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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Manhattan (Beginning Essay from my trip in March)

This is only the first paragraph of it. How does it sound? Yes, I am looking to go for a bit of sadness to open it up a bit, given it was a time of great loss.

The bright sunshine that shone through the bus’s window radiated my brown hair and warmed my body. The sunshine was unusually warm for March, but I wasn’t complaining as I couldn’t shake the cold feeling of my friend’s murder two weeks before. Today would be a day that I could escape from the jail cell of emotions I had been trapped in; I would be in a new city. The warm sunshine, like Jim’s life, was gone in an instant. I shouldn’t have been surprised, unlike with the news I heard, there was an indication to this darkness as of a few minutes ago when I saw the green sign with white big letters read LINCOLN TUNNEL, but I was too busy thinking about being in New York for the first time.

The few lights that did shine in the abyss of the Lincoln Tunnel almost gave me a feeling of hell, or what Dante would perceive as hell in his Inferno. Although there was no stench (at least not to my knowledge, I am eternally stuffy and couldn’t smell a thing), the lights from the cars gave an eerie, hellish glow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For Being a Friend

Check out the video I made via PowerPoint 2010 (definitely buy Office 2010, it's awesome!)  :)

Thank you all for being great friends!

If I Were a Sheep

(Having some fun, I’m making a book in Word to show my Advanced Word class, so I wrote a poem about what it would like to be a sheep, now I just need to get the line number to cooperate. Please let me know what you think)

If I Were a Sheep

If I could be, I would be a sheep,

under the Milky Way I can sleep

and it would be neat to have a wooly coat,

grayish white, soft and firm; oh I’d gloat—

I’d have the best hair, those mangy mutts

will never hold sheers for sweaters to cut;

I’d bah and bleat, give me a nice warm bath—

don’t you dare remove the dirty path!

I love my long hair that protects my skin,

from sun and infection, laminin thin;

maybe it would be best not to be a sheep,

I’d have to watch out for the company I keep

and in the summer I couldn’t gloat—

my owners would sheer my coat

despite protests, bahs and bleating,

fight, fight, gosh darnit fight or take a beating—

Yes, I don’t think being a sheep would be good,

but I would try if it was promised that I could

keep my coat unruly and long

and bask in my fame with fortune and song,

only on that condition I would;

being a sheep could be very good.

In memory of Shrek the Sheep

September 1994-June 6, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Goodbye, Ryan and Cecil

On Saturday at my party, I gave a toast to Ryan, Zac, Clarence Clemons and Otis, my cousin's cat who died on Thursday night. I dunno if it was lame or corny, but I said something like this:

This is for Ryan Dunn, who had been a wonderful entertainer and a good friend to all those who met, as well as to the cast of Jackass and members of CKY. And Zac Hartwell who was a faithful veteran and protected our freedoms and rights, who also was a faithful friend and husband. This is also for Clarence Clemons who had an awesome career and was an awesome saxophone player, may all of you rest in peace in heaven. And finally, to Cecil, my buddy and cousin's cat who was deeply loved by his nuclear family as well as his extended family. I am going to miss seeing his fat belly and being greeted when visiting my cousin. May you have a safe trip to the Rainbow Bridge. May all of you have a safe trip to the Rainbow Bridge, whether human or animal.

And we toasted with jello shots. God, I hope it wasn't too lame.

Rainy Days, Sunny Days...

I find it interesting, people with bi-polar disorder will most likely have thyroid disease. Huh. It's been a confusing road so far, my parents were in denial at first, but I think it calmed down a bit. They took the American Express away (thank God), but they want me to get a new bank account so they can co-sign. I dunno, that makes me nervous. But, it could just be me over thinking. The medication has helped some, I'm not as suicidal, though I still get depressed and irritable and have some moments of not thinking clearly. However, the doctor said this medication will take a few months to get used to. My general practitioner, I have to call later, I have my thyroid appointment on Saturday and I want to tell her about the diagnoses and show her the medication so she has it on record.

I told my boss at the ACC about this today. I was debating it and so nervous about telling her, but she seemed sympathetic. I decided to tell her because I am going to need to duck out of work for a half an hour to go to therapy. So, hopefully it's not a mark against me. I guess there still is stigma behind mental illness. I e-mailed a friend from this old bi-polar group on and told her about the diagnosis and to e-mail me at my gmail address. I guess it's a good thing to talk to other people with the illness too. I also thank God for my friends and family. They have been helpful thus far.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Don't Blame the Spilt Milk... Can't Cry Over It and It Won't Change the Fact.

