Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby!

The Best Parents To Be Ever (see below) are now mom and dad to a very healthy baby girl. Welcome to Earth, Jackie Chan! You have five fairy god(dess) mothers who can't wait to meet you.

Monday, May 28, 2007


I am so tired. I just can't get ahead. I know that I don't have half the problems the rest of the world does. I have my health, a man who loves me, a good job, a family who supports me, both parents alive and healthy, two funny pets and loyal friends. I have all the big stuff figured out. Everything that matters is a-okay, on track and happy happy.

It's just the devil in the details. I go through these spates of bad luck and bullshit, and I'm just fucking sick of it. 99% of the time I can laugh about days like this and this. I can laugh about how when Joel and I did eHarmony, they were only hocking 13 dimension of compatibility. Now the commercials boast about 29, and I wonder what the missing 16 were. Based on our life together, I have a pretty good guess. Mutual degree of extreme clumsiness? Check. Equally rotten fucking luck with cars? Check. Weird shit that just happens, like sustaining bodily injuries from passing baseballs? Check.

Frankly, it's ideal. Neither one of us can stay mad at the other for very long, because it's truly only a matter of minutes until the other breaks something, loses something or trips over a cord connecting one expensive thing to something else. It's so nice to not to have to explain myself or have my partner gaze at me with a mixture of amazement, exasperation and pity (amazesperity?) that I've once again found a brand new way to lose my keys. To be fair, Joel does sometimes look at me with, um, amazesperity, but then he reaches into the dishwasher for a clean plate and pulls out only half a jagged shard on what was a whole plate until he touched it. It's like looking in a mirror.

Want the latest rundown? My car started making a funky sound. Joel and I took it for a spin. It's wouldn't make the noise for HIM. Nonetheless, he ends up accidentally pocketing the keys and leaves at Early O'Dark last Saturday morning to tutor in the city. I get up to leave for work. No keys. There's a cheery message on my voicemail not to panic, Joel has my keys. Of course, I don't have a spare because I had just lost my entire set of keys two days before while covering a huge electrical fire in a thunderstorm. I made A1 pictures and uploaded live video for the evening news broadcast, which I narrated live via phone from "the field," oh yes, I am a badass. I JUST FUCKING DROPPED MY KEYS SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY. Just fucking shoot me.

So anyway. Joel drove back from the city at 80 miles an hour to hand off the only remaining key for my car. I manage to make it to a Revolutionary War re-enactment, shoot lacrosse in the rain, photograph 500 7th Day Adventists marching to their new church, and while away the rest of my relaxing evening at the M!ss Puerto Ric@n D@y P@rade P@geant.

But back to the funky automobile noise! See, I wasn't that worried. It's a new car, even though I've put 19,500 miles on it since October, but what could really be wrong? needs all new brakes. Nothing covered by the warranty, since brakes are expected to wear out over time. $400.

Then, mammajamma photo printer we use constantly has "parts that have reached the end of their service life." It needs a basic tuneup. Fine. $130. Fair enough. We get it back, all is well. Then I change an ink cartridge, which the printer doesn't recognize. I return to the repair place. Oh, it's probably a cable that came lose during the tuneup. Oh, nope, nope, it needs a new print head ($200) and yes, it's true that there's yet another thing that could eventually break ($300), so more or less my printer is a money pit.

Have no fear! New printers are $100 off with a rebate and instant savings! But only at CompUSA in Manhattan! And the website says there's only one left! Joel, best guy ever, is the first customer at the store. (He lets me sleep late because today was my one day off. If I work tomorrow, it gives me more clout to ask for both Thanksgiving and Christmas off.) He returns home with a brand new printer, groceries and a small plastic camera thingy that you have to buy in the city. We set it up, and it won't print. We did everything right. It's plugged in and everything.

I call Luke and magically the printer works. It works for twelve glorious hours, during which I catch up on reprint orders and things I've been meaning to print for the last week. Then, inexplicably, it stops working again. I restart the computer. I restart the printer. I turn the printer off and unplug it. I delete the printer and add it again. Joel reinstalls the software. We call Luke again, and even his miraculous skillz fail to make this $600 miracle of modern convenience our bitch.

