Monday, July 28, 2008

Pardon me, boys...

is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?

See you guys on Friday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Listening to: M.I.A. - Galang

Next week, I go with my mother to Chattanooga, to visit with members of her family. I haven't been in Chattanooga in about 5 years, and I'm not exactly jumping for joy with the prospects of this trip.

I love my grandmother. Absolutely. But she's off the deep-end, and has mostly herself to blame. She suffers from depression, among a variety of maladies, mostly physical, and does nothing to help herself; she is a recluse, who never leaves her apartment in her assisted living complex, and refuses to see a psychiatrist - she is absolutely convinced that nothing will ever work, and she seems to almost enjoy wallowing in her misery.

I honestly do connect my own mental issues with hers, but we've taken two completely different approaches to dealing with our problems. I confronted mine head-on, and have been in therapy for 8 years, and on medication for 5. She stays at home, watching Animal Planet and televangelists (A number of years ago, mom caught her sending a large quantity of money to Jerry Fallwell. We are a family of mostly secular Jews with moderate leanings. Mom was not happy, to say the least). She has some very nasty views about homosexuals, Muslims, and anyone who isn't okayed by the evangelist nation. It is hard to talk to her sometimes, so I usually just talk to her about cats and my writing; she used to be a very creative and artistic person, so she seems genuinely curious about my craft. At least she has a nice kitty to talk to. ::sigh::

And to top it off, I am going to visit my Uncle Lewis. Which would be great, except that he's been in a coma for over two years. Needless to say, I am very depressed at the prospect.

He and my mother were never particularly close - their lifestyles were complete opposites. Mom went to college and business school and ended up being a very successful banker up north. Lewis also made it to college, but got married at 19 when his (eventually revealed to be insane) girlfriend got pregnant. Lewis was/is a man who lived how he liked, never working too hard, making enough to be content with his life. He didn't save up much money, and spent a lot of time on motorcycles, which is unfortunately what put him in a coma.

The most tragic part of his accident is that he was 3 days away from marrying his third wife, an amazing and wonderful woman who we were all very happy he was marrying. She has been by his side since the accident, although she and my mother (and oddly enough, my grandmother) have had disagreements about Lewis' situation, regarding pulling the plug. Most of this has come from Lewis' financial situation, which my mother is now managing.

I want to say I'll be okay when I see him. My best friend was in a coma for quite some time when she was hit by a car, and it was heart-wrenching to visit her - it took a huge toll on me mentally and academically. I hope I can make it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

State of the Waterpark Union - LONG

Listening to: Kenna - Loose Wires

Alrighty... so, birthday weekend recap. That is to say, mostly-birthday recap.

Steve came on Friday night, all prepped for a Saturday of fun and adventure to celebrate my unceremonious turning of the 24.

We had an adventure alright.

Saturday, the birthday in question, involved something I had wanted to do for ages - go to a water park. I think it had been about 13 years or so since I last visited one. I dig waterslides and wave pools, and, hey! Dorney Park is only a little more than an hour away!

In theory.

Leaving at 11am or so, we hit a substantial amount of traffic. Repeatedly. It took us about an hour to get from Philadelphia to 476. It should only take about 15 minutes, maybe. And then we periodically hit more traffic here and there. And I got lost around Pottsville, when I needed to stop and fill the car with gas. Only a 15 minute sidetrack there. Eventually, we arrived at Dorney Park at around 2pm. And then the fun continued!

30 minutes to find a parking spot. THIRTY MINUTES. Wherein my head nearly exploded a million times, due to countless idiots picnicking in the middle of the fucking parking lot, or sitting in a very narrow area which I had to turn through. A whole family, including 5 kids, sat in the turning lane, which meant I had to pull an Austin Powers "back and forth" move in order to squeeze by so I could drive through yet another column of full parking spaces. Is it really that hard to get up and move for like 5 seconds, so as to have the nice person in the blue toaster-car not crush all of your family members' legs at once? IS IT?! ::temper temper::

Eventually, after the Julia's-brain-vein-pulsation ride, I eventually found a parking spot about half a mile from the park entrance. I didn't even care at this point. But I probably should have taken into account that

a) it is the middle of July, and it is 96 degrees outside
b) it is a Saturday
c) this is the only remotely fun place to go in the northern Pennsylvania area
d) the parking lot is completely full.

It was like Hong Kong in the park. Just absolute chaos. After paying the very steep admission price, Steve and I got the privilege of pushing past thousands of people, so as to pay an additional $10 for a teeny tiny locker for my stuffed backpack, and then shove through thousands more to reach any of the aquatic attractions. Bear in mind points a-d.

We waited on line for no less than one hour to get on the lazy river ride. For those of you unfamiliar with water parks, this ride consists of people riding on an inner tube around a circular "river" with a current, going through tunnels and under waterfalls. Mellow and fun as hell. We didn't want to get off - we took three loops around before we decided to get off (we should have stayed on longer - it was super relaxing, and well worth the wait).