I am not sure if you can read the comments or not, but it’s pointless to start blaming. I don’t know, maybe it’s the years of therapy where I have learned “there’s no use crying when the milk is already spilled.” It’s a tragedy, I don’t care whether people liked him or not, despite his decision it’s sad. Maybe, again, this is years of watching people do reckless things that I can sympathize with how much trouble they are in and how much it hurts because we can see them drowning and despite all the life jackets, rafts, tubes, whatever, and them fighting with you because they still want to continue to drown. It’s pointless to point at friends, who knows, maybe they did try to stop him and he wanted to continue anyway. Even if they didn’t, I’m sure they’re feeling pretty crappy and guilty already, they don’t need more people blaming them when their self-blame is already monumental. Instead of blaming, we should mourn Ryan and Zach’s loss and work together on trying to prevent another accident like this from happening. We should celebrate their lives and work towards what they wanted done (Ryan had a fund for homeless children I believe, we could continue his fund) and Zach was a veteran.

West Boro Baptist Church was supposed to show up at this funeral. I remember they tried to do that at the McAndrew service and I thank God they didn’t show up. I thank God for not showing up at this funeral as well. I don’t understand why these people want to do something like this. What do they get out of it? I don’t think it would make God or Jesus proud, in fact I think it makes them upset.

I told one of the guests that posted about Ryan Dunn’s death (he put down, “friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive”) that we’ll be having a shot (Jagermeister, vodka, Sprite or Coca Cola) in his honor and in Clarence Clemons honor.

Okay, break time is over, back to work. If I have anything to post after work at the library tonight (get home 8:30) I’ll post. I probably won’t, I want to start making the jello shots tonight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Terrible Week in Entertainment News

It’s been a terrible week in entertainment news, and it’s only Tuesday. On Saturday Clarence Clemons, saxophone player to Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga’s right hand man on her Born This Way album (he played solos in the singles “Hair” and “Edge of Glory”) died at age 69. Then yesterday Ryan Dunn of the TV show Jackass dies in a car accident at the age of 34. Since the accident happened 20 minutes away from where I live and he’s from my college town, I will write about his death first.

He lived where I go to school. He died on a road I travel on sometimes, he drank at a bar I frequent sometimes for the mozerella sticks. It's surreal. Though he was drunk when he crashed, I still feel bad and at a sense of loss. My mom's reaction, "well, that's what you get when you drink and speed" (says the alcoholic who has done that... it made me chuckle a bit) and another friend of mine said something similar. Although, I am not cool with over indulgence and killing others, there is a part of me that still feels bad because it's obvious he had a problem and at the center of the problem are other effected. And besides, no one deserves to die. I could just imagine how painful it was... I guess that's why I'm a bleeding heart.

At my party I'm going to have a little remembrance for him and the saxophone player from Clarence Clemons. We'll have a few shots (of something alcoholic and something non-alcoholic for the non-drinkers) in their memories.

I will be updating again most likely tomorrow, but I can't promise. I was just diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, so for the rest of the month until I get used to the mood stabilizers, I won't be on much and won't be writing much.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Non-Alcoholic Jello Shots

I am planning to make things for my party next week (keeping it simple) and since most of my guests don't like to drink, I will be making non-alcoholic jello shots (of course for the few that do like to drink, I will have a few that will be alcoholic. They will be designated with something fun... the non-alcoholic ones will have the Lady Gaga Judas cross and the alcoholic one will have Gaga kissing Judas).

Gaga and Judas which will mark alcoholic.

Jello Shots


2Stir together boiling water and powdered gelatin Stir constantly until jello is completely dissolved.

3:Spray the inside of the cups with cooking spray, so the Jello easily slides out of the cups during use. Adding toothpicks, if you have enough of them, can help, too. Popsicle sticks work too.

4:Pour mixture into shot glasses, individual shot-size (1oz-2oz) plastic cups, or accordion-like squeezable cups manufactured specifically for this purpose.

