September 21, 2010
September 11, 2010
Nine years ago I was inundated with so much overwhelming sadness and dark sky all at once that I couldn't transform it. I couldn’t mix it into something positive, or beautiful or radiant because there was too much sorrow coming across the wires. My entire body went limp and I felt spent every minute of every day, until the first plane made its way back into the sky again and a small glimmering of hope returned to a few.
The feeling left me very hollow and empty for weeks and I struggled greatly with how to cope with the losses of the world on that day.
I remember what I was wearing (a sleeveless black and white zebra print top in a light weight polyester and black Capri pants with a strappy open toe kitten heel sandal, because it was unseasonably warm, and I had bright red lipstick on, because I was trying to make a statement), who I was with (a co-worker that I shared an office with), who told me (another co-worker who casually sauntered down the hall and said ‘hey did you hear the World Trade Center exploded?’), how fast we discovered that it wasn’t the building in Boston but in NYC and just what it meant.
Boston.com was our first stop and there on the front page was a picture of one of the twin towers in Manhattan with a ring of fire surrounding it and dark black smoke rising out of the blue glass. The reflection of it made it seem that much worse and it honestly took me a full minute to process what I was even viewing.
I’m not a New Yorker. The image of those towers was not something I witnessed on a daily basis and frankly I don’t think I had seen them in front of me, standing tall, with my own eyes ever in my life. But as soon as I figured out what was on my screen my co-worker and I went tearing out of our office to start looking for answers.
Our tiny little space was located in a back corner of the second floor, far removed from most of the people in the know (read: everyone else in our company). The reason we fought to get the space was that we could control the heat. And we both liked to sweat instead of shiver so it was a perfect arrangement.
But on that morning the temperature was the last thing on our mind.
We made it downstairs only to discover another friend was sitting with a female co-worker who was frantically dialing her office phone and getting nothing but a busy signal. Both of her grown kids worked in the towers.
She thought maybe she would have better luck at home (3 blocks away) so the four of us piled into her car and sped over there. This entire scene probably took as long to unveil as it just took you to read so we immediately turned on the television once we arrived only to discover another plane had hit the second tower.
Our friend was dialing in her kitchen while the three of us sat in the living room watching the news. And then in a flash, life as we knew it in this country came to a screeching halt. A train wreck of epic proportions that even Peter Jackson couldn’t have scripted.
We watched the first tower fall.
We hugged each other. We cried.
And then, silent, save for our gasping sobs, we watched the second tower fall.
We sat, statue still, with slack jaws and frozen limbs draped over each other’s shoulders.
We found out our friend’s kids were fine.
I immediately thought of my cousins who lived in New York. Then I thought of Matt. He grew up there and had to be freaking out.
As someone who spent little time in that city I had no clue where anyone lived or worked. All I knew was I had to find out.
We raced back to the office where all anyone could really do was watch the television someone had rolled into the first floor conference room. By this time they had discovered that the planes originated from Boston and our city was on high alert.
Back in my office I began the frantic dialing spree, running into mostly busy signals but I finally managed to get through to Matt. Nothing to this day will ever be as comforting to me as the sound of his voice on the other end of the line at that moment. I knew he was in Boston, I knew we had plans that night after I got out of my part time job, I knew he was fine but all rationality dropped by the wayside on that morning.
He tried to contact the people he knew in or around the City and I managed to get my aunt on the line. My cousins were fine. Everyone we knew was fine.
I exhaled for the first time in an hour.
My co-worker and I went out front to have a cigarette and couldn’t even look at each other. All we could do was stare at the top of the John Hancock Tower, perfectly framed by the street our building was on, and pray it would still be standing at the end of the day.
So proximate to Boston, we tended to be in the flight path and traffic patterns of the bustling city. It was eerily quiet outside. Most cars were stopped and with no planes overhead it was like living on a rural farm somewhere, not a major metropolitan area.
Matt and I talked again and I told him there was no way I was going to my part time job that night (I quit very soon after this as I quickly reprioritized my life and what was really important). He said he would pick up some stuff at his sister’s place (where he was still living after moving back from Ohio) and would stay at my place that night. I told him I was going to demand it if he didn’t suggest it first.
As days went on most news channels featured not much else while new revelations about who the hijackers were, their links to terrorist organizations and how they got into our country in the first place began to materialize.
It was all too much for me. My soul was beginning to ache and I felt I may just lose it forever if I kept watching the coverage. So I stopped. Right then and there. In the midst of a tragedy I turned off my television, radio and boston.com subscription and tried to release it.
But it wouldn’t go. Not until a few days later when Matt and I had tickets to go see one of my all time favorite bands, Godsmack, in concert in Manchester, New Hampshire.
I was driving a beat up, falling apart (read: LOVE) Mercury Tracer in those days and she was on one of her last legs. But we made it up to NH with no problems and we were ready to display our hand made patriotism at the show as we made our own flags on our plain white Hanes T-shirts.
We parked in a random lot behind some apartment building and headed for the arena. But it turns out the show was outdoors. There must have been 5,000 people on that field and every single one of them was talking to, hugging or shaking the hand of a stranger.
About five minutes into the set 5,000 people collectively held their breath for about ten seconds as the first plane we had seen in days flew directly over where we were standing. No one was watching the stage, I don’t even remember if the band was playing at the time.
All I remember is the exhale.
Five thousand people had their heads tilted up toward the night sky and erupted into the loudest cheer I have ever been present to witness. We shared that moment together. One people with one common purpose -- to stand strong in our humanity and American spirit. And it was beautiful.
August 15, 2010
1. I’m a 37 year old Cancerian with one sister and two parents, plus a bunch of other awesome family members and friends, and one smashing husband.
2. The band I have seen live the most times is Godsmack, next would be Melissa Ferrick. I think. In fact I’m not at all sure they haven’t flip-flopped at this point. Both are local to Boston and used to play here a lot. Well Ferrick still does, Godsmack is pretty big now.