I decide I've just had it for now, even though Joel is still in there, trying to download updated software, so I decided to head to bed and flop in front of the fan.... Wait for it, wait for it... The fucking fan is fucking broken. It worked three hours ago when I took a nap. The fan is plugged in. It's turned on. There are no light switches that control that outlet. The air purifier works in both openings in the outlet. It's just dead. Why does everything I touch turn to shit?

Also? At this rate, we are never going to be able to afford a house. Oh, and the landlady just raised the rent.

EDITED TO ADD: You know what though? I witnessed a family having a huge group fight outside of Barnes and Noble today, complete with public crying and shouting and drama. My family, we love passionately and fight passionately. I have been there, in the midst of a horribly public family fight, but it's been YEARS since that happened. We've all grown a lot, but still... my heart went out to that family today. Compared to that, all my present complaints are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


A foal was born at the stable where I did a two-week project last July on girls who spend their entire summer vacations mucking out stalls and riding horses every day.

It is the cutest thing. I did a video project for work about their new arrival. Baby horse! Go! Watch! Baby horse with knobby legs! Gah! :::HEAD EXPLODES::::

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Shun the non-believer! Shunnn! Ssshuunn!

Chaaaarlieeeee wants you to watch this! Yeeeaaah, waaatch it!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Very Long Rant-y Entry

I have a bug up my butt about something. (Shocker!!!)

As per usual, there are some random references and seeming non sequiturs due to the Rambling Train of Angie Thought. Hang in there with me for a few paragraphs or ten. Okay, here we go.

So obviously, I read a lot of blogs, right? Yes. And once you start reading blogs, if you pay attention to the comments, you start to realize that a lot of the people reading, commenting and blogging in their own right are the same general circle of readers and writers.

After a while, it starts to feel exactly like living in a small town. Everyone knows everyone else's business (though in this case it's because we're all posting our business on the Internet.) You get to know whose kid is whose, and you get to watch them all grow up. There's a tremendous sense of community, of tireless support, of cheering each other on. You mourn together, cry together, laugh together. Of course, you occasionally encounter bullies, judgmental people, jealousy, but mostly there's a validation, a relief, a feeling of comfort from the sense of "OMG, me too!"

And yet, also like a small town, every now and then someone busts out with something really close-minded, and you're like, wait, WHAT?!? The flip side of community and solidarity, I suppose, is a sense of insularity and self-selective isolation. (Here's where we finally get to the thing I have a bug up my butt about.)

Last week on one of the blogs I regularly read, the author was talking about how she's just not a big-city person, citing the usual urban complaints: traffic, graffiti, crime and (wait for it, wait for it) "bazillions of non-English speaking people."

She added the following:

"I know, that makes me sound incredibly prejudiced, but I like for the people around me; for the people who serve my food, and work in the dry cleaners and the grocery stores and the retail shops, to actually be able to speak the same language as their customers. Sue me for saying it out loud."

The commenters, of course, piped up in agreement. This is the "OMG, me too!" factor in action.

Commenter A: "I couldn't agree more! My daughter is acutally 1/2 Mexican/hispanic & so there is a very good chance that in time, I will learn some Spanish for HER so when she decides she wants to learn more about her ethnic heritage we can learn with her. But I will NOT learn Spanish for the hundreds of thousands of legal & illegal immigrants to this country. If you want to live & work in this country & receive benefits in this country, you should at least learn enough English to communicate during a normal day."

And Commenter B: "I love your comment about english speaking. If you are in America the least you can do is speak the language. I should not feel uncomfortable trying to understand someone while trying to do my daily errands."

And C: I completely agree that it is much nicer when those people who come to live in the US from other [sic] are able to speak the language. Of course, I probably would never publicly say this.

And D: "Lately, I've been feeling a little resentful over this whole political correctness thing; it's troubling to me that here in the USA, land of my birth, I am the one who can't voice my opinion because it may offend someone who may or may not be here legally? Who thought up political correctness and why did we buy into it? I am all for people--any people--wanting to LEGALLY create a better life for themselves and their family. The way to do that, however, is not to come here and try to turn it into the place you've just escaped. Speak the language and assimilate. The schools here are going broke trying to deal with those who don't."

There were others as well. Of course, being me, I hopped up on my soapbox and left a big 'ol comment. I left my email address and invited dialogue over email so the original author didn't have to moderate a flame war. No one responded to me, but that's most likely because the blogger put up a handful of short posts in a row and it got bumped off the main page.

