Category Archives: Life stories

Presents!

Google Maps told me the walk would be 0.9 miles. The humidity was rising, but a mile isn’t so far.

Plus I had just eaten a chocolate muffin from St. Balmain, justifying the indulgence by noting that there would be zero chocolate muffins in Kenya.

Once I passed the McCarren Park pool, the walk started sucking. The part of Greenpoint I found myself in would be best described as Not Cute. Homely, perhaps, as opposed to homey.

Greenpoint

Around the 0.7 mile mark, I wanted to shout “this is for you, Maasai kids!” but they couldn’t possibly have heard me over the noise from the BQE.

I started crying almost as soon as I walked into the Greenpoint dollar store.

Not because I was in a dollar store, per se, but because as I shuffled up and down the aisles, I was reminded of the directions my trip organizer had given me about how to choose a gift for my “buddy,” the student who would be my companion during my days volunteering at the Maasai school.

Books need to be culturally sensitive. Don’t buy candy–most of the kids won’t have a toothbrush.

Avoid anything that requires batteries or electricity. These kids don’t have access to either. A well-intentioned volunteer gave his buddy an iPod, but once the battery dies, it’s useless.

Good gifts include a simple journal, a solar-powered flashlight or a puzzle that shows a picture the kids can relate to.

At the dollar store, I felt like a failure. None of the toys seemed right for my teenage buddy, a fourteen year old boy named Steven.

As I put a notebook, a pack of pencils and a pencil case in my cart, my heart sank: I had just committed to buying office supplies for someone who will almost certainly help me have an eye-opening, life-affecting experience.

I suppose he already has, in some ways.

Hopefully when the time comes, my modest gifts will somehow be the right ones.

[For context, this post was written on late on Thursday, July 10 and scheduled for Monday, July 14. I'm set to present these tokens to Steven on Friday, July 18.]

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Late night TV

Staying up past my ‘bedtime’ has been a way of life, all of my life. As much as I love sleep, I happen to like having my sleep start late.

I couldn’t tell you if nature or nature made me a night owl. My father in particular, loves to stay up late and when I’m in Rehoboth with my family or back home in Scranton, I am shocked if I find my father has gone to sleep before me.

Even in my earliest memories, I exist as a night owl.

When I was a little kid, my dad worked second shift so I spent most nights with Mom and Nana. While Nana would often retreat to her bedroom in the early evening, my goal was to stay downstairs in the den with my TV-watching Mom as late as possible.

I was a good pretender

I was a good pretender

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Why did you put that on Tinder? Why are you even on Tinder?!

I blame Eliza for inspiring me to get on Tinder (not really). But it’s my own fault for sticking with it. I find the app so thoroughly entertaining.

OK, most of the time I don’t mean entertaining but horrifying (NSFW), but you get the idea.

Moobs

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What We Ate (and Drank): Rehoboth Beach 2014

If you have been reading my posts for a while now, you know I look forward to my annual Rehoboth Beach trips with family and friends. We’re super lazy. A shopping trip to the outlets is about as much energy as we ever expend. And we like it that way.

Pool

Frankly I’m saving the learning and cultural exploration for Kenya. My adventure starts this Friday!

This year, I had some great food and drink in Rehoboth and nearby Lewes. If you head that way, this summer here are some places I think you should check out. Continue reading

Camp No

Now that Facebook friends have finally moved on from “graduation” photos from pre-K, kindergarten, third grade, eighth grade and pretty much any other end-of-school milestone one could dream up, it’s camp time.

I never knew that people sent their kids away for a month or two (or more) each summer until I got to Cornell. There I met peers who had begun going to sleepaway camp as young as eight years old.

“Do your parents not like you?” I wanted to ask them. Why else would parents exile their kids for 15% of each year? Even weirder, most of my college classmates said they liked going away to camp.

I found this truly shocking.

Girl Scout camp

When I was eight years old, I talked my parents into letting me go to Girl Scout camp. I remember that it took some effort, and that I thought they were being silly in their concerns.

What concerns? That I would hate camp. Or get injured. Or be homesick. Or be actual sick.

My best friend Leslie went to overnight camp at Camp Archbald before and loved it so I wanted to graduate from Camp Laurel, the Girl Scouts’ area day camp. Camp Laurel was OK except when we got dirty, and I didn’t really like the one night we had a sleepover at camp, and cooked dinner over the campfire (which took hours). I also hated the compost toilets – gross.

In spite of all of this, I wanted to go to Camp Archbald like Leslie and being the persistent little weirdo that I was, I got my way.

IT WAS HELL.

I didn’t like the food. Some of the girls in my cabin were weird, like the twin sisters who fought non-stop. I felt weird sleeping in my Kermit the Frog sleeping bag atop the plastic mattress on my bottom bunk.

But most of all, I dreaded the daily swimming session that required me to go in a lake. Ack, muddy bottom and mysterious floating leaves and swimming things! Because I refused to participate in the first day swimming placement test, camp counselors placed me in the Green group, two levels ahead of little girls in Red paddling around in less than three feet of water. It was utterly humiliating.

Each day during swim hour, I would get in the lake (completely under duress), find the same flat, broad rock and balance upon it while shivering and trying not to cry about the muck around my feet.

Here’s the thing: I was a great swimmer, having taken lessons since I was two years old. I just thought lakes were creepy.