5. Add Sprite or Ginger Ale to the non-alcoholic drinks and vodka or gin to the alcoholic drinks.

  1. 6:Place shots on a tray in refrigerator (not the freezer). Chill until firm (approximately 2-4 hours). Refrigerate until served.
I am also going to be making "Cup of Dirt," which I had in NYC yesterday. I have always loved this recipe.
- 1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1 package chocolate instant pudding mix
- 8 ounces Cool Whip topping, thawed
- 1 package gummy worms
Serving Description: 1 plastic cup
Servings: 8

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New York, New York!

I was in Times Square today (NYC). I will write a travel piece tomorrow, but enjoy the pictures!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Philadelphia Diem

Philadelphia Diem
A Day in the City of Brotherly Love: 5/18/11
 stand next to the empty, dark Papa John's, quite different from the scene during the hustle and bustle of the semester with students going in and out—but 9 am is usually when things are dead until noon—waiting for the 104 from West Chester University to 69th Street. As I look out towards Church Street in fear of missing the bus I never took before and praying that the blackened sky with gray clouds didn't open up in the familiar downpour of rain—this May has felt more like an April.
        Finally! The bus was here—five minutes early than what the Septa site had said and unlike the 92 that is usually late. I stepped onto the double decked bus and handed the driver the day pass I was given by a nice gentleman I usually talk to on the 92. This 104 bus driver, brand new since an older woman dressed in Septa garb stood behind him to watch, was nice and jokingly asked me, "is this pass real?" with me timidly replying "yes," "well, how do you know?" I was about to say the nice man on the 92 wouldn't lie to me because his daughter, as he explained works for Septa, but the driver just punches the May and eighteen as swiped the card while explaining to me that I should swipe first before the driver stamps it.
      I settle down comfortably in my seat and drifted away to the heavy metal blasting on my iPod and the beautiful, almost rural, suburban trance of Newtown Square, Havertown, Haverford, Bryn Mawr—
     "God, I hope we're almost there," I think to myself. The beautiful scenery around me transforms into a concrete, dingy jungle that separated Havertown from Upper Darby and the outskirts of Philadelphia.
     "Thank God, almost there," I hear a black guy behind me sigh and stretch.
     I turn around and proceed to ask him "What is there to do on 69th Street?"
     "Not much of anything."
     "Okay, I'll just go into the city and go to the Academy of Natural Sciences. What should I take to get there?"

    "The ell to 15th street," just like the 92 driver had said to me earlier this morning.
    "Okay, thanks."
    "Mhm," I get a mumble and turn around. The bus finally pulls into the station, I stretch before getting off and after stepping down onto the dirty concrete and being bombarded by car horns, I text Dave about a favor—
          “What kind of favor?” his text reply read.
          “Could you google piercers in the Philadelphia area for me, please?” I type back.
          “Couldn’t you do it?” the quick reply read.
          “I am already in the city.”
          “Alright, I’ll look.”
          “Thank you J
          Accessing Sixty-Ninth Street and finding it to be more like a prison with steel bars on every window; I grab the handle of the door and walk into the transit center. Much fancier than the transit centers in King of Prussia and West Chester, I am lost instantaneously in this strange jungle of buses, trains, subways and taxis.
          Noticing one of the girls that rode the 104 with me, I walk up to her and ask her where the ell is.
          Smiling, “sure, it’s over there. Just follow the signs,” and points to the first sign.
          Seeing the sign that read “elevated train à,” I thanked her with a smile and followed the sign to a dark tunnel that led me to a ticket booth.
          Walking up to the booth, I find the teller and speaking through the intercom, “Good morning, do you accept these day passes?”
          The African American teller kindly replies, “Yes ma’am,” and I slide it under the glass for him to punch and slide.
          Noticing the ell I needed to take to Fifteenth Street, I quickly run through the gates and into the car before the door closed. Once on, I notice not many passengers utilizing the ell, but it wasn’t surprising to me for a Wednesday morning at 10:15. Situating myself into the uncomfortable seat, I whip out my phone and notice a text message from Dave asking me a question about one piercing location. I type back, but alas! no signal. He’d have to wait the ten or fifteen minutes I’d be on the ell.
          I’ll admit, as I sit looking out the window, that I fear a little terrified because of the editorial in the Inquirer (or Times Herald, not really sure) nan showed me the day before about a gay man being beat up by thugs with the writer calling for a fight on local terrorism instead of abroad. I am wearing my Clay Matthews t-shirt because I am a huge Packers fan—for a moment I worry that a crazy Eagles fan will see it, become disgruntled about me being a traitor to the city and punch me (hey, I may be a girl, but some hoodlums and thugs don’t care). I continue to look out the window to take my mind off the editorial. As the gray sky disappeared into a dimly lit underground tunnel, the fury in which the engine roared and the beating-clanking of the tracks intensified. At the stops a bunch of people would get off, and then a new set would climb aboard. Watching different people from all walks of life get on the bus was fascinating, that at times I forget to listen to the faint feminine voice that announces stops. However, the sign markers alert me, that I am off and strolling the streets at the right stop.