3. The beach at the ocean is my comfort spot.
4. Finally, I decided on what my first 2 tattoos will be. Yes two. One for each of the grandparents I had a special bond with. Now I just need to find the right person to do it. Took suggestions from friends & waiting to hear back from a few places. Also saving money first because tats are freaking expensive.
5. The smells of skunk, dog poo, wet cat and vomit are among the most vile on the planet.
6. One of my favorite feelings in the world is napping in something cozy after a shower after a day at the beach.
7. My birthday is my favorite holiday. For mass appeal holidays though it would probably be a tie between New Year’s and Halloween.
8. I hate walking over those metal grates on the street, it nerves me that I can see (and sometimes can’t see) what’s down below. When I can’t see, I just hope I didn’t wear a skirt that day.
9. My first novel is complete. I want it to be published and seeking representation now.
10. I love food. Just about any kind of food, from fast food to shooshy and everything in between.
11. Is my favorite number. It has been since I was about 7 or 8 years old. When digital clocks came out & there was all this talk about 11:11 having some kind of meaning I was like, ‘well duh!?!’ but that’s only because it always had meaning to me. I look at a clock at exactly 11:11 about 6 times a week.
12. I also seem to look at the VCR clock at 9:11 just about every night that I’m home.
13. Yes I still have a VCR & video tapes.
14. I really don’t like exercising at all but like having a somewhat slim frame. My job is a beautiful way to get fit without realizing it is even happening.
15. I miss my sister every day & wish we lived closer to each other.
16. I’ve been writing for about 22 years in some form or another. Mostly it’s been drivel that fills my brain spewing into a journal, which I only write in pen.
17. It shocks me that Matt has put up with my freak show as long as he has and I couldn’t appreciate him more for it.
18. I love to clean my house. When it is sparkling and shiny I feel accomplished and calm. I almost never clean my car though (the outside anyway, the inside is generally spotless all the time). This is why I prefer silver cars.
19. I make a killer banana bread.
20. Yes, I am still (rather, again) smoking. Oh well. That’s just me right now so if you can’t deal then I guess we don’t need to be.
21. I’ve got a soft spot for mint chocolate anything.
22. I’ve been working on this list for about 2 hours already. I’m jumping around and filling in random numbers which I think I mention in another fact somewhere. I have no idea how many are left to fill in. This is what a lazy Sunday is all about though.
23. Since I was about 14 or 15 I’ve saved every stub from the movies, concerts, shows, museums and sporting events I’ve been to. A lot of them are scrapbooked already but this is a project I want to keep up with as the years go on. It is fun to look back and say ‘oh yeah I forgot about that show!’
24. I use the word ‘wicked’ to add punctuation to adjectives because I’m from Boston and it’s ingrained at birth.
25. I used to be quite the trendy dresser, a fashionista in my own way. Now just about everything I own is made from cotton and has paint on it. All but 4 pairs of high heels were retired.
26. Rock Band 3 is coming out later this year and I can’t wait, there is an optional keyboard so you know what that means. The Doors. Oh yeah!
27. As a teenager I used to use nothing but blue, PaperMate, ball point pens. Now I can’t stand blue ink. When I look back through old journals all the ink has bled outward & the pages yellow that much faster. Only black ink for me now!
28. I just joined a bunch of friends in an online book club. Our first book for August is “Eat Pray Love” and I can’t wait to read it then chat about it with such a smart group of gals. Want to join us? C’mon over!
29. Sean Astin is still my favorite male actor of all time. But Edward Norton…oh Edward Norton…
30. I participated in the sport of gymnastics from age 7 to 18. When I watch it now I have no concept of how the new scoring system works.
31. If there is trash (especially plastic) on the beach or the street in front of my house I will pick it up and recycle it at home.
32. I really, really, REALLY can’t stand: U2, REM, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and most rap music made after 1994. But there is at least one song from each of the aforementioned bands that I can tolerate: “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”, “It’s the End of the World…”, “Wild Horses” and “In My Life”.
33. I typed out all the numbers 1-100 for this before writing anything. Except this particular one. I didn’t stop at 33 for any real reason, it just seemed like a good time to take a break from counting.
34. The most important elements of a really quality movie to me, in order, are: script, editing, cast, everything else.
35. White noise drives me batty after a while. Sometimes I like to turn off the fan and just sit in the silence that exists afterwards.
36. My favorite animal as a kid was a pig. I guess if I had to pick one now I’d probably go with a bear.
37. Top five Christmas related movies of all time (in no particular order): The Ref, Love Actually, A Christmas Story, Just Friends and The Family Stone
38. I’m one of those annoyingly peppy and optimistic people most of the time but when I get moody I go very dark. I try to channel it into my writing most of the time.
39. I should be painting right now but this seemed like more fun.
40. Bugs and I are not friends. Except lady bugs and dragonflies, they’re relatively harmless and cool.
41. I spent a good year of my early twenties in clubs every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night. On special weeks we went on Sundays too. This is because I love to dance. And I prefer to dance sober. This never went over well with guys who wanted to get me drunk; when they asked what they could get me I told them a bottle of water. Probably why I never went home with club guys.
42. Some random survey generator thingie once told me that my life’s theme song is “Bittersweet Symphony” which, if true, could explain my jaded and cynical side. Of course another one of those things once told me I’d be married and have 2 kids by age 24 so who can believe survey generator thingies anyway.
43. I usually don’t share my drama. Like if Matt & I are fighting only Matt & I will usually know about it. People have enough of their own shit to deal with, I don’t feel right about burdening them with mine.
44. I’ve always wanted to drive a race car.
45. The internet, as a part of my life, is both a blessing and a curse at times.
46. Coffee is like a life-blood for me, but while I used to drink it non-stop now I only have my one cup in the morning. It started to make my stomach ache so I figured it was for the best to cut back.