Anyway, I still have a bug up my butt about this, and I spell-checked my big ol' comment and everything. So I'm reposting it below:

I know sometimes it's hard to decipher someone's tone by reading their words, so I will preface this by asking you to try to "hear" me speaking openly, evenly, calmly with a tone of respectful curiosity.

Why does it bother you to deal with people who struggle with English? Is it simply the inconvenience?

I hear C and a few other commenters say, in so many words, that they welcome people who come to America to try to achieve the, er, American dream. How do you know how long that the person who is struggling to speak to you in English has been in this country? Today I met a woman who spent an entire month WALKING, more or less, from Guatemala. She arrived on Saturday. It's Thursday. My God, the blisters on HER feet brought tears to MY eyes. How long does she have to learn English before native speakers dismiss her with impatience and irritation? Six weeks? Six months? How long does she have from last Saturday to "speak the language and assimilate"?

What is a "normal day," exactly? (remember what I said about tone now, please hear this in the calm, respectful way I'm typing it) I grew up in a small town in PA where high school football is king. Everyone knows everyone. We have a community pool, and a firemen's carnival (yes, fireMEN, we don't have women firefighters, politically correct, what now? :), and marching bands. Every church has a Christmas bazaar and a vacation Bible school. I learned Spanish in high school, starting with the basics. My love for language propelled to continue studies in college, and I'm bilingual.

I lived in Miami for a year, where I spoke Spanish more than I spoke English. I know the commenters here will think that the fact that I really HAD to use Spanish as a necessity in Miami proves their point. Like it or lump it, it's a fact of life that Miami is a tri-lingual city: English, Spanish and Haitian French creole.

I confess that I felt uncomfortable using Spanish when it came to car troubles and banking. I can't IMAGINE having to go to an emergency room, in pain, sick and afraid, and try to communicate in a second language while panicking.

Sure, I liked speaking Spanish on a NORMAL day. I LIKED explaining "trick or treating" in Spanish to my neighbors from Argentina because their bilingual children Miguel and Alejandra asked me to help their parents understand the completely foreign concept of dressing up like a ninja and a Disney princess and running around the apartment complex asking people for candy.

You know what I like best about being bilingual? When I realize that the person who serves my food, and works in the dry cleaners and the grocery stores and the retail shops is struggling with English, I reach out to them and I say, "Senora, prefiere Usted espanol? (That is, "Ma'am, do you prefer Spanish?")

Their eyes light up. We TALK. I usually need a few minutes to make the changeover to Spanish in my mind. I thank the person I'm speaking to for their patience, and you know what usually happens? They often try to switch to English. They tell me about the other mothers from their child's class at school who are trying to learn, about the "all English" playdates they have to practice with each other, the nun at the church that offers a Spanish mass who runs a workshop at 10 p.m. at night, when they finally leave their second job. They ask me how they sound, am I saying this right? We communicate, and it's wonderful.

I guess my question is this... How do you know that the people who wait on you as you run errands aren't spending their evenings in church basements with workbooks and language tapes, TRYING to learn, and the disdainful reactions they get from native speakers when they struggle only make them that much more afraid to try to speak English "during a normal day?"

And you know what? You're right. Some people don't try. Some people are too tired, too scared, too preoccupied with trying to give their children a better life, too homesick for everything they knew , too much in need of education to reach outside their own cultural comfort zone. But isn't that true of everyone at times? Don't we all have things, struggles, ISSUES where we need to be met where we are?

How can we love America, the country of my birthright, and Commenter B's and C's, and not LOVE the process of the melting pot? Sure, some of us have been "stewing" in the melting pot longer than others, but if everyone who ever immigrated to America assimilated and learned the native language... Well, then... Shouldn't we all be speaking Wampanoag, the language spoken by Squanto and the Patuxet band of indigenous people who greeted the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock?

English has the largest vocabulary of any other language in the world, in part because every wave of immigrants has brought words from their native language that have been incorporated DIRECTLY into English. Words like democracy, metropolis, monsoon, iguana, bagel, opera, tobacco, pashmina, sushi and nugget; never mind "venti cappuccino."

Anyway. I don't know if anyone is even checking this thread anymore,
(they weren't) and I don't want to start a flame war. If anyone wants to continue this conversation, or answer the question I posed before- Why does it bother you to deal with people who struggle with English? Is it simply the inconvenience?- feel free to email me. Thanks for listening!

