Sunday, June 29, 2008
The person who I want to acknolwedge was my Speech Comm professor at Penn State. The only reason I took the class was because it was required, and I had put it off as long as humanly possible. I even took it over the summer so the class would hopefully be small (which it wasn't) -- I knew I was gonna have to stand up and talk in front of the class, which absolutely terrified me.
When I got to the class, I learned that not only would I have to stand up and talk to the class, but I'd have to do it every single class period. Each class alternated planned and impromptu speeches. ACK!!!!! Seriously, I wanted to drop out right then and there. But I didn't.
Now some of you who know me are probably surprised by this -- you know I'm not exactly shy. Or mousy. Or afraid to tell you my opinion. Or nervous about speaking up.
For the first 12 years of my education, I NEVER said one word in my classes. I always felt like the dumbest kid in the room, and was terrified of saying something stupid or giving a wrong answer. I have no idea why ... I was never publicly flogged for being an idiot or anything, but the idea of talking in class was incredibly intimidating to me. I never raised my hand, never volunteered to solve a problem on the board, never sat in the front half or back row of the room -- blending and becoming invisible were key.
But I could no longer hide once I got to Mr. ?'s Speech Comm class.
It may sound ridiculous, but I really do believe this teacher's course changed the course of my life. The turning point was during my "visual aids" speech about the Top 10 Kinds of Feet That Gross Me Out, where I had drawn pictures and did a Letterman-esque countdown. I had the class rolling with laughter. For me, it was cathartic. In fact, I don't think I've shut up since then!!
I'm convinced that if I hadn't taken that class ... if I hadn't given a funny speech about gross feet .... I could never have been so successful in my career. I went on to teach training classes in one of my first jobs -- a job standing up talking in front of a room of people!! I NEVER could have done that job without that class. I doubt I would have gone on to hold a leadership position in my company -- I talk in front of people all the time now and it doesn't even phase me.
Knowing how my first 17 years were, I think this teacher performed a miracle on me. Now I can't shut up, and you all have him to thank!!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Can somebody please make them go away??? They suck.
(Dr. Wilhelmsen is the 2nd from the left)
What you may not know about me is that I was born with a cleft lip. My parents were devastated that their first child ...... a little girl with a big curly head of black hair ... also had a birth defect. You've probably seen pictures of kids with cleft lips and palates -- it's grotesque to say the least. Well guess what -- that was me when I was born.
Luckily, my parents took me straight to a dental plastic surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where a young Dr. Wilhelmsen was just in the midst of creating a program for treatment of pediatric cleft lips and palates. Dr. Wilhelmsen operated on me numerous times to fix my face and try to make me look decent enough not to have to wear a bag over my head for the rest of my life.
When I was in grade school, some kids use to call me "fat lip" and it absolutely tore me up every single time. I was so sensitive about my big secret. I don't know if it's just the passage of time or the miracles of lipstick and gloss, but when I look in the mirror I just don't notice the scar anymore. It's not huge and disfiguring, but it's there.
But I don't mind that scar. Without Dr. Wilhelmsen's gifted hands and the Cleft Lip Program he founded, I may not have a scar -- I may have a monster-face instead. I'm so thankful for him and what he did for me. I've researched him on Google and found out that he went on to win numerous awards from the Governor, Congress, and his peers for excellence in his field of medicine, and for his program that has made a difference in so many lives. He's now retired from private practice, but still teaches at Hopkins and the University of Maryland. He's also been recognized for charitable contributions to various organizations.
Even though he's probably long forgotten me, I'll never forget what Dr. Wilhelmsen did for me and how he changed my life. Not only did he get rid of the cleft lip, but he hand-made my lips (and made them nice and full!) In fact, I've gotten numerous compliments on my lips over the years, and every time it happens it catches me off guard because I know their history. When I get one of those compliments, my first thought is of the miracle that Dr. Wilhelmsen performed -- they're not compliments for me, but for him. So in my head, I "forward" those compliments along to him and say a silent "thank you" to Dr. Wilhelmsen. Nature gave me horrific lips, but he fixed them and made them beautiful.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Meet Sister R .....
