Thursday, December 29, 2005

Randomness of the Past 10 Days

I've been "asked" to blog tonight. Suppose I have something to say. Like how it pained me today to spend $60 on bras - four bras, no less. I really think the bra makers have worked out some sort of conspiracy with retailers. Women need them to keep the "girls" controlled and they are usually over priced. Retailers have a captive audience (no pun intended).

I was also in a hunt for slacks while at the mall. To my horror, the dryer has been shrinking my clothing, particularity noticeable around the waist area. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the over-indulgence of the holiday stretch between Halloween and New Year's - yes, I have a few more gatherings this week, then on Monday, it's back to belly dance class and the gym! I know in a month I can shed the extra pounds, but I'm heading to Philadelphia next week for work and need something presentable and warm.

While listening to a National Public Radio (NPR) report last week, particular wording by the broadcaster caught my attention. She said something to the effect of, "a man who was convicted of inappropriately touching a little girl in a park." Enlighten me, is there ever an "appropriate" time when a man touches a girl in a park?

While on the topic of stupid things being said recently, last week at our Christmas, er, "Holiday" party, I was sitting at the table with most of the African-American folks from the office. I recently learned that one our co-workers was born and lived in Ghana. I asked everyone, "Hey! Do you know that so-and-so is from Africa?"

One of my co-workers, who can be very sassy and direct, replied, "Well duh! Can't you tell by looking at him that he's from Africa?"

Of course, my fascination wasn't the color of his skin, but that he lived in Ghana and shared some of his experiences and traditions with me. I thought it was an appropriate time to share with the other co-workers, but they already knew, I think...

And the most recent random interlude was on my flight between Atlanta and Buffalo last Friday. When I travel, I'm the passenger who has the book out and open while radiating vibes saying, "don't talk to me." The young man sitting next to me couldn't read the signs. He introduced himself after settling in and we discovered that we went to the same high school - almost decades apart - and he was a friend of my brother-in-law. How random is that?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Journey to Buffalo

My trip home for Christmas was nice. It's always nice to go home for the holidays. The travel itself was much better than last year's - no snow storms, no Comair Computer Snafus, no sitting stranded in an airport (oh, but I do have an intentional four hour layover today!). Anyway...

A day was spent at Lizzy's day spa and salon for a facial, eyebrow wax (ouch!) and new hair color (yeah, that's me, on the right. Lizzy is a miracle worker, but couldn't do anything about the little bulge under my chin - I need to take care of that. And do you think I was able to recreate that hair style the next morning? NO! But maybe with a little practice, I'll get somewhat close).

Also spent some brief time with my friend Annette and the rest was with my immediate family.

"Why is there a photo of a doll?" you may ask. Well, recall the post about the BK's King? There are a few things that spook me when I go home. One is that bathroom window where the peeping tom peered through. The other are two, life-size dolls who once lived with my grandma and my Mom adopted/inherited them. In order to head up to my bedroom, I had to pass this one every night - and no matter if the area around it was lit or dim, shivers always ran up my spine and I quickly made my way up the stairs. It must be the stoic, plastic face.

Men Bond, Women Gossip

I'm reading Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" (and yes, the movie release has encouraged me to finally read it). My eyes were open to the fact that many geisha were sold (first half of the 20th century, maybe even later) by their parents or relatives when they were little girls. This is blatant slavery.

But then, there is a bit of sisterly bonding involved. Almost like young, American women pledging to a sorority and vowing to become "family" for life. The girls rushing are put through tests to demonstrate their loyalty to their big sister and sorority. A novice geisha was dependent upon learning from and pleasing her adoptive big sister, with hopes of becoming a successful geisha.

Reading this has sparked my awareness of relationships women have with one another. In my experiences, it seems across the board that women can be outright catty and plain to mean to one another - with usually a man on the other end being the ignition. I've never had a tolerance for these types of games or personalities, which is probably why I didn't have many female friends growing up. But maybe this is all a means of survival - survival of what, I'm not sure of.

Being around boys and men while growing up, I've noticed that they don't seem to concern themselves in these petty ways. Maybe they are better able to conceal their insecurities.

I'm curious how other women around the world "survive" under their respective conditions. Maybe there is a story to be told - or maybe it has been told...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Random Thoughts So Close to Christmas...

