Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reality is... depressing

Reality, yeah, sometimes life
Ain't all that it's cracked up to be
So let's take a chance and live this fantasy
'Cause everybody needs to break free from reality

These lyrics have been rolling around in my head for the past few days because I could certainly use a break from reality.

I've been quiet here because I'm feeling like if I don't have anything nice to say I just shouldn't say anything at all. Of course, if I keep that up there's no point in having this space, as I don't see much nice coming up any time soon.

Everywhere I look these days I just see more and more negativity and sadness and people being rude or mean or flat out hateful.

It's rampant in politics, which drives me nut. And drives me to alternate between paying attention because I really do care and want to and being so disgusted I end up yelling at the tv while watching news coverage. I'm a shades of gray person. I think of myself as liberal, but any political quiz I take labels me moderate. I think people, for the most part, are genuinely good and well intentioned. Yes, politicians included. I think (again, for the most part) they are truly fighting for what they believe is the right thing to do. I can respect that, even when I don't agree with their views. But what I can't respect is that we've lost the ability to compromise. To empathize.

There's so much partisanship and rhetoric it's hard to understand what's really happening and what the true intent is behind actions. It's hard to even find information that doesn't have a spin to it. It's really sad.

But what's worse, and even more surprising is that this mean, negative, hateful attitude seems to be becoming more and more pervasive in other places.

A few weeks ago I saw a "fan" lash out at one of my favorite musician's on Facebook because he was trying to raise funds to do a world tour via Kickstarter, a super common platform for creative funding. This woman was mean and hurtful, all because she didn't take the time to read the very clear description of the project and just jumped to conclusions, and attack.

I was at the cafe at Barnes and Noble over the weekend and some patrons a few tables over caught my attention. I missed the beginning of the argument, but it seemed that there was some confusion over who was holding some seats and a father with his young son thought he had a seat saved, but a group of four elderly people ended up there instead. The father argued with the elderly man, raising his voice to attract the attention of most of the cafe before storming away. Moments later he walked back through and very loudly called the older man a very bad word. Seriously?!? It is really worth getting that worked up over? And is that really the kind of example you want to set for a child?

A friend was telling me about a blog where parents from her daughter's child care center are sharing concerns. What started as concerns about the center's operation turned into parents lashing out at each other over their parenting skills and values.

This world we live in isn't easy. And I know that I'm fortunate and that the problems I face really are of the first world variety but still, all of this negativity just makes it harder. On everyone.

The old throwback cliche comes to mind, but it's cliche because it's true.

Why can't we all just get along?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday - A Birthday Edition

The next two Music Mondays are dedicated to a very special birthday girl, whose big day falls on a Thursday this year.

That's right, March 1 is my cousin Samantha's birthday. She LOVES her birthday and there is typically a countdown leading up to it and celebrations for the entire month. This week's song is Trendy, by Reel Big Fish. It popped into my head a few weeks ago and I was about to post it when I remembered it's role in one of those birthday celebrations of the past.

My sophomore year in college, when Sam was in 9th grade, I took her and some of her friends to see Reel Big Fish at the 9:30 Club in DC as her birthday present. One of my friends came too and we all piled into my aunt's mini van for the drive from Baltimore into not the best neighborhood in DC. I was a bit on the overprotective side (shocking, I know) and I made the girls stay in the balcony with me instead of joining the mosh pit on the ground floor. We all still had a blast!

Happy Almost Birthday Sam!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Monday

I love songs that can just turn your mood around with the first beat. I'm not one to dance often, but this one, well... it has me jumping around and singing along whenever I hear it.

So, let's rock out a bit this Monday Morning and start the week right, shall we?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Solitude and Frustrations

I had a solitary weekend.

I spent it reading, running errands and catching up on the backlog of dvr'd shows I've accumulated. I could have used more sleep, it was repeatedly interrupted by an annoying alarm in my building thanks to an errant cat (long story...), but otherwise the weekend was a good one, a much needed break from the stress of last week.

Unfortunately I'm ending on a crappy note thanks to my sudden hatred of my entire wardrobe. I'm trying to pack for a work trip and... I hate my clothes. All of them.

Things I wore last week, items I consider favorites, all of them are now invoking "yuck", "ick" and "hell no" as I consider adding them to my suitcase.

What the hell?

I don't really have time for this. I've got some new options in the washing machine right now and then I think I'm just throwing them in the suitcase. Once I get there it won't matter if I liked what I packed or not, I'll just have to suck it up and deal with what I have.


I hate it so much when I'm that girl.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I finished the Hunger Games series earlier this week. I didn't like them but found them addictive nonetheless. I read the first over two or three days, read back to back Vince Flynn books and then went back for the second. I started the third immediately after finishing the second and wrapped it up within 24 hours.

