a small group of other newbies but I honestly can’t remember being all that interested in what anyone else was doing beside the two of us. I was pretty sure he felt the same way but our words wore the veil that masked our intent from our action. We showed each other the scars we had accrued over the span of our short lives, talked about our families and found we had a shared love for American McGee’s Alice and Parliament Lights.

After the scheduled events for our first day were over we were left to our own devices, free to seek out entertainment (or trouble) independently and (me) and The Bee stole away together to pour over a list of classes to choose from for the upcoming semester. I had always been bright but since the beginning of Junior High, I was never what one would call a star student. I did my homework infrequently and studied even less (that means never) and I was lucky that I squeaked by in my competitive high school without getting booted. The only area I could always be counted upon to excel was standardized testing (which I attribute as my ONLY savior for college admittance), I just cared very little to actually apply myself.

When it came to choosing courses or a major (what now?) my being clueless would be an understatement. The only class I had really enjoyed during high school was film. And I know, I. KNOW. That’s almost as bad as saying my favorite class was lunch or recess but I really loved movies and what they conveyed, that when The Bee mentioned that he was selecting Film as his main focus of study, I couldn’t have been more on board with that plan.

We spent that evening talking and smoking cigarettes in the courtyard that a few months later we would be able to look down upon from The Bee’s dorm room. Too little time was spent sleeping and the next morning we awoke to find that the first thing on our agenda was to have our ID photos taken. Not having time to put on any make-up or fix my hair, I looked the worse for wear but my new buddy was in good spirits despite having slept on a bench in one of the communal lounges. It turned out that his designated roomie for that evening was *AHEM* engaged with a lady friend and since the beds had been (quite rudely, I might add) pushed together by the love bugs, there was literally no room for sleeping in that scenario.

We waited amongst an OBSCENELY huge group of frosh newbs to get our picture taken that day but I can’t recall being all that perturbed as I had a jovial companion who seemed to enjoy my presence as much as I did his, despite my haggard appearance.

~

Here’s the part where I throw my all-in-one fax/scanner/copier/printer through a window because it conveniently chose to just stop working and now I can’t scan the ID photos taken that day to aptly tie this post into a neat little bow and present the beautiful dichotomy between mine and Patti’s stories. That, and The Bee can’t find his ID. Soooooooo, I guess he’s going through the window instead…

Anyway, I always hated how I looked in my ID photo (picture chubby cheeks and disheveled pixie hair accented with a hot-pink bandana) but the smile on my face is 100% genuine. The Bee had said something to make me crack up. What exactly, I can’t remember, but less than 24 hours after meeting each other, I was beginning to realize that I had finally found the missing piece to my puzzle.

At the end of that day, we parted ways, not to speak again for a few months when we spotted each other online and realized that we had both been assigned to the same floor of the same dorm. It didn’t really occur to me then the potential fated nature of that fact, I just knew I was excited to have such an amazing friend just down the hall.

Our time together at Temple was limited. The Bee left after the first semester and so did the magic that I had begun to associate with my time spent there. Although we were not romantically linked during our time at school, our relationship was often interpreted as such, since we were rarely without the other. My boyfriend at the time regularly voiced his overwhelming distaste for my close friendship with this boy that I obviously thought so highly of and although his jealousies were technically unfounded, I soon realized my emotions were undeniably guilty of a betrayal.

After The Bee left school, I spent more and more time at home versus campus and pretty soon the appeal of dorm life had waned completely. Over the next 4 years we remained good, however distant, friends; the space between us caused by locale and logistical complications. Yet, whenever we saw each other during that time the overwhelming rush of blissful excitement would run through me and we would fall in line again, like we’d never missed a step.

Tomorrow will mark our 5th official anniversary together. In many ways it feels like it’s been ages longer than that and somehow impossible to think that we’ve shared so many years with each other already. I feel really lucky in that way. He’s my partner & my best friend.

Thanks, bee.

Happy Anniversary.

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Filed under (me), just a thought..., the bee

Sickness Leads to “Stains”

fabulous stains

I spent the majority of last week as a walking petri dish of sickness. If it’s airborne then I WILL get it. No amount of vitamin C or hard liquor could kill what was lurking in my chest and sinuses. Wouldn’t it figure that the first day I start to feel better is the same day that The Bee comes down with it? I’m so sorry! My apologies to whomever else I may have infected unintentionally. I’m bad news, baby.

In non-bad news, the sickness gave me the chance to finally watch “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” which The Bee bought me last year for my birthday. I’ll just say that the movie was OK, not a full-on flop but nothing super stellar either. Saying that, I am a sucker for most any music film especially one that memorialized the late 70’s/early 80’s punk era so I already liked it based on the release date and a brief synopsis on the back of the DVD. The film focuses on a girl trio, a band of misfit runaways who seek fame and acceptance on the stage. A young Diane Lane is seriously fierce as the leader, Corinne “Third Degree” Burns, who pushes the group, and subsequently their fans, in the direction of social freedom through fashion. The Stains “skunk” look is cultivated by barely there red and black garments and hair dyed black w/ “white stripes”. Now, I couldn’t help but wonder if the film’s couture provided any inspiration for a young Detroit duo who implemented their own Red/White/Black color scheme? There is also the highly clichéd love/hate relationship between Corinne and punk frontman Billy which leads to a literally steamy (and what I’m pretty sure is illegal) lover’s tryst in a shower.

