Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I don't know what's wrong with me lately. I've been so bored. The bad weather and my erratic work schedule's kept me inside a lot, and while you'd probably never know it from the increased activity in this blog, I've had a terrible bout with writer's block. I haven't written an actual story since I posted "Be Careful, Words Can Hurt" here.

I must sound like a whiny, spoiled crybaby (or Serena from "Sailor Moon"). I don't know what's wrong with me. I shouldn't be bored. I have a job and lots of music and DVDs. I shouldn't complain, but I do. None of my friends live in the area, and while I like Erica and appreciate everything she, my landlady, my co-workers, and my family have done for me, nothing seems...right. I just don't fit in. Everyone's always saying there's lots of single late 20somethings like me, but I never see them. The only guys who ever pay attention to me outside of work lean out of their cars to insult me.

I want to write, but no one I know is a writer. I want a good, solid, normal job, but I've never known anyone with a normal, regular job besides Erica. I don't know why I feel weird or why I can't write something down and send it to everyone I can send it to. I don't know if my writing's good enough. I don't feel like I'm doing anything useful, and I hate my boring mornings.

I guess it's just cabin fever, but I've had a hard time getting out of it. I'm worried about meeting people. I don't know where weird people like me go offline. Where do you go when you're weird and eccentric and don't fit in? Where do you go if you don't drink, but you're in your late 20s and single and don't really like crowds? What do you do if you're scared to trust people but want more out of life?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Volunteering My Services

I just applied to New Jersey Reads and the Camden County Library System as a volunteer. I really, really hope they can use me. I love volunteering for the Friends In Deed shop, but I'd like to share my love of reading to children and teens who, like my brother Keefe and sister Jessa, are being increasingly discouraged from reading by other distractions.

Reading may have saved my sanity during my childhood. It was a way to escape my troubles, the parental fights and the school bullies and the lonliness of being "the weird one" and visit another place, another time, and meet wonderful characters and "see" different worlds, if only in the mind's eye. I want all children to be able to have that escape, to know there's a place they can go where their parents won't nag and the other kids won't put them down, if just for a little while.
And beyond the escapism, it readies you for life. I see so many of my customers in the Acme struggle just because probably a good quarter of them can't read the sales on the signs or read them well. Reading helps you in so, so many ways beyond school. It's so essential, and it's shocking how many people these days can't understand that.
How To Lose An Employee

How about waiting until tonight to tell her she can't wear the red and white turtlenecks and long-sleeved Ts she's worn under her uniform shirt since it first got cold enough back in December, even though they match her uniform just fine? Or telling her she can't wear the just-above-ankle-length cullottes no one complained about in Wildwood after she's worn them for two weeks? Or telling her she can't use the self-checkout because of the slight possibility of there being a problem when she's used it for years without a peep?

This is getting ridiculous. I don't mind following the rules, I'd just like to know what they are first.

And the Acme wonders why all it's employees are leaving or just plain fed up? : 0 p

Monday, February 26, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

I ran some errands today out of sheer boredom. I needed a ride to work, but I needed it at the same time as my teenage sister, so I asked Uncle Ken to drop me off a few hours early.

In addition to picking up shampoo (Prell likes my hair) and a new pair of simple khaki pants from Wal-Mart to replace the cheap ones I grabbed from the thrift shop , I dropped by the FYE in the same shopping center and picked up the new two-disc, original version of The Empire Strikes Back as part of my ongoing attempt to replace get movies I either really, really like or taped off of TV on DVD. I also could not resist grabbing the new Warners Supergirl DVD release.

Yes, I know this is not a great movie. It's not even a good movie. Justin's complaints at Mutant Reviews are really rather on-the-mark. The dialogue ranges from cheesy to just nonsensical, the special effects were actually pretty lame in the 80s much less now, Faye Dunaway chews every bit of scenery within a five-mile radius, the plot makes no sense, and the whole thing looks rather cheap in comparison to the actual Superman films that bookend it.