alking into day light once again, I grab my phone out of my black capris pocket to answer Dave back. I see a new message from him telling me the address of Infinite, a shop that was recommended to me by Victoria and Anna because they were APP[1] approved (Anna used to be a professional piercer and was trained through the APP). Also, by walking into the day light once again, I shock my senses. My eyes were also shocked by the concrete jungle that surrounds me—the realization of never traveling alone in Philadelphia finally sank in.
          Instead of panicking, I make my way on the surface of the city and approach the first street vendor I see to ask which way I ought to go to get to Nineteenth Street. The hot dog man points me in that direction—let me tell you, getting around Philly wasn’t too hard—I only was lost once on Sixteenth Street because the one sign pointed in the opposite direction, and the blocks are short; good for a fast walk.
          As soon as I neared the Parkway, I spot Love Park and I had the urge to visit. When I approach the Park, I could see a lot of people there—out of towners who were getting pictures underneath the LOVE sculpture to brag to relatives back home that they were apart of Philadelphia’s living, walking history. I meet a few girls that ask me to take their picture and I have them take the picture of me standing underneath as well. I don’t mind when the out-of-towners ask because I love capturing memories for them (I guess that is the scrapbook artist in me).
The few moments in quietness around the bright blue hue of the fountain, I look down upon my watch and notice it is 10:45 and that if I want to see the entire exhibits of the Academy of Natural Sciences, eat lunch and get pierced before I had to take the 3pm train home, I have to hurry along across the Parkway. It wouldn’t take me long, except for the whimsical insect and animal designs in the bushes for the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. The maidens that guarded the fountain in the Whimsical Park[2], like that of the Siren, entrance me and I must capture their images.
Despite the few minor setbacks at Whimsical Park and looking at the country flags as I entered the Parkway, I arrive at the Academy of Natural Sciences at 11. As I approach the door, I notice the handles are in the shapes of bones. I chuckle to myself for a brief moment, think it’s cool and walk in. I am greeted by two young women; I present my West Chester student ID that brings my ticket down to $10. I am asked if I want to see the Butterfly exhibit and I smile and say, “Of course,” for an extra dollar, I am given a tag that designates me as a “Butterfly Attendee.”
I notice on my left-hand side that there is a dinosaur exhibit and I rush over and stand in front of a raptor skeleton. Like the dork I am, I whisk out my cellphone and take the picture to send to Dad and Dave. As I read the information sign in front of the skeleton, an employee (or volunteer, he was gray and possibly older) walks over with three distinct fossils that he explains are a dinosaur egg, a tooth and a nail, and lets me hold them to test heaviness and to feel the smoothness. I thank him and continue to walk to the room where paleontologists were cleaning and cataloging the fossils. About three elementary schools were there for a fieldtrip and situated (rather loudly) in the classroom.
          Dave responds to my text, thinking the dinosaur display is cool. He also states that before he wanted to be a history teacher he wanted to be a paleontologist. I confess that biology is a third or fourth love of mine and if I did better in Dr. Waber’s biology class in the fall of 2009, I would have had a third minor in biology (specifically botany)[3].
Double Bracket: The opossum exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences.          In order not to disturb the children on their fieldtrip, I quietly walk to the exit that leads me to the Wildlife of the World exhibit. What can I say? I love animals and learning about the different species. I had a longing for these animals—whether opossum[4], gazelle[5] or polar bear—to be alive and moving instead of taxidermied and stiff. However, in front of the gazelle showcase, I meet a nice Jordanian family and have a brief, basic Arabic conversation in which I meet Timothy (he must have been born in the US or they are Christians instead of Muslim and using the Biblical name instead of the Qur’anic), Laila and I can’t recall the father’s name.
          As we part ways, I come to the Butterflies! exhibit. I make sure that my “Butterfly Attendee” badge is visible on the neck line of my Clay Matthews shirt. After the thorough check, I walked through the brightly coloured (in blues and purples) doors and into the steamy, humid room that butterflies (and moths—the dreaded moths[6]) crave.
          I walk around and keeping what the sign hanging beside the door states—be mindful of where you walk! Butterflies are everywhere, even floors!—I keep a lookout on the ground. There is an Owl Butterfly resting on the ground near one of the gardens. I near him and extend my hands hoping that he would fly to me. He doesn’t. Two of the volunteers join me and we talk for some time.
          “A few years ago I went to Butterfly World in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Your exhibit is just as beautiful as that place,” I say.
          “Thank you. I never heard of it, I’ll have to check it out,” he replies.
Double Bracket: A swallowtail resting amongst the flowers.          “It’s a neat place. Huge. They have all sorts of gardens too and Joe Pye weed and Dutchman ’s Pipevines hanging everywhere!”
          I mosey around the humid, brightly lit room, and see small and big butterflies flying around. Fortunately, the moths were sleeping. I will admit though that the lunar moths did look pretty. Many were feeding on the banana slices and other fruit slices. I watched them intently eating with their proboscis that quickly unrolled out of the ball for resting position, and suck the nectars out of the fruits like a vampire. Most of the butterflies that were feeding were the Owl Butterflies.
          The female volunteer, that looked to be about my age, walked over to me and started to admire the feeding scene as well (to outlookers, we probably looked strange because we were so engrossed in Mother Nature). Finally I turn to her and ask,
          “I know moths only come out during the night, but the ones flying towards the light, are they moths as well?”
          “Probably not. But, butterflies love light as well.”
Double Bracket: Proboscis—Owl Butterflies feeding on banana slices.           I thank her and the gentleman, and walk out after an half an hour tour. My hair was frizzy and I wanted to get back into the air conditioning. As I walk out the door, I notice children lined up in groups, also on a fieldtrip, waiting to go inside. I make my way to the library room and search for the ornithology[7] exhibit, but notice it’s not there like the website claimed happened on Wednesdays. I walk back down to the receptionists’ desk and she politely tells me that the meetings are actually every Thursday. I thank her and notice my stomach is growling; I walk out the door and find the nearest restaurant or the restaurant with the yummiest sounding (and cheapest) menu.