I work with Sister R, and have for about 13 years. A little bit about her ..... she has dedicated her life to teaching, helping people, advocating for peace and social justice in way that isn't about giving handouts or enabling people. She is a nun, she's got a great sense of humor, she's a Senior Vice President of a large company, a beautiful orator, a writer, and an inspiration for thousands of people.
Often times, she is asked to open a meeting, and always does so with a "reflection." Over the years, I've come to look forward to her relfections. They're not sermons, prayers, preachings, bible recitations. But she has an unbelievable gift of being able to deliver a message that can truly touch every person in the room in a very personal way. (No, people do not bust out in tears and fall on the floor!) Last year when my Mom got sick and so many people around me were dying, she made a point to come visit me, talk to me, offer encouraging words .... I really feel like she cared about me and wanted to make sure I was okay so I could be supportive to others. She was just what I needed.
Her words miraculously soothe, comfort, guide, inspire ..... she doesn't sugarcoat or paint rosy pictures when they aren't appropriate. She has a gentle way of keeping me (and others I'm sure) grounded and with a healthy perspective on life.
I'll admit, this all seemed a little too kumbaya-ish for me when I first started with my company. Mission? Values? A corporate nun? But over the years I've really come to know her and love her. She is a brilliant star in my life, and never fails to inspire me to try to be a good person and do the right thing.
Have you ever felt humbled by a person because they are soooooo "good?" That's how I feel around her ..... I'm truly humbled by her greatness.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Linda & Lori
Lori is the daughter of my friends Linda and Richie, which is how I met her. I knew the minute I heard she was going to be cutting hair that I wanted to break up with my old hairdresser (sorry Henry!), and have her whip this lid into shape! Her own hair always looks stunning, and she makes Linda's hair look beautiful too. I knew this would be good ... and I was right!!
See my new do .... (and this is after I got rained on)
She's talented, creative, stylish, and best of all she's a very sweet person. She always makes me feel good about myself after a visit. I first went to see her after I had lost a bunch of hair due to a protein deficiency (which is over now, thank heavens!). I couldn't face Henry, and I really felt self-conscious about my thinning hair. I knew it was going to take more than just talent to make this mess look good -- I needed a bonafide miracle worker, and that's exactly what I found with Lori.
In fact I went to see her last week for the first time in her new salon, and I'm convinced when I left that EVERYBODY on the street was looking at me and my knockout hair!! I mean, crowds were forming and the paparazzi was taking pictures .... that's how gorgeous my hair looked.
So don't pass go, don't collect $200 ..... call immediately (215-925-2211) to make an appointment with Lori at Salon Vanity (1126 Walnut Street) in Philadelphia!! You too can add her to your own collection of miracle workers!!!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Today, June 24 is the 3 year anniversary of me having a life-changing gastric bypass surgery. I mulled this decision over for years -- I mean, it's pretty drastic to get your stomach carved up and part of your intestine removed .... voluntarily. Irreversible. Forever. Mortality rate 1 in 800. Dozens of doctor appointments, psych evaluations (how the hell'd I pass that?). Blood work ... ugh!!!!
Anyway, I am still kicking myself for not doing it 10 years earlier. It's the best thing I ever did for myself. Now, 140 pounds lighter, I have this man to thank:
He is my miracle worker, and I am so thankful for his skilled hands and for putting up with me when I went into a complete Defcon 5 meltdown in his office when he told me I'd have to give myself a needle at home every day for a month or I couldn't have the surgery. He is patient, smart, caring, and a God-send. (And my friend Kat gave me the needles ... oy! Codeine, xanax and percocets with a pillow over my head .... that's the only way I got through it. Everyday .. for a month!)
I'd be remiss not to mention the staff at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington. It was a highly unlikely place for me to have the surgery considering I live in Philadelphia where there are numerous world-renowned hospitals. But ... I wanted Dr. Irgau to do the surgery and St. Francis guaranteed me a private room. They put me in ICU, and I was surprisingly shocked at how incredibly cared for I felt. These people were absolutely fabulous. I didn't worry for one minute about whether or not I'd be okay because I knew that I was in good hands.
