Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's On Parade

Happy New Year! I ended 2014 with Whipped Nog Syllabub (which turned out to be delicious - I'll have to use eggnog all the time) and fireworks over the creek. There weren't as many fireworks as usual, though. I guess a lot of people thought it was too cold to be outside, setting things off.

I stayed up with Lauren until past 3:30. When I finally got up, it was nearly 10:30 AM! I read a few New Year's short stories from Collier's Book of Holidays, then wrote my first journal entry of the year. As soon as I got up, I got dressed, put on my coat, and hurried out. I was at The Pop Shop by quarter of noon.

The Pop Shop was bedlam. It was a lot busier than the last few times I went to breakfast on New Year's there. The decorations were glittery magenta-and-lime-green ornaments and vintage-looking hangings, with snowflakes everywhere. Almost every table and counter seat was taken. I was lucky to get a table. Less than 20 minutes after I was sitting down and sipping rich, smooth hot chocolate, the line was almost out the door. The Pop Shop is extremely popular with families and college students, and I don't think there were too many other places in Collingswood open.

I ended up with a Bananas Foster Waffle to go with my hot chocolate. It was just ok. The waffle was a little dry and tough around the edges. The "bananas foster" was supposed to be a caramel banana sauce, but it was more like banana-caramel goop. Still tasted pretty good, though I probably won't order it again.

It was a gorgeous day for a second trip into Philly. The sun was shining, and though it was windy, it wasn't quite as cold as it had been yesterday, probably in the upper 30s-lower 40s. I joined a crowd of families and college kids taking a mostly-full PATCO train into Philadelphia to see the Mummers' Parade.

I got off at 12th Street. After getting a little turned around, I finally made my way to the Avenue of the Arts. I walked up and down the street for about an hour. It was 12:30 by the time I made it into Philly. The Mummers' Parade was winding down. The "Funny Groups" based around current topics were long gone, but I could still see the costumed string bands. I saw a group of huntsmen in checked flannel shirts and beards, a military group in ruffled green camouflage who were honoring veterans, a group of mimes in striped shirts and berets, a huge "Frog University" crowd in red and white, a smaller group in blue and yellow pinafores, and a Notre Dame group in gold, black, and white fleur di lis.

I walked from Locust to Pine and the Kimmel Center. It wasn't nearly so busy down there. I loved seeing the college crowds and hearing their chatter. Most of the people down there seemed to be standing on the balcony of the Kimmel! Most of the groups hadn't made it down there yet, so I braved the heavy crowds around the Doubletree Hotel to make it back down to City Hall. I watched the groups there for a while before heading through City Hall and down Market to the Gallery Mall.

I wanted to give the closing Gallery Mall FYE a second look. It goes without saying that they were really busy, given the sales. I took advantage of the 40 % off all DVDs and CDs to get two recently released items I'd been looking for, the TV musical soundtrack Bombshell (I fell in love with the Haddon Township Library's copy a few months ago) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also picked up the Disney Hercules (one of the few Disney movies I like that I didn't have) and the Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone (I've been trying to get that one for a good price since it came out) used.

My last stop in Philly was at Books-A-Million. Ironically, not only did they have the third and fourth Ever After High titles, but now they had the first and second, which they hadn't on Monday. I bought the remaining two stories, A Wonderlandiful World and the short story collection, along with a 2015 calender from artist Susan Branch.

The PATCO going home was the same as the one going there, relatively full but not jam-packed. I guess a lot of people opted to stay in Philly and continue their celebration. I decided that, after a long couple of weeks, I wasn't up to it. I rode straight home instead.

After I got home, I set up this year's calenders. The Susan Branch went in the hallway. That's the one I use to keep dates for appointments, like counseling. The smaller Dora the Explorer calender went in my bedroom. I use more cutesy, character-themed calenders in my bedroom to keep track of the date for journal-writing, and just to brighten the wall behind my bed.

Went right in the bath after that. Ahhhh. That felt so nice. I settled back, listened to the Marsalises play music from the Peanuts specials (and their own compositions based after Peanuts music), and read The Storybook of Legends and The Unfairest of All. Ever After High has me thinking a lot about destiny. The story line has it that Raven Queen, the daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White, is really a sweet kid who has no desire to poison anyone. She refuses to sign the book that would seal her destiny. Some of the kids are thrilled, either ones who don't want to follow their destiny, or those like Raven's friend Madeline Hatter, the nutty daughter of the Mad Hatter, who like their destinies but think people should have a choice. Others, like Apple White, the daughter of Snow White, are devastated. Their destinies are the safe path, the thing they're supposed to follow. If they don't follow their destinies, what will happen to them and their stories?

On one hand, I totally agree with Raven and her decision. Beyond the fact that Snow White was never my favorite fairy tale, I think people should be able to do what they want with their lives. What if the daughter of Little Red Riding Hood wants to run with the wolves, or the daughter of the Candy Witch from Hansel and Gretel would rather bake gingerbread than kids, or if Goldilocks was a princess? Hollywood's been re-writing these stories for years, anyway. Stories evolve by being retold and re-written. That's how life works.

On the other hand, I can also see Apple's point. Some people do train all their lives for certain jobs or paths. What happens when people they counted on don't want to follow with them? What happens when people who only know one way are suddenly told they have to change? Should they change? How?

It's been on my mind a lot lately. There's been a great deal of change, in my world and in the world in general. Change is hard, but sometimes, it needs to happen. On the other hand, it's tough when you're not prepared. I want badly to get out of the Acme and do what I want, but I don't know how to break out of my shell and do it. Working the same job for 14 years is the safe path. It's one that I hate and is making me crazy, but its safe. But what happens when safe doesn't necessarily mean happy? What about all the people around you?

I think that's why Ever After High is the only current doll line besides American Girl's historical characters that's sparked my interest. Unlike Bratz or Monster High, or even Barbie's perpetual princesses and careers, these characters have genuine back stories and a really interesting, well-developed plot behind them. They're not just fancy outfits and goofy puns - the story gives you a lot to think about.

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