Leslie, meanwhile, had tested into the Blue group which swam in the five foot deep water just outside the protective dock. By the end of camp she had advanced to the most proficient swimming group by completing swimming across the lake and back.

I tried everything I could to get out of swimming in that lake. I told the counselors I was sick but if I didn’t jump into the lake instructed, I’d be pushed. Eventually I gave in and agreed to learn the Elementary Back Stroke. At the end of camp, I re-took the swimming test and advanced to the Blue group. I nearly lost my mind upon realizing that had I just tried in the first place, I could have been swimming in deeper water that afforded swimmers the ability to avoid the lake’s mucky bottom.

Once or twice daily, I’d write home to Mom and Dad. The messages became increasingly plaintive.

Girl Scouts postcard collage

Consider this fact though: camp lasted just five nights. Five. All that drama over five nights.

When I reunited with my parents on the final morning of camp, you would have thought I was getting to home after being a prisoner of war.

30Still, going home wasn’t completely sweet. You see, I was actually sick and within twenty-four hours of escaping camp, I was hospitalized with some combination of a viral infection and dehydration. Probably from all the tears that dampened my sad postcards home.

 

PS If you suggest I go camping now, the answer will be a firm no. Unless there’s a cabin involved, with a hot shower and beds. Then I’ll reconsider.

Vacation #2 of 3

In I-am-so-lucky news, today I am leaving for my annual Rehoboth Beach vacation.

beach

This is not to be confused for my Bahamas vacation.

Bahamas

Or my upcoming trip to Kenya.

Expect some funny family stories. They’re a-comin’.

What are you doing for 4th of July, American readers?

Things I learned this weekend

First, a whiskey sour is a terrific summer cocktail. So is Bowery Hotel’s Luna de Fresa ideally made by Walter Easterbrook.

luna de fresa

Next, a backhanded compliment is still a compliment.

As in “this is the best I’ve ever seen you look” and “you’ve lost a ton of weight” when said by a handsome, but socially awkward, man.

On the other hand, if my mother said either thing to me, I wouldn’t speak to her for a week.

Also, contrary to this articlefitness classes are not 50% easier the second time around.

Still, this notion got me in the door for Pure Barre class #2. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Hopefully. You know how I feel about classes.

I’m not the first person to say “no” to being a bridesmaid.

This $50 Banana Republic top has a bit of magic to it. I’m not surprised it’s mostly sold out in white.

Finally, Tinder is still hilarious and alarming. (NSFW)

What did you learn this weekend?

NYC is just so right

What came out of me felt like someone tried to funnel Niagara Falls through a coffee straw. I swear my sphincters were screaming. It felt like my delicate starfish was a gaping maw projectile vomiting a torrential flood of toxic waste. 100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM.

I laughed hard as Genevieve gave a dramatic reading of the terrible things that happen when one eats sugar-free Haribo gummy bears. I had heard about the reviews before, but hearing them read aloud in an Australian accent by the Ford Model my friend Annie and I had just met gave the content new life.

Haribo!

Once every few minutes, Genevieve’s model friend Linde looked over from the adjacent banquette and mouthed “ARE YOU OK?” Genevieve sweetly and confidently waved her off. She appeared to be having fun with us mere mortals.

*     *     *

One of my main complaints about life in DC was that I didn’t get invited to many things. I wasn’t a lobbyist, an attorney or a GS-15. An invitation to a White House Correspondents’ Dinner after party was out of reach, forget the dinner itself. If I was very, very lucky, I would get to go to the soft opening of a restaurant and get to tell my friend, the owner, what worked and what didn’t. That was the extent of it.

After a fifteen mile commute home to DC from the office in Northern Virginia – that usually took more than an hour – I often went home, plopped on my couch and thought about my stalled social life. I didn’t have the energy to go out, but I also lacked opportunities. Part of me was withering away (unfortunately that part wasn’t my thighs or butt, but I digress).

The bright side is that if not for my uninspiring social life, I might not have a blog or several Twitter accounts. So there’s that.

But here in NYC, I usually feel like anything is possible and somehow, invitations are always coming my way.

Which is how I found myself last week, not a movie premiere. Not at a club opening. Not any of these things. But at the unveiling of a menuStrip House‘s updated bar menu to be exact.

Know what? It was terrific, all of it. We ate potato truffle popovers and steakhouse bacon BLTs, and drank a stellar variation on an Old Fashioned.

Burlesque

There was a beautiful burlesque performer and an aerialist and a man juggling knives.

Knives

And in the midst of it all, there was me, sitting on a banquette while a model read me hilariously bad Amazon reviews for sugarless Haribo gummy bears. And I was loving my second chance at this NYC life.

Come back to me, weekend

Once again, NYC got a beautiful weekend after a week of less-than-stellar weather. It was gorgeous. The Linden trees are blooming.

Linden

On Friday, I made good on my promise to see Obvious Child. Adrienne joined me for a showing at Nitehawk Cinema, which I love. As Abby told me, this movie was SO great. I need to see it again. Continue reading

Why can’t this weekend last longer?

After a week of miserable rain and humidity, Saturday dawned perfectly pleasant: sunny and dry.

Weather

But it wasn’t the prospect of a good hair day that had me smiling. Instead, it was the fact that the future owner of an unwanted – and very, very large – piece of furniture would soon be removed from my bedroom in the new apartment. Continue reading