Anyway, that's the story of how I went from looking like this:
Monday, June 23, 2008
Maize & Midget
Linda & Lori
Maggie, Eddie, Kate
And then, the luau on Saturday night. I think one picture will sum this up just fine .....
Davey Dogs ... he's all mine!
Hope you had a good weekend too!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Anyway, it's a mosaic of pictures. Take a look, then I'll tell ya how to do it.
Here’s how you do it .....
Answer each of the questions below.
Surf over to Flickr and type your answer (one at a time) into the search bar.
From the choice of pictures shown only on the front page, click on your favorite.
Once the page with your picture opens, copy the URL.
Surf over to the Mosaic Maker, set up your mosaic (2 x 6), and enter your URLs.
When you're done, click "Create!"
(A tip: I opened separate windows ... one with the Baroness' instructions, one for Flickr, and one for Mosaic Maker. It made it easier to go back and forth.)
Here are the questions:
What is your first name?
What is your favorite food?
What high school did you attend?
What is your favorite color?
Who is your celebrity crush?
What is your favorite drink?
Where would you go on your dream vacation?
What is your favorite dessert?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you love most in life?
Choose one word to describe you? (I always get stumped on stupid questions like this.)
Your Flickr name? (I have no idea what a Flickr name is so I just made something up)
(And here are the photo credits for my pictures ... the last thing I need is somebody gettin' their panties in a bunch because I posted their picture and didn't give them credit)
1. Mona Lisa, 2. the cheesemonger did not say cheese, 3. 20.06.08 - Gangsters, 4. Turquoise's" Mosaic - April 8th, 2006, 5. Matthew McConaughey, 6. Rhubarb "Tea", 7. Boracay, Philippines, 8. Key lime pie, 9. Nicole..., 10. duck to duck to duck..., 11. jumping all night long...day 26 / year 2, 12. Happy Birthday Barbra! (Alternate Title: "What?! Gotta Problem With Me Flipping Through a 1964 issue of Life Magazine While I'm at the Office!? Didn't Think So!")
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Without going into a huge rant about the fact that my tax dollar supports many of them, let me just share one little story that gave me a giggle ......... (I omost said "chuckle", but I hate that word. Chuckle sounds like up-chuck). Anyway ........
So there's one guy ... let me call him "The Blueberry" because he always wears blue and frankly, has a bluish tint to his skin. The Blueberry can always be found sitting on a step somewhere. He walks 20 feet, then sits. There are spots where you know there's a good chance of finding him -- certain steps, certain corners, but never outside of a 2 block radius. Nice enough guy, but not exactly the picture of health and prosperity.
I commented to DD the other day that it looks like The Blueberry has lost a lot of weight .... maybe from 500 pounds to 300 pounds .... seriously. The Blueberry has told me before (when he sits on my next door neighbor's step) that he use to have big muscles (as he flexes) and be a football player who got lots of girls. Uh, ok.
So DD and I were in the car riding through the hood, and he points out a house under construction and tells me The Blueberry has been hanging out those steps lately, and the construction guys have put him to work. I'm baffled!! First of all, the place is about 6 blocks away!!! AND they are paying him to do work. WORK??? THE BLUEBERRY IS WORKING????
I ask: "What kind of job is he doing?"
"He squirts the pavement with a hose to keep the dust from blowing around."
The Blueberry has a job squirting the sidewalk with a hose.
It gets better. He has been doing this one week and had to take a day "off" yesterday because he's "sore" from working.
I guess work is better than no work, and venturing "out" is a big "step" -- no pun intended. I am just amazed. How do people end up like this?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"You look really stupid BabsPeapod."
or another popular one ....
"What a stupid face you have here Babs Peapod."
I wonder if they got ahold of this picture from years and years ago? (like back when the Fuzz and Bwandon lived in the city .. it's their house in the background)
That would explain the other one:
"Barbra Peapod, lose the bloat!"
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
So I was on a conference call yesterday, and as I was multi-tasking someone said "Peapod? Peapod? Are you there?"
Me: "Yeah yeah, I'm here."
Them: "What's all that background noise? Construction?"
