Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The obligatory 'what I am thankful for' post

Yeah, I know everyone else is doing it. So am I. Got a problem with it?


I have so much to be thankful for this year, it will be hard to fit it all in this post. Don't worry, I'll try and shorten it up by using pictures a bit. I'm told I can be a, at times.

Though I do have so much to be thankful for, this year has been a a rough one in some ways. Because of this, I have had to learn to search for things to be thankful for in some situations.

One such situation is that of my Gramma.

Earlier this year, my Gramma fell ill, spent some time in the hospital, and had to recuperate for a month in a nursing home before getting to come home again. This was a bit of a wakeup call for me, and for that, I am thankful. I realized that my gramma is 78 years old, and I really don't know how much longer she will be around. I began chiseling out some time, at least once a week, every week, to spend time with her, despite having three jobs, and then two jobs and school. I have done so faithfully for nearly six months now, and have gotten the chance to become incredibly close to her.

She had a horrible accident in September that she somehow managed to pull through, but unfortunately she is far from being able to take care of herself. She spent a month in the hospital, and has been living back at the nursing home since.

I am saddened to say that she is once again back in the hospital, this time with Pneumonia. As difficult as this has been for me, I am so very very thankful that so far she has fought through everything that has tried to take her down....and I have been able to have the time to get to know her better than I did before.

I am thankful, as I stated previously, for the amazing teachers I have met so far in my time at college.

I am thankful that I have finally found out what it feels like to NOT feel like I have to have a man in order to be 'whole'.

I am thankful that I have been blessed with some of the most amazing friends on God's green earth.

Did I tell you I got to meet Stu finally?

I am certainly thankful for that opportunity. Stu and I are a lot alike. Because of this, we usually know pretty much how the other is feeling when nursing a broken heart, pulling our hair out from frustration, or overjoyed about something that seems so unimportant to most others.

...and on occasion, we also drive each other a little nuts. I mean, who wants to hang out with an opposite-gendered version of themselves all the time? :P

I am most certainly thankful for Stu.

I am thankful for all the times I have felt lower than low, and he made me laugh my way back up to the real world.

I am thankful for the times in which he has felt lower than low, and has trusted me enough to open up and let me in so I can return the favor.

I am thankful that that 30 minute phone call to Canada last month didn't cost too much. :P

I am thankful that there is a place called Betseyville, that someday, I will visit, along with some of the most amazing women (and maybe a man or two) I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I am mostly thankful that I have had the chance to get to know two people who, for the last 2 years, have made my world go 'round.

The trio of Joe, Sky, and me is one of a kind. Put the three of us together and you create the kind of magic I never thought I'd have with one friend, much less two.

When I am with them, I all my insecurities, all of my cares, all of the negative thoughts in my head just dissipate.

If I were to list all of the reasons why I am thankful for them I'd never stop typing.

They are the reason I am single and happy about it.

They are the reason I am in college.

They are the reason I have confidence in who I am.

They are the reason I can smile in the face of hardship.

I am thankful that I have been given the chance to love them and miss them as tremendously as I do.

With that sappy note, I end today's post. As of three minutes ago, it's Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nuclear Holocaust: Survival Guide tip #1

Have you ever wondered what you would do if there was a nuclear holocaust, and there was no electricity to charge your iPod? I know I have!

And now, thanks to this guy, we can all listen to our favorite tunes while foraging for food in the darkness -- assuming we all have a Gatorade tree in the backyard, and an onion bush in the front.

Charging your iPod with an onion with an onion and Gatorade:

Originally found here:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Youtube Feature: The Hoff

This is the single greatest video ever, HANDS DOWN.

The singing is superb, the dancing is awesome, and the special affects are out of this world!

Ok, to be honest, I seriously don't think he's a horrible singer! :P

David Hasselhoff singing "Hooked on a Feeling."

The Bonfire

What makes a good teacher?

If you would have asked me that question 10 years ago, I'm not certain how I would have responded. Perhaps with something like "Someone who is nice and makes it easy for you to learn the stuff".

However, I spent 7 years away from that time, I've grown up a little, and changed, well...a lot. The dreams that I had created in the first 18 years of my life have been lying dormant, patiently awaiting the time when someone or something would light the spark that would finally give them a chance at life.

I went back to school this fall, finally. One of the most important things I have learned so far is that, a good teacher will not only create those sparks, but he will pile on the firewood and fan the flames until your dreams are a brilliant, roaring fire, capable of taking on a life of it's own.

Teachers of this caliber seem to be rare in this day and age. It is because of this that I consider myself to be genuinely blessed to have classes with not one, but TWO such teachers this semester.

They have both found those dormant dreams deep inside of me....they have both grabbed onto them and started pulling it out into the open. They have both been encouraging, highlighting the areas in which I am already skilled, but not ignoring those that need some attention before I can truly shine.

Growing up, I've always wanted to write. If I were to dig through my parent's attic, through the boxes upon boxes of notebooks and journals...alongside the thousands of drawings of horses, you'd find stories and poems galore, mostly unfinished. I loved to write, but I simply didn't have any sort of direction, or a solid foundation to build upon.

Now I'm an adult, and rarely have time to write for myself, as can be evidenced by this intermittently updated blog. Starting college, I was required to take an English Composition class. Though it focuses on analytical writing, I have an instructor that is great enough to have drawn out my potential for all to see. He has encouraged me, and given me the power to boost my self-confidence immensely. I now feel that, though I have a long way to go yet, I can not only write, but write WELL. I still need to hone my skills, and learn to be more consistent with my abilities, instead of relying on writing during times in which I feel "in the zone," but I will get there.

Another thing I've wanted to do since I was very young, is to get involved in music. I can remember being 7 or so, and receiving a small electronic keyboard for Christmas. Along with it, I got 3 or 4 keyboarding books with dozens of songs in them. I taught myself to play nearly every song in them, many of them by heart. I remember softly singing simple songs to myself as I played around on it, eventually learning by ear, to play those songs. How badly did I want to REALLY learn to play an instrument, but sadly, my parents could not afford an instrument, much less lessons. I was in percussion in the 4th grade, at school, but since I had no way of practicing at home, in 5th grade, the teacher told me I could not participate.

But that desire to infuse music into my soul has not gone's merely been waiting in the shadows. It started to make it's way back out into the open when I befriended a clarinet-playing photographer whom I may have mentioned before in this blog. He set up the kindling, my Music Appreciation teacher lit the fire.

I look forward to his class every Tuesday and Thursday, more than any other class I have. For that hour and fifteen minutes, I become completely captivated by the passion he has for both music and teaching. I watch him perform -- and I say 'perform', because you couldn't possibly call something you love so much 'work' -- in front of the class, and think to myself, "That's what I want to be when I grow up." No, I don't want to be a music teacher....I want to be that passionate about what I do in life.

As he goes through each chapter of the book, he talks about so much more than just the music. The beginning of each chapter, there are 2 or 3 pages on the art and architecture of the era...he goes through it in detail, with incredible, detailed knowledge of each painting and sculpture shown...from the artist, to the subjects, to the artists intent. He talks about what life was like during that time period, and really gives you a much deeper understanding of both the music and art. He puts so much feeling and passion into it, that you can't help but start to feel a bit passionate about it, as well.

School has become an incredible part of my life, largely due to both of these outstanding teachers. I am only on my first semester of college, so I am hopeful that my remaining years in the world of academia are littered with many more heroes like those I discussed above.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Youtube clip of the....whenever I decide to post one!: Rives

My good buddy Sky introduced me to this poet last night, with this clip, Rives Def Jam.

It is both funny and profound at the same time, and I was rather moved by it, and wanted to share.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Youtube clip of the week: Rob Paravonian

Yep, another Rob Paravonian clip! What can I say, he's great!

