Thursday, January 31, 2008

Preparing For A Busy Weekend

I was up for barely an hour before I received my first call of the day. It was my sister Rose, who apparently had the morning off and wanted to know how things were going with me. Thankfully, she didn't sound angry at all when I told her I was nervous about applying to college. Maybe a little annoyed, but she's always been faster on the draw than me about most things. This is really scary for me. My nerves have not been helped by several adults I know pointing out how outdated the library profession is in the Internet-addicted 21st Century. Who needs heavy books when you can read them online? Why read a newspaper when you can get everything you need in a flash on a computer?

Frankly, this is a fallacy, as far as I can tell. First of all, items do not categorize themselves. Second, not everyone wants to sit in front of a computer and read. Third, libraries also carry other media (CDs, DVDs, records, magazines). Fourth, there's something that's just satisfying about holding a book in your hand. Computer text does not have that good, solid weight to it. Fifth, libraries still have a lot of book-related programs, especially for children and reading fans. Sixth, computers aren't as quick as many people like to believe. They do have to be turned on, and then the Internet has to be turned on if you don't have high-speed access, and you have to print pages and pages of paper if you want to read your story when the computer's turned off or on stand-by. Not to mention you don't need electricity to enjoy a book. Computers are worthless without electricity.

Anyway, Rose wanted to know if I was up for a shopping expedition on Saturday, since she had to go to Target and a few other places. Perfect! Saturday is my only day off this week. (And since it is my only day off this week, the Acme legally can't call me in. I've been called into work on the last two out of three Saturdays I was supposed to have off.) I'll get together with Rose in the afternoon, then go out with Erica to the movies in the evening.

Once again, I spent my morning online, doing college research. I'll take a look at the Financial Aid application tomorrow and find out where the tests to get into graduate school are being held around here. I also did my pilates. (I try to do pilates and yoga four times a week.)

Work was steady-to-dead, annoying only because it's the beginning of the month and we're getting all the usual obnoxious beginning-of-the-month people spending the money they don't have any other time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dinosaur Disco Quest

I did not awaken to a terribly attractive day. It was gloomy and dark, and the rain came down in sheets. Though the rain was gone by the time I got up, got dressed, and made banana pancakes for breakfast, it was still incredibly windy. It was so windy, both of my plastic deck chairs blew halfway across the porch before I managed to grab them and stack them.

I did make it over to Uncle Ken's to do the laundry. Uncle Ken and his girlfriend Dolores were working on cleaning the big picture windows in the kitchen and living room area. I had to wait a little while to do my small pile of laundry due to the heavy, dirty curtains they already had in the washer and drier, but I did get to enjoy some shows in the interim.

Caught the tail end of The Wonder Pets first. They learned about levers and pulleys as they helped a baby elephant in Kenya get it's trunk out of the mud. (Baby Elephant's mama had a pretty Kenyan accent.) Blue's Clues was an early Steve episode dealing with musical instruments; cute, but not all that exciting, though I didn't figure the game out until the third clue.

Switched over to TV Land and encountered one of the most famous of the many beloved I Love Lucy episodes. After begging Ricky to stay in Hollywood just a little longer, a souvenir-happy Lucy and Ethel go after the ultimate take-home trinket at the Chinese Theater - John Wayne's footprints in cement! Needless to say, nothing works out the way Lucy wants it to. She spends a lot of time stomping around in buckets of cement, and we get to learn some more naughty Spanish words from her not-pleased hubby.

I got a bit of a surprise on my return to Nick - Go Diego Go! was early today. I found out why when Diego, Alicia, and Baby Jaguar were joined by Dora the Explorer as they browsed through a dinosaur museum. Yes, dinosaurs were the theme of this double-length Go Diego Go!/Dora the Explorer crossover. Our intrepid Hispanic trio (and their cub buddy) go back in time to help an adolescent Maiasaura get back to her family. Maiasauras were new when I was about Diego's age, and it was fascinating to learn about a lesser-known dinosaur. It was also nice to see how the formats of Diego's show (learn about animal traits and habitats) and Dora's (let's go from this obstacle to this one) were combined. (We did see a little too much Map for my taste, though...)

The Backyardigans were also on a quest today. In "Quest For the Flying Rock," Uniqua, Tyrone, Tasha, and Pablo go on a race to see who can get to the Flying Rock on top of the Steep Step Hill first, the girls going through the jungle and the boys trooping across the desert. Needless to say, everyone winds up learning a lesson in teamwork and cooperation, to the tune of disco and 70s pop.

Much to my annoyance, the wind continued into the afternoon. Despite the sunshine and 45-degree temperatures, I ended up asking Dolores for a ride to work. The last time I rode to work in gale-force winds, I almost ended up being blown into Peter Creek. Work was steady-to-dead, with some obnoxious customers and a lack of help (that kid who kept not appearing last week finally quit).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Last Unicorn

Went to the Oaklyn Library down the street to do some job research. They proved to be of no help whatsoever. The librarians were busy bringing out trash, and the most recent book they had on the job market was from 1999. (The most recent encyclopedia they had was from 2002.) I found one flyer on becoming a librarian that listed a website and not much else. The tiny, three-room Oaklyn Library has some wonderful old children's books...but that doesn't cut it when you need up-to-date information.

I puttered around on my computer a bit after I got home and did my first pilates session of the week. As I looked at the date on my computer, I realized today is special. It's the second anniversary of my moving from Wildwood to Oaklyn! Yes folks, it's been two years since I left the Jersey Shore. To celebrate, since I was only working four hours and getting off fairly early, I decided to put that FYE gift card I got from my mom and stepdad for Christmas to good use and get myself a new WebKinz, and treat myself to a decent dinner.

Though it rained in the morning, by the time I went to work, it was merely cloudy and damp. Work was steady-to-quiet, not surprising for the end of January (a month most people spend broke anyway). It'll probably pick up this weekend as people stock up for Super Bowl parties.

FYE wasn't busy, either. There were a few boys around, but it was mostly me, two workers, and the last fifteen minutes of the 1985 fantasy film Legend. As I peered and poked around the store's WebKinz display, I saw something shiny on one of the bottom shelves. I reached under a pile of Persian Cats and Golden Retrievers and, much to my surprise, plucked out a Lil'Kinz Unicorn! The Lil'Kinz Unicorns were just retired last month. I know the retired WebKinz go for high prices online, and I never expected to see them at a regular shop, for $12, no less!

Meet Amalthea the Baby Unicorn! A sweetheart through and through, Malthie is smart, athletic, and loves to practice her swimming moves! She's named for the dainty, ethereal title character of the 1982 animated film The Last Unicorn. Given her retired status and the lack of WebKinz unicorns in stores, I thought it was appropriate. (Ironically, Legend, the movie running at FYE while I was there, also deals with unicorns.) She came with a gorgeous bed made of vines and flowers, and the cutest rainbow table, too! I set her up in a fantasy-themed room that ended up being something of a mix between the fantasy and the wizard. She said she'd always wanted a gem box, so she got that, and I moved the Charm Forest into her room as well from Miles' room.

I also found The Yogi Bear Show: The Complete Series used for $20. Yogi is (along with Huckleberry Hound) my favorite of the Hanna Barbara "Funny Animals" of the 50s and 60s. Snagglepuss, another favorite, is also featured. As much as I'd love to get more of the Hanna-Barbara collections (Scooby Doo, The Flinstones, Huckleberry, The Jetsons), most of them are just too expensive for me, which is why I was so thrilled to find Yogi for such a good price.

It was late by the time I finally dragged myself out of FYE, so I just stopped at Tu Se Bella Pizzeria and had a chicken cheese steak that was so big, half of it will be my lunch tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Out Of Focus

Got up early this morning so I could get to the bank and Doria's Deli for ham and still be able to do research on jobs and colleges before going to work at 2:30. I was going to spend most of the morning doing it, then do a little fooling around.