Me: "No, there's no construction." I giggled.
Them: "Well, what ARE YOU DOING?"
Me: "I can't tell you."
There was silence.
Me: "OK, I'll tell you. I was multi-tasking. I was 'Ped Egging' my foot."
There was an outburst of laughter on the other end. (By the way, it was all women, otherwise I would've gone with the construction theory.)
I just got the "Ped Egg", an "As Seen on TV" contraption that is designed for home pedicuring. It's like a little cheese grater, but for your foot. I thought it would be good for "upkeep" between bi-weekly visits to the salon. I used it on a very dry foot and it worked pretty well. I'm gonna try again after my foot has been soaking, and see what happens.
Overall, I'm giving a thumbs up to the Ped Egg. It's better than the foot paddle file that I normally use, but I'm not so sure it can compare to the outlawed razors they use to use in the salon.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Hmm. Fandangled tomato technology? Ok.
So I came home without a tomato plant, and guess I'll probably have to order my hi tech tomato plant through a catalog.
Why is it soooo important that I have this kind of tomato plant and not the regular dirt tomato? Waylllllllll ..... my backyard is a bit of an anomoly when it comes to urban gardens.
Aside from the squirrel population, I've had a cat problem. Alley cats, not your average Garfield house cat. These things are bold and love to use my garden as a litter box. Now over the last 2 years, I've waged war against these monsters, and have lined the top of my yard with hard, plastic spiked mats which have done a good job keeping them out. But they're not weather resistant, and I'm afraid the cats are slowly trying to reclaim their squatters (literally) space in my garden. Next step: nails on planks.
I'm not eating anything that a cat has been peeing on -- hence, the hydroponic tomato plant.
Here's my garden the first year in my house:
Then all hell broke loose.
After the first year, I decided to really try my hand at gardening. Vegetables, flowers ... the sky's the limit. Here's what ensued:
Year 2: I planted 3 pepper plants - red, yellow and purple. The purple must have been on fertility drugs -- it took over the entire garden. It multiplied, several times, and I ended up with about 30 purple pepper plants and about 500+ purple peppers.
Year 3: My neighbor gave me 2 sunflower plants that she dug out of her garden. I planted them, and oh. my. Gawdddd. They grew 30+ feet high -- over top of the electric wires in the back of the house. There were probably about 150 blooms that drew every yellow bee in the tri-state area to my backyard. I couldn't even go into my yard for all the bees. It took my drunk friend Jay climbing on the neighbor's roof with a saw to unravel these from the wires, and finally dismember them for removal. Buh-bye sunflowers! (and thanks, Dooblevey!)
Year 4: I decided some perennials would be good so I wouldn't have to keep buying new plants every year. I ended up with a garden kit from White Flower Farm. It's easy -- know the dimensions of your garden, how much sun you get, pick a garden plan. They send you the starter plants and a little map that tells you where to plant them. The company does all the planning so the short plants are in front, tall in the back, colors organized -- nice! The only problem was, my fertile soil could've used about 1/10 the plants. These plants TOOK OFF!!! They were busting out of my garden so bad they were cracking the concrete. I had to pull up several of the plants to thin it out. The only remains are 1 "little" lavender plant that is actually a huge bush. It smells wonderful and looks beautiful.
Year 5: I gave it a rest.
That brings me to this year. For the first time, my garden looks beautiful. Everything has bloomed and it looks really pretty. Lilacs, hydrangeas, roses, lavender, peonies, rhododendrums, clamatis (that sounds like chlamydia, which isn't growing anywhere around here), and a new crop of lilies that just started blooming this week. (I was gonna post a pic but am having technical diffuculties.)
I don't know what kind of mess I'll have by mid-summer, but for now all is well.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
My house has no air conditioning, except a window unit on the 3rd floor where the bedroom is. I have fans in the important spots, so it's not completely horrible -- but it's not great either. Davey Dogs can't take it at all, and is equally as miserable.