6 Minutes at Zanies:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not feeling the 'writing bug' at the moment..., how about some HORRIBLE jokes from my Laffy Taffy wrappers?

Q: Why did the matador trade in his sword for a gun?
A: He wanted to shoot the bull!

Q: Do doctors still make housecalls?
A: Yes, but your house has to be REALLY sick!

Q: What pounds in your ear?
A: The drum!

(I'm not making these up)

Q: What bee does well in school?
A: A Spelling Bee!

Q: What is a parasite?
A: Something you see in Paris!

Q: Why did the chicken cross the playground?
A: To get to the other slide!

Q: Why is it hot inside a stadium after a football game?
A: All the fans have left!

Q: Why is a lost Dalmatian easily found?
A: Because he's always spotted!

Q: What is an owl's favorite subject?
A: Owlgebra!

Q: In what month do people talk the least?
A: February-because it's the shortest month of the year!

Yeah, sorry guys...I've got nothin' today.

Oh, and I think I'm gonna turn the Youtube post of the day into the weekly youtube vid, or maybe the bi-weekly vid.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Youtube clip of the day: Gunther, Tutti Frutti Summer Love

Ladies, you know you want him.

Gunther and the sunshine girls, singing Tutti Frutti Summer Love. There is a split second flash of nudity, so you might not want to watch at work.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Youtube clip of the day: Charlie the Unicorn!

Yes, it's very weird. I love it with all of my heart. :P

"It's a Leopluridon, Charlie!"

"A MAGICAL Leopluridon!"

I wish my high school teachers could see me now!

Just wanted to share's my grade sheet that I got back today from my English Composition essay I turned in a week or so ago. :)


My current grade in that class is a 98.64%.

I think I'm ok with that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The music that fills my soul

I stayed after class today to get some advice from my Music Appreciation teacher about learning piano. I haven't GOTTEN a piano yet, but I will. Mark my words, I will.

Since my meeting yesterday with my counselor, I now have at least 2 credit hours I need to fill up at some point between now and when I graduate from here. (We re-worked my education plan and eliminated something I didn't need or want to take, leaving me with only 64 credit hours --assuming I pass everything, and am able to take everything I plan to-- and it takes 66 credit hours to graduate). I would LOVE to fill those credit hours up with learning the piano, if it were offered as a class in which I get credit.

Good news! It is!!! So, next fall, or possibly even starting in the summer, I plan to take music lessons through the college, AND get credit for them!!! :) Oh, and while I was in there, he told me that I am getting more than straight A's in his class....I'm over points. :D I'm getting more than a 100%! How cool is that!?

This has put me in a really good mood.

Oh, and it didn't hurt that I REALLY enjoyed what we learned in class today. To explain, let's travel back in time to a little over a year ago.

August of 2006, I spent 12 days with my best friend, Joe. He is from Houston, and goes to school in Baltimore. We had planned for me to make the drive back to school with him, from Houston to Baltimore, as it wouldn't really be a fun trip to make alone.

The trip, for me, included a week of hanging out in Houston, 3 days worth of driving to Baltimore, and another 2 days there before going home. During this time, Joe had to practice everyday for his audition for school. Now, I must point out that listening to Joe play his clarinet is one of my favorite things in life to do. It relaxes me, and takes me away from whatever is going on in my life.

At this particular time, one of the pieces he was practicing was an excerpt from Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique."

I thought it was some of the most beautiful music I had ever heard. After 12 days of hearing that every single day, it was surprising just how much I MISSED it once I was back home. I longed to hear it again.

I told that to Joe, and he sent me the recording. It's been over a year, and rarely does a week go by in which I don't listen to it. If fact, there have been many times in which a week goes by and I don't listen to anything ELSE while at home.

This is one such week.

I woke up this morning and sat down at my computer. I maximized the media player window, and un-paused it from the spot in which I had stopped the night before. I let it play through the entire time I was getting ready for school, and paused it again, about halfway through the final movement, just before I walked out the door.

It sits there, waiting for me to come home from work tonight, hit play, and once again fill my apartment with that spectacular, emotion-filled masterpiece.

So, you can imagine my joy when the first thing Mr. Pecherek writes on the board is "Hector Berlioz," and we spend a good portion of class time talking about him and "Symphonie Fantastique." I only wish we would have listened to the entire thing, or at the very least, the final movement, but unfortunately, we didn't have time.

It is so wonderful to be able to learn about things that I love so much.

The prospect of 10 years of school used to be daunting to me...but at this moment in time, I think I'd be happy to be in school for longer! (I'm sure that'll change in a few years! :P )

You Tube video of the day: Treat Your Mother Right

This gem has provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment.

Mr. T singing "Treat Your Mother Right."

***This apparently wasn't working earlier...trying again!***

And I swear I'll get some actual substance, other than you tube vids, posted soon! School keeps me busy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

You Tube video of the day: Pachelbel Rant

I've decided I'm going to do a You Tube Video of the day, and post up some of my favorite clips that I've come across.

Today's clip is by Comedian Rob Paravonian.

And yes, I do have a thing for musical comedians.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Meet my future husband...

Stephen Lynch, a comedian whom I've recently become re-obsessed with.

Don't watch if you're easily offended. ;)

That's not his funniest clip, but one of the tamer ones...I strongly encourage you, if you liked that at ALL, to go to you tube, type in Stephen Lynch, and watch em all.


Remember that concert review from a few days ago?

I got it back today, the only comments he made on the entire thing, was on the last page:

This is a terrific review. Exactly the kind of thing that I am looking for. 50/50"

Yep, I got a 100% on that baby! WOOT!!!!

Made my day. :)

Did I mention that he's the best teacher I've ever had?

He is.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The overacheiver disease

I may not be an overachiever in all aspects of my life, but when it comes to school, I am. Granted, I've been out of school for 7 years, and this is my first semester back, but that shouldn't make my 98% and higher that I'm getting in every class any less significant.

I'm doing so much better than I ever thought I COULD do in school, and I'm loving every sleep-deprived second of it. However, I've begun to notice a downfall to this fierce drive that I seem to have... A test or assignment with a grade less than an A seriously affects my immediate mood. Why can't a B be good enough for me?

Today, this overachiever disease reached new heights. I had a test in my psychology class...I've gotten good grades in there so far, and have twice gotten the high score of the class on my tests. But I've gotten it in my head that the high score isn't good enough...that I need to get a perfect score.

I wizzed through the multiple choice questions, fairly confident with my selections...pounded out the essay questions, having no doubts at all on those...then moved on to the extra-credit. The extra credit was a large chart of the 8 senses, the organs, receptors, types of energy, and what lobes of the brain were related to those senses...the entire chart was blank, and we had to fill in every last cell, each worth a 1/2 point...but if you didn't get the scientific term for the sense correct, you didn't get any of the points for that sense.

FORTY cells to fill in on this chart...not an easy task...but I had this puppy in the bag. I zipped right through vision, had no problems with audition, in no time got through olfaction, cutaneous sense, vestibular sense, gustation, an kinesthesia. I had every cell filled out for prop...propec....propio....WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WORD!?

I sat there for 10 minutes...everything done but that one cell. I was the last student left in the class. I finally gave up. No chance of getting that perfect.


I was in a pissed off mood for two hours. Because of an extra credit question.

Folks, I think I have a problem.

The true college experience.

I believe I've now had the true college experience.

3+ weeks of sleep deprivation due to multiple essays and tests piled one on top of the other.

Yep, it's official. I'm in college.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mahler was a rockin' guy.

I'm in a music appreciation class in school. We are required to attend two formal concerts during the semester, and to write a review on it. It is perfectly acceptable to go to one of the free concerts put on by our school....but, you all know that I don't usually settle for simply 'acceptable.'