Text Box: The restaurant’s motto is “there are no strangers here, just friends that haven’t met yet,” which is painted above the bar, and is a motto that the waiters and waitresses live by. My waitress was very friendly, warm and quick to lend me advice on the quickest way to get to South Fourth Street from the Parkway. She was also helpful when it came time to order alcoholic drinks—all I had to tell her was that I am a Jack Daniels fan, she suggested and the drink was awesome and not too strong for a beginner drinker. The food was amazing, quick and cheap as well. I spent about $20 for lunch (without the alcohol it would have been $12).
Located at the Windsor Hotel on 1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Con Murphy’s is a delectable, friendly and charming small restaurant that is new to Philadelphia. According to their website, Con Murphy’s is an Irish Pub paying tribute to an old friend from Ireland, Con Murphy, and a tribute to the Irish in Philadelphia.
The site goes on to describe the namesake as, “Con was, like many an Irishman, both a gentleman and a scholar. He had a healthy aversion to work. Con never lied but was often careless with the truth and never allowed it to get in the way of a good story. He treated your money like his but his generosity knew no bounds. Con was a raconteur and a rogue but, above all, he was a character who brought a smile to your face and warmth to your heart which is what this Pub aims to do also.”

Description: Narrow horizontal
          As I walk out of Con Murphy’s, feeling some of the effects of the Irish Russian, I make my way underground to the ell again. The waitress told me that I should take the ell on Fifteenth Street to Fifth Street, then walk to block to South Fourth Street, which is also part of Old City. This time, I’d be on for a shorter period of time because eleven stops were a lot better than the 35 or 40 stops from the Sixty-ninth Street Station.

uch like the waitress said, Fifth Street was Old City. Walking past the Betsy Ross House and the American Jewish Museum, I was maybe about ten minutes away from Fourth Street when the black sky opened up in a downpour of cold rain. A Septa bus is on break and I ask if he was going to Fourth Street and he sadly said no. I hailed a cab and I slid into the backseat. He is definitely Middle Eastern and we talk for a bit, but we’re both too busy trying to find Infinite after I give him the address. I’m glad no one was behind us because we were probably going fifteen miles an hour trying to read the numbers on the buildings. I finally spot it and I excitedly say, “here it is!” I get out and pay the fare of $8.