I, of course, ended up doing the other way around.

I have no ability to focus. This problem dates back to high school. I'd go to the library intending to work on a report and would end up reading that huge book on old movies they had, or The Time Life Book Of Christmas. It only got worse in college. The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has a huge library, and I'd usually end up reading about folk tales or history or old movies when I was supposed to be studying or doing research. (Although I did discover some great books that way, including A Song In The Dark.)

It may make Rose angry, but this whole college thing is making me nervous. Where am I going to get letters of recommendation? I don't know anyone. Would Stockton even have my transcripts after seven years? My grades in college weren't all that great. I don't remember if I had a 3.0 anymore. (I guess I did. I graduated - barely.) I was never great at tests. Where am I going to take it? Could I work at their media center for credit, or at least for some real experience? I'm not going to get real experience at a grocery store, and that's all I've done for the past seven years.

I want to go to college...but I'm not sure if they'll want me. Or do I want to go to college? This is just so scary! It's hard to get people to understand. They think it's so easy. I just don't know.

I did finally make it to work, which was on-and-off busy with no problems. It's the end of the month, and coupled with a gorgeous day, many people were probably otherwise occupied. This should change by the end of this week, when people have beginning-of-the-month funds to spend and start stocking up for Super Bowl parties.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Spent most of the morning editing four short stories at our Monkees Role Play site. We wrote Me Too! and He's No Angel last week. Moving Day and Water Frolics were written in the fall as "fillers" for older stories. I hope you enjoy them!

I called Mom as I worked on the editing and listened to the Beatles show on WOGL. (The animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine was in today's spotlight.) Tomorrow is their last day in the old house in North Cape May. As of Tuesday, they will officially be living in Erma, across from the Cape May County airport. Mom seems to have mixed feelings. The house is in a nice neighborhood, but it's really in the middle of nowhere, with no stores or towns close-by.

Mom's not the only one who feels that way. I didn't live there as long as Mom, Dad, or Keefe, but I lived there for a long time, much longer than any other house I've ever lived in. I haven't been in North Cape May in over a year. I never got to say good-bye to that house. No one seems to know what will happen to it, either. The house isn't that old (probably late 60s, like most of the houses in North Cape May), but it has rot and mold problems, especially on the exterior, and is not in the best of shape. That's one of the reasons I was so upset I couldn't visit the family on Christmas Eve.

I asked Mom if she'd heard from Rose lately. I haven't called her because she started Rutgers Law School on January 7th and I figured she'd be busy. Mom said yes, she has heard from her...and she's furious with me! Apparently, Rose doesn't understand why I haven't applied for college yet.

First of all, I'm not as brave as she is. I haven't been in a class of any kind or done tests since December 2001. I don't know if a college will take me at all, especially with my horrible math. (I failed math once when I went to Stockton and had to take the test over!) Second, this isn't law school I'm applying for. There's always a need for lawyers and law clerks. I want to check the market for librarians and writers before I spend money on a fancy education that didn't help me the first time around.

Mom and Rose both seem to think Drexel University is my best option. It has a nationally recognized Library Services program that's partially online, and it's far easier to get to than Rowan. It would be more expensive, though, and I'd have to work around classes, and I'd end up having to work in Pennsylvania. Mom suggested that I should move to Philly, since I'm getting to know my way around there pretty well, but I don't know if I'm ready yet. Yes, I like the shopping and walking around, and it's nice to not be the only person who can live quite happily without a car. I also like living near grocery stores (where would I get fresh produce in the city?), and I love the natural beauty here.

Work was very busy up until around 4:30-5PM, when it was steady. No problems; I got home on time.

I spent the evening playing with my WebKinz. I've begun two new rooms, one based partially after the new Modern Condo theme (a lot of the furniture for that is expensive...and that lime green is a bit ugly), the other based around the rare retired Hockey theme. (I won't finish that one for a long time, since it only shows up once in a while in the Curio Shop.) I'm going to make a "Modern Cafe" using the Modern Condo kitchen pieces and some other related items, based around a hip coffee shop in Collingswood a few blocks from the Treehouse Cafe.

I'm also enjoying Winterfest, which began yesterday. When you click on a giant snowflake flying across your screen, you get one of several prizes. I've already gotten two snowflake "toques" (hats), a Winter Parka (coat), three sweaters, four snow cones, three Frosty Hot Chocolate Mugs (actually, that sounds tasty!), three Peppermint Snowflakes, three pairs of Fuzzy Winter Slippers (gave one pair to Elvis the Little Penguin), an Icicle Tree (put it outside in the Garden for now), and a Snow Picture (hung it in Elvis' Igloo).
The Muppets Are Back!

Yaayy! This time, we won't have to wait two years for the release of the next Muppet Show DVD set! Disney's apparently putting out season 3 on May 20th! :D

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cabin Fever

I spent most of today at work, in fact a lot more than I planned to. I was asked to come in today from 10:30 to 4:30 on Thursday afternoon; apparently, someone had to go to a funeral. No problem. I would have ended up at the Acme anyway to go grocery shopping.

I ended up being asked to stay later, though. We were really busy, and there were several call-outs (including the one kid who never bothered showing up or calling yesterday; he pulled the same today). I felt bad because they were so busy, but I only stayed an extra half-hour. I really did need to buy fruits and vegetables before everyone cleared out that $1 a bag sale. (In fact, the spinach was cleared out when I finally got to it; they were substituting Acme bagged spinach. Thank goodness they did have the Multi-Grain Cakes I love. They're like rice cakes, but made with grains instead of rice; they're crispier, with a much nuttier, tastier flavor. I don't really like rice cakes, but the Multi-Grain Cakes rock.)

I don't know what's with me lately. Maybe I've just been inside too much. Maybe I've been working too much. I've just been this all there is? Is this all I'm good for? Is this why no one wants to hire me? Because I have so little experience doing anything besides shoving food across a register?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Being Useful

I wish I was useful. I spent most of the day sitting around, doing nothing. Oh, I did some yoga, and I did what my counselor Scott asked me to do. He suggested to do research on library jobs and other jobs that might interest me. I did, and it would seem the librarians at Haddon Township were right - school librarians/media specialists would appear to be one of the fastest-growing library jobs right now. Supposedly, growth in library/archival jobs is slow, but at a good rate as older librarians retire. (Considering the median age of the librarians at Haddon Township is about 50, that's believable.)

What I wish I could find is something to do in the interim. I don't know what it is about me that drives prospective companies away. There must be something wrong with me. Borders never got back to me. Barnes and Noble didn't want me. Staples didn't want me. FYE didn't want me. What IS it they WANT? What do people need? What am I doing wrong?

I wish I was needed. Everyone has someone who needs them, someone they can take care of and hug and spend winter nights with. I don't have anyone. My friends are so far away, and my family doesn't need me. They all have someone. I'm a third wheel wherever I go. I wish I could find the people in the Delaware Valley area who needed me.

I agreed to go in work at 10:30AM tomorrow to cover for someone who was going to a funeral. The only time work really needs me is to cover for someone else or when all of the older women and college students are on vacation.

Speaking of, work was dead again tonight. I'd love to know why two people were scheduled to arrive and leave at the same time. (Not to mention smack that stupid teenage boy who never showed and never called. If you're sick, be professional and call us, for heaven's sake! The managers had to take the registers when we left!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snow On By

At press time, we STILL haven't gotten snow. It was cloudy all day, but it never snowed once. Not one flake. I heard that it snowed in Delaware and in Atlantic and Cape May Counties, but never here in the Philadelphia/Camden area. It wasn't even that cold; mid 30s, same as yesterday.

I did my laundry today and watched my favorite cartoons. Baseball was the theme of Dora the Explorer. Dora's buddy Boots can catch and throw well, but he's not much of a hitter. You have to get him and Dora past the Grumpy Old Troll (who is hitting balls instead of spouting riddles), a pond shaped like a mitt, and Swiper the Fox in a hot dog costume (don't ask) and get them to the game. A cute "Catch the Explorer Stars" arc episode; I loved the very useful "Baseball Explorer Star."