No, I couldn't do things the easy way. I just HAD to spend a bunch of money and time, and drag myself (and my cousin Stacey) up to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

I had an amazing time. ;) Figure I might as well post my concert review that I will be turning in to my teacher (best teacher EVAR!) tomorrow morning. :)

Without any further ado: (you'll just have to imagine it correctly formatted and whatnot! :P )

The mood upon arrival at Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was one of anticipation and excitement. Or perhaps this observation was, in part, a misinterpretation of a projection of my own enthusiasm onto that of my fellow concert-goers. After checking my bag and buying a three dollar bottle of water that could not have been much bigger than a shot glass, my friend and I made our way to our seats. The view from the second row of the main floor seating area was not the greatest in the respect of being able to watch the entire orchestra. The conductor, however, was in my direct line of sight, as our seats were towards the end of the left side of the stage. I found him to be captivating, and having the ability to see his face was a valuable part of my experience. Overall, the seats were not bad for the nominal price paid.

Looking around me, I found the majority of the audience was comprised of older generations, many of them dressed up to the nines. Well rehearsed in the way of fine art spectatorship, these seasoned symphony patrons were well composed, knowing exactly when to clap, when to stand, and when to snore. Also catching my eye was the younger, jeans and t-shirt clad crowd that was interspersed amongst the assembly. I found this interesting mix of young and old, casual and formal, hip and traditional, to be an enlightening experience in and of itself. It intrigued me to learn that, over one hundred years after their peak, the music of the two great composers on the agenda for the night could still enrapture such a broad span of generations.

First on the program for the evening was a piece from the Romantic era by Richard Wagner, called Siegfried Idyll, which was made for a chamber orchestra. Instruments included in the work were violins, viola, cello, bass, trumpet, horns, bassoon, clarinets, oboe, and flute. It was the strings that softly and slowly brought us into the world of Siegfried Idyll. The melody began smooth and flowing, somewhat reflective in mood. The woodwinds joined, and then the brass, adding to the gradual rise in dynamics. Crescendos and decrescendos, sometimes somewhat subtle, were present throughout the entirety, and usually provided a slight tension in the music that helped to keep your attention and lead you through it. Solos during the piece had simple melodies and helped to enhance the intimate mood that was being put forth. The ensemble put on an exemplary performance, with no errors that could be picked up by my untrained ear. It was pleasant and calm, and lulled the audience into a sense of serenity that was not to last.

Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony then came marching in with vengeance. This Romantic Era symphony of gargantuan proportions was full of intense emotion, from dark triumph to quiet introspection to tense caution. The score calls for a full orchestra, which also includes cowbells, rute, celesta, and a hammer. The dynamic range is wide, utilizing crescendos and decrescendos, as well as sudden shifts between loud and soft that kept the crowd engaged, and the elderly awake. Changes in mood and tension are created with the changes in rhythm between each movement, and also within them. Melodies are somewhat complex at some points, and simple at others. In fact, there were very few elements that remained constant throughout the entire eighty minutes, making for, overall, a very complex work that rendered my attempts at note-taking useless. It was performed beautifully, with the exception of one squeaky note from what sounded like a clarinet, during the first movement. The players were poised and professional, not even missing a beat when quickly restringing a violin bow that came unstrung during the finale.

A component of my symphonic experience that must not be forgotten is that of conductor Bernard Haitink. Watching him mold an entire stage full of players and their instruments into a beautiful and intricate work of art was an experience I will not soon forget. It was fascinating to see his facial and body expressions as he gave precise orders as to what he expected from each and every orchestra member. When a particular player or group of players especially pleased him, he would give them a nod and a slight smile, a gesture which I imagine brings great pride to those who received it.

Finally, though I may still be inexperienced when it comes to recognizing flaws in musical performances, I feel fairly confident in my assertion that I had been presented with a good display of talent and artistry. If the goal of a musician, be it a composer, a conductor, or an instrumentalist, is to evoke emotion and inspire interest, then the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Bernard Haitink achieved that goal with this performance. I also have them to thank for introducing me to the brilliant composer, Gustav Mahler. I have fallen in love with his sixth symphony, and anxiously anticipate soaking in each of the rest of his works of art.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My life, in more than a nutshell.

I've been lax about posting on here. REALLY lax! By the time you finish reading this, you'll know why.

Since my last entry, I've been to the east coast twice. I have spent time in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and also Chicago.

I’ve started my first semester of my long journey called college, and I am loving every second of it.

I’ve gone through health problems with both my mother and my grandmother, both requiring hospital stays at the same time.

I’ve gotten to meet, for the first time in real life, one of my best friends, Stu.
I was the official photographer of the benefit concert for the domestic violence shelter at which I am employed.

I couldn’t even begin to think of everything I have done since May….it’s been a lot!

Now, to go into more detail. We’ll start with the first of the two trips to the east coast.

I rang in birthday number 25 in Philadelphia with two of the greatest men alive. Joe and Sky made me feel like royalty the entire week, and REALLY amped it up on my actual birthday. The week started out in Baltimore (on a Thursday)…I flew in, and Sky took the train down, and the two of us explored Baltimore a tad bit while waiting for Joe to come home from work that evening. Friday, again, Joe had to work….but this time, Sky and I tagged along to DC with him, and explored that city, instead. :P We went on a quest for Nutella and baguette, and found places to hide from the heat every chance we got. The weekend was spent in Philly, and my birthday was on Saturday. I was thoroughly spoiled! The guys took me to Morimoto for buri bop and sushi….best meal anyone has ever bought me! It was DELICIOUS as always. Morimoto never disappoints! And on top of that, Joe and Sky spoiled me with great gifts, too!
Aaanway, on late Sunday night it was back to Baltimore….Monday we spent more time in DC while Joe was working, and Tuesday Sky and I kinda rested up and were just generally lazy until we both had to leave for our respective states. I had a hard time saying goodbye to both Joe and Sky, but that was nothing new.

Fast forward a tad bit…in early August I took my little cousin Nicole for a day of exploration and shopping in Chicago. We had a blast at Shedd Aquarium, laughed our asses off at the wait staff at Ed Debevic’s, and wore holes in our shoes. It was a GREAT time, and we WILL be doing it again sometime!

August 20th. That day changed my life. Why, you ask? Because it was my first day as a student at Illinois Valley Community College. Very few decisions in my life have impacted me as much as this one has. This sounds a bit corny, but I feel like a butterfly opening her wings for the first time, and flying out into the world. I have been imprisoned behind these giant stone walls I have unconsciously created for the past 25 years. I felt there was no hope of climbing over those walls….so instead I obliterated them. I am standing up and taking control of my life.
I now have a goal of graduating from IVCC with honors. I plan to pay for all of my schooling, starting with next year, through scholarships that I will earn with those fantastic grades. I am going to learn an instrument, and dive into my newly re-sparked interest in music. I am currently searching for a piano that I can afford, because that is what I want to learn first. (yes, I said first…I will learn more than one instrument before I die). I am going to go to a good university in a city…either Chicago or the east coast…when I finish IVCC….and I will remain in college until I, at the very least, get my Master’s degree.

I dreamed about all of these things before, but I have never said “I AM doing this!”

That is by far the biggest thing that has happened since my last entry…I suppose I should have left that for last, but I’m attempting to go chronologically here. :P

Leeet’s move on. I was back on the east coast again for a weekend over Labor Day, to see Joe. We had a really great time, and pretty much just hung around Baltimore having fun. It was a bit of a ‘food’ meetup…we satiated my newfound adventurousness for FOOD. I had Indian food for the first time, and fell in love! It wasn’t at all what I expected, and I am still craving it over a month later. The next night we had Afghan food….not quite as good as Indian, but not far off! We found time in there somewhere for some really great sushi at a new place Joe had never tried….oh, and crab cakes! I’d never had crabcakes before! On top of all that, we fit in a trip to Vacarro’s for some DEEELICIOUS Italian dessert! I STILL don’t know how we fit all of that into 3 days, but we did….I believe Ethiopian food is on the agenda for next time!
….almost done here, I swear.

Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago again….this time to meet up with Stu for the first time ever. He came all the way from Toronto JUST TO SEE ME! Ok, that’s not true…he came for a Bears game….but humor me here!

Unfortunately, our time together was much too short, and I’ve missed him a lot ever since…..but we did make the most of the time we did get to hang out….we checked out the museum campus…Millenium Park…Navy Pier….The Museum of Contemporary Photography (or something like that)…oh, and Ed Debevic’s, of course. :P I am REALLY looking forward to going to Canadia someday (soon, hopefully) and seeing him again!

….and, we’re going to skip over the rest, because, 1) I don’t feel like going into detail on the negative things, 2) I already hit pretty much all of the big events, and 3) I’M TIRED, DAMMIT! LET ME GO TO BED ALREADY!

So…there you have it. I’m posting for the first time since May….it’s one big ramble, but, whatever! :P

Friday, May 18, 2007

The man from Staten Island

In my journey through life, I have unearthed some very rare treasures from time to time. I've also made the extraordinary discovery that life's true treasures are people, not things.

They are the people that have genuinely pure and honest souls. They are the people that lift you up. The people that encourage you. The people that don't hold hatred in their hearts. They go through life with a smile on their face, and hand out kind words by the truckload. They are givers, not takers...lovers, not fighters.

One such treasure is a man I met earlier this year. Judging purely by his energy and his love of life, you would think he was a man in his 20's, with a lifetime ahead of him. In fact, I believe in his heart, he is in his 20's, and always will be. The truth of the matter is, he's in his 70's, with many years of memories and accomplishments already behind him.

I have been fascinated by him from the moment we met. So rare is it to find a person of his age, that still seems to have an air of innocence about him. He loves people in a way that suggests that, to him, there is no evil or hatred in this world. There is only love and kindness, fun and adventures.

His name is Jim, and we first met online, on The Photo Forum. A few friends and I had been planning a trip to New York City in early March. One problem we were encountering was where to park. If you ever go to NYC, don't take your's not cheap.

Jim is from Staten Island. None of us had ever met him, or even had dealings with him on the forum before this trip came up. So when he offered to let us park in front of his house all weekend, we were at first just a bit hesitant. We are thankful to this day that we did not listen to that hesitation, because we would have missed out on experiencing the kind hospitality that Jim showed us.

Though he had his children over for dinner at the time that we showed up, he and his whole family welcomed us into their home with open arms. They offered us food and drink, a place to rest for a few minutes, and a bit of lively conversation. After our pitstop, he went out of his way to take us all the way into New York City, and was prepared to take us to our hotel, as well....only to turn right back around and go back home, and return again the next day to be our NYC guide.

That day, with him as our guide, we were enamored by his anecdotes about the various places in the city that we found ourselves in. The tales of a young Jim courting 'his lady' still make me smile when I think about them. He opened our minds, he made us laugh, he gave us all a little piece of himself to take with us for when that weekend was nothing more than a memory.

We have conversed online here and there since that weekend, but internet communications leave me wanting more.

I have a strong desire to go back to Staten Island, and sit down with him and his lovely wife for tea. For conversation. There is so much more that lies behinds those kind eyes that I have yet to discover. I want to learn the mysteries of what makes him who he is. I want to determine how a man that I barely know can have so much faith in me and my abilities.

He isn't making it difficult for me to come back, either. He has offered us not only a place to park, but also a place to sleep, and a hearty homemade breakfast in the morning.

I certainly hope I get a chance to take him up on that offer. Breakfast at Jim's sounds quite appetizing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Small Step....

Ok, so one small step hardly describes it. Today I had my appointment with the financial aid advisor at IVCC. Not only did he ease my fears, but he also made me downright confident about the future of my education. I was so worried about how I was going to make this happen....but I'm not now. How doesn't matter. What matters is...I AM going to make this happen.

After my appointment with the financial aid advisor, I took care of some other things. I got an appointment to take my placement tests. I have to test in reading, writing, and math. Reading and writing are gonna be a breeze. Math? Not so much. I have two weeks to brush up!

Before leaving the college, I also made an appointment with a guidance councelor.

I'm going all the way this time. I'm going to college. I'm going to get an education. Then I'm going to get a good job, and not struggle to make ends meet.

One giant leap for happily ever after.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Talent I can only dream of...

If you haven't already, do me a favor and check out my best friend's website, Joe Dombrowski Photography.

Joe is one of the most talented people I know, and this website shows much of that talent off. It showcases his photography, his music, and his web designing all in one damn nifty lookin' package.

Check, it out and let me know what you think! I'll pass it along!

Getting my start in life...

In two days I have an appointment with a financial aid adviser at the college.

I'm determined this time. One way or another, I'm going to start college. Come hell or high water, this fall, I will be starting a transfer program at IVCC. My major? Psychology.

I've wanted to go into that since I was probably 14 year old...I gave up that dream long ago, because I thought it was more schooling than I could do.

But my outlook on a lot of things has changed in the last year or so, thanks to the amazing friends that I've mentioned time and again in this blog. It took almost 25 years, but I finally know that I can do anything I want to do. And I want to go to college and study Psychology.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Greatest City in America

Or at least....that's what the benches say. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I do love Baltimore. But it's not for the city itself, but a few of it's inhabitants. I've spent a lot of time there in the last year. In fact, I just got back from my fifth trip there....second one in just this month!

Baltimore is the school year home of my best friend Joe. It's because of him that Baltimore has become such a wonderful place for me. He makes sure I always have an amazing time while I'm there.

Most of the time, my trips to Baltimore are just a pit stop on the way to and/or from a bigger destination.... for example, earlier this month, I flew to Baltimore, and we road tripped up to NYC where we met up with another friend, and spent a few days exploring what I have decided really IS the Greatest City in America. This trip was different though. This trip was all about Joe (although he somehow made me feel like it was all about ME).

Tuesday and Wednesday

This past Wednesday was his senior recital (he's a clarinetist). I flew in early Tuesday afternoon. We spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning preparing everything for the reception that was to be held after the recital. In typical Joe fashion, the plan was for it to be the best reception of the year. We ran around getting ingredients for dips and desserts, drinks and more. Oh, and don't forget the sushi platter (who could!?)

The recital itself marked the first time I'd ever heard Joe perform...though I've listened to him practice many never gets old for me, either. Present in the audience were several of his friends, his roomies, and his aunt and uncle, who video taped it for Joe's parents (who unfortunately couldn't be there, due to reasons beyond anyone's control) I thought he sounded wonderful, though he'll tell you he was disappointed. He'd gotten sick the night before, and it's not exactly easy to play a wind instrument when you have no wind.

The reception, as planned, was awesome. We thought we'd bought an over-abundance of food....but there wasn't a scrap left by the time all was said and done! Good food, good drink, and a damn good group of people, in my opinion! I felt a bit....out of place, at first....I didn't really know anyone, and those I did know, I didn't really know WELL. And I was the only non-musical person of the whole bunch, so it was hard to join in on a lot of the conversation. After a while though, things got better, and I really enjoyed talking to everyone.

Thursday and Friday

Aaaaand it's time to relax. After the stress of the days before, Joe took the day off from class. Instead, we hung out and did so many fun things I can't remember what we did on what much of the rest of this entry is going to be a bit choppy!

