Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Original Tweet

In 1976, my family went on our very first real family vacation. My parents saved for God knows how long to take my sister and I to DisneyWorld. It was huge. We packed up the car and drove from Batavia, NY to Orlando, FL stopping at Williamsburg, VA on the way. There are many stories from that vacation but I'll save those for another time. I bring it up here because it was on that vacation when we saw the Disneyworld Bicentennial Parade. Remarkably, you can watch highlights of that spectacle here! Note the giant bobble heads. My sister and I watched that parade and were inspired to create our own giant bobble heads for Halloween costumes.

As a member of the "Disney Family" I am now a little ashamed that I didn't choose a Disney character for my costume. But, hey, I was a kid - one cartoon character was the same as the next to me. I chose Tweety Bird. I don't actually remember being a big fan of Tweety. I think I chose it because that bird had a giant head and a tiny body. The recipe for the heads was pretty simple - we made a paste of flour and water, tore strips of newspaper and Papier-mâchéd the strips to a big punching balloon. We left a hole in the bottom big enough for our heads to fit in. When the glue dries, you pop the balloon, cut out eye holes and then paint the giant bobble head. 

I have to say, looking back, I am pretty impressed with my 9 year old self. I made that. 

*I* made it. 

In a time when most of my peers' costumes came in a box...
molded plastic masks held on to their heads with a thin elastic band 
with a corresponding vinyl smock...

I MADE a pretty elaborate bobble head costume. 

I also have to say that there was a lesson there that I may have missed. You see, when we donned our bobble heads to walk in the Kmart Halloween Parade, we were beat out by some kid in a store bought costume. Is DIY a thankless venture? Is originality too much for the masses?

Reese Witherspoon gave birth to a baby boy today. She named him Tennessee. It made my heart sing to read that. Then I read the comments on the news article. People said horrible things.
"here we are with another wacko name...poor child will face humiliation as he grows up..."
"What kind of a name is that for a child?"
" You do know they have to live their entire lives with that name or go through the bs of changing it!"

This broke my heart. I think Tennessee is a beautiful name. No one has any problems with kids named Georgia or Virginia or Dakota. Certainly, no one seems to have problems naming their kids the same name that everyone else is using. No offense to the parents of Samantha, but there are no less than 5 girls in first grade named Samantha. It's a beautiful name too, but when you are one of 5 how unique do you feel? I have to say, I might rather be the kid with the interesting and unique name than the kid that has the same name as 4 other kids in my class. But is that just easy for me to say? 

My name was the 30th most popular name in the decade I was born and ranked 14th in the following decade. While I didn't have any other Kelly's in my class growing up, it certainly wasn't rare or unique. So maybe it's easy for me to envy the concept of being the one and only kid with my name. Or was it mean of me to do that to my daughter? Did I set her up for a lifetime of teasing? Some kids at her school called her Tennisballs. Some other kids said her name is freaky. These kids are named, you guessed it, Samantha, Daniel and Michelle. I wonder if those same kids have commented on some other classmates' names like Aayushi, Yekta, Hrach, or Tonatiuh? 

And I wonder what Samantha 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will be wearing this Halloween. Will they be wearing handmade unique costumes, or something from an assembly line? And what does it say about me as a parent that I care?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Want....

We've all been here. You know you want something but you don't know what it is. For me, this feeling usually accompanies a trip to the refrigerator. I stand there staring at the contents and eventually all the tubs and cartons sort of meld together like one of those optical illusion prints where all of a sudden a 3D Snoopy pops out after staring at it for 10 minutes. Unfortunately, no appetizing snack pops out of the fridge either. Growing up, my Mom would see me standing at the fridge and start making suggestions. "There's some left over spaghetti in there. Or, you could make a sandwich." Invariably, the moment she would suggest something, it would immediately seem repulsive. I can remember in my angst ridden teen age years yelling at her many times to "stop!"

My current insatiable need isn't one of a gastronomic nature, though. In fact, I just had a lovely breakfast of toasted rosemary olive oil bread and eggs over medium. My belly is full.

No, it's not my tummy that is longing. It's something else. I fell like the world is a giant refrigerator and I just keep staring at it waiting to see something that is going to fill me up. I sit and stare at blogs all day long where people are making beautiful things or doing wonderful things or thinking insightful thoughts and I wonder how I can be one of those people that is putting those things out there. No, I don't mean that I want to write a better blog. I don't want to write about what I am doing. I just want to BE doing something fulfilling.