So that's what I wrote. If you made it all the way through this entry, thank YOU for listening. You should probably go get some work done or something. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


One of the highlights of my birthday every year is the guarantee that I will hear from my two Ex-Boyfriends of All Ex Boyfriends- Jon and Stephen. For me, there is tremendous value in staying in touch with these men. It makes me happy knowing that the great highs of First Love and Young Love aren't forgotten, and the great lows of the Break-up and the Heartbreak were worth enduring since we were able to come out on the other side as friends.

Jon was able to complete my sentences for years. He surprised his wife (it's all good, I was their wedding photographer) with a romantic weekend in the Big Apple (hmm... they didn't call or try to meet up for coffee? Guess seeing the Ex-Girlfriend of all Ex-Girlfriends, moi, for brunch didn't really jive with the lovey-dovey theme), complete with tickets to see "Phantom of the Opera." There's a hesitance in his voice as he tells me this, and I hear him exhale as I break into a wicked little chuckle.

Me: "Dude. You can reclaim that musical for new happy memories with your wife, but you're not allowed to FORGET the overwrought, adolescent thing that we had about "Phantom," okay? Do what you want, but you're not allowed to FORGET."

And we have a good laugh, and one of these years, he'll announce that he's going to be a father during our annual birthday chat. And I'm glad I'll know about it and hear about it from him.

Stephen was so full of hilarity that there are a million little catch phrases and keywords ("I don't like the train" said with an Irish accent) that open up a treasure trove of inside jokes and memories. We had a tradition of buying two wine glasses on our anniversary, the idea being we'd have a set from wherever we were for the rest of our lives, two of each kind. I threw them in the big box the night he left. It was a while ago now, I don't remember when exactly, but I needed more wine glasses for a party. In a pinch, I pulled them out of the box, and really, they're just stemware to me now.

And yet... some connections remain. The other night, when Stephen called to wish me a happy birthday, he told me that Tadeiusz, his sister-in-law's Polish father died a few days before. Mark, Danusia and Andrew were in Poland for the funeral. Tadeiusz spoke no English, and I spoke no Polish, but he was kind to me over the years.

The last time I saw him, we were in DC. Everyone was cranky. This kind, Eastern European man who survived WWII in Warsaw hadn't realized you couldn't flush disposable diapers. There was a plumbing disaster of epic propertions. Somehow when the plumber finally came, there had been a mishap with the "Dear Plumber" letter Mark had written explaining the nature of the toilet problem and oh, by the way, "the man who just handed you this letter speaks no English." By the time Stephen and I showed up, there was a DIFFERENT plumber, a giant pump and some sort of accident resulting in dissolved chemicals pouring into the kitchen through the light fixtures.

My heart is healed, my memories storied, and yet... My ex-family is mourning right now, and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. These are people I spent Christmas Eve with for years. I brought them casseroles when they were giving cancer a proper beatdown. They allowed me to cherish their child. They were my family.

And the truth is, even if things hadn't unfolded the way they did, there still wouldn't be much I could do to ease their sadness right now. I could look through my archived photographs for pictures from happier times. I could send a sympathy card. Thanks to Stephen's patience, and both of our hard work to keep communicating through the Heartbreak, I CAN do those things, even now. So at least there's that.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Trash the Dress!

This is awesome. This is soooo awesome. AWESOME! (<---okay that was an inside joke for anyone who ever heard the spoof of the musical "Big" by those wacky satirists from "Forbidden Broadway" or for anyone who used to get my voicemail message when I was in college.)

Ahem. For everyone else (I'm lookin' at you Lauri and Katie), I am thoroughly inspired by this website. Essentially, it's for recent newlyweds who want amazing photographs in their wedding attire and don't care AT ALL what happens to the dress. I'm talkin' about newlyweds splashing in the ocean, brides in mud, couples in freshwater ponds in caves for cryin' out loud, these photos in particular are so amazing it makes my brain weep. (Photogeekers, watch the video!)

Can you tell I'm thoroughly inspired? I bet you couldn't tell.