47. The only genre of movie I really can’t sit through is horror/thriller with gore, with special effects being so realistic I have nightmares for weeks.
48. I left the house for a while and came back so now The Breakfast Club is on. Definitely one of those movies of my youth, know it by heart and still feel 14 every time I watch it.
49. I drink about 60 ounces of water a day.
50. My favorite sport to watch is football and it, along with hot chocolate and baked goods of course, is the only redeeming quality of winter in New England.
51. When drinking alcohol I prefer a Porter (for beer), Pino Noir or Cape Codders.
52. When I was about 16 I used to write letters (yes with a pen & paper) and made a few pen pals. I still keep in touch with one of the first pen pals I ever made. He’s a great guy, married with a child & lives in the Midwest. Matt & I even went to their wedding.
53. Bloggy friends remind me that its possible to get to know someone strictly through their writing and I have got to be honest, the blog friends I’ve made are the best on the planet! Not that I’m biased or anything.
54. Many of my blog friends I met through a Jason Mraz’s blog. I started reading the comments & people who really seemed to read then comment on his posts (they wrote a little more than the standard ‘OMG I love you!!!!!’ type stuff), I started reading too. It is a dream of mine that someday in some secret Pentavirate, at The Meadows, we will all meet so we can finally take over the world. Mwah-hahahahaha!!!
55. I’ve been to Walt Disney World four times but only once as a kid.
56. I love pedicures but only if I do it. Some stranger touching my feet wigs me out.
57. Green is a description I would use to describe myself but a green thumb, not so much.
58. I’ve moved just about once a year since I was 19. That’s about 18 different apartments. Wow, that’s a gypsy soul if there ever was one.
59. I am a visual thinker. For example, if someone tells a story about being T-boned in a car I can actually see the scene playing out inside my head as if I’m watching a movie. This can be good and bad. Good because I think it makes me a better writer, bad because while my mind is progressing with the scene I tend to miss a lot of what the person talking is saying.
60. I start every morning with a cup of coffee, cup of yogurt & cup of blended fruit juice.
61. I filled in the 100 things in completely random order so who knows where certain things will fall. I didn’t want anyone to think that I prioritize number 14 over number 87. Though I might, I don’t know what 87 is yet. OK there are a few in a row that are stream of consciousness, true. But mostly it’s typical of this blog -- random lunacy!
62. I used to be very lazy and a professional procrastinator. Anyone who has met me in the last ten years will not believe this statement but it is indeed fact.
63. Travel is one of my favorite activities. I’ve been to seven countries so far - US, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Bahamas, Netherlands & Belgium - and I hope to add more some day. Soon.
64. Last year Matt and I filed for bankruptcy. In fact, we’re coming up on our 1 year Broke-No-More-A-Versary! No I am not ashamed or too proud to share this with the world. In fact I want as many people to know as possible so they don’t make similar mistakes in their own lives. To see how it all went terribly wrong, refer to my series Labor of Love.
65. Despite what I share here or other places I’m actually a fairly private person.
66. I used to carry a pair of tweezers around with me everywhere.
67. When I was a kid I dreamed about being discovered by some random Hollywood big shot as we passed on the street.
68. Sometimes when I notice my OCD is getting out of control I force myself to do something different. A good example is inside my kitchen cabinets. Most of the time they look like the husband wanted them to be in that movie Sleeping With the Enemy so when it annoys me that I’ve got everything lined up just so, I’ll shove a few of them to be less particular.
69. Daffodils are my favorite flower.
70. I want to learn how to sew clothes so I can always make my own and never have to worry about that whole being short with a booty thing.
71. I learned to swim about the same time I learned to walk. My Grampa taught me and it was in the ocean.
72. Scrabble is my favorite board game.
73. My favorite movie of all time is The Goonies. You have no idea how badly I wanted to find a buried treasure when I was a kid.
74. So far all the graphics for my company branding have been constructed by my mom and I designed my own logo for Chucka Stone Designs.
75. Next year Matt and I are planning to move to Cape Cod. I can not wait to live at the beach again!
76. This is a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be at first. Which is really weird because 100 things shouldn’t be that much to come up with, but maybe it’s because I’m trying not to tell the same stories I already told before.
77. I have no credit cards and will keep it that way.
78. Typing is fine to get thoughts out quickly but when I edit I prefer to do it by hand. Reading my edits might make a person’s head spin because I use circled paragraphs & long sinewy arrows to point to the place they are supposed to be inserted, or a circled letter next to a particularly long entry and the corresponding circled letter in the spot where it’s supposed to go. Sometimes it makes my head spin trying to sort it out.
79. If you’re actually still reading this list I love you even more!
80. I think the real reason why I haven’t moved to southern California yet is because I will miss Bianchi’s pizza too much.
81. There are days when I feel like a fish out of water, even doing things I know by heart. I guess that’s how life works sometimes though.
82. I miss blogging regularly, this is kind of cool and might even produce a few gems that I could expand on later. Like that, thanks Jim!
83. I am too afraid of sharks to swim in the ocean now. I won’t start doing it again until I completely stop eating ocean fish. I figure if I don’t eat their food supply then they don’t have to eat me.
84. Originally Matt and I wanted to fly off to Vegas and get married in a pink Cadillac by some Elvis impersonator but we opted to do it at the American Legion where my Gramp had been a member forever instead. It was a blast, probably in the top three days of my life. The eight years since ain’t been too shabby neither.
85. Bad faux makes me cringe. Physically.
86. Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
87. The fact that Katy Perry is now famous solely because she is a sort of attractive girl who sang a song about kissing another girl, makes me sad for the race of humanity. And it made me want to use something other than cherry flavored Chapstick for a while. But I decided screw that, I was using that flavor for decades before her silly song came out so why should I change when she’s the one who sucks?