Winter coats are like time capsules. I'm heading to Buffalo for the Christmas holiday today and put on my wool peacoat. Reaching into the pockets, I found a bunch of "dead" (used) tissues, a handful of business cards from my previous job and a well-worn London map from my February visit. This ignited memories of clever pubtenders; a rainy, sunny and snowy day (typical London, I'm told) and a VIP tour of the Tower of London during the Keys Ceremony.

I'm sitting in the Jacksonville International Airport terminal, waiting for my flight. I drove three hours to take advantage of a VIP ticket home. After observing the passengers, I've decided that holiday travel belongs to the amateurs. Those people who don't heed TSA's advisory not to wrap presents and to take off coats, shoes, belts and anything else with bling. There is shock in their tone and facial expression when security needs to open the carefully wrapped gift or ask them to take off their shoes after setting off the alarm.

The holidays is also a time when it's acceptable to travel like "The Grapes of Wrath," luggage loaded to capacity. When one needs to sit on the luggage in order to zip it, hoping that TSA doesn't decide to randomly select that bag for a search because certainly, everything will not be neatly returned to its proper place. And it's acceptable to load yourself down with carry-on luggage - pushing the bar on "one small, personal item and one small carry one." Again - bags bulge and little, gray-haired ladies are dragging bags which could easily double as their sleeping capsule. I have a rule - during the holidays and always when I travel - never to bring more than I can carry or lift by myself. I'm guessing the little, gray-haired ladies will need assistance in lifting their bags into the overhead bin, because certainly, the bags weigh twice their weight.

Today is a milestone in air travel. Scissors of four inches or less are permitted on planes, along with tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers fewer than seven inches. I heard disappointment in a screener's voice after he spotted a pair of scissors in a passenger's bag. "Oh! I think these scissors are only three inches long."

Speaking of peacoats - a flock of young, Navy servicemen just walked by. Innocence still adorns their faces, must be new recruits, home for the holidays.

The one consistency in airports is, no, not TSA screeners. No, I've traveled too much to know that every airport is different in how many times the boarding pass and ID are reviewed, what needs to go in a bin and what doesn't and what needs to be taken off and what needs to stay on. The one consistency is Starbucks. Which is probably why they are so globally successful. No matter where in the world, when you order a venti-whipped-cream-topped-chino-something, you know it's going to be good.

Guess there is another consistency: women passengers don't know how to flush the toilet. It's not that difficult to grab the handle and flush. And how do the sinks and floors get so wet? I haven't been in a men's room so I don't know if the guys have this same issue...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why Is It...

...that dirty laundry seems to weigh more than clean laundry? Is it a scientific or psychological phenomenon? Hmm....

Chapter from Bridget Jones

I sometimes feel as though I'm living a chapter from Bridget Jones's Diary (book or movie version, doesn't matter). For some reason, I have an unstoppable ability to be a complete idiot when interacting with a particular someone. When I come up with something clever to say or write, it comes out all jumbled, as though the butterflies in the pit of my stomach have intentionally bumbled the words, playing tricks on me to see how ridiculous they can make me sound. Or worse yet, nothing comes out at all. It seems it's been this way since day one of meeting him.

Is there some sort of chemical reaction or magnetic friction that causes this phenomenon?

That's My Boy!

One of my favorite guys greeted me at the mailbox this afternoon and to my delight, he was named one of "Time Magazine's" Persons of the Year. No, not Bill Gates (although, I'm grateful for Mr. Gates). Bono. He's got it right: practicing and preaching to live a more involved life.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Every Dog Has Its Day

For those of you who love animals, especially dogs, please vote for Cleopatra (named so because she was born in Cairo, Georgia) as the "Cutest Face" in the Dog Show USA contest. Nope, she's not mine, but my boss's :). Click here to vote. And if you do have a dog, you can find information on entering your photogenic pooch here, too.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The King and Not I

I don't think I'm alone when I say how creepy and scary the recent Burger King television ad campaign is. The King is spooky enough - but to have him peek his head into bedrooms, well, it's just a bit disturbing.

Maybe it's me. I'm terrified of unshaded windows which stems from a family incident when I was a kid. One summer night my Mom discovered a peeping Tom and since then, I've had window issues (note: wonder if there is a specific term for this phobia?)