It was too long, yet rushed at the same time. It was too violent and depressing to be 'young adult' fiction. I know kids are aware of all of the complex and very grown up concepts that are covered in the book, but... well, why encourage it with a book like this?

So yeah, if you haven't read them I wouldn't recommend them. But, I think I'm in the minority with that opinion.


Speaking of reading, I'm 1/4 of the way there to meeting my goal of reading 80 books for the year. Yup, I've read 20 books already, in the first 6 weeks of 2012. Unfortunately, my competitor has read 21. I've managed to tie her a few times thus far. That typically lasts about 12 hours.

If you have book suggestions for me, I'm open to them. Just no more of the dystopian variety.


I got a Facebook friend request from a friend's mom yesterday. The only problem is her son stopped being my friend about three years ago. I have no clue why, but he did. I'm guessing she doesn't know why either. Well, I'm guessing she doesn't even know at all.

I've been trying to pay more attention to politics lately as there are a lot of crazy things going on in the world these days. But wow, it's just so incredibly frustrating. I want to write more about this but I'm not in the mindset to do it at the moment. So for now, yay Maryland for moving in the right direction to allow gay marriage. And boo Virginia for moving in the direction of limiting women's rights.

And finally, if you had a good week, please let me know. Because just about everyone I know - both near and far - considered this week to be especially sucky. So if your week was good, I'm really happy for you. And I hope you'll share some of that 'good' with me for next week.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shape of Us

I'm sure music has played a role in tv shows since there has been tv shows, but that role has certainly grown with the internet.

It's easier to find unsigned artists and bring attention to them, just by featuring their song on a hit tv show. What a cool job those production guys and gals have who get to suggest their favorite songs to be in shows. Or even better, just get to sit around all day listening to new music to find things that are a perfect fit for that dramatic moment in an episode.

Since I don't get to be the selecter of the music, I just have to get excited when I'm watching a favorite show and all of the sudden the music catches my attention. Usually it's the lyrics that get me. And I love that with the google it is so easy to just type in a phrase and in an instant have the song all for myself.

In this case, the tv show was Tuesday night's Parenthood that I just caught up on thanks to my beloved DVR. And the song is called Shape of Us by Ian Britt.

And in the meantime my (few) dear readers, I'm feeling kind and generous (as was Mr. Britt) and I've snagged the song from his website where he made it oh-so-easily sharable. The best part of his sharing - I had my options of size for the embedded link, labeled as Venti, Grande, Tall and Short.

Good voice, lovely lyrics and a Starbucks reference to boot... yes, Ian Britt has found himself a new fan!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Monday

My musical choice on this fairly icky Monday is a nice, sweet current country hit.

And now I'm off to own my night, by curling up on the sofa with a good book and a music filled evening of The Voice, followed by Smash.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why are you swimming when it's cold out?

Last Saturday morning I got a call from Bug's mom, saying that the little munchkin wanted me to come to her swimming lesson. Her logic: "Aunt Stacy likes to watch me swim when we go to the beach, so she'd like to watch my swimming lesson."

Valid point.

Unfortunately, I was at the beach last weekend, so I told her I couldn't make it. As expected, that led to more questions, the big one being "Why are you at the beach when it's cold?" I explained that I was visiting my parents but she just couldn't grasp it. When you go to the beach you play in the sand, jump in the waves, swim in the pool. You can't do these things when it's cold, so why would you go?

Apparently she kept asking her mommy that question over and over again all day that day (Sorry Sarah!).

So to make it up to Bug I went to her swim lesson this weekend. And to make it up to her mommy for all those questions about my bizarre, winter beach going behavior, I babysat for the kiddos for a few hours after the lesson.

First up, the swimming lesson. Last weekend apparently she got freaked out and kinda threw a fit and missed half her lesson because she was terrified of getting in the pool. Yesterday she got right in and within about 60 seconds had already gone under water. She was such a champ. Last summer when we tried to have her float on her back - being held up by her mom or I - she'd freeze. Yesterday she was as relaxed as she could be, lying on her back with the instructor's hand lightly holding her up, kicking her feet and then continuing to dunk under water. It was great to see, and even better to see her so proud of herself for her accomplishments. She completed her Level 1 classes yesterday and moves on to Level 2 next week.

After swimming we all went to lunch and that's when I noticed a voicemail from my dad. My parents love to hear funny stories about Bug and were both quite amused when she called while I was with them last weekend. They knew my plans for the day and my dad had left a message with a question for Bug. He wanted me to ask her why, if I couldn't be at the beach when it was cold, why was she going swimming? Didn't she know that you don't go swimming when it's cold?