At this very moment I am supposed to be writing a proposal to give to my former and potentially future boss to sell him on the idea of keeping me on staff without having to travel. It seems like the perfect solution. I would be able to work a 9 - 6 job, help needy people, get paid a decent wage, and not have to leave town all the time. I just can't do it. It's like the spaghetti or the sandwich. I just don't want them no matter how good they might actually be. I want chocolate mousse or prime rib or even a Big Mac, but we don't have any of that in the fridge.

I know that there are things I do or want to do that make me happy. I have a mental list of things I want to make. I have all sorts of ideas all involving making things. Spray painting things or sewing things or gluing things. But here I sit on the couch not doing them.

This post is going nowhere because just as I sit here typing I've already grown bored with typing. And that is the problem. I have these ideas of things I want to do and mid-way through I just get bored with it. My guess is there is some term for this behavior and potentially some sort of medical treatment for it. Too bad I am too bored to bother calling the doctor about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's all just noise

When I was 23 or so I lived in an apartment in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. I was a recent college graduate working as a DJ in a bar and sharing a space with my best friend from High School (and beyond as it would happen). As my parents both worked for an electronics manufacturer, I was one of the lucky few 23 year olds to own her own video camera. I used it a lot at work to video tape events and play them back for all the drunk patrons to see themselves grinding on the giant projection screens that flanked my DJ booth. I also used it as a VCR at home where it lived on a tripod.

The apartment complex in which we lived was not all that interesting. It looked more like a mid-level motel than what my vision of an apartment should be. Of course, my vision of an apartment was formed by watching Mary Tyler Moore and The Bob Newhart Show. Apartments should be in high rises and be adorned with deep pile carpet and eclectic framed art. This was a ground floor unit that faced a nondescript courtyard. Nothing special.

I admit I did not know my neighbors. In fact, I don't know that I ever saw anyone else that lived there. As I was a nightclub DJ, I kept somewhat "vampire" hours. Though I never saw them, I heard them. There was an elderly couple that lived next door and the man had emphysema. Their bedroom shared a wall with mine and I could hear him coughing up a lung in the middle of the night, which of course was 8am for me. They were also both nearly deaf. I was made aware of this when I was startled awake by the blaring sound of Bob Barker describing the next showcase showdown. It was as if Bob was cuddling with me on my makeshift egg crate mattress on the floor.

What they lacked in hearing they made up for in vision. They seemed to see everything. Or, should I say, they thought they saw everything including some illicit activity in my apartment. Allow me to explain. In addition to my prized video camera, I also owned a regular old SLR still camera and fancied myself an artist of sorts. A coworker of mine learned of my self appointed skills and asked if I might take some head shots for her. So, one afternoon, I had her come over to my apartment for a shoot. Having seen the "Girls On Film" video, I knew it was important to have a good soundtrack for a photo-shoot and so I cranked the stereo to set the mood. It was all very innocent and above board. I shot the pics, gave her the film, and life went on. That is until my landlord stopped by one day unannounced. He knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. At first, I thought he was just being friendly. He was asking all sorts of questions that seemed totally innocent. All the while, though, he was staring at my video camera/ makeshift VCR. Finally, he asked about it.

(Disclaimer: If you are under the age of maybe 35, this may seem crazy to you because you grew up in a world where everyone has a video camera. But you have to trust me that in the early 90's it was rare to own one. It was even more rare to keep it set up on a tri-pod to use as a VCR.)

"So, is that a video camera?"
"Yes! It was my graduation present. I use it a lot for work."
"Really? I thought you were a DJ?"
"I am."
"So, why do you need a video camera?"
"Well, one my customers get drunk, I get them to do some pretty crazy things on video."
"Really? Do you ever bring people here to shoot them doing these crazy things?"
"Well, sometimes, I guess."
"OK, I am just going to get to the point..."
(There was a point, I thought he was just being friendly.)
"There have been some complaints that you are shooting...pornography. And, I'm going to have to ask you to stop or you will have to move."

WHAT? Pornography? Really?

From that moment it seemed like all the neighbors I had never seen before were suddenly around all the time. I saw them leering at me as I took my clothes to the laundry room. I felt their stares as I carried my garbage out to the dumpster. And every time came home from work at 3 or 4am, I saw lights come on and shadows peering out from behind the cheap plastic blinds. It was annoying and insulting and I vowed I would never be that uptight.

