Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Gratitude

For 75 days, I've been thankful. 

I was thankful for big things like my family and my friends.

I was thankful for abstract things like inspiration.

I was thankful for small things like fuzzy socks.

I was thankful for fun things like Kevin Bacon.

Most days, I listed three things.  Some days, I doubled up and listed six.

This week, Thanksgiving arrives on Thursday.  I've been thankful all up and through it.

My favorite Thanksgiving cookies -- get them from Southpaw Sweets -- Thanks S!
 Being thankful has been difficult. 

It has been challenging on the days when all I want to do is rant about stress and stupidity.  However, in listing those things for which I am grateful, I have found a way to spread the positivity rather than dive into the negative, the latter of which is much easier.

It has been most challenging on the days when I've felt like I've been hit by a car.  I was, in fact, hit by a car when I was driving my own car back in January, and now I have daily pain in my back.  It would have been so easy--75 days of aches and pains, new twinges, deeper spasms, a constant search for relief.  I would  have garnered commiseration of those in pain and probably sympathy from others, but that probably would have have sustained as the main reaction.  After 75 days of complaints, people probably would have unsubscribed to my FB feed because I was bringing on the misery.

Instead, I sat and searched until I found whatever I could label as a highlight in my life.  Some days, quite frankly, I felt like a fraud.  I mean, who needs to sit around and really think that hard about what to be thankful for?  In my defense, I was not repeating, so I could have said "my husband" every single day, but again, who wants to hear how much I'm grateful to have a great husband every single day?  Well, probably Eddie and our parents, but that's about it. 

So fraudulent or not, whether or not the moment of gratitude did its trick for the day in making me or anyone else feel more positive, I plowed on.

75 days is not such a long time, and I wondered how long I'd be doing it.  I mean, even thankfulness can get old: Ugh, there's that Christina Farone again, trying to be all grateful and shit on a daily basis--Unsubscribe!

Since Thanksgiving is here, I'm thinking it's a perfect time to roll up all that thankfulness and give it a final release into the universe.  I might post every now and then a moment of gratitude, but not as a regimented activity.  It'll be genuine, though now more than ever, I'm more aware of those moments when they hit.  I will not fall back into a world of negative comments, but I will share both sides of the coin--the heads of thanks and the tails of woe.  See that?  A pun.  I'm a poet.

Thanks for indulging. Hey, look at that!  Day 76: one final thanks to everyone who followed and commented.  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whodunit? Don't Ask Me

No sign is complete without Eddie's raccoon stick (look to the left)
The year is 1922.  At the height of prohibition in Chicago, a mob war was brewing between the South Side Gangsters and the Northern Mob Outfit.  The two factions are planning to meet up at The Grand Gatsby Speakeasy to discuss the future of underground casinos...but not everyone may make it out alive. So don't be a pikah.  Stay outta the clink, get all dolled up, and come out for a night that's sure to be the cat's meow.

And so began the great murder mystery dinner party that S had gifted to me at least five years ago.  After years in the making, my house transformed into a speakeasy owned by Hal Sapone aka Eddie, called The Grand Gatsby (no, not The Great Gatsby.  That's Fitzgerald's speakeasy).

What speakeasy is complete without a little decoration?

The premise of the night was that everyone would be assigned a character, everyone would received a name tag, some notepaper for crime solving, and instructions and hints for the night to interact with each other.  Each course of food (cocktails and apps, main course, and dessert) came with not only these clues but also games.  These games were to be graded, and so I found myself grading.  Even at parties, I'm grading.
Everything everyone needs to solve a mystery. 

Main course




More grading

Gatsby and casino
The house filled with chatter and laughing and shrieks (and smoke -- we aired that out quick) and then the lights flickered and someone wound up dead.  Then we all figured out which way was north and had to diagram the murder scene.  Actually, this did not happen.  At first, I didn't even know why everyone kept asking which way was north because I was so busy grading and fanning out the smoke, that I was behind in my game play, which is also why whenever anyone said any clues to me, I responded with an "Okay!" and then went back to them ten minutes later with the actual response I was supposed to give.  The papers for the accusations had a spot to diagram the crime scene, but no one really did that.  Everyone did guess, though, and then we had to reveal whatever our final round clues stated.

Turns out, I knew nothing.  There were some fun twists.  I found out the next day that there was some more murdering that was supposed to happen but someone doesn't read instructions (meaning Eddie) so the final murdery stuff didn't happen.  That was fine.  We'd had enough mystery for one night. Who won?  S and S! Who lost? Everyone else. 

Revelations from a right-hand man

Clearly innocent faces

Crime boss and some other guy's dame

The singer and the baseball player/jazz musician who are also great cooks

Our grandmother is so proud.

Mess with them

Again, makin our family proud

Some final findings
The next day, my house looked like a horde of strippers had rolled around in it.  Glitter, spangles, fringe, and sequins  were everywhere.  I kept up the signs until I'd scooped up the last of the sparkly stuff and then returned to modern-day everyday living.  Except for the sign outside on the house.  That stayed up for at least a week.  I'd cut out the letters freehand and was dang proud; plus, a speakeasy ain't such a bad idea.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Some Free Stuff From The Past Few Months

It's been slim pickins.  Hoping to boost the free stuff movement once more and soon.

