Monday, February 28, 2011

How I spent my first day of kindergarten dressed like a clown

For the 100th time I put my foot down against wearing an ensemble my mother had made. I was not against the idea of homemade garb, but I was vehemently against her hideous items. I was NOT going to look like a fool on the first day of kindergarten. I had been looking forward to going to school for a couple of years, I knew there would be all sorts of new people to meet and talk to and my inner social butterfly was bursting out of her cocoon. I needed to put my best dressed foot forward. I was not going to ruin this very special day by wearing either the leopard print imitation hammer pants or any one of the numerous jumpsuits she was fond of sewing.

There were certain things she had made me that I loved; my winter knit cap with NATASHA embroidered on it complete with a puffy yarn ball on top, all my doll and Barbie clothes and an ivory and pink dress that had long ago become too small for me, but I hung onto in the hope I’d fit into it again. One day…

Where her clothes failed me, personally, were in material choice and design pattern. Both were unimaginative and straight out of the clearance bin. The very BOTTOM of the clearance bin. A dollar per yard typically bought you a color that could not be found in nature with some sort of reject print, usually biblical in theme. The neon sea foam green dress with Noah’s Ark dotted all over it did not last long in my closet.

In addition to my very own original garments, I received my sister’s hand-me-down. I usually went out of my way to lose or ruin them. After learning that ripping or tearing them would only get me a nicely stitched scar in the ugly pants, I almost gave up. But staining them opened new doors. Permanent markers could be found in the kitchen utensil drawer, however, I quickly learned that purposefully writing your own name on your own pants is really, really hard to pass off as an accident.

I hadn’t gotten around to destroying my most hated piece; The Clown Jumpsuit. Red corduroy with lots of balloons and ribbons of varying primary colors complete with a huge, white, lace-trimmed collar. A collar whose size and stiffness rivaled most of the collars sported by clowns. Needless to say, I refused to wear it on my first day of school.

Ironically enough, I do not remember what I was wearing when I boarded the big yellow school bus, but I remember meeting my new best friend, Debbie. Debbie was blonde, leggy and outspoken- everything I wanted to be. My pudgy legs got me around OK and my mass of course, curly hair would not be tamed for another 13 years. We bonded over the things typical 5 year olds bond over. Favorite colors, animals and pudding snacks.

She was the only child, a concept that I have very limited exposure to, and got to eat name brand cereal. Her clothes were bought from real stores and didn’t have previous owners such as her older sister or complete strangers – or both. By the time we arrived at school we had become bosom buddies and I promised her an invite to my birthday party. I hoped we were in the same class.
Giddy with first day jitters, we slid out of the green vinyl seat and marched down the aisle. We made our way down the bus stairs, I was in the lead. Halfway down, I hear a moan followed by a nauseous groan and turn around just in time to watch Debbie vomit all over my chest, legs and a bit on my chin. Since she was on the step above me, gravity made sure that I caught ALL of the puke. What are friends for, right? I stood there in shock, frozen and disgusted simultaneously. I remember the thought “Throw up is all over me! Throw up is all over me! Throw up is all over me!” looping through my head. Apparently Cheerios and Malt-o-Meal Toasted Os digest the same.

The nurse took care of ill-stomached Debbie, school policy dictated she go home. Her mom was summoned and she lay down on the back cot to wait. I, on the other hand, just needed new clothes. The nurse did her best to clean me off to make me most comfortable and while she was wiping off my pants she informed me that someone had contacted my mother, told her what had happened and asked her to bring a new set of clothes.

This all sounded fine and acceptable for about a half of a second. Then from with the pit of my stomach came a bad feeling. My 5-year old woman’s intuition had already developed. She was en route with the clown jumper – I just KNEW it – and there was nothing I could do about it. Sitting on the couch, I began rocking back and forth muttering “please not the jumper, anything but the jumper, god, if you care about me at all you will have her bring something else. EVEN THE LEOPARD PRINT IMMITATION HAMMER PANTS” To me the only thing worse than spending the day in vomit soaked clothes would be to spend the day in that wretched and vile oversized onesie.

