Saturday, May 28, 2011

How I Became a Tourist in My Own City



My Memorial Day Weekend plans were set to the tune of something like this. Friday I'd leave work with my best friend and we'd go to this Mexican bar we went to last weekend for a happy hour to start the holiday. Saturday I'd fish along the Schukyll River all day while wearing a cowboy hat and listening to my Ipod. Sunday I'd attend church, a West Philly BBQ, and end the day either watching movies in bed or finding something fun to get into. Monday I'd clean the apartment and exercise or something.

That was the plan. Friday was solid, those things actually happened. Saturday, not so much, but I found something else to keep me occupied. As it turns out, Modells and KMart do not sell fishing supplies. I guess they figure people living in Center City Philadelphia have no use for such things. Either that or fishing poles are not allowed on SEPTA buses. Anyway, I was bummed. Fortunately I found this out Friday night instead of wasting a trip to the Gallery on Saturday.

So Saturday comes and I make a delicious and healthy breakfast. By 2pm (I woke up around 11) I'm ready to go. I decided to visit the five original squares laid out by William Penn in Philadelphia. That would be Rittenhouse, Washington, Franklin, Centre (City Hall) and Logan Squares respectively. They make up a large rectangle surrounding downtown Philadelphia. So I walked 5.5 miles, enjoyed some site seeing (and gelato which I've never had before today) and took a lot of pictures. Overall it was a great way to spend a "plan-less" day. Tomorrow should be on track and Monday...well...we'll see what it brings.

In other news I finally submitted something to the Philadelphia Writer's Group. Wait, not just something, but the first chapter and the introduction to my novel, "The Writer's House." That's right, I'm finally working on a novel. I was really excited to submit it and I'm prepared to handle the critiques come June. If anything I need it since I've never worked on a novel before. My goal is to marry this project (divorce my work for a bit but still keep seeing him) and finish it! No set date but just to steadfastly work on it for awhile.

I walked 5.5 miles today. Wow!

Oh, look...a chicken!

I'm kidding. The heat is making me very scatterbrained. That's about all I had to say. Enjoy the holiday! (Wow, that rhymed!)

Until next time...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How I Survived the Rapture and Made New Navy Friends



For Rapture Day 2011, my cousin, Erin and I decided to hang out in Philly. It ended up being an epic day and an excellent idea.

We started off the day by getting a cup of Chai Tea (the best Chai in Philadelphia) at The Random Tea Room. Then we ventured down to Penn's Landing for Deleware River Day. We got to the River and immediatly gravitated to the USS Kauffman, a giant Navy ship that was docked at the landing. We wanted to tour it but the final tour had just been let onboard so we weren't able to go.

We decided to stalk the Navy guys, kind of blatnetly, and I found one who was absoutly adorable. I wanted to come up with some catchy Rapture pick up line but settled for asking for a picture.



Afterwards we went to visit the tugboats and then found a sailboat where we could take a one hour cruise onto the River for $5. So we did. It was about an hour till the rapture and we were about to "go on a boat, with our flippy floppies..." We met a guy and his daughter on board and had great conversations during our epic voyage. We took some fun pictures too.

Then I went back to stalk the hot Navy guy, to no avail. It was now about rapture time and the sky became dark and ominious. We took a few rapture pictures and then went down to South Street to have some delicious pizza at Lorenzos. After consuming a slice of pizza the size of our heads, we walked back to Old City and decided to have a beer at Mac's Tavern. This is when it gets interesting.

Erin and I were sitting at the end of the bar and I was in direct sightline to the Navy guys who happened to be in there. There were two seats open next to them but we didn't want to sit there and be obvious. Thankfully a guy and his friends tried to play darts behind us and Erin, slighly fearful she'd take a dart to the head, expressed her concerns. The bartender overheard us and relocated us to the seats next to the Navy boys. Call it fate, but I was overjoyed at our new placement.