I can't help it. I love it anyway. I love the cheesy effects. I love the weird plotlines. I love the stiff "love interest" and how she saves him at the last minute. I love the mountain sprouting up in the middle of town. I love all the "L" names. I love that a girl is the one who gets to be the hero without even ruffling her cape, and her mentor is Peter O'Toole. Even Dunaway's rabid overacting fits the general air of weirdness. I love that the fortress of doom is in a working amusement park ride.

And I REALLY love how she can go from blond to brunette in a single bound!

Like many guilty pleasures, this movie seems to have a very divisive following - either people adore it, or think it's one of the worst movies ever involving superheroes. I say, if you love the idea of a movie with a female superhero as much as I do and don't mind some very thick cheese, it's definately worth a shot.
Of Sunshine And Dreamgirls

Congradulations to the cast and crews of Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine for their deserved Oscar wins last night!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cold Cotton Candy

....Is what the snow we got looks like! Yes, it did end up snowing today, more than we planned...but at the minute, all we've gotten is fat, wet, fluffy, cottony snow. The last time I peeked out my front door, there was a tiny bit of freezing drizzle, but nothing to the extent we got two weeks ago!

Even so, fear of more ice and snow (along with tonight's Oscars and Sunday being the only day many people can run errands) brought customers out in droves, even when the snow finally started around 3PM. The Acme was busy from my arrival at 1:30 to my departure at quarter after six, though thankfully it went fairly fast and there were no problems.
Sunshine Dreams On The Highway

Here's the best of luck to the casts and crews of Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, and Cars, the three best movies I saw last year.

(And a quick update - looks like luck's holding out for Sunshine, at least - Alan Arkin, who played the foul-mouthed Grandpa, just won Best Supporting Actor.)
Young Woman Blues

I was helping an older woman tonight at work, and I handed her the gift card she'd used back, because it still had some money left on it. She stared at me and said "I wish my older friends were here. They KNOW me. They put a sticker on it and write the amount down."

That hurt. I know, I shouldn't have let it hurt. What's wrong with ME? I'm sorry I couldn't read her mind, but I'm not one of the older retirees, single mothers, and mothers and fathers making a second income who work during the day. I haven't lived here for years, and I don't know everyone and their habits.

Actually, I'd prefer to work during the morning, but I haven't worked at this store long enough. Apparently, when I changed unions, I lost senority. (And I'd already lost some senority when the Wildwood Acme closed in September 2005 and they moved me to North Cape May.) Why do they expect people to read minds? Why didn't she say she wanted me to write it down in the first place? I would have, if she'd said she wanted it.
The Ice Is Back

According to the National Weather Service, we are supposed to get more ice, snow, and sleet, but it doesn't sound as bad as it did before. If what they say is any indication, it's supposed to stay reletively warm...warm enough that any accumulation should melt before things get as bad as they did last week.

I hope.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Volunteers Of America

I did my weekly volunteering day at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop in Collingswood. It was very, very busy and we had a couple of big donations, including a huge one from a wealthy British woman who gave us five huge bags of clothes! The shop was having a clothing sale, too, everything you can fit in a grocery store bag for three dollars.

My friend and fellow volunteers Erica and Mary Anne and I went out to dinner at Chili's in Cherry Hill after work. We all ordered burgers. Erica had the Chipotle Bacon, I had the Mushroom Swiss, and Mary Anne had the BBQ Ranch. When the burgers came, though, Erica's didn't have the veggies she'd asked for instead of French fries, and the other two burgers weren't what we'd ordered at all!

The manager and the waitress were very nice and apologetic, especially after Erica patiently and kindly explained the mix-up. The waitress said she'd typed our orders in, and that's what they came out to. They did bring us the right burgers and offered us free desserts. When we turned down the desserts, they gave us my burger and Erica's hot tea for free instead! And the whole thing happened in a little over an hour.