88. Anyone who loves ‘Michael…Bolton?’ will immediately understand the reference in #87. One of my favorite movies of all time.
89. I am a movie & music quoter. I’m comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life.
90. My mom once told me that I should write a movie script using nothing but quotes from other movies. I think she’s onto something there.
91. I’m thinking about looking for a writer’s group around here somewhere. Maybe something small where we could just write and chat and get inspired by each other.
92. Its kind of freaking me out to think that NaNoWriMo is only 77 days away but I can’t wait to get started on the next one.
93. My favorite color is purple.
94. Yes, I inhaled. No, I’ve never done anything else.
95. I want to start exploring a lot of classic movies and Netflix has so many good ones but now I’m in this major reading phase so this will probably be a good ‘stay inside with hot chocolate this winter’ kind of activity.
96. This number left blank on purpose.
97. I didn’t have any sugar until I was about 2 years old.
98. I love being an Auntie but don’t see my nephews nearly as often as I should.
99. Channels and nothing’s on.
100. Watching (and subsequently picking on) infomercials is one of my all time favorite Sunday morning activities. (Except in the fall/winter, then it’s watching SportsCenter).
July 27, 2010
Race into the Nothingness!
With walls and trim up in the bedroom, it was safe to move the cat in, and safe enough for us, so we packed up the Motel 6 and headed for the house that would become a home of sorts for the next five years.
Once there, the bathroom was more than a necessity because running to Wendy’s every time we had to pee became a liability in fatty food after a while. We got some sheets of mock-tile wall board up over the studs, caulked around the tub, installed the fixtures, laid the cheapest vinyl squares we could find and called it a day.
With our Master Plumber, Matt, hard at work we finally were able to shower on day three in the house. And nothing, before or since, had ever felt so good.
While stripping plaster downstairs we happened upon a covered up doorway which led from the kitchen to the small room that we intended to designate as the dining room. Matt had opened the doorway even wider into a pass through and framed it out to match the opening on the other side, which led to what we intended to make the living room. Jerry installed our working outlet on the front wall of the house in the living room.
Since the dining room was the smallest space with the least number of surfaces to cover and would also be the least utilized, it could be finished last. So we turned it into a makeshift pantry and by running an extension cord from the living room outlet, the dining room suddenly turned into our kitchenette.
We took a piece of unfinished plywood and placed it flat across two saw horses then we loaded it up with everything we could cook without a stove and store that did not require refrigeration.
It occurred to me that perhaps the original owners were onto something with their six thousand outlets per room, they were certainly never going to run out of places to plug in the many devices required to live in the modern day. We needed a coffee maker, refrigerator, toaster and microwave just to get by. And that was only downstairs.
At one point in our early days I remarked that perhaps I should write “The Least Expensive, Quickest, but Highest Sodium Known to Man, Microwave Cookbook”. Matt said it would never sell but I knew there must be other people out there doing kitchen renovations who would drool for Matt’s Ghetto Mac, made from a box of shells and cheese and a can of chili. We drained pasta and washed our plastic plates and cutlery in the bathroom sink.
Tuna melts were a staple of our diet because the ingredients were cheap, and as long as we unplugged the coffee maker we could make them in the toaster. We ate a whole lot of Wendy’s and McDonalds salads and dollar menu items, and we became frequent shoppers at the Big Y grocery store chain.
Things were moving slow but at least they were moving.
About this time we had all but run out of money and we both decided it would be Matt who should go back to a day job as I could continue plastering, sanding and painting out the house before we listed it, sold it and made our capital to go and do it again.
For a while he worked with my dad, doing similar work on an income property he and my step mother had purchased in Fitchburg, but when that project came to a close Matt knew it was time to settle back into a desk job. He set out to find one in the mortgage business and came to land at a company where the rigid structure of the workday was so bad the employees had to ask to go to the bathroom. Seriously.
Matt was in the Processing department and every area of the building had a camera pointed at the cubicles so employees performance could be continuously monitored. You know, like a sweatshop in some foreign land. Guess I never realized before but apparently Connecticut was a third world country at the time.
He was only allowed a half hour lunch and two, fifteen minute breaks everyday. And they were scheduled. If he had to use the bathroom at any other time he actually had to ask a supervisor if it was alright to leave his desk.
That job lasted until he came back a literal 2 minutes late from lunch and was written up. At the time I was about halfway done with mudding and sanding the drywall so I told him to just get out.
So he did. In grand fashion. One day after requesting a bathroom break of the Warden, er, his boss, and denied, Matt went back to his desk, packed up the couple things on it that were his and wrote ‘I Quit’ on a post it note which he proudly displayed in the center of his monitor as he walked out the door with a smile.
Two days later when the Human Resources Manager called him I heard him say something to the effect of ‘What do you mean where am I? Didn’t my note get the point across?’
We were back to no income but with two of us to mud and sand, the pace of construction picked up some. He knew he had to find something though and landed at a Broker in CT doing Processing work.
We had decided that the ceilings should be popcorn texture as it would hide a multitude of sins but after spraying out the living and dining rooms and seeing not only how much of a mess it created but how much product it took to create, we decided to throw caution to the wind and install all manner of different treatments.
Hey, why not right? It wasn’t like we wanted to ever sell the house or anything so why not toss on a little extra work for ourselves!
The first floor bathroom and second bedroom were going to be flat, kitchen would get staple tiles, second floor bath would be a rolled sand texture, our bedroom would be a swirl treatment that Matt picked up while working with my dad, and the third bedroom was going to be pine wainscoting.
We got down to installation just as Matt’s boss was starting to show his true colors. Those being his violent streak. In the space of two days he punched a hole in one of the hallway walls and threw a file right at Matt’s head. We chalked it up to another W2 for our Accountant and he got out of there, quick.