The weather was absolutely beautiful. As photographers that have been holed up inside, aching to get out all winter, there was no way we were staying inside and bumming around. We walked down to Baltimore's inner Harbor, and over to Federal Hill. Joe taught me how to take panoramic can see my first attempt here. I'm fairly happy with it. :)

We went to Little Italy and split a huuuuge apple strudel sundae at Vaccaro's (no way either of us could eat it alone) It was DELICIOUS! I will make SURE we go back there again next time I'm there!
We had dinner with Joe's roommates, Jon and Becca, at PF Chang's on Friday night....again, delicious and OH so filling! I felt like my stomach was going to explode by the time we were done! ' doesn't help that we all eat off of each others plates, you're eating more than just your own meal!

Oh, can't forget the paddle boats! I've never been paddle boating before...I've mentioned it everytime we've gone to the harbor every time I finally, this time, I was determined. We did that Friday before PF Chang's....we couldn't go very far into the harbor, but it was still a lot of fun! And more importantly, it provided us with new angles of the harbor to shoot! Overall, it was a very relaxing, yet at the same time, activity filled couple of days.

Oh, almost forgot! Thursday night we went to the recital of one of Joe's friends, and to the reception afterwards. I guess I have to admit that Steve's reception one-upped Joe's....but he cheated...he rented out the top floor of a hotel and had it catered. :P I still think Joe's was better....Steve's just had a better view. Hehe.

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday we decided to check out the Walter's Art Museum near Joe's apartment. It was free, after all. ;) I must say, I was quite impressed with the quality of the museum, because I was expecting a lot less from a free museum.

We were starting to run out of things to we were a tad bit limited as to how far away we could go, due to Joe having a concert that night. So, we hopped in the car, and drove out in the country to a nice farm area, full of horse pastures and rolling hills and winding roads. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was also a great place to practice panos!

Saturday night was Joe's concert with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. I feel it's part of Joe's plan to expose me to as much musical culture as he possibly can. :P I'm not complaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

Afterwards, it was time for another kind of culture.....appreciation of fine beers at Max's on Broadway. And yes...I actually drank beer. Two of them, in fact. Me!!! Beer! And I didn't hate it!!!! It was loud, but the music for the most part was good...and I think we all had a good time.

Sunday....Joe had another concert in the afternoon. This time it was for the Peabody Camerata. This was a bit different than the others...Camerata is pretty much all new music...only one of the four pieces played wasn't exactly new. The other three were new enough that the composers for each of them were in the audience! I thought that was pretty cool.

The conductor seemed like a very interesting man, too. You've gotta be, to have the guts to wear a cream colored pin striped suit!

That night was dinner at Olive Garden with Joe's roomies and one of their friends. After a looooooooong wait, we were finally seated. We ordered right away...and after another LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG wait, we finally got our food. It's a damn good thing that food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING....or I might have been annoyed with that restaurant! I now know what alfredo sauce is SUPPOSED to taste like! And I'm addicted. Joe and I also got Tiramisu for dessert...I'd never had it before.....but I WILL have it again! (I'm noticing this whole post is about music and food!)


My last day. :( Joe actually had things to do on Monday, too. I was alone for about 4 hours of that day...but I made the most of it. I did some exploring of Baltimore on my own....didn't really go to any new places, but I still enjoyed it. I walked down to the harbor and stalked some ducks...shot some more panos that I REALLY home come out....and started packing to go home.

It was a gorgeous day out, so when Joe got home from class, we heated up our leftovers from Olive Garden and ate out on the deck...and spent the remainder of my time there relaxing, watching really bad 90's music videos on youtube, winding the dog up, and just goofing around.

So, as you can see, I had a pretty full week. And this post only highlighted the bigger things we did. I said very little about some of the parts I liked the most....the times where we just hung out, watching stupid videos on the internet...watching Scrubs....seeing what silly things we could make the dog do (I totally almost got him to sit down on Joe's was cool....good BOY Oliver!)

I tried to describe above what a great time I had...but honestly, it's un-describable.

And I swear I didn't cry at the airport. Not one bit.

Home sweet home?

At approximately 1 o'clock this morning, I stuck my key in the door to my apartment here in Smalltown, Illinois. Home, after spending a week in Baltimore visiting my best friend. I was greeted by my two mischievous felines (the canine was still at the sitters..) .....and not much of anything else. A floor that needs to be vacuumed. Two litter boxes that need to be cleaned. A whole lot of junk that needs to be organized. A computer that is awaiting parts before it can once again be a productive part of my household.

...and what awaits me in this town beyond the apartment? A job I hate. A family that hasn't exactly been supportive in my life. And.....well nothing.

I've spent several days of the last month LIVING LIFE. Here, I'm simply in hibernation....just doing what I need to get by. I've gotten too much of a taste of real life now to continue to hibernate. I want out. Now.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's in the cards just yet. But at least it gives me the motivation to start working towards finding that winning hand.

This fall, I plan to start college. I'll be 25 by then....and I'm finally starting college. At the moment, I intend to go through a 2 year program, but I may change my mind and go for 4 years. We'll see. As I'm finding out....things you just never know. After I graduate, and hopefully find a job, I will work for a year and save all my money...unless I find a way to make it happen sooner, of course....after that, I'm out of here. I'm going to live life. Not just a week here and a week there, when I can escape hibernation for a tiny period of time.....but for good.

I just don't fit here anymore. When I leave, I feel like new life is being breathed into me....and when I come back, it gets sucked back out.

So that's my plan. And I fully intend to carry it out. I just wish I could make it happen sooner.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


To say I've traveled a lot in the past year, is a bit of an understatement. Since April 2006, I have gone on 6 trips, and in 3 days, I'll have gone on 7. I have been to Washington DC (twice), Baltimore (four times, soon to be 5), Philadelphia, Houston and Galveston (twice), San Antonio, Boston, Dallas, and New York City. It has been an amazing journey...truly. I don't regret it a bit.

However, it has taken it's toll on my wallet. Since January, I've been looking for a 3rd part time job to help alleviate the costs of traveling. Unfortunately, not many people want to hire someone that has 2 jobs already, and isn't available 24 hours out of the I haven't been very successful. And isn't exactly the time of year that is busy in retail, and I figure retail is the best bet for fitting the hours I am available.

I thought I finally was going to get a break about a month ago...I had an interview with Bath and Body Works. I was very confident about it....I have good experience in retail, I felt I interviewed well, and I felt I did well on the floor test, where they put me on the floor to interact with customers. However, I did not get a call back.

I decided that if I didn't get a job soon, I was going to start applying at the places I didn't prefer to work at.

Then I remembered I hadn't applied at Target yet. It wasn't my first choice, as I don't have experience in bigger stores...I'd been applying at smaller stores with smaller staffs. A week or so ago, I was in Target, and asked for an application at customer service....they said they didn't have paper applications...nor could you apply online. So, I planned to come back when I had the time.

Yesterday, a friend told me Target was that put my butt in gear. I got up this morning, drove to town, and applied. When I finished filling out the application, they gave me my first interview.....and then my second interview.....I believe the exact words that came out of the mouth of the director of HR, who gave me my second interview, were, "I'm loving you! I'd like to extend you a conditional job offer right now!".

...already went to the hospital for my drug screening...they'll run the background check on the day of orientation (those are the 'conditions'...of which I'm not worried about!)....and I start April 4th! :D


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Diagnosis

The verdict is baby has suffered hard drive failure, and needs a transplant. I really hoped it wouldn't have to come to this. I prayed this would be a simple outpatient procedure.

The Doc is in the process of attempting a file transfusion from the old hard drive to the new one, in hopes of saving precious files. (i.e. 24GB of un-backed up photos). The next step in recovery involves me rushing the temporary hard drive to Baltimore with me so Doc Joe can work his magic and preserve the files on DVDs.

...and the search for a hard drive donor is on. Thankfully, Doc Joe is an expert at locating vital PC organs on the cheap.