We made sure to leave that poor waitress an extra-big tip. ; 0 )

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lights! Camera! Shopping!

There was a bit of excitement at work today, and for once, it wasn't because we were amazingly busy. (In fact, we were dead-to-steady customer-wise for most of the night.) About an hour after my arrival at 3:30, someone asked me why a guy with a TV camera was walking around. I had no idea. I later heard reports of people seen running around the store with checks the size of SUVs. The managers moved the open registers down to near the front door and self-checkout, and we were forbidden from using the intercom for an hour.

It wasn't until my break I found out what all the fuss was about. Someone presented two of our customers with a hundred-some dollar check and a $3,000-some dollar check for an Acme shopping spree, and one of the local TV stations was filming the whole thing for their newscast. I don't remember exactly why they were giving away shopping sprees, other than some of my other customers were a bit jealous they weren't the ones who got the money! ; 0 )

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What Needs Doing

Mostly did a lot of little household chores that just needed doing today, like sending out a bill, updating my finances, making my bed, and just putting random things away and doing little things I've put off in the past few months, some as long as before Christmas. I also rescheduled my counceling appointment and called Mom to say "hi."

(Other than her son and his poor report card is driving her crazy, Mom sounded fine. She's talking about volunteering some of her graphic work for my brother's junior high school.)

The weather improved enough that I can finally get back on the bike, but the yard is a disaster area, with huge branches down and everything that isn't still covered with snow mud soup. I did ride my bike to work today and likely will tomorrow, which is a start.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Breaking The Ice

....Or melting it, as the damn ice is FINALLY going away, thanks to 50-degree temperatures here in Southern New Jersey. I'm hoping the roads will be clear enough for me to return to riding my bike tomorrow. I appreciate everything Uncle Ken, Bruce, and Erica have done in driving me to work this past week or so, but I really can't keep relying on them. I'm an adult, and adults don't have other adults hauling them around all the time. Once in a while, but not for a week straight. I need to be on my own again. I don't think it's fair they have to rearrange their schedules all the time for me, too.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Year Of The Pig

Happy Chinese New Year! To celebrate, I made my first home-made beef stir-fry. The Acme had packets of stir-fry seasonings, Chinese noodles, and cubed steak on sale, so I figured this was the perfect time to try it.

I guess I sort of cheated. I bought frozen "Oriental" vegetables and the stir-fry seasonings, but I'd never had any Chinese that didn't come from a restaraunt before.

I'm really happy with how it came out. I probably added a little too much sugar to the stir-fry, but it was really tasty, not too spicy (which is what I was afraid it would be). Good and hot and simple on a still reletively cold day after a very busy day at work. (Sundays are busy even outside of football season!)

Other than work, it was a quiet day. I re-arranged my records this morning. They used to be organized by genre and decade. I kept country rock and disco together, but all other rock albums are now organized alphabetically. Also organized together in the crates on the other side are vocalists, jazz, soundtracks (now all soundtracks, regardless of what type of music is featured), Broadway cast and studio albums, and miscellaneous oddities.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It's Mellltttiiinnnggg...

...And thank goodness for that! The ice is finally starting to melt, thanks to the first above-freezing temperatures we've had since Tuesday. It'll probably be a few more days before it actually goes away for good. I hope it doesn't take TOO long. The roads are mostly fine, but sidewalks and parking lots remain covered with sheets of ice as thick as my thumb (as I discovered when I broke a piece off just to check on my way to run some errands this morning).
Turner Classic Rock

Here's something I wouldn't expect to see on Turner Classic Movies. They're covering "Oscar Winning and/or Nominated Scores" tonight, and among those running are the infamous 1975 Kurt Russell version of "Tommy."

Come to think of it, I wouldn't expect to see the movies running before ("A River Runs Through It" isn't really a classic - it's from 1992!) or after ("Shaft," "Sleuth") "Tommy" on TCM, either. Glad to see them trying to diversify their audience...