I held out hope for as long as I could. When my mom came through the door I sent one last plea out to whatever deity would listen to me. “I will serve you unconditionally and go forth and be a soldier in your name if in her bag are hand me down jeans and a puff paint t-shirt I made at Vacation Bible Study!” My pleading with God was in vain. I cannot claim to have been surprised when my mom pulled out the clown jumper. Had she picked it on purposed DESPITE or INSPITE of my refusal to wear it? I could not tell. She might have just forgotten that I was the daughter that hated this particular garment. Maybe she saw it as an opportunity to teach me a lesson about being thankful to have clean, warm clothing. Or, most likely, she saw that it was pretty hilarious that after spending an entire morning arguing with her about what to wear – someone up-chucks all over me and she’s able to win the battle after-all.

Since there was no other choice than for me to slip into the bathroom and change, I begrudgingly did so. I realized it was futile to argue with my mom and even though I almost asked her to go get something else. Who was I kidding to believe she would actually make another round trip for a different change of clothes.

And that is how I spent my first day of kindergarten dressed like a clown.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make It Work!

I channelled two very different but two decisively foxy silver hair men this past week. The first was Anderson Cooper and while I'm bummed I can't share that story just yet, I promise that it's pretty amazing and is really really bad ass.

The second silver fox was Tim Gunn.

Our mother, being a seamstress during my younger years, taught all 4 of us kids to sew. I could competently maneuver my way around a sewing machine but my technique, skill and workmanship usually left a lot to be desired. I rarely measured... I eyeballed A LOT of cuts and measurements and didn't have the patience to rip out and redo something I did wrong. Needless to say, I made A LOT of pillows, curtains or anything else with very few steps and a forgiving seam allowance.

Recently, the desire to take to sewing once more ignited. What ISN'T awesome about picking out your own fabric, picking the pattern and then making it fit your own body? The tragicness of having home made garments when I was 5 was that my mom's void of fashion and style (through the eyes of a kindergartner...) resulted in jumpsuits with big floppy collars. Now that I am in control it's no longer lame and hokey (the hammer pant phase she went through emotionally scared me), I just have to hone my sewing and pattern-following skills.

My Sis is a pretty good seamstress in her own right, in addition to knowing more about the craft... she actually has a sewing machine! I asked her if we could pull a Project Runway and sew, SEW, SEW!!! Skirts are the easiest garment to make, second only to the scrunchie, so we looted JoAnns Fabric Store and she took me under her wing.

The first skirt was the most basic pattern and a really fun print. I refer to it as my Navajo skirt. At this point, I've already had a time of it with the pockets. I was close to my wits end because all the pattern vocabulary was Greek to me and Nily had to translate EVERYTHING.

"So, when the pattern says to press??? Does that mean iron it?"


Making the skirt was A LOT of fun and gave me a really cool feeling of accomplishment. PLUS I was was really excited about getting home to put together an outfit!

I kinda look like a monkey hear, but it was the best shot I captured before my camera's battery died. Could Brian be right about my Casio after all?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Home Sweet Home

There is no place like home. Coming home to a space with all your own comforts after a week is no match for spending time with family and friends. I am back after a multi-leg jaunt to North Carolina in which I spent time with a dear friend of mine, Danielle and then traveled 2 hours southeast to spend time with The Sis and The Nef. The trip had numerous highlights and quite a few amusing moments and I hope to be able to share all of them.

But tonight I want to tell you about Brian & Syble.

Brian was the suit sitting next to me on the plane to Chicago. Since it was late Friday afternoon and he wearing the aforementioned suit, I asked...

"So, it's Friday afternoon and you're in a suit. You're headed home, right?"

Sure enough, he was. He claimed Chicago to be the best city in the world and he answered all the questions I had about it: How cold does it get there? How big is it? What's the population? Have you ever seen Oprah??? Pretty Cold. Really Big. A lot and No. His answers were more detailed but I don't remember the specifics. He was friendly and like able, so the hour passed quickly.