Matt was looking for another job and had his resume out to a number of mortgage companies and head hunters so I knew it was time to find something of my own. I landed a Receptionist position through a temp agency. The job would be answering phones and greeting clients for the premiere construction company in western Massachusetts, Kent Pecoy.
It wasn’t much but the commute was only about fifteen minutes and they let me start out part time which allowed me the flexibility to continue with the house. On top of that I was studying with a correspondence school for a certificate in Interior Decorating as the entire décor side of home construction truly fascinated me.
It was then that Matt finally landed a job. It wasn’t in mortgages. But we really didn’t have a choice as our bills were not getting any smaller. He started working the night shift at Roncari, a Valet parking service located at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. Those were some of the longest nights of my life as I knew we lived in one of the sketchiest areas of the state. And we didn’t own a firearm.
Each night I would lock the front door, lock our bedroom door and push my bureau across it just so I would feel safe enough to sleep alone. More than twice we had seen the scooter store across the parking lot from us, robbed in the middle of the night.
I sprinkled some lavender in a ring around my home and Matt went off to work. He would come home at about seven o’clock in the morning, just as I was getting up for work. With our financial position precarious at best, we shared a car so Matt would drop me off and then go home to sleep. He would pick me up, we'd have dinner together, and then he was off to work again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The two of us were running on almost nothing, both financially and physically, and every free minute of our time was spent dong work around the house. But as with the bad comes the good and so when Matt landed a well paying, excellent titled position with GMAC Mortgage, and I was hired on full time at KPC, our financial concerns were finally put to rest. At least for a while.
With most of the walls and ceilings done, and our necessary shift in priorities, the work on the house didn’t just slow down, it stopped. Completely.
March 8, 2010
One might think this has prompted me to be armed and ready to get out there and tackle the world. My business cards are printed, company bio sheets are ready and in full color, the website and Facebook image galleries are updated and I even have some fantastic ideas of who to hit up for business so, truthfully, I should feel empowered.
But I don’t. All I seem to let myself feel lately is that someone knows I’m not as good as the other finishers and that they will quickly discover I am a fraud.
Yes I am fully aware that this fear is partially irrational but bear with me.
For a long time, longer than I can even pinpoint, I’ve been running around saying I want to be a writer. I want to write books. I want to write for a living. That is great because last November I took advantage of the downtime in the painting industry to do just that for the very first time. And it came out awesome. I mean awesome for a rough first draft. Put it this way, I love my characters to death. (And I'm not sure at this moment if that is pun intended or not.)
Now that I have actually written my first book, however, all I have managed to do with it is a first round of edits (on no more than the first half) and then shoved it into a corner somewhere to collect dust while I go and paint for a living.
You get that? Paint for a living, not write.
If it ever gets finished I know this book will be published, I know it will be purchased because I truly believe that the world I have created and the people who live inside it are just real enough to be relatable but just fantastical enough that real people will want to escape their daily life to visit their alternate realm.
But their world is barely constructed and I’m already trying to paint it.
Inside my head my characters are wandering around trapped inside this box and they keep looking for the door but I have gone and applied a faux finish to every corner of it, so it seems they will never find their way to escape. While I went off and made a paycheck, I boxed them inside the inescapable world and now even I can’t seem to find the door back in.
Is this what (hooker/waitress/) actors feel like? They want to act so badly that they promptly push away the grand opportunity that comes their way in order to go and get paid to set plates down in front of hungry directors so they don’t get thrown out of their apartment?
So now I have this fierce battle raging inside me because I know that all my irrational fears that I’m not a good finisher are total and complete crap. I know I am creative and have come up with a whole slew of interesting and funky treatments over the past few weeks that will be a no brainer to install not to mention fun. So here is the real thing I’m afraid of.
If I pursue a career as a decorative artist, strive to make Chucka Stone Designs all that it can be and start taking on clients all over greater Boston, I am afraid that I will somehow sabotage my own success by claiming it “isn’t what I really want to do” and promptly start whining that I really just want to be a writer again. That’s usually when I crawl back inside my own shell and have a pity party for myself that I never let anyone else become privy to. Instead I talk about how I’m ‘getting stuff together” and how I’m “almost ready” to get out there and work it. I lie to the world knowingly but I’m no longer convincing myself that it’s the truth.
So herein lies the real toughie for me. Why can’t I simply do both -- write and faux?
Easier to ask that question than answer it. Well for me at least. The logical answer is that there is no reason not to. Faux all day, come home at night and edit slowly but surely; maybe even work on the book on the weekends. It isn’t like I have a publishing house banging down my door for this manuscript (yet), screaming that they gave me this advance and now I’m over deadline or something. Nope, it’s just me and my red pen, so timing really isn’t at all of the essence.
So what the fuck is my problem?
The short answer? Me. I am my problem; my own worst enemy most of the time.
I’ll sit here taking days to craft this blog post perfectly, and I do love blogging don’t get me wrong but as soon as it is posted the normal person would grab the 190 pieces of white paper, a red pen and their imagination and go edit for the entire day. Not me though, I am bound to notice one tiny little thing that needs to be fixed on my website to make it perfect, the fact that I never added that other picture to some specific photo album, that I only have 20 business cards in my wallet so those should get printed, that I should really practice drums, that I never did update the proposal form, that I’m running low on something, that I really should write 3-4 GLR posts to front load the week, that I’m hungry, or a multitude of other distractions which will ensure I look at the clock at 3:00 and utter the words ‘wow, can’t believe the day is almost over and I’ve done nothing’.
As is plain to see, I also never got out to visit any Interior Designers, Contractors, Architects, Real Estate Agents, Decorators or other industry pros in this scenario either. So instead of even going to make a paycheck from my decorative work as at least a lucrative distraction, I sit here, doing nothing.
Sure I know it isn’t really “nothing” per se. All those things do indeed get done, but I know deep down that my need to have Perfection in my life has taken over again and that bitch is costing me dearly.