I like "Tommy" (I'm listening to the original album version as I type this), but let me say this is DEFINATELY not for the squemish, young kids (and some older ones), and anyone who isn't a fan of classic rock to begin with. It's massively strange. Fun if you like the Who, but very, very strange. I'm not exactly sure how Ann-Margaret got nominated for this - it still recieves mixed reviews to this day and it's hard for anyone to cut through Russell's excess. (This man accidentally started a fire in an English pier...then got everyone out and filmed the burning building for the movie!)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ice Is Not Nice, Baby

I canceled my counceling appointment. It was for one, and I wasn't sure if the roads would be clear by then. The road by my apartment still looks icy. I'm going to try for work tonight, since I work late.

I haven't done much else today. Worked on the list of books I had. I added all of my Garfield comic books, which took quite a while as I have the first 29 books, plus 31 and 33 and "Garfield's Guide To Everything." Baked a lemon-chocolate-chip cake. I think I'll take the Valentine's Day decorations down after this and watch a movie.

Actually, I've really spent most of the day listening to the ice fall off my apartment. There's ice in bits and pieces all over my porch. It's too cold for it to melt; I think the squirrels are inadvertantly breaking it as they skitter along the trees and roofs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Snowy Valentine

I feel sorry for all the people who made reservations for dinner this Valentine's Day. A massive ice storm last night and more snow tonight have made roads around here into a mess. I would have skipped work today if I didn't live less than ten minutes from it and if I didn't rather badly need the money. All of you lovebirds out there who got stuck in these massive storms are better off with home-made, candlelight dinners and cudding in front of a romantic movie like "Breakfast at Tiffany's," or, in a more comic vein, "Down With Love" (which is what I watched tonight). If you still want to go out, do a make-up date next week if possible, when the weather calms down.

My Valentine's Day was quiet, mostly due to the weather. I did go to work, and it was surprisingly steady - my mother suggested it was probably people picking stuff up between storms, since I worked in the afternoon and early evening. Mom, my stepdad, and my brother still live at the southern tip of New Jersey, near Cape May, and got no snow at all, just wind and rain.
Broadway Baby

God, this sounds awesome. I so wish I could go up to New York and see this. I have the Lincoln Center concert version on DVD (found at Wal-Mart, of all places) and the Ann Millier Paper Mill Playhouse revival on a great two-disc CD set.

The story is deceptively simple - a group of former showgirls and their stage-door hubbies meet for a reunion when their theater is on the verge of demolition, and all kinds of secrets come out of the closet - including the true loves of two not-so-happily married couples.

The music is truly sensational, though. I listen to the Paper Mill revival CD set a lot, and the Follies concert DVD is incomplete but interesting if you can find it. I really hope Encores! moves this to Broadway - hey, it worked for their version of "Chicago."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm Gonna Try

I'm going to try to update this blog a lot more often, at least once every couple of days, if not every day. I've been writing in my offline journal every morning since October, and it's been such a help to me to just get my feelings out on paper. It helped me the other night to write my story on this blog.

Besides, I've had a couple of people ask why I don't update more. Laziness. It's a lot easier to pick up a pencil and the journal next to my nightstand than to try to slog through passwords. I really need to do more writing, though. Maybe if I write more, I'll finally get enough confidence to actually sell something.
Winter Wonderland

Yup, we finally got snow. Real snow. Not just some little dusting. It had just barely started when I woke up this morning...but unlike previous mornings, it never stopped, and still hasn't. Right now, as far as I can tell, we're getting a light snow-freezing rain mix that's supposed to change back to snow by tomorrow.