I laughed as I listened to the message and then asked her the question. She looked at me with an expression that would have definitely contained an eye roll if she were about 10 years older and said "because I'm swimming inside, Aunt Stacy!"


Friday, February 10, 2012

Cancer Sucks

I've read and heard way too much about cancer this week and it just sucks. I wish I could come up with a more eloquent word to use, but I can't. Cancer doesn't deserve anything more eloquent. It just gets sucks. Because it does.

I'm fortunate that none of the sucky cancer stories I've encountered this week impact me or my family or friends directly, but... in this tightly connected, social-media-is-shrinking-the-world-we-live-in kinda way, I feel the impact of the stories nonetheless.

The 'best' of the cancer news was about one of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn. He was diagnosed with stage III metastatic prostate cancer late in 2010 and is doing well. He's got another 3 1/2-4 years of fighting it to go, but things are promising. Which is awesome.

His new book came out this week, and he was promoting it on Elliot in the Morning, the local radio show where I was first introduced to him as an author several years ago. In addition to talking about the new book, he talked about the cancer. How doctors say he likely had it for 2-3 years at the point of diagnosis and that despite a full physical it went undetected until it spread to his bones. Well gee, isn't that scary. He's fortunate to be responding positively to treatment but isn't out of the woods yet.

And speaking of not being out of the woods, the teenage girl I wrote about several weeks ago, the one whose cancer is 87% curable with chemo alone, yeah, I read her blog last week and learned she is going to need radiation. And then her mom updated yesterday that the radiation oncologist they met with to get things started indicated it's that it will need to be on a wider area, which increases the potential side effects and makes the already sucky situtation even suckier. I don't know this family, but my heart just goes out to them.

And finally, in the super suckiest of all cancer sucking stories of the week, Monday started with the news of a well known DC area blogger, Susan Niebur (aka @WhyMommy) losing her fight with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Her blog was called Toddler Planet, where she wrote about her kids, being an astrophysicist and cancer - particularly IBC which is the lesser known type of breast cancer. I didn't read her regularly, but she was good friends with many of the other local bloggers whose blogs I do read all the time. Her blogging crew pulled together started collecting stories and positive memories to share with her last month, when things were looking dim. The outpouring was amazing and continued after the news of her passing.

I cried my eyes out reading through the posts there, and the many other tributes that have popped up this week like this one, and this one and this one. On, and this one in the Washington Post blog.

My takeaway from all of this is three-fold. First, of all, Susan really wanted to educate people about IBC. She wrote a blog post explaining what it is, and how you can have breast cancer without a lump. Please, read the post and learn what to look for.

Second, more research is needed about IBC so if you are able to donate, please make a gift to help prevent IBC from killing more women. I did. It wasn't much, but every dollar helps.

And finally, Susan's "About" section of her blog listed her mantra. It's beautiful and inspiring, and definitely worth sharing.

All that survives after our death are publications and people.

So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others. For these are the only things that will remain.

- Susan Niebur

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The one where I give in to peer pressure

Yup. I caved. I did something I didn't really want to because everyone kept telling me I should.

Now, this probably wasn't the kind of peer pressure my middle school chorus teacher had in mind when she had us sing a song about it in 7th grade (which by the way, I still remember ALL of the lyrics to). No, the peer pressure that got to me was reading Hunger Games.

Just like happened with the Twilight books and Harry Potter before those.

(Side note - are any of you at all surprised that the peer pressure that gets to me is to read? *eyeroll* Wow, am I a dork.)

I'm not a sci-fi/fantasy fan. I mostly read fiction with a strong story line (Jodi Piccoult, Joshilyn Jackson, Ann Patchett), mystery/suspense/thrillers (Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Vince Flynn), the occasional chick lit fluff and a respectable amount of non-fiction.

Nothing about that screams that a YA dystopian series is a good fit for me. So when they started to rise in popularity last spring, I had zero interest in reading them, yet knew, at some point I'd cave.

Just like happened with the Twilight books and Harry Potter before those.

In case you've been living under a rock, here's the description of Hunger Games, the first in the trilogy:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived

I can't find a complete description - this seems to be cut off, but... you get the idea. Teenagers fighting to the death in a post-Apocolypitic world.

You get why I resisted, right?

But as much as it didn't sound appealing I knew that many people wouldn't be reading them if they weren't good books. I know people who have loved them, ranging from my boss' tween daughter to a 50something colleague. There had to be something incredibly compelling and worth reading. So, I did.

What's the verdict now that I've finished the first book?

I liked it.

I'm not gushing over it or immediately starting book two before the night is over, though I will read it and book three as well. I can completely see why people are getting so sucked in, but for me, well, I'm mostly just glad I finished it so I can read the new Vince Flynn book that came out this week!