After this, we went to the locker so as to pry money out to get drinks (remember: 96 degrees). $3.50 for a bottle of water from a vending machine. I have never seen a drink machine that took Abe Lincolns. Regardless, that was easily the most refreshing water I have ever had, and I slugged it in about 3 minutes. Then, we ventured towards the wave pool.

Mistake. Once again, I was fairly sure we had journeyed into a Hong Kong subway station - thousands of people in and around the pool. When we first arrived at the pool, it was wall-to-wall people. Which I anticipated. What I did not anticipate, however, was the closure of said pool the second we got our feet in it (bonus points for Steve; he braved the whole park barefoot, as I neglected to buy him Aquasox - I'm sorry, honey!). Again, more waiting - about 15 minutes. Finally, after the guards gave the OK, all the people entered the pool, all Bulls-of-Pampalona style. We got as close to the wave-thingies as we could, and enjoyed floating in the eerily murky, probably full of pee water. Finally, the waves came on. Glee! Bliss! Wait... what's that? 2 minutes into the wave cycle, the waves turned off, and everyone was shooed out of the pool. Apparently the pool had "things" in it. Garbage or something. OF COURSE IT DOES! THERE ARE FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE IN THE RAT-BASTARD POOL. A chorus of boos occurred, and once again, Steve and I were out of the pool.

Finally, Steve suggested we take a ride on the Aqua-Racer slide, one where you ride on one of those smooshy blue foam pads and "race" others to the finish line. Of course, there was a line, but it moved comparatively quickly (20 minutes, I'd say), and the slide was definitely fun. We chatted with some friendly ladies while on line and ended up racing them (Steve won - I blame momentum, plus f=ma, and I lost - I blame a bad start). Finally, it was time to go home. I desperately wanted to get a nice birthday dinner in, so we hustled our way out, not even bothering to change in the park; I ended up changing in my car, which seemed to keep generating people in a 20 foot radius every time I was about to flash a naughty bit. Oh well.

Once out of the park, I got lost again, and that was about a 20 minute detour, but by the time we got on 476 again, it was totally smooth sailing. We were back in Philly by 8pm, with enough time to shower and change, and scoot off to dinner.

Dinner was INCREDIBLE. We went to a nearby southwest fusion place, Mission Grill, and both of us had very, very good food. We both had mojitos (I, a regular, and Steve, a watermelon - he didn't like his), then dined on the following:

1st course:

Fried Cod Tacos (split)

2nd course:

Caesar Salad (he)

Yellow tomato gazpacho with rock shrimp (me)

Main course:

Grilled porkchop with mystery accompaniment (he - Steve was quite fond of said mystery accompaniment - I checked - It was parsnips ^__^)

Escolar with beet carpaccio and corn/tomato salsa (me)


Banana-caramel crepe (he)

Chocolate pot-au-creme (me)

We left stuffed and content.

A good time was had by all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oh, about today.

I'm, um, 24 now.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

What a coincidence!

Listening to: Um...


This is one of the best discoveries I have come upon in a while. As it turns out, this discovery was already noted by like a million other people. But at least I know now.

Robbie Dupree's 1980 classic "Steal Away" is the exact same fucking song as the Doobie Brothers 1978 hit "What a Fool Believes".

Steal away indeed! McDonald and Loggins wrote a hell of awesome song - easily one of the smoothest and cleanest rock-lite songs ever, and Robbie Dupree straight up bastardized it.

And you know what? I actually don't hate him for it. If I was a singer, I'd probably want to rip off "What a Fool Believes", too. It's a great song, easily in my personal top 5.

You be the judges, folks.

Doobie Brothers - "What a Fool Believes"

Robbie Dupree - "Steal Away"

Monday, July 14, 2008


Listening to: Meet the Mets (1967 version)

Two straight shut-outs against the Rox. Pelfrey pitching amazing. NINE FUCKING WINS IN A ROW.

THESE are your 2008 New York Mets, ladies and gents. These is the team I have wanted since I saw Spring Training. Everyone's producing, and I officially like Mike Pelfrey. He has emerged from a horrible shadow of an early few starts (bad bad bad ones) and been stellar. 8 shutout innings. 3 double-plays.

YES! Only .5 game back from the Philthies!

My dad and sister are off to the Home Run derby tomorrow. Nobody to represent us there (Oh, how I wish I were there to see David Wright's outing a couple years ago... so dreamy... so awesome), but it's a super fun event that I always watch. This year, the power's to be found in the NL - and I'm thinking of ::biting bullet hard:: cheering for handsome Chet Utley. He's the only Philthie I like, so I suppose it makes sense.

But 2 of my boys are suiting up this year for the all-star game. Go NL!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sweet Success - And New York, too!