As long as we don't get 110 inches, like they did in upstate New York, I don't care how long it snows. I don't have any kids to worry about being out of school and I'm close enough to work to not have to worry about missing any unless the roads are truly impassable, so it's not too bad...and downright pretty, too. : 0 D

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pounding the Streets of Philadelphia

Finally, after two weeks of being stuck inside due to extreme weather, Mother Nature calmed down enough for me to run some errands, including a big one I've put off due to the cold - heading into Philadelphia to do some job hunting.

I thought my best bet for finding a job would be in a bookstore. I know about running cash registers, I know about books and how to sort them, I know how to organize CDs and DVDs. (I keep detailed inventories of my own DVD, video, music, and book collections.) The big chain bookstores seem to have killed off most of the shops in Suburban Philadelphia, so I headed for Center City.

I went to five stores in five hours. I wasn't really surprised to have no luck anywhere. I suspect that what the proprietor of Whodunnit (specializing in mysteries, naturally) holds true for everyone - the extremely cold weather and the time of year has pretty much killed off sales for everyone, regardless of size. One store owner spoke of closing. Everyone was really nice to me, though, and Whodunnit in particular was awesome, filled top to bottom with a great assortment of mysteries - heaven for a mystery-novel-addict!

I bought one of the Paige Turner mysteries, "How To Murder A Millionaire," from Whodunnit. I picked up a Valentine's Day present for myself from the big Barnes and Noble on Walnut Street - "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who, 1958-1978." It was either that or "Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock and Roll Legend," but the latter was more expensive. I probably shouldn't have bought "Anyhow," but it's a wealth of info on British band The Who, with some fantastic pictures.

Oh well. If we do get massive amounts of snow and ice, I'll have some new books to sustain me. :)

Even just being out and about again after two weeks of crazy cold weather was nice. I'm starting to get a better feel for Philadelphia, too. The streets aren't easy to navigate, but it's fun to walk around and just see the sights. (There's a lovely park across from the Barnes and Noble I'd like to take a better look at when the weather improves. :D)
Let It Snow?

I've been wary of the weather reports ever since we got a sudden snow storm last week. It only dumped a few short-lived inches, but it was just sudden. I woke up to the sound of a snow shovel at 6AM, not quite sure why...until I looked out my window near the bed and saw nothing but white.

I don't know what to think of the supposed upcoming storm. As with the dustings we had last week, it doesn't seem like they really know what's going on. At last check, it was snow tonight and tomorrow, turning into ice and freezing rain by tomorrow evening, then into rain, but who knows how long that will last?

I'm just glad I was off today. The Acme must have been insane. I don't know why people feel the need to suddenly stock up on milk, eggs, and bread whenever there's even the inkling of snow in the forecast. Ok, I can sort of understand bread; that'll keep if the electricity goes off. Eggs and especially milk, however, would be among the first things to go bad!

Here's what the National Weather Service says for Oaklyn (if they don't know, no one does; my stepfather, a commercial fisherman, gets his weather from them):

I wouldn't mind a little snow, as long as it doesn't turn into 12 feet, like some places in upstate New York got:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Be Careful, Words Can Hurt
By Emma

The little girl ran in the house, tears streaming down her face, sobbing as if her heart had been broken three times. She went right into the kitchen, where Mama was, stirring her home-made chicken soup.

"Mama!" she cried, rubbing her sore, red eyes. "Mama! They hate me!"

Mama looked down from her soup. "Calm down, honey. Now, who hates you?"

"The boys on the street do. I was ridin' down the street, like I always do, an' they leaned over their big bikes an' called me ugly an' stupid! They said I was a baby an' couldn't do nuthin'!"

Mama put her spoon aside and took her daughter in her warm arms. They smelled like noodles and herbs, and they were so, so warm.

"You listen to me, girl, and you listen good. Don't be listenin' to what those boys tell you. What do they know about you? You ain't ugly. Your daddy always stops when he comes home from work and tells you how pretty you are. You're not stupid, either. Didn't your teachers tell you how you got nothin' but "Above Average" and "Excellent" on your report card? What about all those ribbons you won for horse-back riding, or the time you got third place in your school's poetry contest? You're plenty smart, girl. They're just ignorant an' immature."