Go Diego Go! covered something a bit more delicate. The animal rescuing sibling pair chase an elusive Blue Muto Butterfly after Diego's buddy Baby Jaguar accidentally scares it away. A typical episode with an atypical animal. I've seen pictures of the real Blue Muto Butterfly, and it is beautiful but apparently just as hard to find in real life as it is here.

Today's Backyardigans was a repeat, but it was a fun one. Tasha the bossy hippo learns a lesson in manners from Uniqua and her guy friends when, as Princess CleoTasha, she and her retainers (the boys) must bring Uniqua the Sphinx gifts in order to find out why the Nile's dried up. I'm reminded here of why Uniqua and Tasha are my favorite members of the Backyardigans. Tasha is smart, logical, and a born leader...but she can also be one rude little girl, not only here, but in other episodes, and a tad lazy. I suspect Uniqua and Tasha are best friends partially because, unlike the boys, Uniqua has enough sense not to put up with Tasha's bull.

It was still cloudy and cold when my laundry was done, so I ended up getting a ride to work. Work was steady when I came in during the usual after-work rush hour, stone-cold-dead by the time I finished at 9.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Return to the Library

I slept in and decided that, since it was a lovely, crisp, perfectly normal 35-degree sunny January day, I would go for a ride and do my library volunteering and Westmont errands.

I volunteered at the Haddon Township Library first. Did the children's DVDs again and the children's CDs. The DVDs weren't too bad (one of the librarians said she'd done them the day before), but the CDs were an absolute mess. They looked like they'd never been done. Getting them into the best alphabetical order I could took me the better part of an hour.

It was after 2PM by the time I finished. I made brief stops at AC Moore and Dollar Store to look at Valentine's and Easter decorations. (One of the few things I like about early Easters is you don't feel quite as weird when the Easter stuff comes out in late January.) I picked up a few things at Super Fresh (they often have great sales on Crystal Light, which I drink a lot of, and their green tea is far cheaper than the Acme's), then stopped at Nick and Joe's for a slice of broccoli and cheese pizza and a bottle of water. As I headed for Cuthbert Road, I realized I'd forgotten to get something I needed at Super Fresh. I got it at the Rite Aid across the street instead.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing yoga and watching the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers vehicle Shall We Dance. I wish I were better at yoga. I still can't lean on my bad knee all the way. I can't get my feet into the right stance (they always want to turn out), and I can't touch my toes. Relaxing isn't my strong suit, either. I just can't let go.

Shall We Dance isn't one of Fred and Ginger's best films. The storyline, about a ballet dancer and a Broadway star who are assumed to be married and end up getting married anyway in order to end the rumors and get a divorce, is odd and even a bit mean-spirited. It's all redeemed by some genuinely great songs by the Gershwin brothers, including Fred's solo dance in a pump room to "Slap That Bass," Fred and Ginger's infamous roller skating duet, "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," the cute "They All Laughed," and the touching, Oscar-nominated "They Can't Take That Away From Me." ("Can't Take That Away" was so associated with Astaire and Rogers, it was added to the score of their last film together, The Barkleys of Broadway.)

Not a whole lot planned for the rest of the week beyond basic chores. At least, as of this writing, it's supposed to remain in the 30s and 40s, with no more freezing daytime temperatures. They are calling for possible snow showers tomorrow and flurries on Saturday, but the weather's been so weird lately. I don't think they've gotten it right two days in a row in at least two or three weeks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No Snow Days

First of all, at press time, we still haven't gotten snow. We got a tiny bit of freezing rain late this morning that vanished the moment it appeared, and there was a bit of light rain when I rode to work. Other than that, it was cloudy and damp all day, cold but thankfully not freezing. I was able to make a quick trip up to the Oaklyn Post Office to send Mom my video copy of Top Hat I no longer need.

Mom called me yesterday (after I called her the day before to tell her the video would go out Tuesday). She, Dad, and Keefe have finally moved into their new house on Walnut Lane across from the Cape May County Airport. Apparently, it's slow going because they haven't really had the time to pack; they've been too busy painting and building the house! Mom said she was preparing to move Keefe's beloved pet turtle Jim as she called me. Their last day in the old house in North Cape May is the 28th.

Work was steady, with no problems...but I received quite a non-work-related shock towards the end of my shift. I'd overheard a teenage girl at work say that Australian actor Heath Ledger, one of my brother Keefe's favorite actors (and one I liked a great deal), had died after reading about it on her cell phone Internet connection. I hoped she was kidding or read it wrong...until I went online and saw it at Yahoo's home page. My jaw must have hit China. I think it's still there.

Damn. This is just so...wrong. So very, very wrong. And the guy was my age, too, with a little girl! I hope Keefe hasn't seen it. A Knight's Tale is one of his favorite movies. It made him a fan of Queen for life; even Mom liked it. Coupled with the deaths of fellow young actor Brad Renfro and beloved actress Suzanne Pleshette, this has not been a pleasant couple of days in the movie community. :(

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring the Man Who Had A Dream

And on a more sober note, let's take a moment to honor Martin Luther King Jr, whose birthday is being celebrated today. I remember learning about the Civil Rights Movement and hearing Dr. King's stirring speeches in school as a child. I hope someday we can truly honor Dr. King's dream...and learn that we really ARE all one people under our skin.
Dancing Through Life

First of all, the weather does NOT sound good. Late last week, they claimed it'll snow and/or rain tomorrow; sounded to me like a repeat of last Thursday's rain-into-snow-into-rain. Then, last night, they started saying just rain. Now, it seems we may not only get snow and rain tomorrow (along with warmer weather), but freezing rain, AND more snow on Thursday. Swell. And of course, Thursday and Friday are my late (4-9 and 5-9 respectively) shifts, AND I was going to do laundry Thursday morning.

I spent most of this morning on the computer. I wanted to move around after a while, but I wasn't going riding in 25-degree weather. (People in the Midwest, Northwest, western mountain area, and Canada will probably think I'm being silly over nothing, but we're not used to freezing temperatures here in Southern New Jersey.) I opted to throw on an Olivia Newton-John record and just dance instead.

I've always loved to dance. When my sisters and I were little, Mom would put on records and cassettes, and we'd dance to them for hours. I'm not that graceful and I'm far from professional, but I can move fairly well. I'm a little shy about solo dances on-stage, but I've danced in the chorus of my high school musicals and in groups and with boys at dances in high school and college.

Work was busy-to-steady all day. It was just starting to clear out when I left.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

The day began quietly. I made Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake, did computer work, and listened to the Beatles show on WOGL. I debated riding my bike to work, but while cold alone doesn't really bother me (26 was the high today), it was also very windy. I got a ride to work from Dad. Work was busy-to-steady and died quickly after about 3:30PM. As I told one customer later in the day, between the football games on and people hiding from the cold, the diminishing crowds weren't too surprising.

Dad picked me up from work as well and invited me to his and Uncle Ken's house for the second game of the day between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. I readily accepted. I'd wanted to see at least one one of the games today, especially since I had to miss last week's games, and I was starving. Dolores, Uncle Ken's girlfriend, made cheese steaks, and I had mini-cupcakes and small soft pretzels.

Football-crazy adults weren't the only people at the party. About mid-way through the quarter, I encountered two of the remaining kids, Dolores' grandchildren Mercades (8) and Blake (4). They said they were bored, so I directed them downstairs to a corner that wasn't blocking the TV and introduced them to the huge plastic container filled to the brim with Jessa's Beanie Babies collection. Bears, snakes, birds, lizards, a fish, rabbits, deer, and dogs and cats of every breed imaginable spilled out of the case. Mercades "oohed" and "ahhed" over the cute cats and especially the dogs; Blake loved the two snakes and the soccer-themed bear.