Listening to: Ben Folds Five - Jackson Cannery

This Kaplan thing is going well. I think I've finally sort-of got the hang of teaching "the Kaplan way", and I've found that I'm still pretty sharp with my math, in spite of not taking a class in... jeepers, 6 years? It's so weird to be teaching math. I've been doing nothing but English for a while now, and it's strange to think that I'm qualified for this sort of thing. Mom says I should try and get a math teaching job, since those are in high demand. I quickly reminded her that

a) If I wanted to teach public school, I would need a certificate - which would require taking, oh, 33 additional credit hours of college math. No thanks


b) If I wanted to teach private school, chances are, they'd be a million times more likely to take someone who has a background in, oh, let's say "math", not English. Or social studies, for that matter (undergrad in anthropology).

Maybe I could work in a city public school - but likely not, since that kind of stress would absolutely kill me.

Anyway, to the point: I am racking up crazy hours in prep and practice mode for this job, so far 12 hours of practice and 11 hours prep. That's a lot of money right there. It's nice to make an income again ^__^.

Oh, and I'm going to New York tomorrow night - Wall-E! Then on Saturday, a ballgame with Max Headroom & co. and Steve! Then, off to the fam's house for a brief visit, and back home on Sunday. Must leave out extra food bowl for qats.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Am I a wuss?

Listening to: Paul Simon - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

I think I'm weak, maybe.

I hate fights, and I get really, really uncomfortable when people start arguing back and forth, calling names, getting all into their strong personal opinions to the point where they might be completely seeing rage and nothing else.

It happened last semester, in my writing workshop. Two people, with whom I'm friendly, got into a massive shouting match over my head, about the content of a story. It was a stupid fight, and both were being completely disrespectful of the rest of the class; it was painfully obvious that everyone was getting uncomfortable with the situation - including the teacher. Unfortunately, said teacher, who I adore completely, kept his mouth shut and allowed the argument to continue.

My friend Carlos had to step out of the room mid-fight, but because the fighting was going on over me, I was completely paralyzed and froze in my chair. The shouting got louder and louder, and I kept sinking further into my seat. I began pulling my hood over my head, as though it were a kind of shield, but it didn't work. I started to cry right as we hit break-cool-down-time. I was embarrassed, but I think maybe I sent a message - fighting hurts everyone, even if they're not involved. Maybe I'm a wimp because I can't expose what strong feelings I have (particularly how I'm blase about politics), but I simply can't argue while ramming my head into a wall and telling someone repeatedly how wrong they are.

I think right now, I'm explaining the caption next to my picture, about how I'm the gray area. I just don't like telling people they're wrong and that I'm right. It took me a few years of mellowing and med-adjustment to reach this kind of Zen, but I do wonder if maybe a little part of me died.

Is it a bad thing to really dislike intense debate? Does it make me a weakling? I'm legitimately curious.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Listening to: Steely Dan - The Last Mall

I finished the paper. 20 minutes before it was due.

Go Julia!

Other thing:

My college buddy, James, was just in town for a visit. It was nice to see him - it had been nearly two years since I had seen him last, and it was a pleasure to catch up with him. In the day and a half he was here, we managed to have one delicious dinner at a local pub (he, a catfish BLT, I, a flank-steak salad) with great beers, a couple more beers, and a cheapie not-quite-brunch at a nearby restaurant; it was also good because I HAD SOMEONE WITH WHOM TO SEE FIREWORKS!

It was putrid last night - lots of rain and humidity, and a large number of thousands of people, all carrying large umbrellas and obstructing my view. Thankfully, I had the very tall James to hold an umbrella over my head. The fireworks were good, although not spectacular - I guess it's never as fun when there's driving rain involved.

The fam's gonna be in town today, so we can all go to the Mets-Philthies game tonight. I'm psyched, although the likelihood of rain/thunder isn't a pleasant prospect... oh well. I never blow off a good Mets game ^__6

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Procrastination 'R' Us, plus Benny F.

Listening to: Pete Yorn - Life on a Chain

Sooo... I have this research paper due for my education class. Due on Saturday, to be precise. I have had a very fleshed-out outline for this thing for about a week or so. Guess how much of the paper is written.

For anyone who said anything other than "0%", get off my blog. You don't know me. Creep.

So of course, the plan is to maybe tip-tap out about 50-75% of it tomorrow, and leave the rest for Saturday morning. It's not like I have any plans between now and then anyway. My 4th is going to be stupendously dull - I don't even have sparklers, and I have no people to go watch the fireworks with. I may just hoist my little foldy recliner over to the parkway for the fireworks and then stroll on home, but there are appx. 1 million people who may or may not be doing something similar. At least I don't have to drive. Or even walk very far, come to think of it. Hooray for awesome location.

The thing that bugs me about this year's 4th of July AMERICA SPECTACULAR PHILADELPHIA!!!! is that there is no Hall and Oates performance like there was last year. Even in the driving rain, one of my favorite New-Wave-Soul groups put on an incredible show (I watched on tv, not in the rain), complete with a sax player that was the spitting image of Ben Franklin. Steve and I both found this to be a hoot. Considering that Ben Franklin is on anything and everything in this city... I live near the Franklin Town apartments, the Franklintown park, near the "Big Ben on the Parkway" statue... yeesh. The man gets around.