I love "underwater" photography (my normal mammajamma camera in a 10-gallon fish tank, long story), and I've wanted to shoot brides on trampolines for a looong time, but 1.) contemporary trampolines come with all kinds of crazy safety fences and stuff that would get in the way and 2.) I don't know anyone who would let me do this.

The night AFTER Manda's wedding, I was still at her house editing photos and helping her close up the apartment. A few hours before she and Tom left for Hawaii at stupid o'clock in the morning, Amanda grabbed her wedding dress off the hanger and hopped up onto the guest room bed next to me and the laptop. She was sort of hugging the dress and said, "I married my Tommy in this dress!" which sounds completely nauseating but so wasn't in that moment.

The thought of her laying in gritty, stainy sand in that dress makes ME want to cry, and not just because I got blood off of it before the ceremony AND whip-stitched three inches of the skirt back on during the reception.

So, any volunteers? (NOT MY SISTER, OH HELLS NO).


The photos from dinner at the bayou are online here.

(Not everyone was thrilled with the cajun crawfish.) :) Thanks, guys!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Things I Have Learned

My birthday (it's like a month of celebration here between visits from my mom, dinner out with friends tonight, traveling to see friends next weekend) has me feeling introspective and thinking about what people in my life have taught me.

They aren't all profound, and not everyone's lessons are on the list...
In no particular order:

From my sister: Your hair is the accessory you wear every day. Don't skimp on haircuts or try to do them yourself.

From Brad: Strength, in its most tenacious form, isn't physical.

From Shannon: You can raise a thoughtful, loving, well-adjusted, intelligent child without sacrificing, or even stagnating, your career.

From my father: You can be gregarious, outgoing, and loud without being rude. As such, you may stick your foot in your mouth from time to time, but if you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said. Be a decent human being.

From Gwen: Sometimes it's not WHAT you say, it's how you say it. It's not enough to be right. You also have to be kind.

From my brother-in-law Tom: Even if you feel torn between two courses of action, when all is said and done, you'll never regret taking the high road.

From my mom: You can do it all and have it all- travel, work, own your own home, raise a family, go to graduate school- you just can't do it all *at the same time.*

From Nanny: Be a career woman, go to Atlantic City with your girlfriends, and don't get married until you turn 30. ;)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Birthday Love...

...begins a day early! A hilarious comment below, then four fantastic looking novels and a bouquet of flowers greeted me on the porch when I went out to walk Bella. What I am supposed to do now, like, go to work when there's a hammock in the backyard and four brand new books waiting to have their spines cracked? :) Thanks, guys! Mwah!


I have very strong feelings about costumes and clothes on dogs. In general, I think it's stupid. Bella has her silly Santa collar but that's about it. And yet... Seeing this photo of a dog in a chicken suit just about made me laugh myself to death like the weasels in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

The other photos on the website are pretty funny, too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I have a new hobby.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have discovered scrapbooking. I'm so addicted. It's really bad. I've been neglecting the blog, because I'm spending so much free time with my glue stick. Oof.

It all started with the great giant 72-hour cleaning project a few months ago. The fridge was absolutely covered with pictures Melanie and Gaby have drawn, little notes from my dad, comic strips I've clipped out, a fun Get Well card for Bella my mom made when her eyes were about to fall out, and OF COURSE I can't throw any of it away, especially the artwork from the Royal Cutenesses. So I got a scrapbook from Target with "almost done" pages- all you add is photos (or finger paintings)- and voila! Done!

The "almost done" pages were on sale, which was great, but I've since discovered they were sale because they were discontinued. Doh! So I got some basic paper and coordinating supplies with a Target gift certificate, and that was it. Now I'm popping in and out of A.C. Moore almost daily. In a way, it's kind of nice, actually. I spend so much time putting together prints, burning CDS, making albums, etc for other people that I don't really have many keepsakes for myself, unless you count my long list of flickr slideshows (which I do not) over there. ----->

I do find myself wishing there were snarky scrapbooking supplies, kind of like subversive cross-stitch. Instead of all the "Our Picture Perfect Day" wedding scrapbook stuff, what if there were embellishments and stickers that said, "My wedding planner was an incompetent boob"? What if there were Jolee's Scrapbooking stickers of a stirrups and IVF syringes and home pregnancy tests and bejeweled words like these that say "IFV Sucks!" Because I would TOTALLY make a snarky scrapbook like that, and a bunch of kickass women I know probably would, too.