After they got bored with the Beanie Babies, we got Jessa's permission and went upstairs to play Wii. We played a few games on Mario Party 8, which I figured would be the easiest and fastest for them, since it was getting late at that point. Apparently, they did have their own Wii, and Mercades was a whiz at setting the game up (and not a bad player, either). I helped Blake figure the controller out. He got the hang of the Canyon race mini-game after a while and absolutely loved it.

The kids got hungry after our third or so game of Canyon Racers, so we put the Wii away and went to the kitchen. The kids got more cheese steaks. I joined Jodie, Dad's girlfriend, by a roaring fireplace in the den/office. Jodie and I talked about how wonderful the fireplace felt, especially as it's seldom used. (This biting cold is rare in southern New Jersey.)

Dad took me home ten minutes later. I was tired, and I didn't really feel like watching the rest of the game. (I later discovered the Giants won in overtime, darn it.) We had a chat in the car on the short ride to my apartment. He said he'd watched me with the kids and I had a real rapport with them; I understood them, and they understood me. I "live in their world," as he put it, and I ought to do something with elementary-age school children. I told him about wanting to be a children's librarian, and he said it was the perfect idea.

I've worked with young children for a long time, and not just because I'm the oldest of five kids (counting Jessa). I was having so many problems by fourth and fifth grade that my teachers in Cape May Elementary were at their wits' end as to what to do with me. I was bright and creative, but I was also shy, sensitive, eccentric, and the butt of every bully and prankster in the school. One day, I read The Lion and the Mouse out loud to my fifth-grade class. The kids and the teacher were so impressed, the teacher asked me to repeat my performance for the kindergardeners and first graders. That proved to be such a hit that I found myself spending more and more time as a kind of teacher's aid for the younger kids during lunch and in the afternoons. I liked the kids, and they liked me. I loved reading to them, doing craft projects with them, creating games and doing silly improvisational stories for them (all with the teacher's supervision, of course). It was one of the few things I missed when I was taken out of the regular school system all together the following year and placed in the Special Services District.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Big Fat Italian Store Opening

The day did not begin auspiciously. I was awaken by a phone call at 7AM. Yes, it was Donna from work. Could I come in at 8? They just sent a cashier to work in the bakery because one of the bakery people called out and there was only one person there. No, I wasn't going to go in at 8. I wasn't even really awake! I finally agreed to 9 to 2. I did it because I could use the extra hours and they needed the help, but it meant I couldn't get to the bank or the post office or do library volunteering. (The Haddon Township Library is only opened until 4 on Saturdays; by the time I got home, changed, and rode over there, I wouldn't really have the time to do much of anything.)

This is one of those times I really don't like my job. I hate the hours. I want nice, normal, consistent hours, not "whatever we feel like giving you." I know it could be worse; I could get midnight all the time. I know I should be thrilled I have a job at all in this bad economy. It just that it makes me feel like one of the teenagers, and I'm not one of the teenagers, no matter what I look like. I am 28 years old. Why can't I FEEL like I'm 28 years old?

Though work was busy, fast, and not really a problem customer-wise, I still went home feeling miserable. I feel chained to the damn Acme, and no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can't get away from it. Everybody wants experience...even the Acme. I don't get better hours because I've only worked for the company 6 years, and the older cashiers and store managers have all been there 15 or more. Newspapers don't want me. Book stores don't want me. Even men don't want me - I haven't had a date in more than four years.

I had a good, long cry before deciding I needed a walk. Maybe I could get SOME things done, and clear my head as well. I ignored the gloomy overcast sky and creeping chill and headed down to the White Horse Pike after discovering Doria's Deli around the corner closes early on Saturdays. I tried the ATM machine at the bank next, hoping they had a deposit button. Yes, they did, and it went quite smoothly. The receipt even tells you the amount in your account - you have to ask the teller to do that. Sweet.

My next stop was another collectibles store a few doors down from the bank. The House of Fun specializes in pop culture paraphernalia going back as far as the 50s. Every single available corner of the tiny store is overflowing with racks of mint-in-the-box action figures, buckets of out-of-the-box action figures, dolls in and out of boxes, video games for dated systems, coloring books, storybooks, magazines representing the most popular sci-fi/fantasy/horror icons, stuffed anime characters, bobble head dolls, and bits and pieces of retro costumes and toys. I saw in-the-box Super Friends action figures from my childhood that were very tempting. I also considered a collection of children's storybook versions of the original three Star Wars movies and a hardback version of the Return of the Jedi storybook. (Rose and I had the hardback Jedi as children; we read it until it literally fell apart sometime in the late 80s. I used the cover as a poster once it came off.) Unfortunately, the reason I haven't bought more from this store is it's really rather overpriced, especially since many of these items can be bought for pennies from eBay. I finally ended up with an 80s Nintendo game, their first "board" game, Anticipation. A forerunner of the splashier Mario Party series, this was a Pictionary-like group game that, as far as I can remember, involved "drawing" a picture and guessing what it is. We never owned it, but it was one of our most-rented games, and very popular when friends visited.

(The Star Wars books will wait until on or around my birthday on April 14th. ;) )

After the House of Fun, I took off down the White Horse Pike again, heading for the WaWa for some hot chocolate (I wasn't going to do 7-11 after the last time I went there; their machines almost never work) and deli turkey. I strolled past a white-washed store-front that, unlike most of the other stores in the building, was brightly lit and packed with people. What drew me in was something you don't see in every brightly-lit storefront - an accordion player.

I walked right into a party. The store turned out to be a newly-opened Italian deli/food shop. The accordion player sat in front of the window, churning out sprightly melodies I didn't recognize, but were certainly well-played. Closer inspection revealed it was a teenage boy, and a young one too, probably no more than 14. He was joined by people of every age, from toddlers tugging on their parents to elderly people toddling around on canes. The place was packed, and when I went further into the shop, I saw why. A large spread of Italian food was set out on a long table. There were small Italian hoagies with spicy salami, an antipasto tray (the cubed Parmesan cheese was delicious), small crunchy butter cookies, and anise-flavored cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. People were dancing, shouting orders in Italian, and enjoying one another's company. Now I know why my Italian friends Linda and Matt speak with such fondness of their family get-togethers. That was the most fun I'd had in a while!

The shelves were filled with the basics of Italian cooking. I saw real Italian wine vinegars, olive oils, jarred roasted peppers, olives, capers, boxes of almond nugats, and bags of biscuits and wafers (all of them coffee or chocolate-flavored). The refrigerators held real home-made pastas and stuffed shells. Since I was planning on making Chicken Parmesan for dinner anyway, I bought a jar of roasted red peppers. I also picked up deli turkey for dinner at work this week.

I made another quick stop at Family Dollar for bathroom tissue and cheap cleaning supplies before crossing the Pike to the WaWa. I didn't get the turkey there, but I did get half a 12 oz chai latte. The one things the Italians hadn't supplied was warm drinks. All they had was soda, and I was pretty cold after my walk.

The rest of the day was quiet. I did pilates, watched Sailor Moon, and made my Chicken Parmesan. I also experimented with an Italian noodle/vegetable mix that came out quite well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Hollywood Melody

Spent most of today at work. It was steady to busy. While the snow originally predicted for tomorrow is now supposed to be just clouds, it is supposed to get very cold on Sunday and Monday (before returning to normal mid-upper 30 degree weather by the middles of the week). I got my paycheck and went grocery shopping after I finished. I tried the new self-checkout registers this afternoon, since the regular lines were crowded with people coming in from rush hour by 4:30PM. Actually, other than appearance, larger font on the screen, and three bag holders instead of two, there isn't much that's different about them.

Having finished The Adventures of Holly Hobbie last week and enjoyed it thoroughly, I decided to read one of my favorite books on another, very different piece of history. A Song In The Dark, by Richard Barrios, details the evolution of the early sound film ("talkie") musicals from the beginnings of the sound film revolution in 1926 to the creation of the Production Code in 1934 that stripped the musical of much of it's early zest.