And that brings us to today. Nearly 2o years later, I just found myself peering out the window at the loud, annoying, college kids that rent the unit next to ours. I am not sure what I expected to see...a drug deal going down? But they are loud and they smoke on their patio and they use fowl language while standing outside in the driveway at all hours of the night and they are just a bunch of nogoodnicks and I want nothing more than to get them evicted.

That's not true. There is something I want more than that. I want to go back in time to when I was 23 or so and living in an apartment in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. If only I could, I would knock on the door of the lovely elderly couple that were living out their last years together in the apartment next to mine. I would apologize to them and explain that I was an aspiring photographer and I sometimes take headshots of friends who are aspiring newscasters. I would also offer to use my fancy video camera to interview them. I'd ask how they met, when they fell in love, where they got married and how they lived their lives together.

I wonder if 20 some years from now, the pale faced wannabe Lil Wayne next door will write a song about the annoying elderly couple and their whiny kid that lived in the apartment next door?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Nobody reads this sad little blog anymore. It's about to turn 3 and it has no friends. Well, it has friends, it just doesn't seem to have a writer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seeing Ghosts in The Clouds

I'm not fond of flying at all. It's not for the reasons most people might think. I'm not terrified that I am going to meet a fiery death when the plane crashes into the side of a mountain. It's what I am NOT going to meet that makes me apprehensive about flying.

This wasn't always the case. There was a time when flying was special. It meant that I was going somewhere different, doing something fun. Then I moved across the country from my family and flying became the method of transportation that brought me home to them and, sadly, took me away from them. As time passed and took its inevitable toll, airplanes took me to see my Mom as she suffered set back after set back. Ultimately, it brought us all home to say goodbye to her. Since that trip to Tennessee in April of 2004, boarding a plane has been a chore.

It's not the hassle of waiting in line and being patted down in security lines. It's not the uncomfortable seats and the germ infested air. It's the clouds.

I saw a report once about people who have seen the spirits of loved ones amongst the clouds when they fly. It always sounded like a crazy concept. Always until there was a spirit of a loved one that I desperately wanted to see. Now, each time I board a plane I pray for a window seat. Not so much so I can rest my head and sleep away the flight, but so I can gaze out the window looking for ghosts in the clouds.

In the past 12 months I have sat on more than 20 planes, staring out the window, searching for a glimpse of one of the faces that I see in my dreams, in frames, in the face of my daughter. But all I see are clouds. And that's why I hate to fly. I hate that I don't see them. I hate that I spend hours peering through that scratched plastic oval in vain.

I'm in Savannah, GA tonight. I sat on 2 planes today and the second was a little plane which means it flies lower and closer to the clouds. There was a pretty full moon and a storm brewing which made the clouds glow and sparkle with the occasional flash of lightning from within. It was actually beautiful. Beautiful but empty. Not a friendly face to be seen. Just sparkling cotton. This is likely and hopefully my last trip for a while and there are a lot of reasons why I am happy about being grounded. But the thing that I am most looking forward to is the absence of disappointment in the clouds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


On one of my lasts visits to Tennessee when it was still home, my mom got a hankering for German Potato Salad. It's something we used to get all the time when we lived in Batavia, but for some reason it wasn't so easy to find in East Tennessee. I went to every grocery store in 2 counties trying to find one stupid can of it for my mom. I think I knew as much as I didn't want to know, that it might be the last time she got to enjoy this tasty treat. I am sad to say that I failed her then. I could not find it anywhere. Nor had I been able to find it in any grocery store in any city that I've visited since. I look. It's a thing I do. I go to the canned goods aisle and I look by the canned potatoes just to see. I've looked in California, Oregon, Nevada, Kentucky, Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho and even Hawaii and had yet to find it. Until, last night. I went to the Jon's Market right around the corner from my house to get some deli meat. It's considerably cheaper there and they have yummy fresh bread. So, there I was meandering down the canned goods aisle looking for mandarin oranges when my eye drifted up out of habit. And what to my wandering eyes did appear but a can of Read German Potato Salad. I swear I stood in that grocery store and nearly wept.

I will be enjoying that salad tonight along with some Polska Kielbasa and sauerkraut. And I couldn't be more excited.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Please, do yourself a favor and laugh at this.

Chuckles, I am proud to say I knew you when.