Almost all my bday freebies, most of which I didn't get a chance to use.

And now I drink chocolate milk
Travel sized

Friday, November 7, 2014

Train At Radio City

Drunk Girl and Drunk Mom were the unexpected bonus of the evening when Eddie took me to see Train at Radio City Music Hall.  We settled into center stage seats towards the back of the hall and noticed that it was pretty empty during the opening act.  The duo, Alex & Sierra, folk-rocked out and then folked-out Britney Spears's "Toxic," which was amusing and inspiring.  The theater filled up as they played, and then the rest of the row arrived to Eddie's left.  Enter Drunk Girl.  She clutched a drink in each hand.  Behind her, Drunk Mom followed.  At first, I thought one drink was for the mom.  Then I saw that Drunk Mom had a drink of her own, but only one.  When Alex & Sierra finished their set, Dunk Girl and Drunk Mom disappeared and came back before Train came to the stage with more drinks.  Twice.

When the lights went down and the stage came up, Drunk Girl jumped up and hair danced.  What's a hair dance?  Well, it's when you dance with your head bobbing forward and to the sides because your neck is too drunk to hold your head up, and so your hair falls all over, making it seem that you do not have a face.  Along with the hair dance, she also had half a chicken dance going, and Eddie and I feared that his face might suffer with an elbow jab or two before the end of the night.  When the more well-known songs came about, Drunk Girl tried pulling Drunk Mom to her feet to hair dance and half a chicken dance along with her, but Drunk Mom kept saying, I can't stand.  Class act!

So if that was the bonus, you might imagine what the show was like.  It was like, well, hmm.  Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this show.  In a small venue like Radio City, it's as if the band sings to each individual, one word, one note for each person there.  Then to make it even better, Pat Monahan takes selfies one-handedly with other people's phones while running around in the audience and walking on chairs (security must love him), and then he signed shirts and threw them.  They don't need to do those things.  They do because it's enjoyable for the audience, but without them, the show is still all kinds of Uh. May. ZING.
What it looked like through the camera phone.

Lots of colors and music and magic and fun
And this is what they sounded like.  You may be familiar with this song.
They played some older stuff.  Love it.

Side note: I've been catching up on Patcast, which is the podcast by Pat Monahan.  I am really behind because I just figured out how to play podcasts through my car, and now that's all I listen to.  I've been following Train on Instagram, and I've always wanted to listen to the Patcast after I see photos of them.  Now I listen as I'm driving and I'm always wishing I were listening while doing nothing because they are so inspiring and funny that I want to write shit down and steal the words and make poetry, but I'm always driving and smiling and I must look like a maniac because whenever someone says something brilliant, I start to repeat it over and over so I'll remember it, but I never remember it because I get distracted by the rest of the podcast.  Nobody knows the trouble I've seen; nobody knows my sorrow--brought to you by English Professor Problems.

So okay, I've given you the bonus and the make it even better moments, but here's the best moment of the night.  Pat Monahan decides, hey, I'm gonna sing with no mic.  So he holds the mic down by his waist, takes a huge singer-sized breath, and starts to belt out the words: When it rains it pours and opens doors... and he sways side to side and his neck and head look like they're about to come off, not because he's doing the drunk hair dance like Drunk Girl next to us but because he's using every lick of energy to make the sound hit us in the back row.  And it did. And it was every bit of heaven on earth as cosmically possible.

Eddie was like, The mic is still picking up some of the sound.

I was like, Ruin this for me and I will cut you.

Eddie was like, No, no, it's great.

And he actually meant that because he does like Train, though it's quite possible we both like Gavin DeGraw a little more than Train by default since he's the act Eddie has seen in concert the most, and we were both a little bit let down that he was not on the bill. But back to Train and their being great--Eddie has some songs downloaded on his iPod, some of which he could have simply downloaded from me instead of buying them from iTunes but someone did not think to ask someone else if someone else already owned the songs. Hey, support the cause, right?  "Soul Sister" is actually kind of like our song.  I know, it's everyone's song, but really, it's ours.  Like, have you ever liked a song so much that you just can't listen to it sometimes?  That's that song.  Also, that Marry Me song is one we like, too, or actually, liked until I pointed out how it seems a bit stalkerish--I mean, he's singing to this girl to marry him but then asks, Will I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe?  That, to me, indicates that he's been staring at this girl forever and wants to marry her but he hasn't even said a word to her.  I have written a poem influenced by this song, but the song itself is not recognized in the poem because that's what poets do.  We steal.

Back to the concert.  There's Pat Monahan, shout-singing "When I Look To The Sky," and then the band kicks in louder and he uses the mic before he passes out and then well I. Just. Can't.  It's too good to be described.

To wrap it all up, they used "Dream On" as their bow.  Now I've heard lots of covers of "Dream On," and the only one that actually sounds like a good song is the version Train does.

A pretty spectacular birthday present.  Thanks, love.