I need to figure out how to trick Perfection to get onto the box, then while I distract it with discussing the cost of the beautiful decorative treatment on the walls (ceiling, floor, furniture pieces…) that they will be paying me for I can liberate my characters from being held hostage by Perfection (for what feels like it has been forever). Use Perfection to provide the financing for Ripple the Twine.
Does that seem like an unreachable goal? Honestly, sometimes it does to me. But others likely just see it as good common sense.
So what am I going to do today? That is of course the real question begging to be answered.
March 4, 2010
We found countless piles of newspapers, magazines, maps from their trips across the country (a future post will give details on the journals we found from their trips that I plan to transcribe and then Matt and I intend to visit every place they traveled), chotchkies, pictures, broken things, you name it and you were likely to find it in my grandparent’s house. In addition to the vast number of items that are boxed up and ready for charity, a few things have made their way out of the house and into our own homes. I have taken a few functional furniture pieces -- the table I mentioned last time plus 2 cabinets for my painting stuff, books, knick knacks, clothing and a few very, very random items.
The fortune teller was discovered upon one of the first visits when I also acquired some of my grandmother and grandfather’s hats. My grampa was a fedora man and there were two gorgeous ones -- a grey and dark brown. I only pull them out occasionally but every time I wear any of their hats I feel like a million bucks!
Which is exactly the reason we’ve been sorting through everything before just getting rid of it; there could be cash stashed just about anywhere. Both grandparents suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and especially with my gram, as she got older and less mentally functional she hid things. With the number of things in the house that means things could be anywhere, especially in books. It’s a nightmare.
There were some books as old as the early 1800’s found in the house including some that I should have read years ago but never made the time for, even though some of which I was technically supposed to read for school. A Tale of Two Cities, The House of Seven Gables, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Three Musketeers, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you get the picture. Well they all came home plus the complete ten volume set of the World’s 1000 Best Poems, as published in 1929.
In the den I pulled this out of a basket or a bag or randomly off the floor and just started laughing, I mean when she bought it the name was probably very futuristic sounding. Like back in the 1980’s. In fact this tube of goo might have been one of the only things we found in that house that represented that particular decade. Well that and the jelly belt that was sticky from melting. Oh yeah.
Earlier decades were thoroughly represented as we discovered by the mounds of 1960’s and 1970’s poly print fabrics. This one was in a paper bag with the thread, pattern and zipper, just waiting to be created. Not to mention the receipt for how much all of it cost; just over $10. My mom and I are going to work on this together; Mom rocks, so does the dress on the far right.
This year for Christmas Matt got me a laptop tray. Mine has a lifting, tilting top, a lip to stop the computer from sliding forward and legs that fold underneath for easy storage. Looks familiar… Of course this one is a little beat up and wood not plastic. No one needs it and I immediately thought of my Mother in law. I know she reads so this could be a perfect little giftie for her. I’m going to clean it up, paint and faux it then send it on down just because. But shhh, it’s a surprise so don’t tell!
Overall it may seem like a lot of stuff has come into my home and I’m just perpetuating the cycle of collecting and perhaps that is partially true but for the most part I am only taking what I know will be created, gifted, read, worn or used as a functional item…
In fact I asked the Syco Slate if I should throw away the Stain Master 2000 after taking the picture for this post and it responded not surprisingly:
February 28, 2010
And the train continues to roll so rather than sit here for ages typing out all the details of my recent misadventures in construction, paint, music, old friends and pastry, it occurred to me that a nice array of photos is surely a much lazier way to share the information.
And retain it for that matter. See? Really I’m just thinking of your time. Yeah, that's it.
So without further random babble from me, here is essentially a month in review…
A whole bunch of these got painted, glazed, varnished, etc. over the past couple weeks for Chucka Stone Designs, and more will be done this week (plus I might actually finish the furniture pieces this weekend, amazing!)
This holiday came and went & Matt and I thankfully didn’t feel pressured to celebrate (because it is a silly tradition started just to make people feel bad who are single and obligated who are together so the card, chocolate, flower and jewelry industries can live on for one more day. OK. Jumping off my soapbox now…) But my mom sent us this card and it was very sweet of her!
The FINAL season (sob) of Tuesday night crack began. (Yeah I know he’s not on the show anymore but he was my favorite character and he did make an appearance in the first episode this season. Plus he’s hot, so there.)
We had a chance to catch this guy’s act live, and solo for the first time, which was so much fun! We were right at the edge of the stage in the Red Room at Café 939.
Then I started doing a whole bunch of this. (Thanks for the video still shots This Old House)
Of course that job is in central Mass so that meant I was in this a lot. Don’t worry, my car wasn’t recalled. Baby drives great.
Even though painting and plaster is a great workout it was good to do a little of this in addition to keep loose. Climbing ladders requires a certain level of already in shape-ness so as not to fall asleep on the sofa every night at 10:00. Oh wait…
I have been helping to clean out the family house which desperately needs to be finished and sold. My Aunt, mom and I spent six hours in this room getting it to look this empty. I wish I were kidding. But it is done now and so we celebrated with subs (hoagies, wraps, whatever you call it in your neck of the woods -- sandwich filling in a long roll). I took this round table home and it is now gracing my back hall under the window; it looks perfect with the bench on the other side, since they are a matching set.
Of course Thursdays have still been all about this. Wouldn’t miss that for anything!
Had a chance to catch one of my mom’s favorite performers, Seth Glier (on piano), this past Friday night. I can see why, wow this kid has talent!! At only 21, he has a long career ahead of him. (He plays SXSW every year so if you’re near Austin, TX go check him out!). Plus he remembered my mom on sight by name, asked her later what she wanted to hear and made a point to come over and apologize that he didn’t have time to play it after the show was over. Now that’s class.