Or, maybe I'm frightened of the King because I'm a product of 1980s scary movies staring Freddy Kruger, Jason and later, Chuckie. These characters all have masks with little to no facial expressions. I see a parallel to the King. His head is plastic, including his hair and crown, and wears an overly broad smile that is just bizarre.

I spent a couple of years after high school working at a Burger King - making burgers and everything associated with working at a 24-hour BK. When the "Big Fish" sandwich was introduced as a new product, I drew and wrote up a commercial (it did NOT include any spooky characters) . I showed it to my boss, with hopes that he would send it to the corporate office and I would be whisked away to work in the corporation's marketing department. Instead, I got a, "that's nice." And that was it.

I would link to a picture of the King (for those of you who don't know what he looks like) but I couldn't' find it on the Burger King website. Maybe they agree he's overly creepy, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's Lonely NOT Being a Lemming

All 120+ girls in my sixth grade class sang on stage during our promotion to junior high. Everyone except me.

True, by that age I knew I couldn't carry a tune (I discovered that during my short run in the church choir), but that wasn't the reason. I just had no interest in getting up on stage and singing.

When promotion evening came and the performance segment, all of the girls and a handful of boys left their seats for the stage. I sat practically alone among the empty folding chairs. I felt slightly out of place, not comprehending why all of the girls wanted to sing, but realized, they did it because they did not want to miss out and be left out. Miss out and left out of what, I don't know. All I knew was that I was not going to give into peer pressure and do something I didn't want to do, which was perform that night.

There was a time in my life when I didn't care what people thought of me. I did things for me, despite everyone else doing them. I didn't, and still don't, concern myself with missing out on something. I had the ability of being a "stealth leader" - being able to make things happen without anyone knowing it's me.

After a period of losing this part of myself, I'm slowly finding it again. The ability to stand alone and stand up for what I believe in. And sometimes, it's lonely.

[Definition of a lemming.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Spending Time in Seaside

Not all movies filmed in Florida are B-horror flicks. In the perfectly planned community of Seaside, Fla, "The Truman Show",starring Jim Carey was filmed.

I found the perfection of the town to be a bit too perfect. Green space was meticulously manicured and perfectly green. Homes coordinate each other in pastel shades, lining perfectly symmetrical brick streets.

As I spent more time in the area I noticed that the community's authenticity shines through its eclectic mix of art, boutiques and dining. Enjoy the images

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Florida and "B" Movies

I'm beginning to see a pattern with Florida State Parks and bad horror movies (by the way, does the "B" for B-rated movies come from "bad?"). Last month I visited Wakulla Springs State Park where "Creature from the Black Lagoon" was filmed. Today I visited Eden Gardens State Park in Point Washington, Fla. The home itself has an impressive collection of Louis XVI furniture, once belonging to a timber family and most recently, Lois Maxon - a descendant of royalty and former employee of some New York City-based newspaper (the guide couldn't tell me much more).

The 1972 horror flick "Frogs" was filmed here. 1972 was prior to groovy animation and film manipulation so the film producers held a casting call for frogs (well, not really, they accepted all frogs). The frogs' agents were compensated .05 per frog. Don't know if this was prior to Kermit the Frog or maybe he had already made it big by 1972, but I'm pretty sure he didn't make a cameo in this one.

Hitching to a Falling Star

It's 10 PM CST and I wonder, how much better can life be? I'm sitting on the balcony of my 11th floor hotel room, overlooking the white-sandy beaches of the Beaches of South Walton, glass of merlot in hand, listening to the roll of the Emerald-green waters and watching the Geminids meteor shower. I can wish on all the shooting stars, right?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Most Unusual Place

I wear art, not jewelry. My adornments are found at festivals, off-beat shops, flea markets and last week, the car rental counter. Approaching the counter, the clerk stared at my neck. She said she was noticing my necklace. I replied, "thanks, but I hope it's because you like it and not because it's odd."

Raising her index finger, she told me to, "hold that thought" and disappeared into the back. She returned with a little black bag, pulled out a little plastic bag with silver and chips of glass beads. She poured the bag onto the counter so I could see how similar it was to mine.