"Why did they say those things if they aren't true?"

"'Cause they thought it would be funny to get you mad. Ignorant and immature people get their kicks that way."

"I wish I could kick THEM! I wish I could call them names and make them feel bad!" She kicked the floor as if it really was the nasty boys.

"Honey, that wouldn't help. You'd be as bad as them. Just don't let it get to you. You're better than that. What about how you help me take care of your baby brother? You can change a diaper and make a bottle. I'll bet they'd all turn green and run if they ever had to change a dirty diaper!"

The girl laughed. "I'll bet they never changed anything worse than their socks!"

Mama put her arm around her daughter. "That's right, honey. Just remember, you're as good as you think you are." She smiled. "Now, what would you say to some home-made chicken soup and corn muffins?"


I was inspired to write this tonight after I was insulted riding home on my bike. I don't know what I did. I was just riding along, like normally, and a group of boys leaned out of a large car and screamed "Hey, you ugly whore!"

I cried the rest of the way home.

What led them to call me that? What was I doing that was so wrong they felt compelled to lean out of their car and into the frigid air of a New Jersey night and insult me? I was wearing bulky clothing; not a bit of skin showed. My bike is in good condition. And how could they tell if I was ugly or not? I was bundled up like Randy in A Christmas Story.

This isn't the first time I've been treated like that. I spent most of my childhood enduring variations on such taunts, and it still continues. This is the third time I've been insulted riding my bike since I moved to Oaklyn, and it happened even more often in Wildwood, especially in the summer. What makes a boy (and girls, more rarely) want to lean out of his car on a cold night and insult someone they don't know?

By the time I'd arrived at my apartment, I'd concieved this story.

I'm going to post this at my site and as a reminder to all people of how words CAN hurt. Please, think twice before leaning out of your car and insulting somebody, or shouting nasty names to someone on your bike. It may be a mild thrill, but you'll be hurting someone else in the bargain. There are better ways of having fun than damaging someone's ego.
On Valentine's Day

It's been a long time. I really should update this blog more often, but it's not as easy to sign into a blog every night as it is to reach over to your nightstand and grab a journal and start writing. I forget; I put things off. I shouldn't do those things, but I do. I'm not used to people worrying about me.

But today's writing is on the prompt at the Writing Perc Yahoo!Group. One of those prompts was to write about Valentine's Day.

Do you celebrate it?

Yes, I do. I love holidays of any kind. It's nice just to do something special every once in a while. You'd think I wouldn't be interested. I don't have a boyfriend, and I'm really nervous about dating again after not having dated in three years. (Which is why I haven't done anything with my e-Harmony account.) I just love any excuse to do something different and enjoy myself.

What's so great about it?

For a single person? The chance to show friends and family that they can be loved, too...and half-off boxes of chocolate the size of Australia on February 15th. Baking cakes the shape of pink hearts for your sister. Your mother making you home-made valentines. Nobody teases you when you indulge your girly side, with lacy hearts and cutie-pie cupids everywhere.

What could/should be changed?

Many people I know, whether single or attached, are very cynical about this holiday. "It's an excuse to buy candy and cards!" Why does it have to be? Make your loved one dinner. Make them valentines instead of buying them, like my mom mentioned she's doing for her family. Bake a heart-shaped cake or cookies. Buy them their favorite book or CD and have a long discussion about why you love that band or singer or author.

You don't even have to be much of a romantic to be loved. If your significant other isn't the candy and flowers type, go on a walk in the woods or on the beach and hold hands. Buy or rent a movie you both like and share a big bowl of popcorn. Go for a car or motorcycle ride, just the two of you. If you're more athletic, go ice skating or sledding or hiking or skiing together. Just spending time with your sweetheart means more than all the chocolate and roses in the world.