January 31, 2010
The rules of the road, at least here in Boston, indicate to ‘yield to the traffic in the rotary’ but unfortunately most people take that as a loose term and unless you are smack dab in front of them when they are approaching the circle, it is anyone’s guess as to just what ‘in the rotary’ even means.
I personally take it to mean if a person is more than half way around and on an approach to cross the place I am entering from, then I yield. If someone has just entered the circle from the next counterclockwise approach and not going to impact my entrance, I enter. To me this seems logical and has saved me from multiple accidents over the years.
The problem of course is that logic seems to escape most motorists, so when I am already in the circle I have to be on guard because their definition of yield may be just slightly different than mine. A good example of this is someone who not only does not yield but doesn’t even look to their left as they approach but rather, simply blasts on through because, well, clearly they should always have the right of way.
That is what almost happened today but the SUV came to an almost brake screeching halt just in time and we proceeded to exit the rotary, shaking our heads, with their front bumper mere feet from my door.
After it happened, we sparked up a conversation about how rotaries might have been a little more challenging back in the days of the horse drawn buggy. Picture one horse T-boning another as their carriage careens out of control toward the circle. With so much power the accidentee would never know what hit him. Poor horse.
Of course just like in today’s times -- ‘It wasn’t my fault, the brakes didn’t stop me fast enough’ -- we both imagined that the out of control buggy driver would surely blame the accident on part of the vehicle itself, saying to the guy with the broken wooden wheel and grain spilling from the back of the wagon --
“Yaw hawse is wicked retahded!”
Of course I had to correct Matt and remind him this was back in the old days when people still spoke in proper English here in Boston; I assured him the crazy driver would have more likely said --
“Thine hawse is wicked retahded!”
As we approached home and pulled into the driveway we started to consider some of the other road rage phrases that might be yelled out from the bench of one wagon to another back in the day. Stuff like --
“Stop chiselin’ that lettah ta ya Motha and drive!”
“Hey fuckah, how about puttin’ both hands awn tha reigns!”
One of my personal favorite things that I frequently utter to myself or whoever else happens to be in the car with me when I am behind someone weaving all over the road is “Go back to the baah!” Of course, in the old days they were more likely yelling “Take thyself back to Ye Old Tavehn!”
Thanks for the screen shot Google Maps.
January 24, 2010
Di and I met in 1996, very typical to the way I met most of my closest friends, I just approached her, said ‘hi’, and struck up a conversation. I’ve never really been known as shy. We both worked for Victoria’s Secret at the time; I had started in the Burlington location while she worked on the north shore. I was being promoted to Manager of the Saugus shop so to get trained they sent me off to an A+ shop, Peabody. Dianna was the Stock Room Manager there and we met my first day.
As the week went on we got to talking and laughing and had a great time while I was learning the ins and outs of running a bigger store like Saugus. For those who don’t remember (and are local) the Burlington Vicky’s, although exceptionally high volume, used to be teeninesy; think a shop the size of Lids but twice as deep, then stuff it with just as much merchandise as the store carries today and you’ve got yourself a truly unique working environment, especially during the Christmas season. Both Peabody and Saugus were large square footage shops but the volume level in Saugus left a lot to be desired so I just enjoyed my time in a busy place, learning the ropes from the Managers of Peabody.
Late in the week sometime Di and I were chatting about who knows what and somehow the conversation took a turn to the fact that she needed a ride home. ‘No problem’ I said ‘Lynn is totally on the way to Everett.’ Um, yeah not so much. But I hooked her home anyway and that was that, we were making plans to hang out sometime.
There was no way I was inviting her over to my place considering my boyfriend’s propensity for constructing acrylic bongs had taken over our entire kitchen and there was at least a pound of weed just sitting on the floor of our closet. I didn’t smoke at the time and I didn’t know if she did so I certainly wasn’t about to force his lifestyle down her throat. Unbeknownst to me there was a similar situation going on over at her place, so we made plans to meet at the Revere movie theater to see Mission Impossible.
I got there a little early and bought our tickets, got into the theater and did a quick scan to see if she had arrived before me. She hadn’t made it yet so I got a seat near the back in order to catch her when she arrived. The previews started and because I was a poor retail worker I decided to go and return the other ticket. They took it back and I went to watch the movie. At the end of the show I sat for a few to watch the credits like I always do and the theater cleared out pretty quickly.
When the credits were over I walked down to the exit door and stepped right out into the parking lot. All I heard was ‘Hey!’. There was Dianna on the side of the door. Apparently she had arrived late and convinced the ticket taker that I had bought her ticket, they let her in and she sat in the back so she could scan the theater to find me. I had worn my hair different than usual so she didn’t recognize me from the back but she sat exactly two rows behind me, where she had gotten in for free. We both laughed and she bought me a Dunkin’s coffee to pay back the other half of my ticket then we sat in the parking lot listening to music, drinking coffee and chain smoking cigarettes for a couple hours, laughing and having a great time.
We were instant friends.
As the next two years passed we both went through major job changes, major life changes and, as is typical for me, lots of different apartments. We both got out of the world of retail hell but landed in the same company again at DMR Mortgage Services where at least the new hell was only nine to five Monday through Friday. I was selling loans and she was working in wholesale processing as a Liaison. In 1998 the industry had some seriously historic low rates and business was booming. So much so that some other company decided to buy us out. I had just gone through a similar situation in another corporate merger about a year prior and was not at all ready to go through it again, so I left.
Turned out everyone else did as well when the entire staff was let go so they could bring in all of their own people. It was quite an interesting time as everyone scattered to the wind either going to other mortgage companies or getting out of the business completely. This was in April of 1999.
Back in December of 1998 Dianna decided to go down to visit with her cousin in North Carolina for New Year’s eve; her aunt and uncle were there as well and her mom went just about every year too. She needed some geographic space from the guy she was living with at the time who, although a nice guy, was definitely not right for her. While in NC she met her cousin’s roommate, a guy who was amazingly kind and generous, liked to party and quickly fell head over heels for her. She did too and come the time of the DMR layoff Dianna announced, in typical fashion for her, that she was packing up and moving to North Carolina to live with this guy.