Description: Narrow horizontalDouble Bracket: Above: Kellan, my piercer. He was awesome. I would recommend going to him! He was so caring and sweet.
Below: Me with my tragus piercing. It didn’t hurt too badly—reminded me of getting a shot.
 like the atmosphere of Infinite. When I walk in, the owner gives me a warm welcome and asks what I want done.
“I’d like to get a tragus done, please,” I respond.
          “Sure, let me get the studs out you can choose from. They are all $20.”
          “I just want the plain silver one.”
          “Are you sure? You can get the gemstones if you want.”
          “Nah, I like the industrial look.”
          He laughs at me and tells me I strike him as that type of person. We talk for a bit and he senses that I have a tough personality and could handle anything. He then informs me that Kellan would be my piercer for today. And oh my God, he is so cute (sue me, his innocent, blue eyes just melted my heart). We introduce ourselves and instantly he feels like an old friend (he also loves my Claymania shirt). He brings me into the room, and still being wet from the downpour outside, I slide on the chair.
          “My friend used to be a part of the APP. She’s the one who did my cartilage when I went to South Carolina in March 2009.”
          “Really? What was the name of the store?”
          “I think it was Todd’s Piercing Place or something like that. I can’t remember the name. But, her name is Anna Seiler.”
          He gently swabs my ear with the cool alcohol rub and tells me to breathe in and out, much like how Anna instructed me in 2009. The piercing was done instantaneously and it felt like getting a shot at the doctors. Making sure I didn’t have an episode like I did last year at Main Line Tattooing and Piercing where I passed out after getting my nose pierced[8], Kellan told me to stay seated for a few minutes. This time I made sure I was hydrated and well fed beforehand, so it wasn’t much trouble. I walk back to the receptionist area and had a brief conversation before I went back out into Old City, which sadly nothing opens until Thursday and closes Monday through Wednesday. I walk back to the ell, and take the route (minus going to West Chester and taking the trolley to Bridgeport) as I took coming into Philadelphia to go home to relax after the busy and beautiful day in the city.

[1] APP stands for Association of Professional Piercers. The mission statement of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) is a California-based, international non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of vital health and safety information about body piercing to piercers, health care professionals, legislators, and the general public.
[2] I have likened it to that name because without the shrubbery, it almost reminded me of the Mad Hatter’s abode.
[3] People always muse that I have many interests, but sometimes it can be a pain because a free spirit like myself wants to do them all and doesn’t have the time or money. I could have easily had four minors and perhaps two majors if money and time were no objects.
[4] Opossum are of the marsupial family and are the largest marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. They are also commonly called possums, though that term technically refers to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes. The Virginia Opossum was the first animal to be named an opossum; usage of the name was published in 1610. The word opossum comes from the Proto-Algonquian aposoum, pronounced *wa˙p- aʔθemw, meaning "white dog" or "white beast/ animal".
[5] Gazelles are any of many antelope species currently or formerly in the genus Gazella. Gazelles are known as swift animals – some are able to maintain speeds as high as 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) for extended periods of time. Gazelles are mostly found in the deserts, grasslands and savannas of Africa, but they are also found in southwest and central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. They tend to live in herds and will eat less coarse, easily digestible plants and leaves.

[6] Don’t ask why, but I am deathly afraid of moths. I love butterflies, but I can’t stand moths. It baffles me too.
[7] Ornithology is the study of birds.
[8] Kellan did say that this is common because all the noses he pierces, people feel faint.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear Joe-Joe (A Letter)

If you remember from a post I wrote last week, about the debate I had about writing Jim's brother, I decided it would be best not to send the letter, but I did write what I would say in poem form. You know, these exercises can be cathartic.

Dear Joe-Joe,
I don't really know
how I should start this letter,
asking, no formalities, would be better--
I was a friend of your brother's,
now I will no longer have another
chance for apologies
except on crease
of paper, of anger, of tears--
the fury of the flame that sears,
God knows I wanted to kill you;
and I must confess and be true,
I still want to-- but I ask,
why? why? Why undo your mask,
why unleash your rage on those whom love?
The ones that cared and didn't shove
you off to the side?
As you sit padded inside,
do you feel anything,
does your conscience stab and sting?
No words could quantify my hate,
but I have learned it's never too late;
to not forget, but to fogive and let go,
but I wanted to write to let you know,
none of us will ever forget,
the good friends we've lost, bet
that forgiveness will be slow.
Take care and prepare to face judgment, Joe-Joe.