What I found most impressive was the fact that 1/2 of the original Sex Pistols line-up including Steve Jones and Paul Cook PLUS (and most awesomely) The Clash’s own Paul Simonon rounded out the headlining band on The Stain’s breakout/down tour. The movie is worth the watch alone for the star-studded cameo’s (pretty sure I saw an unbilled Mary-Louise Parker in one scene or at the very least a dead-ringer) not to mention Christine Lahti as Corinne’s aunt and a pre-Blue Velvet Laura Dern. Despite its fair share of poorly crafted scenes and more dead eyed looks from actors then you can throw a stick at, “The Fabulous Stains” is worth the watch for all the wicked tongue lashings and fashion bad-assery.

the-fabulous-stains

If I hadn’t already picked out my costume for Halloween this year, I’d be all about the “Third Degree”.

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Wildwood, NJ – Revisited

In honor of this last “official” weekend of Summer (and a long one at that, THANK GOD) I wanted to revisit this post I wrote a few weeks ago about a little known underground film showcasing one of my favorite places, Wildwood, NJ.

welcome-to-wildwood

Are you from New Jersey? Have you ever been? Most people who have never had the pleasure associate it mainly with mobsters (you’ve done wonders for our reputation, Sopranos), weird accents, bad smells (depending on where you are this is pretty accurate), and basically being the toilet seat under the cheeks of our northern neighbor the Big Apple, among many other illustrious pejoratives. New Jersey is a glorious place, being the Garden State after all… We’ve got acre upon acre of farmland dedicated to everything from growing vegetation to boarding horses. Although the 4th smallest in the nation it’s the most densely populated state meaning there are a crap load of people milling about here PLUS it’s a full-blooded peninsula however deceptive it is about its presentation (so EAT IT Florida & Alaska! We can’t all be as obvious as you). We get ALL four seasons which means we’re scraping ice off our windshields for at least 3 months a year with or without snow and cursing our broken AC in the middle of a 95 degree (plus humidity = 110) heat wave for another 3. If you can find a piece of land that hasn’t been overtaken with a strip mall, housing development or parking lot, you will surely love the scenery.

Where the hell was I going with this? Right, WILDWOOD. So anyway, I finally had the chance to view the Wildwood, NJ movie in all its feature length glory. OWH.MYE.GAHD! The larger than life hair! The hideous clothes only a true fashion victim could love! It’s all there but that’s just what’s bobbing at the surface. The movie features mostly candid interviews with women discussing everything from sex & relationships to future aspirations and past indiscretions. Those interviewed are at times both unintentionally funny and overwhelmingly relatable. It’s touching to hear a young woman speak of her dreams to become a model and an actress while sunning herself on the roof of a local motel. Two women smoke cigarettes outside their room as they discuss their reasons for pursuing work as dancers to make ends meet. They speak as feminists in the sense of reclaiming their bodies as a means to make money while admitting their subjugation in the process. Another two women, one a young mother, reminisce poolside over the wild ways of their youth, cruising the boardwalk during their teens, falling in love habitually and returning home at week’s end, their romances already a fleeting memory. There is no specific mention of actual drug use yet clearly a lot of those filmed appear to be abusing something which is dually hilarious and heartbreaking.

My depiction of this film will never do it total justice. Regardless of your connection or lack thereof to the shore town, it’s a film about people, young people specifically, and it’s easier to identify with them than seek out dissimilarities whether you’d like to admit it or not. It’s utterly raw and real and those who view it will not regret the hour spent. That’s right, it’s just under 60 minutes, so remind me why you haven’t you seen this film yet? You probably won’t find it in the local Blockbuster and my feeling on the subject is this is a “buy” not “rent”. Click here to get your copy or just call me up and we’ll make some popcorn and wax nostalgic.

Hope you enjoy the last days of Summer ’09 and in parting I leave you with some photos of our recent mini-vacay to Wildwood…

one of MANY shops specializing in ironic t-shirts and other random amusements

one of MANY shops specializing in ironic t-shirts and other random amusements

wildwood 2009 (40)

a general view of the boards

a general view of the boards

wildwood 2009 (46)

wildwood's most famous pier. sneaky tram car blocked my shot!

wildwood's most famous pier. sneaky tram car blocked my shot!

wildwood 2009 (50)

purple shirt looks less than pleased to be in frame...

purple shirt looks less than pleased to be in frame...

wildwood 2009 (178)

not a mall so much as a landmark

not so much a mall than a landmark

a birthday dinner of corndogs & tornado fries

a birthday dinner of corndogs & tornado fries

a bold statement but nothing less could be expected...

a bold statement but nothing less could be expected...

and my personal fav:

our view of the sunrise on bee's birthday

our view of the sunrise on the bee's birthday

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Wildwood, NJ

So a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of the most amazing gems of pop culture I’ve been introduced to in quite some time. This gem, unlike most I usually find on the NET, had been residing quietly in an almost time capsule-like repose. Its unearthing came as a surprise to the films creator as well as a world, who 15 years after the film’s release, may have forgotten its existence altogether. Well, thank god for viral media and social networking or one of the funniest, most subversive, riotously enjoyable clips might never have been seen and we would all be poorer for it.

On a personal level this film hits home as Wildwood, NJ is a place that my family and I have vacationed ever since I was born. Multiple times during the summer months, we would make the trek “down the shore” (this is Jersey speak that most refer to as “going to the beach”) and stay at our favorite motel just one block from the boardwalk and the beach. These trips were usually long weekends filled with announcements besieging us to “Watch the tram car, wa-wa-wa-wa-watch the tram car please”, finding sand in cracks that sand just does not belong, striking up a conversation with someone on the beach, meeting up with them later on the boardwalk, finding out they’re kinda creepy and spending the rest of the night trying to lose them, because well you know, “it’s different every night” and we like to keep it that way.

For more information on this film and others like it, and to secure your own DVD copy, contact Ruth Leitman @ ruth@ruthlessfilms.com or check out ruthlessfilms.com.

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