After about 20 min we started talking to the one guy next to us. We played age guessing games, spattered some flattery back and forth and then the boys left. Erin and I were content with our brief interaction. We went to catch a bus to head back to my apartment so she could see it, and low and behold our Navy boys walked down the street towards us and invited us to come out with them again. We decided we'd go to one more bar but NOT on South Street. I took the guys and Erin to Drinker's on Market Street. I'm not going to lie, the highlight of my life was probably me leading a group of Navy guys down Market Street as if we were our own elite group. We got a table in Drinkers and had a merry ole' time.

Before we left, we took a group picture and wished each other well. It was a highlarious night filled with fun, eye candy, and epic stories. Before this weekend, I joked with my co-workers saying I'd spent the Rapture making new Navy friends and sure enough that is exactly what I did.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How I Got $1 After Escaping from Crazy Lil John



It was getting a little late in the evening on a Monday night. I had just finished up my personal training session followed by my weight management group which I affectionately call "fat class." After picking up some snacks for a work meeting for the following day, I went to 5th street to head back home. I hopped on the EL and got off at 11th street. I wanted to take a bus back because my bookbag was so heavy with the snacks and drinks. I didn't feel like walking home from City Hall.

As I waited at the vacant depot, a guy saunters up to me and sits down on the opposite end of the bench. He is Lil John's doppelganger. This guy even has the golden grill teeth. Maybe it was Lil John. All I know is that he was high, drunk, and crazy. He kept talking and rapping to himself. Then, when cars would stop at the traffic light, he'd scream at the cars and wave a cd around saying "HEY! BUY MY CD ITS HOT SHIIIITTTT!!!!"

Normally crazy people don't bother me. I typically avoid eye contact and find something shiny to stare at. Unfortunately the only shiny thing around was this guys teeth. There wasn't a bus in sight and I had to make muffins for the meeting as soon as I got home. I decided to hail a cab because I couldn't deal with the singing, slurring, crazy guy anymore.

The cab pulled up and I hopped in. Lil John screamed at the cab, trying to sell his hot shit CD. The cab driver, who looked like he could be from Turkey, said to me "what is he selling?" I told him "a music cd...and probably a poor one at that." "Thank you for rescuing me from crazy Lil John." Hailing from a foreign country, as most of the Philadelphia cab drivers do, my driver had no clue who Lil John was so the joke was lost.

I put my bus pass away and stared out the window. The driver interrupted my thoughts by asking me, "so what do you do?" Now, in the past I've had cabbies hit on me. One was a really hot Spanish guy who to this day I regret not getting his number. But this guy was just making polite conversation which was a switch from the Arabs who prefer to talk on their bluetooth the entire ride in their native language.

I told him I was a social worker who helped homeless women and children. I didn't know his scope of knowledge of shelters, transitional housing, and youth advocates so I played it simple. After giving him this information, he reached into the center console and whipped out a $1 bill. He handed it to me and said "for the donation bin."

I was touched and startled by the gesture. I was also really tired yet still managed to not make a crack about how we weren't a church or whatnot. I thanked him and told him I'd put it to good use. We continued our small talk which also included a brief conversation of what he should do with a bag of new baby clothes that a guy left in his cab and were now in the cab driver's personal car. In the end he decided to put them in a donation dumpster. He asked me if they'd reach needy people that way.

Having made the mistake of putting a ton of my clothes in the donation dumpster, I should have warned him that 9 times out of 10 the clothes just get torn apart and the fabric is recycled. Instead I wanted to keep his hopes alive and told him that "of course, the baby clothes will make it to a needy person."

We reached my stop and he said "It was a privilege driving you this evening. I really admire someone who helps others and does good for others. Its a rare thing. Have a great night." He gave me his number in case I ever needed a ride. I appreciated the gesture because he was so sincere. He clearly wasn't hitting on me and he cared about the human spirit. It was kind of a rare situation to cherish.