The book is so well written that, even if you've never seen these films (or never will, as many are now lost), you can imagine what they were like...and what it must have been like for audiences who had only heard amplified sound on their phonographs and radios before to suddenly hear the voices of their favorite movie stars!

I love this era of Hollywood history so much, Lauren and I set one of our Monkee role-play stories, The Mammoth Melody, at a fictional movie studio in 1929.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

King Of the Wild Winter Weather

I'm thankful I had counseling at noon today. I was finally able to bring in my latest small bag of donations to the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop. I was going to do it last week, but I remembered I had counseling this week and decided to hold off until today, since the store is about four blocks from the counseling center anyway. I didn't see anything interesting in there (and all those wonderful kids' books were gone - bummer!).

The Collingswood Variety Store is across the street from the thrift shop, so I headed there next. Unfortunately, their selection of WebKinz had greatly diminished in the three weeks since I last went there. The raccoons were gone (good thing I got Sundance when I did - they must have heard about the raccoons being retired), but they did have a few others left. There was a whole shelf devoted to the reindeer. I guess they either overstocked them or they weren't all that popular. Anyway, I decided on another horse. The only stuffed horses I own are my two equine WebKinz, Rose the Pink Pony and Nicholas the Clydesdale. It took me a while to find a horse that didn't look like he was either pulling apart or made by Pablo Picasso (with one eye over the other). I finally chose a gorgeous all-black horse with velvety fur and big brown eyes.

Meet King, the Black Frisian/Stallion! (WebKinz calls them "Frisians," but his label still says "Stallion.") King is our certified genius and our official nerd and cult movie fan. When you buy your 10th WebKinz, you're allowed to pick a special bed. Being the movie lover I am, I had to choose the movie reel-themed one. I liked the bed so much, I made King's room a half-room, half-movie theater, with King, of course, as the operator (using the red and black rock star theme).

I stopped briefly at the Treehouse Cafe for hot chocolate before going to counseling. Scott and I discussed my New Year's and the following weeks, and I told him about my anxiety regarding going to college and becoming a librarian and the current job market. He said that the best thing I could do was research, both online and in libraries - research jobs, what the job market is like, the market for librarians, what other things I could do, etc. I'm still afraid my limited skills won't leave many options.

I went home quickly after counseling to have lunch, then went back out again and over the tracks to Uncle Ken's to do laundry. It began to rain a little just as I left. I put in my laundry and chatted a bit with my dad. He wanted to know if I'd seen my sister Rose around. No, I haven't. She started Rutgers Law School (again) on January 7th, and I haven't seen her since she brought over my Christmas presents from the family in Cape May County.

My stepsister Jessa came down a bit later and asked me if I wanted to play Mario Party 8. As we competed against a computer-controlled Mario and Luigi to see who could "invest" in the most hotels, I happened to turn to a window that leads onto the roof. "Hey," I exclaimed, "it's really snowing!"

So it was. Sometime between putting the laundry in the drier and that moment, the rain had become big, fat snowflakes...and they were sticking. They continued coming down as we finished our game (Jess won), and they were still coming down when I got my laundry out of the drier and Jessa and Dad took me home. (Jessa had an ice skating party this evening.)

About half-way through my pilates routine, the snow began to change into rain, and it's been coming down as rain ever since. Saturday should make up for it. Apparently, according to Yahoo!Weather, we're supposed to get snow in the afternoon (good thing I'm off that day). It doesn't say how much. I just hope my customers don't get word, if they haven't been spooked by today's weather already...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


First of all, two musical box sets coming out in the next few months may be worth my investment. Criterion's usual assortment of oddities, indie flicks, and foreign films is usually not of much interest to me (though they did cover Dazed and Confused), but this is something I've hoped to see since I got into musicals in high school. Four early talkie musicals made by director Ernest Lubitsch, famous for his witty comedies, are making their debuts not only on DVD, but on any format. I've read about One Hour With You, The Smiling Lieutenant, Monte Carlo, and the Academy-Award-nominated and much-praised The Love Parade in many books on movie musicals, but I've never seen any of them.

The newest Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory boxed set from Warners has no less than six musicals I saw on TCM and loved but wasn't able to tape - the adorable Jane Powell vehicle Two Weeks With Love, the underrated Arabian Nights tale Kismet, the "biography" of operetta composer Sigmund Rombert Deep In My Heart, the two previously unreleased on DVD Broadway Melody films, and another classic Eleanor Powell vehicle I actually did tape and have wanted on DVD for years, Born To Dance. And it'll be coming out on April 8th, too - a perfect birthday present!

The rest of the day didn't go as well. In addition to exploring Amazon, I looked up Rowan University's Graduate Library Sciences program. I don't know how I'm going to do this. They want test scores from the last five years. I haven't been to college since I graduated in January 2002! Where will I get two letters of recommendation? I barely know anyone! I'll need a certificate AND regular classes to become a School Librarian, which means I'll need twice as many classes, and Rowan isn't that close-by. Why, oh WHY didn't I take something practical in college, like teaching or house-painting or something? Reading about all those requirements makes me very nervous. I don't know if it'll work, but there really isn't much else I could do. I don't have many skills. I write, I read, I edit, and I organize. That's it. That's all. I do nothing else.

Maybe I should try the writing courses instead, but I see even less I could do with that. I'd make a terrible journalist. I'm not Lois Lane. I don't have the guts.

Work was a pain. One of the teen boys hurt his finger at school, possibly broke it, and thus he was not to be on the register. They ended up begging everyone, including me, to take over his shift. I only stayed an extra half-hour. I hadn't brought food beyond an apple or any money for dinner.

This really annoys me. I walked into the Acme two years ago with a bloody, badly bruised, VERY badly sprained knee and a twisted thumb after falling off my bike. I still worked. I got the knee cleaned up, strapped on wrist and knee braces, and did my damn job for seven and a half-hours. I worked when I sprained my knee again the day after the Fourth of July last year. One woman worked for months with back so bad she had to walk with a cane (she finally left on disability around mid-October). The kid should have had a brace or called out of work until he found out what was really wrong.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Monkees Role Play Story Now Posted!

Oh, and Lauren finally put up the page for Arc 12 and our newest Monkee role play story, The Great Big Slumber,
this evening! I hope you enjoy it!
Faster and Faster To Nowhere

I have a confession to make. Ahem.

I like disco.

A child of 1979, I grew up on disco. My stepfather loved disco divas like Donna Summer and Diana Ross, and still does. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my sister Rose and I shaking our groove things to "Bad Girls/Hot Stuff," still two of my favorite songs, while Dad laughed at our antics. I bought him Donna Summer's On the Radio on CD for him to annoy Mom (she DOESN'T like disco) with about five or six years ago. It was the surprise hit of my family's Christmas. Even Mom happily cranked up the volume whenever it was on.

I sent the bills this morning and went through last year's papers, sorting what could go and what needed to be kept for tax purposes. After everything was sorted, I headed back to Act Two to see if they still had the CD/DVD rack I saw on the way out last week but wasn't going to try to carry home on foot. They didn't, but I did pick up a few other items. My Cabbage Patch Kid, Carrie, finally got some new clothes. She's been wearing the dress she came in in 1984 for over a decade. The dress is in decent shape for it's age, but it's also pilled, stained, and the Velcro won't close very well anymore. I got her a cute pair of green overalls with a red-and-green plaid shirt. The shirt's short-sleeved, so she still wears her cream-colored baby sweater. The overalls are a bit stiff; I had a hard time getting them on her. I also got a second vintage 80s item, a Good Luck Bear Care Bear figurine in mint condition. My third find was my favorite, Donna Summer's disco classic Once Upon A Time. I haven't heard this in years, but it seems to be Summer's 70s retelling of the Cinderella story, and while not as familiar as "MacArthur Park" or "Bad Girls" it's still a blast to listen to.