Eventually I asked what he did and where he worked, he had mentioned he traveled a lot and for a pretty big company.

"Have I heard of the company you work for?"

"I hope so! Canon Printers and Cameras."

"OH! My camera is a Canon!" Proud and excited I pull it out of my bag to share a random connection that he and I have.

Except my camera is actually a Casio. So it was more awkward and a tad embarrassing.

"So, you don't care about having a quality camera."

I tried to back peddle about how I got a good deal, my camera needs are not that involved and that I just really liked the fuchsia color... he was buying none of it. He threatened to go get his boss in first class and have him chastise me.

It was all in good fun, though (I think).

On the way home I sat next to Syble on the hour and a half flight to Hotlanta. Syble was great in many ways, but probably the best way was that she had to be the fact that she has developed this deck of cards called "Money Habi-tudes" cards that are used to help people understand how they treat money and ways to improve their habit and attitudes about moolah and gain financial control of their lives. She was on her way to North Dakota to talk to the Catholic Diocese there, a group close to 100 people.

"And the best part is" she told me "is that I'm Jewish!"

OY VEY! Yes Syble, that IS the best part*.

*For the records, this does NOT make me a stereo-type believin' anti-Semitic. I adored Syble and I think the feeling was mutual. She encouraged me to keep practicing and striving to be better at my violin and gave me tips on how to take control of my budget and reach savings goal!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Scarf Proposal

I didn't have anyone to make a scarf for after I finished Stef's. I experimented with the double crochet... and that was fun and all, but it wasn't FOR someone. I really like it when I know I'm making it for someone specific. After John Scott complimented me on the scarf I was sporting I struck a deal with him. It went something like this:

Me: What if I made you a rad scarf to your color and size specifications and you gave me a couple of months membership for free?

John: Hells Yes. Surprise me!

And make him a rad scarf I did. This might-as-well-call-it-a-blanket BEAUTY is the most grand and large thing I have EVER crocheted. I'm glad he let me pick the colors because I already had two in mind. In addition to being the biggest thing I've ever made, it was also the first time I switched up color.

I'm proud that I finished before Spring arrived. Seriously. I clocked around 30 hours worth of needle and couch time with this bad boy. It was the perfect activity during my hibernation, but SO glad that it's done and delivered!

The Worlds BEST gym owner. EVER. He told me a story of when he had his first gym back in the day and Paul Rudd was a client of his (Paul is from around these here parts) and he approached Paul on the treadmill but ended up scaring/startling the sh!t out of him and almost had a bad fall. Oh that's right! He almost seriously maimed Paul Rudd and Clueless might never have happened.

LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT THING. And the craftsmanship was pretty dandy if I do say so myself.

Figured out why orange was one of the colors I picked yet?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goodbye Candy

...and with 26 minutes left to February 14, I say "good riddance" to all the candy that has infiltrated our lives since Halloween. The sucrose cycle of candy and sweets will subside until October and I needn't worry about getting Diabetes just from walking around my office from all the chocolates, cakes, cookies, caramels and other confectioners delights.

Thankfully, for the next cycle of holidays we will not celebrate with Pies and Puddings. Nope, from March until September we celebrate our holidays with Beer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Black Violin, White Stuff

Last night I made the hour trek to Lawrence, Kansas to see Black Violin. All by myself and through another (albeit smaller) snow storm. It was soooooooo worth it.

I'll get to the performance in a sec, but first.... Mother Nature, will you meet me at camera 3?

Mother Nature - I get it already. Enough with the cold and snow. Please stop. Are you upset because Father Time hasn't asked you to be his Valentine? I totally understand. I haven't had a valentine in YEARS but I don't see that as an excuse to go around dumping piles and piles of frozen depression (aka snow) on everyone. Maybe we can be each other's Valentine? I wouldn't go the ordinary route of chocolate or flowers with you, my lady, but rather I would plants trees, pick up trash and recycle paper goods for you. By the same token, I don't need sweets or cards. I just want you to light my fire. And by that I mean please raise the ambient outdoor temperature to above freezing. Thank you.