I had a relaxing, committment-free evening in sights -- then got called to attend a last minute meeting from 4:30 - 7:00 in the city. Who plans a meeting at this time? Anyway, I felt the need to be responsible, so I went. Boy was that a mistake!! Being responsible can be highly overrated. The room was hot and stuffy, and it went over by 35 minutes. I'm not very patient when it comes to meetings anyway, and running overtime with no apparent conscience of what time it is completely pisses me off. Rude rude rude.
Then I got home and had to make dinner .... which also means cleaning up. DD had made a salad, but I saw the steaks and potatoes sitting on the counter and knew what he wanted me to do. It was a 20-minute meal, but ugh -- I just didn't feel like it. Alas, I fired up the grill, and my backyard quickly went from 100 to 150 degrees. As I took the steaks off the grill, the heat melted my mascara into one big eyelash. I guess I should just be happy they didn't get singed right off my body.
Luckily I'm pretty fast with cooking and cleaning up the kitchen, so it wasn't long before I was ready to relax in front of the tube. I plopped down, but DD kept twitching ... trying to get comfy in front of the fan. His legs were bothering him, so he put his feet up on the coffee table. No big deal, except he put his feet right on top of all my mail and junk. I admit it was a big pile of clutter -- and it was driving me nuts -- but he didn't move it out of his way and it irritated the shit out of me that everything was sliding all over the place into a big stew of paper and crap. He was completely oblivious to the pile, but I sat there ... watching and stewing and seething as everything slipped .... little by little, getting worse and worse ..and closer to falling over the place. I felt my internal temperature rising as I envisioned throwing the pile through the front window ..... setting it on fire .... throwing my head back and screaming. After about 10 seconds Mt. St. Disco Bubbles blew and I "took care of" the pile.
Do you ever get steaming mad about nothing at all? A series of "nothing" events that accumulate into an outburst? That's how I was last night. I just wanted to punch something -- and for no good reason at all. I don't lose my temper often, but when I do it's usually because I'm worn out, hot, and something totally inconsequential is the last straw. Then I explode for 2 minutes and I'm done.
Is that an anger management issue? I don't know ... maybe.
Oh well, I'm just glad it's cooler today and the Heat Miser is back in hibernation.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Like a different name. And of course I pondered my dream job. Hmmm ... what woud I do ... and what would I change my name to? I wonder why it never occurred to me to dream of not working? I don't know ... damn puritan work ethic, I guess.
Anyhow, at one point I made a list of jobs and names that I wanted, then gave it to my parents. Here's what I remember from my list:
- Barbara (yep, believe it or not I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a Babs)
- Joanna (not sure what I was thinking there ... sorry anybody named Joanna. I like the name, but it's not one of childhood dreams)
- Gas station worker (They always pulled out a big wad of cash, so I was convinced this would be a good move.)
- Nurse (um, what was I thinking? Can you picture me giving a needle? HELL NO!!!)
- Wild World of Sports (Yep, this appeared on my list ... just like this. I'm not sure what I thought my job would be, but I was gonna be the "Wild World of Sports." I'm the most un-athletic person ever, so this makes no sense.)
- Singer (this is still on my list)
- Actress (so is this)
What did you want to be named? And what jobs did you want to do?
Friday, June 6, 2008
Anyway, last night I went to the grocery store to buy a few essentials, and my jaw hit the ground when I got mugged in the express lane. No ... not really mugged, but I seriously felt like I had been robbed when I left with a measly 2 items for $20. What de falk!?!?!?!?! I shop all the time so I'm well aware of what prices are, but for some reason I was really struck by atrocity:
A 20-pack of toilet paper - $17!!!!!!
Loaf of bread - $3
These people know I have to wipe my ass, and they're holding it against me. Personally, I think $1 a roll is ridiculous, but what are you going to do? Pull a Sheryl Crow? I think not!!
Why does it not bother me to spend $10 on a block of cheese, but paying $17 to make sure I have a clean hiney for a month bugs me? Maybe because cheese is delicious, and toilet paper ...... isn't?
Thursday, June 5, 2008
It didn't bother me that you had to eat with your hands. Or that the restaurant had no air-conditioning (and it was hotter than ... well, Ethiopia). Or that everything was on one big shared plate.