"Hear O Lord, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.
Give ear to my prayer--
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
May my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right."
~Psalm 17

Monday, June 13, 2011

Band of Brothers: 150 Years of Brotherhood

Band of Brothers:

150 Years of Brotherhood and the Fight for Our Union

“We are a band of brothers; native to the soil. Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil; and when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far, Hurrah! For the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!”

The angry gray clouds mocked us as dad and I drove to Pennypacker Mills located in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania for the annual Civil War reunion.

“I really hope it doesn’t rain,” I say to dad as we pull into the parking field of the historic site.

“I agree, but hey, it’s not hot out like in past years,” Dad replies as he throws the car in park. I couldn’t agree with him more: all the other years we have went it was at least 90˚ with high humidity. My poor ashen Irish skin never fared well in the sun.

We give the lady our two dollar donation and collect the map and events booklet, then walk to the grounds—we are brought to the Confederate side (my favorite!).

“I’m going to sit on the porch to listen to the banjo player,” dad says as he heads toward to the mansion’s porch.

“Okay, I’m goin’ to walk around, I’ll catch up with you later,” I reply as I start travelling towards the Confederate camp.

Wandering along the path, the oak trees protect me from the black clouds that looked threatening to the troops and camps (these trees would have been perfect for a sunny day) and the leaves rustle in the light breeze is refreshing. Children dressed up in Victorian style were laughing as they play hopscotch in the background. I want to join in on the games, but one of the Confederate soldiers caught my attention with, “Nice, Pantera. Haven’t seen anyone wear that shirt in years!”

I smile and take it as an invitation to walk over. As I approach the Reb and the rest of his camp, I say, “Thanks. I love old metal bands. I love old music in general.” At that point I had my Confederate cavalry hat on.

“Me too. So I see you’re one of us.”

“Yep,” I smile. “Love the Civil War, but I usually join the Rebs.”

“Smart girl. Would you care to be a spy for us?”

We both laugh and I say something to the effect of I’m sure I could, but I have a father to get back to. One of his other comrades, Jim he introduces himself as, walks over to compliment the shirt, shakes my hand and tells me about another reenactment the following week that is three times the size of the Reunion at Pennypacker Mills. I get a picture with them and thank them.

Moseying along the path again, I see young Rebel boys at target practice. I walk towards them, say hi and they proceed to show me how to shoot (surprisingly, but I guess the hat did wonders), although one young boy of six years of age, wondered why a girl wanted to shoot. The older boys were gracious and talked to me as I was a familiar.

When their father calls, they tip their hats toward me and I thank them for their lessons of shooting a wooden rifle (hey, it was fun pretending it was an actual revolver shooting idly at trees). I start to diverge on the path again and mosey towards the hospital tent like in years past. However, unlike the previous years, a new surgeon was present and being young unlike the older gentleman, he had less bloodied, bruised and drunk patients.

“So, how did they not feel pain?” a little boy asked the surgeon.

“Well, we had no anesthesia, so they either passed out from pain or depending on the surgeon they were given whiskey and then they’d pass out from pain and drunkenness.”

The surgeon picked up a pair of pliers and explained to us that these were used for tooth extraction. He gave demonstration after demonstration as the nurse standing next to the opium and other drugs watch horrified.

Entranced by the different demonstrations of the surgeon and the nurse explaining the different drugs, I look down at my watch and notice it is 1pm. It was time to do some more walking and to join my dad on the porch for the banjo player.

Making my way up the cobblestone path and stairs, I can hear the musician strumming on the banjo and singing his heart out to Dixie, I know he can’t be far. The blue painted wooden floorboards underneath me begin to creak as I move toward the “Look away, look away, Dixie Land”, but the creaks were muted by the singing, strumming and laughter. Finally, I see my dad and I sit near him and watch the banjo and guitar player perform. As I sat down, he sang the Texas version of Dixie and I sang along.