About an hour after I came home, it began to snow heavily. Though the snow settled into flurries by 3PM and never did stick, I opted to get a ride to work anyway. I wasn't getting off until 8:45, and I was worried about ice. Work was steady when I came in, stone-dead when I left.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Organized

With the temperatures rapidly falling back to their normal 30-some degrees, I thought this would be a good week to spend catching up on my organization. I did my budget for the month and added most of my most recent purchases to my database of CDs, DVDs, and books (I like to keep track of things). Tomorrow, I'll do my bills, go through last year's papers, and do pilates.

I need a second DVD rack, too. The small bookcase most of my DVDs are in right now isn't going to cut it. I'll move that bookcase into my bedroom. What I want is a slanted DVD/Video holder, like the big one I got from the Wildwood Acme when it closed to be rebuilt in October 2005.

Work was steady to busy, no major problems other than some mildly obnoxious customers and the persistent snow rumors (now possible for Thursday, maybe).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Football Mania

For the most part, it was a quiet Sunday. I spent the morning editing the rest of this month's Monkees Role Play. Look for it in the next few days! This evening, I watched the rest of Anne Of Green Gables and worked on my WebKinz rooms. I added to the garden, almost doubling the size, and placed a chair next to the pumpkin patch so my babies can wait for the Great Pumpkin at Halloween.

Work was crazy-busy today, with lines going across the store even though half of them were open. There were personnel problems, too. We had four call-outs, most of them cashiers. Today is NFL playoffs day (Giants won, boo!), and they were calling for snow tonight, then snow mixed with rain.

Thank goodness I only worked four hours. When I finally got out, it was just starting to rain. It sounds like it's stopped; I don't hear anything on the roof. As of press time, there still hasn't been any snow. Now, according to Yahoo!Weather, the forecast is snow/rain tomorrow afternoon, and possibly a few snow showers on Tuesday. Great. Though they say we shouldn't get more than a coating to 2 inches and it's not cold enough to ice up, people are still going to go nuts when they hear that report.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

I received a call from Mom first thing in the morning. She's still going through the piles and piles of junk the Cape May side of the family's accumulated over 12 years of living in North Cape May. Did I want the Disney Trivia game in the tin, some of her cake decorating books from the late 70s-early 80s, the rest of the wooden items I made in wood shop class in junior high, and a few other items? Did I ever! I've wanted some of those great hardback, Wilton cake decorating books since I was a kid! I've always loved the gorgeous pictures. She'll be sending the box in about two or three weeks.

I figured it wasn't worth going back to bed after that exciting announcement. I read a little Adventures of Holly Hobbie, wrote in my offline journal, ate a quick breakfast, and biked over to Westmont for my first library volunteering session in more than three weeks. I took the long way across Cooper River Park, since it was just such a gorgeous, sunny winter day. I organized the children's DVDs, which needed it again. They get very messy very quickly, due to who usually takes them out. I also did the American Girls and some of the kids/young adult paperback series' books (like Goosebumps and The Babysitters' Club).

After I left the library, I took a quick look at AC Moore. I'm particularly interested in finding things for Easter. I don't actually have much in the way of Easter decorations besides a few Easter baskets, some plastic colored eggs, and two random toys I picked up at an after-the-holiday sale at the Acme a few years ago. Some of the Valentine's items were also pretty. Craft stores are a great place to find holiday decorations. Mom's gotten great Halloween and Christmas stuff from the big Michael's at the Consumer Square Mall for years.

Super Fresh is next-door to AC Moore, so that was my next stop. Super Fresh's prices aren't as good as the Acme's, but they also carry a wider selection of low-fat, sugar-free, and light foods. (I don't know why they do but Acme doesn't. Maybe it has to do with the clientèle. It was the same deal with the ones in Cape May County.) I actually found the cracked wheat hot cereal and oatmeal on sale, much to my delight. I tend to eat hot cereals a lot in the winter. They're quick, low-fat, and easy to make.

I also found three great DVDs in a small display in front of the bread eisle. The Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers vehicles Top Hat and Shall We Dance are replacing my video copies (the latter was taped off of TCM when I was in college). I've always loved the 80s mini-series version of Anne of Green Gables whenever it showed up on PBS or The Disney Channel, and I just had to grab it. All four DVDs turned out to be $4 each, much to my surprise as I've seen Anne go for as much as $16 and the Fred/Ginger movies for $20 each.

After a quick stop at a small bagel shop for a turkey club wrap, I headed home. The rest of the afternoon was spent vacuuming, dusting, and washing the windows. I really needed to vacuum after taking down the Christmas decorations. The fake tree and garlands shed almost as much as the real ones! The kitchen carpet looked pretty bad, too.

Oh, and Lauren and I finished this month's role play tonight, a spoof of 30s and 40s mysteries. It's not the best we've ever done (it ended up more complicated than either of us planned), but it's done. It'll be up sometime in the next few days.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Rains Came...And Went

I awoke this morning to light rain, which was not a good thing. This was my early work day (10AM to 4PM), and I didn't really want to call for a ride. Thankfully, by the time I left for work around 9:40, it was cloudy and damp, but not raining.

Work was busier than yesterday, but still nothing like last weekend, with steady lines and no problems. Since today was pay day and I got off fairly early, I did some grocery shopping after work. In addition to food, I also bought an unusual addition to my Care Bear collection - Perfect Panda, apparently the Care Bears' resident artist. I've never seen Care Pandas before! (They had another one as well, a purple and white female panda with a rose on her tummy named Polite Panda.)

It rained for most of the day while I was at work, but by the time I got out, the sun had broken through the clouds, and it was a gorgeous, mostly clear evening.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter Is On It's Way

Spent the morning doing laundry at Uncle Ken's. Uncle Ken and Dolores were making pea and ham soup. The scent of baking ham and frying bacon made the house smell wonderful! Dad watched The Weather Channel for most of the morning. Dad's been a sailor for at least 30 years, and like most sailors, he's always concerned about the weather. That's usually what's on when he's home. He was starting to take down their Christmas lights when I left.

It was chilly today, still not quite right for this time of year but closer than the past few days, and very still. I had no problem getting to work, which was steady but not overly busy. This may change tomorrow, when non-Weather Channel-addicts catch the snow/rain forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Warm Spring Breeze In January

The gorgeous weather continued today. Actually, I think it was slightly chillier than yesterday and much windier, but other than that, it still feels like spring. I cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen this morning and opened the windows to air out the living room and my bedroom. (I probably won't get to dusting until Saturday afternoon.)

Work was steady-to-busy. There were lots of big orders tonight, some of them numbering as much as $500. I'm assuming it's a cross between the beginning of the month, people re-stocking after the holidays, and taking advantage of the big canned goods sale the store's having.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Spring Out Of Holiday Blues

Headache or no headache, I had to get the Christmas tree and garlands down if I was ever going to get any cleaning done. I did it this morning. Took me two hours to do the tree and an hour to get the remaining items, including the garlands and nativity. I also hung the winter-themed decorations I bought yesterday (including tissue paper snowflakes I was glad to get, because I forgot to finish making my paper ones).

I stuck my head out as I ate a simple lunch of Dannon Light Cherry Vanilla Yogurt, Triscuits, and a banana...and was rewarded with a blast of cool breeze and warmth! It had to be at least in the mid-60s. It was really too nice to stay inside, so I took some cold medicine, threw on a sweater, and went for a nice long walk.

My first stop was my friend Erica's to finally deliver the Christmas cookies I made for her and her mom and kept forgetting to bring over. I saw her car, but didn't see her. I thought she might have been somewhere with her mom or sister and left the cookies on her doorstep.