With luck, and a little cash pulled out of thin air, we'll be on the road to recovery in few weeks. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Today is officially day 2 of my computer being in intensive care. I came home from work yesterday to my beautiful electronic baby repeatedly trying to boot up, then starting over, trying to boot up, starting over.....and this time, even with Chase attempting to talk me through it over the phone, I couldn't resuscitate him. I'm supposed to get the diagnosis from the doc sometime tomorrow. I'm not sure what I'm going to do if there is no hope! I'm not exactly in a financial position to adopt a new baby right now....but I also can't live without one! For the moment, I'm borrowing a laptop so I don't feel so alone at home....but it's just not the same. I feel like I'm cheating on my PC. Hopefully he'll understand.

I feel almost sinful though...because I'm finding myself stealing glances at those cute Macbooks....My PC is still alive, and I'm already 'shopping'. Not sure how'd I'd be able to snag me one anyway...but I still feel sinful.

What I need to be doing right now is praying. Praying that he pulls through, and that his medical bills aren't astronomical. It's hard saying right's possible he may need a transplant of somesort. Depending on the specific ailment, that COULD get least for those like me that don't have insurance.

So, if you would, please keep my dear PC in your prayers tonight....pray for a quick and cheap recovery!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sleep deprivation is good for the soul....or..something like that.

Sleep deprivation: one of nature's many ways of keeping you humble.

How can you be cocky when you tell the bank teller you're tired because you were up til after '2:30 o'clock' last night, when she asks how you are?

How can you be arrogant when you answer the phone at work by saying, " mean...Davidson Home Improvement, how can I help you?"

Is it possible to remain cavalier after stumbling into the door frame because you haven't figured out the art of walking in a straight line?

And can you get fired from your job for acting drunk, if there isn't a trace of alcohol in your system?

Yeah, I'd say I'm a bit sleep deprived. Take a nap, you say? I can't. I have to finish out this work day.

I can sleep after I clock out, right? No. Sorry bub. Not happenin'. Gotta walk the dog. And clean the apartment. And go work out at the Y. And catch up on the last few weeks with a good friend.

Who needs sleep anyway?

The Barenaked Ladies know what I'm talkin' about....sorta....

Who Needs Sleep

Now I lay me down not to sleep
I just get tangled in the sheets
I swim in sweat three inches deep
I just lay back and claim defeat

Chapter read and lesson learned
I turned the lights off while she burned
So while shes three hundred degrees
I throw the sheets off and I freeze

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I wont sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
(well youre never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep?
(tell me whats that for)
Who needs sleep?
(be happy with what youre getting
Theres a guy whos been awake
Since the second world war)

My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing filled with lists
Of things to do and things Ive done
Another sleepless nights begun

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I wont sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
(well youre never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep?
(tell me whats that for)
Who needs sleep?
(be happy with what youre getting
Theres a guy whos been awake
Since the second world war)

Who needs sleep?
(well youre never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep?
(tell me whats that for)
Who needs sleep?
(be happy with what youre getting
Theres a guy whos been awake
Since the second world war)

Theres so much joy in life,
So many pleasures all around
But the pleasure of insomnia
Is one Ive never found
With all life has to offer,
Theres so much to be enjoyed
But the pleasures of insomnia
Are ones I cant avoid

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I wont sleep
I countdown, I look around

Hala hala hala...

Who needs sleep?
(well youre never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep?
(tell me whats that for)
Who needs sleep?
(be happy with what youre getting
Theres a guy whos been awake
Since the second world war)

And tomorrow, after I finally have had a chance to sleep, I'll come back and read this post, and wonder what the hell I was talking about.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New York City, March of 2007

I already posted my New York City travel log on The Photo Forum so I'm just going to copy and paste it into here....

Well, I'm home (and back at work :grumpy: ) from my first trip to NYC. From the beginning right to the very end it was a truly wonderful experience, despite getting into town several hours late, and not being able to find where we were going to park. (we left for NYC several hours late due to things beyond our control....and then Joe wrote down the address of where we were parking wrong. :P ) We were also accompanied by Joe's two roommates, Jon and Becca.

Our parking place was on the street of TPF's own very own Torus34, on Staten Island. Let me tell you, after 3 hours of driving, and at least a 1/2 hour of being lost, Jim was a welcome site. We were welcomed in by 3 generations of Jim's incredibly friendly and hospitable family. Before this trip, none of us really even knew anything about Jim himself, and instantly we each felt like one of the family.

And I want to take this time right now to say thank you again, to Jim, for going so far out of his way to make our journey a wonderful experience. He not only walked us to the train that took us to the Staten Island Ferry, but he also rode with us the whole 40 minutes there....AND the 25 minute ride across to Manhattan...and was fully prepared to make sure we made it all the way to our hotel, but since Sky was there to meet us on the other side of the Ferry, and he'd already been to our hotel, Jim parted ways with us for the first night then. So he basically went more than an hour out of his way, each way, just to make sure we made it ok. So, Jim...on behalf of all of us, I want to thank you for the generosity you showed us. Please know that it was not taken for granted by anyone.

The ferry ride was fun....Joe and I walked up and outside, and were both met with a sense of awe when we saw that gorgeous NYC skyline lighting up the horizon (it was 9ish by this time).

I've been to a lot of cities now....but nothing is like New York. The atmosphere is totally different, and it's a thick atmosphere...we could feel it change as we entered into it.

After parting ways with Jim, meeting up with Sky, and getting checked into our hotel, it was time to find somewhere to eat...we were famished. Our hotel was in Lower Manhattan, in the Financial District....not exactly anywhere to eat after 9pm in that we headed off, cameras in tow, to Times Square. Times Square....after 10 on a Friday So lively and exciting. We found a little Mexican Restaurant to have some dinner there...wasn't too bad, but not phenomenal....I don't think any of us cared though....I mean...we were in Times New York City! We finished eating around midnight or so, and decided it was time for night shooting! Not an easy thing to manage in Times Square! :lol: At this time Joe's roomies parted with us, as they aren't photographers and standing around looking through a viewfinder wasn't as appealing to them as it was to us. :P Somehow we managed to spend an hour and a half or so there (Sky already has some pictures up...they can be found [URL=""]HERE[/URL] ) We then headed back to our hotel (got there around 2 or so, I think) to go to sleep for the night. Oh wait...I meant goof around for another hour and a half watching You Tube videos. THEN it was bedtime.

....only to get up again around 8. :P

Saturday was the actual 'meetup' day. Joe's roommates were doing their own thing for most of the day while we did our thing. So Joe, Sky, and I grabbed a quick bagel at the place around the corner from our hotel and scarfed 'em down as we walked towards our meeting place near Ground Zero. There we met up with Jim again, along with Digital Flower and NYBrit. (Chris and Dave). I must say, we certainly did have a good little group....all of the above were great people, and I know that I enjoyed meeting them very much.

So, our starting point was the World Trade Center area...Ground Zero. From there we made our way to the South Seaport where we stalked seagulls for a while. Then we decided to make our way up to China Town, and passed through some of Tribeca on the way. It was my first time in any sort of Chinatown area, so I thought it was incredible. CROWDED...but incredible. At this point Jim had to leave us again....and let me tell you, it was incredibly difficult to find somewhere in Chinatown to take a group photo before he left! But...don't worry...we did it! :P I'll try to get it posted up tonight. :) So...after Jim made sure we knew where we were and how to get where we needed to be next, he left us.

Our group, minus Jim, decided it was time to head further North. We hopped on a Subway and went up near Central Park. We went into the park just a bit, but not much, as it's not really the time of year for good Central Park photos. And besides....we were starved. Our original plan was to find a Deli and eat there....I mean...after all...we were in New York City!!! You can't go to NYC and not eat at a Deli.