I couldn’t have been happier for her to have found someone so sweet but selfishly I was hoping that the engine on every rental truck in the city spontaneously caught fire on the same day so she couldn’t leave. Her new man came up so we could all meet him and since she had moved into her mom’s for a while, and her mom was out of town for the weekend, we had the most raucous going away party to ever last forty eight hours. Her little sisters came over, their friends, her cousins, our friends we had both met at various companies and goodness knows who else because we were all hammered for two straight days.
When the morning came that she was leaving we all hugged goodbye but I immediately started looking up prices of tickets to go and visit as soon as possible on my measly little Administrative Assistant salary. There were so many great weekends spent down there from Ozzfest to clubbing but when I split with my boyfriend in late fall 1999 I planned to go and hang out for two straight weeks over New Year’s. This was the Y2K event referred to previously. She was psyched to have me down and constantly tried to convince me that I should move there. For a brief while after getting together with Matt he and I actually considered doing so as we were looking to do home flipping for a living back then.
Instead, Matt and I pursued the Labor of Love and, well, most of us know how that situation turned out.
Needless to say Dianna was in NC for a whole bunch of years and Matt and I ended up moving to Springfield. Once we bought the house, frequently referred to as the money pit, our trips to visit friends pretty much ceased and during that time Di was having some major life changes. Her marriage ended and she even moved back to the northeast where she lived with us for a while but commuted the two and a half hours each way to Long Island every day for her job. She eventually moved into a place on Staten Island and met a guy who was also fun and funny but a little older with a bit more direction and career ambition; they both worked in the mortgage industry.
Eventually Matt and I moved to Long Island as well where he got a job at a big boy mortgage company and we moved into my cousin’s basement apartment for a brief time until her boyfriend, who had moved in with her, offered to let us rent his little ranch house. Di and her boyfriend had moved out about a half hour east on the island and it was great to have friends so close by that we hung out all the time.
And then the mortgage industry imploded.
The company that both she and her boyfriend worked for not only closed, but in doing so laid off upwards of 5,000 people on the island (close to 6,500 nationwide). In addition to that there were companies shutting down by the hour, Matt’s included, and the once prosperous industry flooded the little island with unemployment claims and thousands fighting for the same job openings (if any). Matt found some per diem work but was living on borrowed time. Dianna and her boyfriend decided instead of fighting with all of those people for jobs they were going to just move back to his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
This time I cried and unceremoniously freaked out. I cried like a little sissy girl because I knew that things were going to be much different than the North Carolina move; I knew we were going to be hard pressed to actually see each other much, if at all. With me doing faux finishing and Matt basically unemployed we were having a difficult enough time paying the bills in LINY plus carrying the albatross of a money pit in Springfield (which we had been trying to sell for, oh, about five years at this point) let alone buying plane tickets and taking time away from job hunting to fly off and visit friends. Mostly I just freaked out because now I had no one in New York and I was really going to miss my friend.
Their company closed in early August of 2007 and they left for Texas within just a couple weeks. Matt’s borrowed time was coming to a close so we too made a move, right back to the one place I swore I would never live again, Boston. He worked for some family and I started pursuing a career as a full time finisher and started my company, Chucka Stone Designs, in October of 2007.
With the move back came a 70% pay cut. We lived rent free but paying the bills in a family house until April of 2008 when we moved back to the other place I swore I would never live again, my hometown of Arlington. During our first year back in Massachusetts, I was at an extremely low point in my head, so was Matt, and the two of us suffered a lot because of it. Our house got foreclosed on in July of 2008, every credit card went to collection, we were eating chicken soup literally every night because we couldn’t afford to go grocery shopping, we considered getting divorced, I actually considered leaving the living world. It was quite a sucky time.
In early 2009 Matt went back to the mortgage industry and we decided that the only way to really fix any of our past messiness would be to file bankruptcy. It was not a decision we came to lightly but no matter how many times either of us worked out the numbers and figured in salary increases or me taking on more paint jobs, we still came to the conclusion that we would literally never be able to pay off the debt. We weren’t exactly happy about it but knew that we were in the same boat with a large portion of the country and knew it was the one thing that could get our lives back on track again.
We found a lawyer and started the process in the spring. Sometime over the summer Dianna and I talked about us coming down to Texas for Thanksgiving and Matt and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was finally going to see my friend and she was just going to have to deal with the fact that I was going to hug her until she lost circulation. I was painting over the summer, making good money, Matt was back in the saddle again as a Senior level Processor and we were actually managing like adults for the first time in years.
Then we had our 341 meeting and our lawyer advised us that we should not only have little to nothing in the bank until the discharge was complete, but that we also shouldn’t go out and spend the money on anything extravagant or extraneous.
Like $1600 vacations to Texas.
My heart sank.
I was conflicted because on the one hand I couldn’t believe I had to tell my friend that I wasn’t going to be able to see her until after the holidays but on the other my financial life was going to finally be in the best shape it had been in for almost seven years. Dianna understood and I was happy about that but I was still sad to watch another year go by without getting to spend any time together.
Then last week I got an email from her that she was moving back home.
Apparently things in her relationship were not going right and after all else was said and done she was just tired of living in the south. She was already talking to her dad to see if it would be possible to settle into the apartment he has above his garage for a bit and because her job is portable she will likely be working from home but still based out of the location in Texas. I was blown away, it was nothing I ever expected to happen, not in a million years.
Who knows how long we’ll have to be in the same geographic region this time around, who knows which one of us will be the one to move first, but I fully intend to make the most of our time together this time around. And I fully intend to jump up and down, clapping and squealing as soon as she gets back here and I’m going to bet she joins in. Seriously.