(I didn't find out why her car was there but she wasn't until later. I thought of knocking, but if she was napping, I didn't want to disturb her...and as it turns out, I did the right thing. Erica left me a message on my answering machine, and through much coughing, I discerned that she'd found the cookies but was feeling absolutely horrible and wouldn't have been able to ask me inside anyway. She sounded horrible, the poor dear. I thought my headache was a pain; in addition to coughing, she sounded raspy, stuffy, and slow. I'll get back to her in a few days when she's hopefully feeling better.)

After I left Erica's, I wandered down Newton Avenue and over the bridge across Nicholson Road into Audubon. It was just such a wonderful day, sunny and cloudless, with the hint of a lovely breeze. There were quite a few people out, too, especially for a Tuesday in January! I saw older people eating lunch in their back yard, and many parents with little kids not ready for school yet. I kept walking, past Market Street, down three or four more blocks to Pine.

I originally visited Act Two Collectibles last summer, but I haven't been able to get back there since. Act Two is an awesome collectibles store, filled with everything from Depression glass to 80s Happy Meal toys. As tempting as some of the toys were, I wound up with three very different books - a 1977 book-and-record for the first Star Wars movie, a 50s German/Viennese cookbook to add to my collection of vintage International cookbooks, and my favorite find, the 1980 children's novel The Adventures of Holly Hobbie. Holly Hobbie isn't a character I'd normally associate with Indiana Jones-style globe-trotting, but this story seems to involve a girl whose professor father has disappeared studying the Maya, and she and Holly, an ancestor who suddenly appears after the girl sees her portrait in a New England farmhouse, go after him. Sounds like a Holly Hobbie version of the Lloyd Alexander Vesper Holly books, which I love!

I went next-door to a lovely little gift shop and found that they had a wonderful selection of WebKinz, including four brand-new ones I hadn't seen yet, the big and Lil'Kinz Penguins, the Turtle, and the Love Frog! They also had a small display of the January "Pet of the Month," the Lil'Kinz Golden Retriever. That tiny yellow pup was just too cute, and I thought the little penguin would go well with my newly-hung winter decorations. the babies of the family, Debbie the Golden Retriever and Elvis the Penguin! Debbie is shacking up with Sundance the Raccoon, who'll help take care of her. Elvis is on his own in the winter-themed room, The Igloo, for now. (The room that came with Debbie was made into a conservatory for the Sparkle Plant and Venus Fly Trap, and any other rare plant item I end up with.) Debbie is our girlie-girl; Elvis is the family goofball who loves jokes.

I spent the morning listening to 80s pop and classic rock, so the Lil'Kinz got classic rock names. Deb was named after 80s teen favorite Debbie Gibson and "Blondie" front woman Deborah Harry. Elvis...well, I think most of you know where HIS name came from. ;)

I stopped by Abbie Road on Market Street on the way back to say "hi" to Bob, the sweet owner who is a friend of Erica's. I caught him just in time; he said he was going to leave in 20 minutes to see his teenage grandson play hockey. I chatted with Bob and bought The Best of Linda Rondstat on CD. I've liked Linda Rondstat since I was really little, but I've never had much from her besides my two jazz cassettes.

After a quick stop at a bakery down the street to treat myself to a small but tasty chocolate cupcake, I headed home. My head was back to pounding by then, so I read and listened to jazz for a little while before doing yoga and making chili for dinner.

My knee is getting so much better. I can bend so much further now, and I can almost do that "Simple" Sitting Pose (which isn't simple for someone who's injured her left knee twice in the last two years). I can ride my bike normally, without using just one leg (pushing with one leg until the pedal is almost up, then pushing down part-way with the bad leg - not the fastest way to ride a bike, but serviceable while the knee healed). I haven't worn the knee brace since October.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kinzville Farmer's Market and Useful Game Bloopers

To cheer myself up (and make more room for my garden), I opened my second outdoor yard. The Kinzville Farmer's Market is based after the Collingswood Farmer's Market. Picnic benches make excellent substitutes for booths, and the fancier outdoor barbecue is the home of our pretzels and burgers. Flowers and non-garden plants are behind each booth to show what's being sold.

Oh, and there was an odd game problem at the Employment Office and the Charm Forrest this evening. Instead of making you wait six to eight hours to return after you do it once, tonight both seem to allow you to return as often as you want. If you've been wanting to work on your Newz Delivery levels or find those last few charms you've been looking for, this is the time to do it before Ganz figures out what's going on and fixes it!
Happy New Year Blues

I think I'm either coming down with something, or my sinuses are acting up. I still have that monumental headache that's plagued me all weekend, and I've had a sore throat on and off.

Maybe it's the weather. It suddenly jumped to a very spring-like mid-50s here. It's supposed to be like this all week, which will make the people taking down outdoor Christmas decorations and running post-holiday errands happy, but seems wrong. Last year, we had a few weeks of this...then, by mid-January, it suddenly and without warning dropped to 30 degrees and remained that way until April.

I spent the morning putting away the Christmas bears and other soft holiday items. I had to do some creative pushing and shoving, but the bears are all back in their container, Paddington and Happy are back on my bed, and Samantha, Carrie, and the Sailor Moon dolls are back in their regular clothes. I'll do the tree and the garlands tomorrow and put up some winter-themed snowflake/snowman decorations I bought at the Acme today for 50 cents, which will officially finish up my Christmas season. If my head's up to it, I'll start cleaning later in the week.

Work was steady and often busy, with a lack of managers and especially baggers again. I wish people would tell these kids what they're getting into BEFORE they sign on, so they don't leave us high and dry when they decide they can't (or won't) do the work.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Twelfth Night

And so, I finish off the 2007-2008 holiday season with a quiet morning on the computer, editing the first parts of our latest Monkees role play (should probably be out by next week), and another crazy day at work. While not quite as frantic as yesterday (and busy Sundays are normal even outside of football season), we were still a bit short on help, especially managers and baggers. There were lots of very big orders and lots of people, but by and by work seemed to pass more quickly than yesterday (where five hours seemed more like five HUNDRED). The worst that happened was a rose display hit the register's keyboard and got spilled. The lady who wanted it threw a fit, then complained about being in a hurry and left before the manager could fix it and actually make it look better than it did before. Items are always getting caught on the register keyboard, which juts out rather awkwardly over the conveyor belt.

Treated myself to one last Three Kings' Day/Epiphany present. I picked up more Hello Kitty, this time a collection of mostly horror-themed spoofs ("Frankencat," "Catula") and two slightly spooky fairy tales. Also got an inadvertent present from the store when I discovered the disc was $4.99, despite the $9.99 label on the box. (I know they're trying to get rid of most videos, but no one said anything about the DVDs being on sale. Sweet.)

Also called Mom tonight to say "hi"; actually got her and Keefe for once. Dad is out on a commercial fishing trip. She and Keefe had apparently spent the whole day (and the majority of their week) working on the new house and were very tired but happy.

Oh, and Keefe loved the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air: Complete Second Season DVD set I gave him for Christmas. Mom said he's a big fan of Will Smith and Fresh Prince, and I thought he might like to see it without commercials.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

One Big Headache

I should have taken the bank as a sign. I ran to the bank this morning to deposit paycheck and Christmas money, and it was quite busy...but it was also 11:30AM and that PNC Bank branch closes at noon on Saturday. They had another "Customer Appreciation" spread out, just some cookies and donuts this time, but still nice.

I spent the rest of the morning finally finishing off the Voyagers set, after being sidetracked by holiday specials and Laverne and Shirley. I'm not usually fond of tales of the Titanic, but "Voyage of the Titanic" was probably my favorite of the second half of the show. A genuinely exciting tale of romance, mystery, changing history...and what happens when people close their mind to the impossible, whether it means saving a young boy's life or a ship full of people.

Dealing with adversity, whether because of disability or skin color, was the theme of "Destiny's Choice" and "All Fall Down." "Destiny's" was particularly interesting to me, due to it being set during one of my favorite time periods in Hollywood history, the changeover from silent to sound film. "All Fall Down" was interesting but not quite as successful. The boys aren't as much fun when they're so close to our time, and the whole thing with Jeffrey and the plane was just a bit much (though admittedly well-done).