Snow or no snow, I was resolved to see the show. Brother Daniel saw them a couple years back and got their CD. When we lived together, said CD was left on the coffee table for approximately 3 months and after giving up the dream that it would find its way back to Daniel's CD case, I gave it a listen.

So, Black Violin - if you're not familiar, is a trio made up of a violin, a viola... and a DJ. Only if they would let me cover them in buttons and curly ribbons could I love them more. Seriously. For the most part, their act consists of the DJ (TK is his name) mixing music while Kev Marcus (violin) and Wil-B (viola) did their thing over/with it. They sample Rihanna, Akon, The Temptations, Beyonce and many, many more. Did I mention that I love them?

There were two highlights to last night's show for me. The first came when Kev and Wil-B free styled. The second was when they, and this is a direct quote, "threw some stank on some Bach." Their arrangement of Brandenburg Concerto Number 3* was SICK and the beats the DJ threw down had the old white couple in front me bustin a move. Johann Sebastian would have been proud.

Overall, they stuck with music from this century, but I hope that in the future they produce an album entirely of classical music.... but with some stank thrown on it.

And speaking of stank... I had the Sweet potato and Feta sandwich at the Wheatfields Bakery before the show. Inventive AND Delicious. Obviously last night's theme was "take 2 relatively unrelated things and mash them together and JUST LIKE MAGIC Natasha is insanely happy."

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Great Migration

The sun came out for two GLORIOUS days last week, right after the huge snow storm came blowing through town. I love the natural light in my apartment and I'm not the only one. Sabrina has a "lighting" photo assignment due soon and she wants to stage the shot at my place. Also, all the plants love the abundance of sun in the space. Of course old Smokey loves the sun spots when I open all the blinds. A combination of cabin fever, self-amusement and an easy blog post motivated me to document Sammy's migration.

The novelty that I am home has worn off (and NOT petting him) and Sammy goes off to do his own thing.

The sun isn't going to out maneuver this old guy.

Hanging on to the last corner of sunlight.



Sunlight + Carpet = Best

Mystery solved why a necklace is on the floor when I get home from work some days.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You Get What You Ask For

I am a staunch believer that if you need something, the universe will provide it for you. What is hard for me to explain is my definition of the word "need" in that statement. And sometimes I can't explain or reason to you the timing of how it works either; honestly, I don't know the real mechanics of the whole system but I BELIEVE that when I need something... the very next moment the universe is giving it to me. I've gotten both ipods and reality checks this way.

Before I left for Orchestra rehearsal earlier this evening I wondered if maybe having a better shoulder rest would improve how I hold the instrument. The guitar is the only instrument you can successfully play with bad posture, everything else requires that you stand or sit up straight. A fleeting thought that I was going to do more research on later.

Half way through practice Mr. Beck (the conductor), asked my stand partner if a shoulder rest that had been left behind ages ago was hers. It wasn't. It didn't belong to any of the other violinists either.

AND JUST LIKE THAT I was the proud owner of a really sweet shoulder rest. This new shoulder rest is like the Godiva Chocolate of shoulder rests. The Ben & Jerry's of shoulder rests. My old shoulder rest was a Hershey's Bar or frost bitten Blue Bunny Ice Cream at best.

Thanks Universe!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowed In

Compared to other parts of the country, our snow fall amounts were moderate. Still, that doesn't mean I'm going out in this sh!t! C'mon, it is five degrees outside. FIVE. And as much as I'd like to say "the only thing allowed to be 5 is this guy," I can't. Alas, work outs have been reduced to shuffling between the living room and kitchen and my diet resembles that of a bear BEFORE she hibernates (the eating everything in sight part... not so much the fresh berries and wild caught salmon part).

The beauty of the season has inspired me to write some poetry, not entirely UNLIKE Robert Frost.

Snow falls everywhere
All is frozen and covered
Damn, is it spring yet?

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Get me the fuck to Hawaii

There once was a girl who had to hibernate
After days of snow and cold she was pretty irate
She lost all power
She couldn't even shower
The only fun thing left to do was to....