But somehow....we...couldn't...find one. :shock: So we ate at a nice Pizza place instead. Can't go to NYC without New York Pizza, either. :-P

After that it was off to Times Square again, to see it in the daylight. After a little time there, NYBrit/Dave said his goodbyes to us.

Dave, it was great meeting you! I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures! :D

And so we were down to four: Joe, Sky, Digital Flower/Chris, and me.

Digital Flower had to go soon, too, so we slowly meandered our way towards Grand Central Station. (for some reason I feel like I'm skipping something here, so meetup folks, let me know if I did). After taking some photos and resting a bit at Grand Central Station, Chris caught his train home, and we hopped on the subway to Calumet Photographic to return the lens Sky had rented.

And if you know us at know that the three of us can't go to a city and NOT search out a Gelato place. We'd done our research, too. Sky found what looked to be one of the best in the city. It's call the [URL=""]il laboratorio del gelato
[/URL] and it was AMAZING! It was certainly worth the walk to get there! I highly recommend it! But don't expect to sit down there and eat it, unless you're lucky enough that the bench against the window that seats three, is free. When we got there, the line was so long, it was out the door....which means there were about 6 people in front of us! :lol: It's very very small....but good things come in small packages, right? It's certainly true in this case!

By this time we needed to start heading back to our hotel to meet back up with Jon and Becca, and get ready to go to the Broadway Show we had tickets too. If you are ever in New York....and you aren't easily offended...and you have the time for it...DO NOT MISS 'AVENUE Q'!!!! I don't for one second question the 'Best Musical' Tony award that the show received a few years ago. I had to massage my cheeks afterwards, because they were so sore from laughing. That show is GENIUS!!!! :lol:

Once the show was over, we were pretty hungry, and it was starting to rain, so we ducked into a delicious Chinese place called Ollie's for some more Times Square nourishment. :-P

By this time, I had 3 blisters on one foot, and one on the other! :lol: Never have blisters been so worth it!

Back to the hotel on our second night...attempted to watch a movie but it didn't work out so well....1/4 of the way through it and all three of us were nodding off. Joe's roomies had the right idea by going to bed right away rather than trying to watch a movie. :lol:

Sunday we woke up to beautiful blue skies and fairly warm weather, but with a bit of a cold wind. Not that weather has ever stopped us before anyway (refer back to the original Big DC meetup).

Again, for a decent part of the day, we parted ways with Joe's roomies so we could be photo geeks. First stop: B&H Photo and Video!!!!! OH MY GAWD THAT PLACE IS AWESOME!!! I am totally in love. I'm still not sure how I got my fair share of oxygen, with it being so crowded in there, but I survived it. Joe bought a nice ball tripod head to attach to his new Gorillapod that he bought last week (works quite nicely, btw....we highly recommend the gorillapod/ball head combo). We walked around, played with cameras we can only dream of owning, and did our best not to empty our bank accounts right then and there.

By then it was time to meet back up with Joe's roomies again. We had planned to have a sushi lunch at [URL=""]Morimoto
[/URL]. Unfortunately, we were unaware that they only did lunch on weekdays, so when we got there they were closed.

However, not all was lost. We still had yet to eat at a deli. And what better NYC deli to fill our stomachs than the world famous Carnegie Deli!?

So, off we went in search of that. When we got there, and I ordered a turkey club sandwich that cost me $21....I was wondering what in the hell I'd gotten myself into. $21 for some meet and lettuce between some bread?

Then the sandwich came. If you can call that thing a sandwich. I'm pretty sure I could have fed a third world country for about a week with that thing. I couldn't even eat a FOURTH of it! It was cut in half and each half was around 6-7 inches tall. It was delicious, too! After eating all that, you'd think we'd never want to eat again, right? Wrong. We had to have dessert, of course! Joe and I both wanted to try a slice of New York Cheesecake....I was dumb enough to ask the waiter how big the slices were because I somehow wasn't sure weather or not it would be big enough that we should just split a piece. :er: Yes, I fully admit that I occasionally have periods of time in which my brain isn't exactly working correctly. The waiter said the slices are 'generous' in size. Hah! Generous! Generous is a size that makes you loosen your belt up slightly. Generous is just enough to make you feel like you got your money's worth. This was MASSIVE. If I'd have eaten that entire thing, even without eating the sandwich beforehand, I've have split open my stomach lining. Between the five of us, we ordered three things (all of equally ginormous size), and shared it between everyone. That cheesecake was phenomenal!!!! I will never EVER look at cheesecake the same way again, because nothing will ever measure up!!! And no, even with multiple people eating, we were not able to finish any of it. We may have missed out on Morimoto, but I don't think any of us were too upset after finding out what the Carnegie Deli had to offer.

Unfortunately, by this point, our time was getting short, and we didn't have much time left to do very much. Becca really wanted to go to the huge Toys 'R' Us in Times Square, so we headed back that way. It's not like any of us act our age anyway. :-P Oh, to be a kid again, and get the chance to wander around in a toy store like that! If I were about 12 years younger, I totally would have rode the ferris wheel they had. After a little while of walking around and admiring the giant Lego sculptures of the Statue of Liberty and the anatomically correct dog, it was unfortunately getting time for Sky to catch his train. Joe and I left his roomies at the store and headed back to the hotel with Sky to get his bags. We got there and Sky called Amtrak to buy a ticket, and hooray for us....his train didn't leave for a while, so we had a little over an hour more with him! :D We headed across the street over to the waterfront to get some pictures of the sun going down behind what I believe is Jersey City...took some pics of that, and I finagled my way into getting Sky to let me practice my portraiture on him a bit before he had to go.

By the time Sky needed to start heading to the Subway to get to Penn Station, Joe's roomies were back with us, and we started collecting our baggage to head home, as well. We all walked together until we got to Sky's subway stop, at which point we said goodbye....and I bawled for the approximately 8 blocks to our Subway stop...and for half of the subway ride. mean uh....I didn't cry. At all. I'm not an emotional girl, I swear!

( many of you buy that?)

So, Joe, Jon, Becca, and I started to make our way back to the Ferry, back to Staten Island, and back to Jim's house.

Jim had told us we could stop in if we wanted to on our way home....we were worried we'd be getting back to late, though, so he told us to knock so long as the porch light was on. It was around 10pm when we got off the train and walked up the street to Jim's house, and where our car was parked....boy were we glad to see that light still on! Jim and his lovely wife, yet again, welcomed us in to their home, offered us tea, coffee, and water, and some absolutely delicious cake. Jim made certain that we began our journey on a good foot, and that we ended it equally as good. I hope he enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed his.

....and so began our 3 hour drive home.

Yes, I know this was a long post, with a lot of reading....but 'New York was amazing' just doesn't cut it.

Picture can be found HERE!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Snow, snow, go away!

Ok, so as you can tell from my previous entries, I like to travel quite a bit. And it's pretty tough on the ol' bank account. So, I decided I was going to start looking for a 3rd (yes THIRD) job to get a few extra bucks each week that can be devoted entirely to my travel fund.

I've been worried, as it's not really a time of year that is good for finding a job. This has been proven by the fact that it'd been three weeks and not a single call from ANYONE. However, during the middle of last week I received a call to come in for an interview at Bath and Bodyworks!!!!

The interview was to be today at 3:30. Yesterday I started to get a little nervous, as we had a snowstorm coming in, and I was afraid the roads would be too dangerous to drive there. So at around 6:30 last night, I was delighted when they called me and told me there was a scheduling conflict, and they wanted to move it to Tuesday at 4:00. By then, I'd hope, the roads would be clear and safe to drive on.

....nope. I checked the weather again when I first woke up this morning....the snow has been pushed back a bit...starting to night at around 6, with a winter storm warning affective until Wednesday morning. We are expecting 6-8 inches with high winds on Tuesday.