I wish I'd stayed at home and watched Voyagers! for the rest of the evening. The Acme was a mess all day long. The lines were half-way across the store. One manager went home sick, and we only had one working both the self-checkout lines and the regular registers for at least an hour or more. Four people called out sick. Customers were grouchy, cross, and cranky. (Look, it's not MY fault the Eagles didn't make the playoffs!) By the end of the day, I had a massive headache that hasn't gone away yet, though I've been home for hours. I hope I'm not coming down with something. I literally cannot afford to be sick.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Ringing In The New Year

My phone woke me up around 7:30AM. It was Donna, one of my managers at work. Would I like to come in from 10:30AM to 7PM? Sorry, no can do. I was up late last night. Donna and I finally got it down to 1 to 7, allowing me to sleep a little more and get some pilates and Voyagers! in before I went to work.

Don't get me wrong. I do need the hours...but not THAT desperately. Besides, I wouldn't have been worth much if I'd tried going in earlier. As it turned out, work was steady but not incredibly busy (except for around 4PM rush hour) anyway. There were some obnoxious beginning-of-the-month customers, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary.

And I just heard this really, REALLY noisy thump. I wonder what THAT was? I hope nothing happened to an airplane or one of the "neighbor" critters...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chill In The Air

Ooh boy, was it cold today! It only got into the mid-to-upper 20s here, and though the wind wasn't nearly as bad as last night, it was still there. Thank goodness I had the day off! I went over to Uncle Ken's to do the laundry this morning and say "hi" to Dad, Uncle Ken, and Dolores. They had company and I didn't have much laundry, so I didn't stay long.

It was really too cold to do any running around today, so I spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment. I took down the smaller holiday displays and put up the general winter items. The tree, bears, and garlands will probably wait until the end of the weekend or the beginning of next week. I spent the rest of the day reading stories and working on random items on my computer.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Whistle Down The Wind

I awoke to a ringing phone. My mother called me this morning to finally chat before she went to work on the new house again. They're moving in three weeks, and she's absolutely thrilled. I thanked them for my Christmas gifts from them, and she thanked me for their gifts and for the Star Wars videos I gave them.

(I bought the Star Wars videos as a Christmas present to myself when I was a senior in high school, shortly before the 1997 re-release of the original trilogy. I kept them until I bought the 2-disc original and re-release version DVDs last summer used at FYE. I had no idea what to do with my old VHS set. Keefe told me a few weeks ago he and Mom were still watching their old copies we taped off cable in the late 80s and early 90s. Rose fussed, but I gave them the videos. Mom doesn't care if she's watching VHS, DVDs, or 16 millimeter stock. She just wants to see the darn movies! Besides, as Mom pointed out, many of Dad's favorite westerns and my musicals either aren't on DVD yet or are expensive on DVD.)

I spent the rest of the morning messing around online before going to this week's long work shift. It was fairly busy for after a holiday, thanks to this being the beginning of the month, and we had some call-outs. At one point, they actually asked me to come in late tomorrow as a bagger, but they eventually found someone else. Not only am I not a bagger, but it's only supposed to get into the upper 20s here tomorrow. I'd end up having to drag someone else out into the cold for a ride. (My ride home tonight was bad enough. I walked half the way, due to the horrible, cold wind.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mummers On Parade

2008 began with a bigger bang than I thought it would. Shortly after I posted last night's entry, I heard a big boom across Peter Creek from my apartment. Sure enough, as they did last year, my neighbors on Kendall Boulevard and down the street set off beautiful (but admittedly illegal in New Jersey) fireworks that lifted my spirits a bit. The display was well-done for amateurs, and I enjoyed it more than the bigger Fourth of July display in some ways. (For one thing, it was a lot drier than last Fourth of July.)

I went to bed after that so I could get up early for the Mummers' Parade and to go out to breakfast. I awoke to a steady rain shower - not a good sign. Still I finished Hairspray and headed out under an umbrella to find the restaurant my sister Rose recommended for breakfast, then realized it was probably in Haddon Heights - too far to walk in the weather - and after an hour of searching, wound up at the Newton Diner on the White Horse Pike in Oaklyn. I had a waffle with hot apple topping and whipped cream, and in deference to the holiday, ham. One of my customers said last night that it's good luck to eat pork on New Year's.

By the time I got out of breakfast (which was quite good), the rain was gone and the clouds were vanishing, though it was quite windy and growing colder. I made a brief stop at Dad and Uncle Ken's to say "hi" before returning my umbrella, hopping on my bike, and heading into Philadelphia for the Mummers' Parade.

This was a really big deal for me, the first major city parade I've ever seen up close. After a slightly scary moment on the PATCO Speedline train (some idiot brought liquor on the car when there were cops around) and a confusing one when I realized I was going where the new paper ticket entrances were instead of heading for the old plastic ticket entrances, I realized I had an advantage over the crowds of families and college students coming into the city from the New Jersey suburbs. I had some idea of where I was going. I ducked away from the masses and headed for the 12th and Locust Street exit, which dropped me a block and a half away from the parade.

The Mummers' Parade in Philadelphia is something else. I walked straight into something of a cross between Mardi Gras' and Cape May's Halloween Parade. As it turned out, I didn't miss nearly as much of the parade as I thought. The rain had delayed the parade for more than three hours, so I got to see it from almost the beginning. I really loved what I saw. Mummers are local string bands and clubs who dress in amazing costumes covered with ruffles, beads, feathers, sequins, and tulle, carry cute little parasols, and strut and dance (or lightsaber duel) from South Philly to City Hall. (I actually saw the end of the parade route on Broad Street, between the Avenue of the Arts and the Borders across from City Hall.)

Naturally, my favorites were the "fancy" floats with the well-recreated Star Wars and Hairspray themes, but there were some cute string bands and comic bands, too. (The decidedly non-PC cavalry-and-Indians group I encountered when I first hit Broad Street was particularly amusing, and I also liked the Shrek comics.) I spent three hours walking up and down Broad Street, watching the parade from various vantage points and enjoying my ability to wedge into small spaces as one of the few people in Philadelphia watching the parade alone.

The crowd was just as much fun. Mummers threw beads to screaming, horn-blowing, incredibly sloshed college students. They patted kids' heads and shook their parents' hands. Despite many people probably having been there since the parade's original 8:50 starting time, everyone was in high spirits. (Some of the college kids too much so.) Vendors sold stuffed animals on "leashes," plastic inflatable toys, balloons, wacky fuzzy hats, New Year's top hats and tiaras, feather boas, and long, very noisy plastic horns. There were booths for funnel cake and hot dogs near FYE, and people with carts sold huge pretzels big enough to feed three starving third world nations for a month. I didn't buy anything, but it added to the carnival atmosphere.

By 2:30, though, the parade seemed to be winding down a little. I'd made my way down Broad Street to what's known as the Avenue of the Arts, the section of Broad Street where most of the theaters are. The crowds were thinner here, and there was a nice, cool gust of wind that felt great after the crush of people by Borders. I ducked into a Starbucks for a Peppermint Hot Chocolate and slice of Lemon Pound Cake I didn't finish (I was more cold than hungry) and hit it just right. Even as I sat down with my treats, the line increased to the point where, by the time I left, it was almost out the door.

The parade was continuing, but it was less interesting to me at that point, mostly string bands who were beginning to look and sound alike. Besides, the wind chill was making it seem a lot colder than it probably was, and my feet were freezing. I went right back to the same PATCO ramp on 12th and Locust and went home that way. I rode back to my house from Collingswood and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out online and eating a simple dinner of pork chops, spinach salad, and wheat noodles.

Here's the link to the main Mummers' site, which can tell you a lot more about the parade than I can:

I hope all of you had a wonderful New Year's and have a safe and happy 2008!