Turns out, her sister in Cartagena, Columbia, designs and creates the jewelry. Helena (the clerk) said it's something called, "kortz." (I Googled it but couldn't find anything on it). Her sister adorns these beads on denim jeans, skirts and jackets. The price was right and I couldn't resist making a purchase. Helena is making a trip early next year to bring back more and will let me know when she returns. Anyone interested?

Mango Inn ~ Lake Worth, Fla

Whimsy dots the interior and exterior of the Mango Inn. Definitely a place I would return to.

Read the story associated with these images.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

"Kashi" and I reminisce about Japan following our sushi class.

Read the story associated with this photo.

Sushi 101 - Sushi Chef Jenn

Here I am with maki, sushi, sashimi and hand roll - and yes, I MADE it myself.

Read the story associated with this photo.

Sushi 101 - The Final Product

Sushi by Sushi Chef Jenn.

Read the story to learn why I have a photo of sushi on my blog.

My Ever Changing Mood

The period between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day is a time when singletons are reminded of their single status in society. Driving to the airport last Friday, multiple radio stations playing Christmas tunes and the streets draped in green, red and gold reminded me of my stature in society - a singleton. Destined to live a life alone, with no children nor husband/boyfriend to share it. *sigh*

And my mood changed upon landing in Ft. Lauderdale. Not only was the sun welcoming into its radiant arms but the temperature was about 30 degrees warmer than Tallahassee. Luck was on my side as my economy car rental was upgraded to a black, 2006 Mustang (two-day rental for $44 - not too bad!). My friend Penny had a 1960-something car in high school and I never understood her attachment to the vehicle until I got behind the wheel and put on the gas up I-95 - feeling the giddy-up of the engine - but the power and control.

A morning of Christmas shopping was followed by a much-needed pedicure and manicure at a random strip-mall. For 28 bucks, I got the pampering I needed - who needs those stuffy, upscale, overpriced spas?

I treated myself to a stay at Lake Worth's Mango Inn Bed & Breakfast where I immediately nestled into the bed and snuggled under the down duvet (note: down equals heaven) for a brief nap. The evening was spent with Kathy and her family: husband Matt-A, and parents Carol and Dan and a (literal) boat-load of sushi and sashimi at Boca Raton's Bluefin Sushi Thai Grill.

And the next day - what I've been waited months for - "Sushi 101" at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Guests at the B&B seemed a bit envious of the day's plans and asked me about it this morning. Kathy, Carol and I had an awesome time - learning how to make a California roll, a rainbow roll and hand roll. No matter how the pieces turned out, they were still tasty. We spent the early afternoon walking the gardens, evoking memories of last year's trip to Japan.

The rest of the day was consumed with shopping, including dropping some dough at the Festival Flea Market (I'm a flea market-junkie and this one is pretty good - I especially like the encouragement of eating a "pickle-on-a-stick" while shopping) and other places - to complete the Christmas shopping. The evening wrapped up with dinner Cuban-style at Don Ramon Restaurant in West Palm Beach. Thankfully, this Cuban cuisine is NOTHING like what I was fed in Havana two years ago. The mojo chicken and rice pudding rock! I enjoyed spending time with Kathy's family (and her, too). They are good souls.

Stepping out of the airport, I was welcomed home by the kiss of cool, Tallahassee air and realized my fantasy weekend was over.

Enjoy some of my images of the weekend:
Sushi 101 - The Final Product
Sushi 101 - Sushi Chef Jenn
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Mango Inn ~ Lake Worth, Fla

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Do Real Men Write Notes?

Do they? I realize that note writing is a lost art, almost obliterated by the onset and convenience of the Internet. Especially the art of writing thank you notes.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my (postal) mailbox today to find a hand written note from my friend's husband (well, he's a friend, too). It was a PROPER thank you for cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner last week. And, it was more than a sentence or two, actually, a few paragraphs. Now, don't think he's a girlie-man; he served a tour in Vietnam and is a successful handyman.

Am I the only one who's impressed?

You're Overdue in Cleaning Your Laundry When...

...You need to scrape to the bottom of your lingerie drawer to pull out your "granny panties." It's not that I wear thongs or g-strings (or are those the same?), but I believe in practical and comfortable with a dash of fun. God, hope no one from work reads this today...