From the corner of my eye, I see dad sitting comfortably on the wooden wicker chair. I wish I took a picture of him sitting and rocking back and forth; he looked like a natural and like he wanted to stay there basking in the cool breeze on the nice wooden porch. The musician puts down his banjo and picks up the guitar and starts singing Lorena. One of my favorite songs, I can’t help but singing along. The musician sees me singing, smiles and we sing together. At that moment, I wish I had brought my Fender acoustic guitar to have played along.

“It matters little now, Lorena, the past—is eternal past, tis dust to dust beneath the sod, but there, up there, ‘tis heart to heart,” he finished slowly and somberly, then tipped his hat to me and softly said, “Thank you, Little Lady, for singing along.”

I smile and nod; he begins his next song, but before he started he kept interrupting with story after story. Knowing the crowd was getting annoyed, despite all our laughing, he finally started singing, “Sittin’ by the roadside on a Summer’s day…” I smile and knew right then and there he was singing Goober Peas. He interrupts himself again and says to the crowd, “I’ll be singing Goober Peas. Please sing along with the chorus.”

“Sittin’ by the roadside on a Summer’s day,

Chattin’ with messmates, passin’ time away,

Lyin’ in the shadows, goodness how delicious,


Hey, you were supposed to fill in for that part!” He says, so he continues and we sing, “EATIN’ GOOBER PEAS!”

“Peas, peas, peas, eatin’ goober peas. Goodness how delicious,”

“Eatin’ goober peas.”

“You know, folks, this song can get pretty long because as the boys sat next to the campfire, they add their own verses to the song, some were bawdy as can be. I won’t put that type of pressure on you,” the musician laughs as he finishes the song.

I stand up after the rendition of Bonnie Blue Flag and walk over to dad, hating to bother him. I tell them that I will be going on the house tour of the Pennypacker Mansion. He gets up and says he wants to go as well.

Dad and I wait in front of the screen door, my watch reads two o’clock and I hear one of the tour guides saying this was the last tour before the battle. Finally a lady walks up to us, opens the door and we proceed into the Pennypacker Mansion.

The way the house is set up for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is gorgeous. The mansion is decorated in hues of red and has American flags draping from the stair railing and fire place mantels. The victrola plays soft Victorian music in the background. I can feel the former Pennypacker children run past me and hear the distant giggling as Mr. and Mrs. Pennypacker holler at them to calm down, although, the dinner guests from out of town are much louder. We are given the tour of the whole house; the babies stay in their nurseries with the much beloved cats. The children I thought I heard earlier were confined now to the same room. At the sound of the newer jazz music (circa 1930) that played on the newer victrola, the tour is over.

Those damn bloody Yanks proudly line up as the Bugle boy plays loudly to get their attention. They quickly file into a straight line. We all watch intently, but then dad grabs my attention and we start walking to the battlefield. We want a good spot as I am 4’11 and it can be hard to see over people. Dad and I talk about the pending battle, our hopes to who will be victorious and dad thanking God again that it isn’t a hot steamy day. I’m sure the boys in blue and gray had the same exact sentiments. People slowly started to gather around us as the hourglass sand trickled to a stop—the time is almost here.

Through the tall grasses, I see a Rebel running across. My guess is it is either a spy or someone setting up. In the distance, I notice Jim and wave. He waves back and quickly runs over to me, holds my hand, introduces himself to dad and invites me back to his tent afterward. He runs back to his comrades and they wave as well. I give them thumbs up and wish them luck. Dad and I are silent; nothing needs to be said about that.

The rattling of the snare drums roar ferociously in the background. Dad and I see the drummer boys from the Confederate and Union Armies on their respective sides in the distance—then the fury in which the cannon roared scared us all into attention and we focused on the bloody scene (well, not so bloody for the reenactment) that was about to unfold. Even the birds flew wildly around the field.

In twenty minutes the battle was over—sulfur smoke blinded us, but we could see the Yanks overpower the Rebs. I was happy to see Jim and comrades survived, but it was bittersweet the Rebs lost this year—each year the winner alternates. In the background I hear a little boy say to his mother, “Mommy, that guy is still breathing. Isn’t he dead?” Her reply, “Yes, breathing is good. This is only a play. If he wasn’t bleeding, that would be murder and they’d be in trouble.” I chuckle and say only to his mother, “Yeah, they’d have a crime scene on their hands.” We both laugh. Dad and I catch the final outcome—the bugle boy playing Taps and saluting the fallen on both sides. As the notes solemnly sunk in our ears, dad and I walked back to the car.

Pictures can be found here:

What do you think?