All of our dishes were in a big tray, on top of some kind of special "bread." But the bread wasn't like pita ... or naan .. or a pizza crust. It was more like a wet sponge. ackkkk!!! Soggy bread is not a friend of mine!!!! Not only does the food sit on top of the soggy sponge, but each person gets their own soggy sponge bread to tear into pieces and use to pick up your food. I'll eat lots and lots of things, but a piece of wet soggy sponge is not one of them.
If I'd had a fork -- and none were to be had -- I would have happily eaten the stuff on top of the soggy mat. It wasn't great, but it was edible.
In all likelihood, I'd be among the starving if I lived in Ethiopia.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
We went after work, so there wasn't a whole lotta time for putzing around. Before we left Schue's house she offered me a pair of socks because the movie theatres are always so cold. I thought they might look a little funny with my work dress and sandals, and for a movie that's all about fashion I figured I'd rather be cold than look like I ought to be living under a bridge somewhere. Anyhow, she grabbed her warm stuff shoved it in her bag and off we went.
We swung by "320 Produce" for a quick bite to go. I order a "sandwich" which ended up being the length of a baseball bat and as big around as my thigh. I purposefully wanted something small to hide inconspicuously in my bag. Uh, so much for that.
So while we waited for the movie to start, Schue pulled out the sweat-jacket she brought, only to find it was her sweatpants!! bahaaaaa!!! I guess she could've tied the legs around her neck to make a scarf ..... or stick her arms in the legs to keep warm ... or put the pants on? Nah. She shoved them back in the bag, and the lights dimmed to start the movie.
Oh yeah, the movie. That's what I wanted to write about.
I will tell you this ... I LOVED IT!!! I thought it was perfect.
There were parts where I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. And of course, I cried too. But then again if you know me, you know that I cry at just about anything I watch. Some commercials even get me. Sports movies? Forget it.
A few nuggets without spoiling anything:
- I would've like to see more of Harry. His part was too small, and I really like his character. (I just re-read that and it sounds a little risque ... "his part was small" .. "I wanted to see more of him". Take your mind outta the gutter!)
- I'm happy Stanford Blatch didn't talk more. He was one of my least faves in the whole show.
- The movie is very Carrie-centric. She's not my fave of the girls, but I'll forgive the writers because it meant Big was in it alot. I heart Big, even if he's an ahole sometimes.
- Jennifer Hudson's part was very well-done. I really like her (loved her in Dreamgirls), and I think she was a nice addition to the cast without changing what the show is really all about.
Two manicured thumbs up.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
1.) People and OK magazines are in a bidding war for the rights to publish the first photos of Brad & Angelina's new bubs. Current asking price: $15 MILLION. And this price is expected to climb even higher!!!
2.) T.O. just signed a 4-year deal with the Cowboys. $34M for four years, plus an $11ishM sign-on bonus.
What the fuck? All-up, that's $60M being paid for crap that does nothing to make the world a better, safer place to live. No one is being healed, no resources are being conserved. OK, well maybe the magazines make my world a better place when I'm sitting in an airport twiddling my thumbs .... but you get the idea.
Why is it that money is abundant when it comes time for stuff like this, but teachers have to fight tooth and nail to be adequately paid? When the city needs more police officers there isn't enough money? When ~50M people can't afford any health insurance ... too bad for them?
Granted, Brad Pitt is generous with his money. But let's face it, I really don't think most gazillionaires or corporations are. Say what you want, but I don't think making $1B a year profit or income, then giving a $10,000 donation make you a saint. Look at the recent season of Celebrity Apprentice -- these celebs had to beg their stingy black book friends for measly $1,000 and $5,000 donations. Richard Branson was practically enshrined for giving $10,000. C'mon .. the guy is a billionaire. Cough it up!
I'm telling you people -- priorities are out of whack. I'm all in favor of capitalism, but somewhere along the line something seems to have gone awry. I'm no bleeding heart, but waste kinda makes me sick. And wasting $15M on a stupid baby pic is just dumb.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Now I just need to name it. Asparagus + shrimp = aspimp. Ass pimp? Or maybe shrimpagus is better.
I kinda like the sound of Aspimp Imperial. bahaaaaaa!!!