What about you? Have you read them? If so, what did you think?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Music Monday

I love coincidence. Or fate, depending on your perspective.

Last weekend I was in quite the 'Memory Lane' mode, with last Monday's post from the intersection of '96 & '97.

Shortly after posting that I found out that one of my favorites from that same era will be headlining a local music festival this spring, one I'm on the planning committee for.

So tonight, as I head out for my first committee meeting of the season, I leave you with my favorite song from the Pat McGee Band - Haven't Seen for Awhile

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh the places I will go

So far I've got four trips on the schedule for 2012.

Unfortunately they are all for work. I don't mind traveling for work, it can get annoying when trips are all piled up at the same time, but I don't think that will be the case this year. The annoying part is I very rarely get to see the city I'm visiting.

A typical work trip goes something like this:

Airport --> Hotel --> Meetings --> Meetings --> More Meetings --> Working dinner -->Hotel.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat for 2-4 days.

I'm not complaining about the meetings themselves, it's just that it doesn't matter where they are taking place. Without the visual clues of a famous Arch here or a well known bridge there, I could easily forget where I am because hotels and meeting space are pretty much interchangeable.

I want to plan a real vacation this year. My top contenders for destination are the Bahamas or Puerto Rico.

My top contenders for a travel companion are... coming up blank.

I'm sorta sad about this and sorta ok with it.

It would definitely be more fun if a friend could go with me, but I'm pretty ok with the idea of going on my own. Setting my own schedule, reading lots of books and just doing what I want. Yeah, that works for me. And, I do have a college friend who lives in the Bahamas now, so if I end up there then it won't have to be a totally solitary trip.

Beyond that trip my travel wish list for 2012 includes another trip out west to visit Wiggles (and her parents), a long weekend or 2 in NYC visiting a friend and playing tourist, potential trips to Florida and Boise to visit other friends and hopefully finally getting to Chicago. It tops my list of places I've never been that I really want to go to!

As I write this I'm mentally mapping out when these trips can take place... Bahamas in April? Visit to Wiggles in June? Chicago in August? Florida in the fall?

I'm not sure why I'm feeling compelled to map out my whole year right now, but I am. So, if any of those spots involve a visit to you, expect an email soon. And if any of my dear friends want to visit any of those spots with me, well, I'll be looking for your email soon as well!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An evening at the mall

I had to metro downtown for a meeting this afternoon and since the metro oh so conveniently stops at the mall, I decided to get some much needed errands done on my way home.

First up was a haircut. I started going to a local stylist around a year ago. This was the fourth time I've been. Yeah, haircuts don't happen as regularly around here as they should. Partially because I think it's ridiculous how much they cost in this area, partially because I can never justify spending that much money if I just want a trim and third, well, because I'm always torn as to whether or not I want to have long hair or short hair.

I went in with long hair (several inches below my shoulders) and I left with short hair (just grazing my shoulders). I had to get my money's worth after all. My hair is sleek and smooth and wonderfully soft right now thanks to the deep conditioning treatment I splurged on. I'm pretty happy with the cut, but not sure how I feel about the side bangs I'm now sporting. Yes, side bangs.

The stylist really wanted to give me regular bangs, like hers. I said no. She asked again, and again, and I continued to say no, I do not want bangs. Then she asked about side bangs and for some reason I caved. Side bangs seem to mean I have to part my hair a certain way, rather than my usual letting it go where it wants approach. They also lead to attempted ear tucks about every five seconds, with minimal success.

Oh well. It's only hair and really, this is why headbands and barrettes exist - to make questionable cuts tolerable until it grows out.

After I finished at the salon I moved on to spend a gift card for clothes that I've been carrying around for a month now. I was quite disappointed to see that clothing stores still think we're stuck in 1982 and not 2012. I saw a black, tiered, faux-leather skirt that scared me. I mean really? Ask anyone and they'll tell you 80s fashion was awful. So why has it returned? Why?!?!

I avoided everything in near neon colors, with extra rucheing and off the shoulder necklines and just went for a classic, gray cardigan on clearance. After all, I have stylish side bangs now, I can get away with boring clothes, right?

I'm not a frequent mall shopper, so I was excited to see some changes. Lush opened, which increases the likelihood I'll cave at some point in the near future and spend way too much money on their fancy products. There's also a new counter service pasta place. You pick your pasta, pick your sauce and pick any toppings you want. I decided to take a chance on pesto - sometimes it's yummy, other times it's ick, and lucked out - it was good!

So a productive night capped off a productive day as we approach the end of a super productive week. I'm pretty excited that I'm taking a break from all of this productivity with a lazy weekend at the beach with my parents starting tomorrow afternoon.