I am PRAYING that if things are going to be as bad as they are supposed to be, that my interviewer calls and reschedules. I do NOT want to tell them I can't make the interview due to the weather. That won't exactly look good when it comes to HIRING ME. And I NEED this job!!!!

So, wish me luck on this...cuz I need it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Garth, I think you're on to something.

Unanswered Prayers, by Garth Brooks

Just the other night a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldnt help but think of the way things used to be.

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again.

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of gods greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the lord knows what hes doin' after all.

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good lord
For the gifts in my life.

Some of gods greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of gods greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

That song just came on my radio here in the office at work. It made me think of all the times I'd wish and pray for Erik to tell me he loves me....for him to tell me that I'm the only one he wants for the rest of his life....

...and you know what? I think Garth knows what he's talking about.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I am blessed.

'What goes around comes around.'

'You reap what you sow.'

For the most part I've always believed these things. If you are a good person, and do good things, good things will happen to you. If you lie and cheat and steal, it'll catch up to you and knock you to the ground.

There are times when I get dragged down by things going on in life, and it's not so easy to believe. I start thinking that it doesn't matter how hard I try, good things will never happen to me.

This is not one of those moments. Nope...Karma has totally outdone herself. In fact, I think I owe her now, cuz what goes around came around threefold.

This year has been immensely difficult for me to get through. But the bumpy road was smoothed over quite a lot by the extraordinary friends that I have been blessed with. They are the reason I say Karma has totally outdone herself. Most people have one or two close friends....I have several.

I do NOT want to think about where my life would be without them. They are the reason I get up each day. They are the reason I strive to better myself. They are the reason I have love and joy in my heart.

It's been nearly five years since I met Natalie....we met though work. At the time I worked at Walgreens, which was still located in the mall. Natalie was the manager of Claire's. Our mall doesn't have much in the way of food, so most people would come to Walgreens for their lunch or break-time snacks. That's how we started talking. It was no time at all before I started referring to her as my best friend. In the time we've known each other, we've gone through a lot....I've gone through two boyfriends, and lots of heartbreak....she's gotten married, bought a house...changed jobs a time or two.... Strangely enough, we're not at all alike in a LOT of ways....but somehow it's a nice mix.....our friendship just works, and it works well.

She was asking me this weekend if I could pick one word to describe her, what would that word be. I've thought about that question for two days now....and one word just isn't enough. There is no one word in the English language that sums it up. In fact, I can't even think of the right words to properly conclude this I'll just move on! :P

So, a little over three years ago, I met Erik and we started dating. Yeah, I may have a lot of resentment towards him, and he may have not been very nice to me, especially in the last year....but you know what he did do for me that changed my life forever? When I was getting more and more interested in becoming better at photography, he's the one that told me I should find a forum to join. So, one day, I typed in 'photo forum' in Google, clicked on one of the first search results, and joined up. If you'd have asked me then what that forum would mean to me in three years, I'd have never been able to guess what it's become to me now.

Chase started The Photo Forum a little under a year before I joined up. He's also the first friend I made online. And it's funny, because before that, I would have told you that I didn't think it'd be possible for me to make a true friend online, without ever meeting them. It's been three years, and boy has that notion been blown out of the water. :P Chase has been one of the people I have turned to time and time again when things just seem to be piling so high on top of me that I feel like I'm going to drown. He always has an encouraging word to help me feel better about whatever is weighing me down. And even when I am coming to him with the same problem over and over again that I can't seem to get past, he'll be there to listen each and every time, and to remind me that I have people that care about me.

I have an older brother, and we don't have a bad relationship...but it's never been as close as what I'd really like. I think Chase has taken that spot. He's very much like a big brother, and I pray that nothing ever happens to change that.

Along those same lines....I now feel like I have a big sister, too. I've known Alison for a few years, too, but only recently did we start to talk more and become closer. She's someone I can talk to about some of the things that others wouldn't understand. She understands, and she always makes me feel like I'm not as abnormal as I previously thought. She helps me to realize that it's ok to feel the way I'm feeling sometimes...and that I'm not alone.

And she's also one of the most amazing mothers I've ever met. Watching her interact with her children, and to listen to her talk about them puts me in awe. The love she has in her heart for those kids is one of the most pure and beautiful things I have ever seen. I hope when I'm a mother someday, I can be even half as good at it as she is. She, like Chase, has become not only a highly valued friend, but someone I look up to as well.

Oh, and did I thank Chase for installing chat on the forum yet? Yeah, I have a hell of lot to thank him for in that respect. If he hadn't done that, I'd have never gotten as close to Joe, Sky, and Stu as I have. to describe Stu....he's definitely a unique one. :P He started popping up in chat over the summer. He kept us endlessly entertained with his over the top and off the wall type of humor. (That's humor, without a 'u'). After a time or two of talking one on one in MSN, we quickly discovered how alike we are in a lot of ways. We've both gone through similar things, and the way we feel afterwards and how we deal with those things is eerily similar as well. Because of that, we seem to be able to understand each other better and can sympathize with one another at a higher level than I can with most others. And if no one else can make me laugh when I'm feeling down...he always can. We have not met in real life yet, but I look forward to that day more and more as time goes on.

Did I mention Sky yet? No? Well he definitely can't be left out here.

Sky came aboard in my life as part of the original chat crew. At 19, he's the youngest one here in my list of people that I have been blessed with....but that's something that's easily forgotten about. I've always thought he was a bit 'beyond his years'. He's also someone that I admire for a lot of things. I admire him for the photographic talent that he possesses....and for the fact that he's smarter than I probably will ever be....and I admire that he's already experienced so much of the world. He'll have life by the horns by the time he graduates college, of that I have no doubt.

I've considered him a friend since we started talking a year ago, but here in the last few months it's solidified into a friendship that won't easily dissolve. He's another friend that's hard to find words to describe. But I can tell you for sure he has a permanent spot etched in my heart, and I hope we never lose touch.

I guess that' about it.....

....isn't it?

You didn't actually think I was going to leave out Joe, did you? BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's a good one.

If it wasn't for Joe, I wouldn't have had the courage to end a relationship that was very bad for me. If it wasn't for Joe, I'd have never gotten on a plane for the first time, sparking my love for travel. If it wasn't for Joe, I wouldn't have been brave enough to venture into the Windy City alone, exploring not only the beautiful metropolis of Chicago, but also un-chartered territory in my own soul. I feel I've grown more as a person in the past year than I ever have in any other given year of my life, and I feel that a large part of that was nurtured by Joe.

Because of him I am learning to not be afraid....of taking risks.....of doing things for not be afraid of life in general.

He's taught me that not all friends run away from you when you are a complete mess and falling apart. Some will stay, steadfastly...never wavering...and help put you back you mend the cracks and make them stronger than they were before by putting little bits of themselves into every weak spot.

Because of this I have been better able to recognize and appreciate these qualities in my other friends, as well. I have the confidence now to see that I really am a good enough person that people would do these things for me, and be there for me....and I no longer think in my head 'they are only doing that because they feel sorry for me'...or some other line to make myself think I'm not good enough to actually deserve it.

I have the confidence now to let myself be proud of my accomplishments.

None of this would have happened without Joe as my friend. I would not have been able to end my bad relationship if I didn't have faith that he would be there, every night for at least a week, on the other end of that phone to be there for me...even when there'd be minutes at a time of silence because I was trying not to cry.

And I'm learning to stop apologizing for being me. I don't have to do that...did you know that? I didn't...but I do now. I still have to be reminded at times, but I'm getting there.

I'm not even going to TRY and think of where I'd be without him. Part of me already knows, and it wouldn't be a very happy place.

After going over everything I just can I not be blessed? Maybe my family life wasn't the greatest growing up...maybe I didn't have very many opportunities in life....but none of that matters now. That was then and this is now, and right now, I'm just about the richest person alive.