So the following day I brought in that dollar and told the Executive Director about it. We're not sure how it will be put to use but I assure you, it will help someone, someway. I'm a firm believer in donor intent so I'll be sure a resident or child benefits from this man's nice gesture. Yet, his kind words and thoughts behind the action were worth way more than the dollar.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

M.A.'s Top 10

In light of feeling unfulfilled, here is a top ten list of things I'd like to do before I die:

1. Write/publish a Great American Novel, or at least one worthy of a noteworthy literary prize

2. Skydive

3. Go tent camping with a significant other

4. Interrupt a street break dancing routine with moves of my own and then walk away as if nothing happened

5. Learn to surf and purchase a surfboard

6. Own a boxer dog named Bronx

7. Travel to Italy, Australia, Africa, Ireland for the first time and visit Nicaragua again

8. Write an original song and have someone famous sing it

9. Dance on the Ellen Show (yet this requires me to become famous...oops)

10. Be married in a large cathedral

Eat, Pray, Love

On Sunday, after an epic night of going to the most bizarre yet really fun party in my life, I spend the day watching "Eat,Pray,Love" on Netflix and running over to my friend's house to do laundry. The story of "Eat,Pray,Love" is very interesting. I felt compelled to read it a little after the buzz of the story had died down. A good friend of mine lent it to me and I read a large portion of the book during an RMC retreat. Then, as always, I got really distracted by life and it took me a month or two to finish reading it. It was a great book, but I tend to not finish things when I start them and reading books that are lent to me is always one of those things.

Anyway, so I watched the movie (book was better but I still love Julia Roberts) and I felt so unfilfilled. Not because the movie, as most movies do, left out major and important parts of the plot, but because I found I was longing for my own adventure. Now, I'm not talking about an Italy, India, Bali kind of adventure for I do not have the money, resources, or time off for that. I'd be happy with a local vacay for a few days. But I feel I don't have enough vacation days or money for even the smallest of adventures. Additionally, I'm trying to go back to school and once that starts up (pending my acceptance) I really won't have time for a little getaway.

On top of that, I am not living up to my full potential. Between the weight management classes and work and an ecclectic social life made up of a variety of different people, corresponding into different groups, I don't have time. I feel off balanced, rushed, and like I'm just going through the motions. Here I am, at 23 yrs old and I have an amazing fulfilling job which allows me to make a difference every day. I have a great pay, great benefits, my own apartment in the heart of a buzzing city. Yet I wake up, roll into work, go home, cook, shower, sleep.

Do you want to know what I am NOT doing enough of? Writing. For myself. I don't journal anymore, I just update this blog. I haven't produced creative material in forever. I keep promising myself that one day I'll put myself out there and create and submit work to writing contests...etc But I keep promising and not doing.

What else am I not doing? I'm not praying, ever, unless someone close to me gets stricken with a sickness or a tragedy. I go to church but I just go through the motions, saying the responses, mumbling the words, and daydreaming about what I'm going to wear/eat/do afterwards and beyond into the week.

What else am I not doing? Taking care of myself. I can be the most selfish person you've ever met and also the most selfless. Lately, I feel like I'm living for everyone else but myself. I'm not taking time out to relax, meditate, walk for lesuire and yes...write. I'm too busy planning things for work, attending to my friends' mini crisis and whatever other trivial things that come my way.

These things are important but what is really important is finding balance. The weight management plan is stressful when you have to constantly be aware if your food is high or low glycemic. This gets particularly out of hand when your refrigerator dies in your apartment, like what just happened to me, and despite starving, you have to resisit the temptation to order an entire pizza and live off of it for a few days. The program has worked so far, but the demands are higher. I'm supposed to increase my exercise, do personal training, get up early and drink hot water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in it, eat a big breakfast with protein and vegetables...yes vegetables for breakfast. Please, I'm lucky if I scarf down a banana or an orange before bolting out the door and rolling up late to work.

My job isn't particularly stressful right now, but I really, really HATE that my mind seems to think that the best time to brainstorm ideas for my job is while I'm laying in bed trying to fall asleep. My mind gets going, the wheels start turning, and before I know it, my alarm is going off and I realize I haven't slept. Forget all of those great ideas because I'm so angry I didn't sleep that I trudge into work looking like a hateful hateful person because I'm so damn tired.

All I have to do is find time for the things I love, maintain my responsibilities for the things I have to do and balance life between it all.

But first I have to try to pull myself together because there is no logical reason why I am falling apart.

Until next time...