Friday, July 30, 2010

Nanny's Chair Makeover

As you may remember a few months ago, I took a little field trip down to the Vaughn correctional center to drop off Nanny's chair for reupholstering. To replace the bristly berry red velvet, I decided to go with an ivory colored fabric. It's a pretty plain pattern of flowers that's all the same color but with a lovely texture. Here's a few after pictures. I wish there had been someone to take a few shots of me wrestling this thing into my house by myself, but the only witnesses to that hilarity are the couple who was taking a house tour of one of the properties across the street.

I have to say, as far as craftsmanship goes, these guys did a phenomenal job. The staining and refinishing work is flawless and they managed to save the gorgeous details on the claw feet of the chair that had been worn down with years of abuse from all of Betty and Babe's kids and grandkids climbing all over it.

The detail work was also pretty excellent. I assumed they would forgo adding studs back to the piece, but it's got a really nice effect against the ivory material. And they even managed to keep the piped backing which I was told is really a challenge.

It looks like it belongs in a formal living room or dining room somewhere. As of right now, it's in my bedroom, actively avoiding coffee stains that might befall it in my living room. Also, the chair has been under constant fire from Alex's discarded clothes. My new rant for the past few weeks has been "I didn't spend hundreds of dollars to make that chair look amazing so you can throw your crap all over it!" We'll see how long it takes me to win that battle.

So there you have it. Nanny's chair has been returned to its former grandeur. It has a special place in my home and will always remind me of my Nagle roots and hanging out at Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop's house for Sunday dinner with all the cousins. I'm glad that it's now relegated to a spot other than my parent's basement and that it's getting a fresh start. It really is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Unfortunate Signage

When it comes to humor, I sometimes have the sophistication of a 12-year-old boy who loves nothing more than a good, old fashioned fart joke. This is why when we saw these two establishments along Route 13 over the weekend, I of course erupted into a fit of giggles.

Okay, so I'm all for natural foods. I like organic (which after I read the name of the store, I accidentally read as "orgasmic"). I get the idea, that yes, you can get everything you need here and it's your last stop before you can go home and enjoy your fresh, delicious food.

But really? Third Base produce? The baseball metaphor automatically comes spilling into my head, and now I can't think of anything else. You know how KFC's logo is "finger-lickin good?" Well this produce is "finger-ban...". Nevermind. I'll keep it PG.

So not even 5 miles down the same road, we came across some really poor sign placement. So the Crown Motel is obviously a less than upstanding establishment (which there seem to be quite a few of on this favorite is the "Dutch Inn." Whenever we pass it Alex calls it the "Dutch OV-Inn." Classy.) Well anyway, we were stopped at a red light in front of one of Route 13's many shady establishments, and we saw this.

It appears to be a short list of services offered at the motel! Honestly, I thought that stuff this unfortunate only happened in Smyrna and the rest of slower lower, but apparently we can count on New Castle to throw in a few classics every now and then as well!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Only in Smyrna: Ghetto Fab Ice Cream Truck

So summer has rolled around and the kids are out of school, which of course means that the ice cream trucks are out in force.

I didn't believe him when he told me about it, but Jerry mentioned that someone in his Smyrna neighborhood had actually taken a traditional minivan, cut off the roof and added a piece to it so they could stand up inside, and created a makeshift ice cream truck. Classy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tonight's Meet and Greet Brought to You by Delmarva Power

So it turns out the best way to meet your neighbors is to have a power outage.

A few weeks ago, I came home after dance class with Mom and pushed the button to the garage door opener. When the garage didn't open, I pushed it about a million more times. Got out. Aimed it at the garage. Cursed. Gave up. Went inside. Realized the power was out.

So I called Delmarva Power, gave my number and address and reported the outage. Like every other company we are a customer of, they have us listed as Estelle Bordley, so I explained to the lady for the umpteenth time that Estelle has been dead since 2007 and we just happen to be the lucky ones who got her old phone number. After that, I went flashlight hunting in our basement since it was still light enough to get around. I came up with zero flashlights and one crappy bayberry scented candle.

After the hunt, I saw that Amy and Floyd were outside (which is sort of funny because I see them more than any of the other neighbors, but they don't actually live in their house yet. It's not finished, but they stop by to check in every few days). Stuck my head out and said hi. Ended up standing out there chatting. Scott from next door came over and we all stood in Kevin's driveway. Kevin came home and tried to open his garage, wondering what we were all doing in his driveway. He got out and did the aiming and cursing thing too. Frank from across the street stopped over. We met Amanda from across the way. Nancy came home and wandered by.

Kevin brought out beers, we all changed into comfy clothes, and sat around outside in lawn chairs. Eventually we ended up inside Kevin's (the only one with a grill) with the contents of everyone's fridge. And after that? A flashlight guided tour of each other's houses since we really had nothing better to do.

So, like I said before, power outage. Not a bad way to meet your neighbors! And I am excited to say that my neighbors managed to turn what would have been an annoying night of hanging out in the dark into a fun social event. I think this bodes well for the dynamic in our little neighborhood.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adoption Search Update

The past few weeks, I've felt a lot like Roberta from one of my favorite childhood movies, Now and Then. As I've been going through all of my research, I keep flashing back to this scene, where she happens across a newspaper clipping about the death of her mother when she was too young to remember. It's not exactly the same, but I imagine it's the same sort of grief and sense of loss that I've been tackling since two Fridays ago.

So for those of you who know me personally, you may know that I have been doing some searching in regards to my birth family. I don’t feel comfortable disclosing too much information here because it is a public blog, but I will tell you a bit about what I’ve found out. Feel free to comment or email if you want more of the story.

So I wrote back in February about sending away for my original birth certificate, and I did finally receive it in the mail. Catholic Social Services had said that most original birth certificates don’t offer a lot of new information, as most mothers don’t bother to name their infants. Well apparently I am one of the lucky few.
By the time the document actually made its way into my hands, I had given up hope that it was coming. The estimated time frame was three months, so after three and a half, I called the office of vital statistics to see if they had even received my form. When they told me that they had no record, and I should resubmit, I put it aside and forgot all about it.

Then, on a Friday morning two weeks ago, Steph handed me a stack of mail. I ripped into it not thinking, and was suddenly holding a birth certificate. Once it registered what I was holding, the emotions started flooding in.
My given name was Susan Linda. Along with my birth name (including last name, not posted for obvious reasons), my birth mother’s name and her address in November 1985 were both listed. I hadn’t meant to open this particular emotional bomb at work, but since I didn’t know it was still coming, here it was. Since we were in the middle of moving at the time I sent away for it, I had it sent to work so that it wouldn’t get lost in the mail. Since it was already opened, I shared the document with other folks at work, mostly because I was a little bit in shock. Eventually, once the gravity of what I had set in, all I wanted to do was go home and search for every piece of information I could find.

I left work halfway through the day, went home, and spent about 4 hours researching. It turns out that the family is from the area and that my birth mom lived nearby with her parents, a sister, and a brother. Both her sister and her brother have children, so I have cousins, and my birth mom herself got married after she gave me up for adoption. She has three children, so I have half siblings. As an only child, I think that is really pretty cool.

Unfortunately in my research, I also found out that my birth Mom passed away during my senior year of high school. It felt like a smack in the face to see her death record. All the hope of finding out more directly from her just died. And of course all the grief of losing my dad got caught up in the death of the possibility of meeting my birth mom, and I just cried. Even if I had gotten the records released the minute I turned 18, which is the earliest you’re able to legally, I would have missed being able to meet her by mere months.

That night, I took all of my findings over to my Mom’s. I told her what I had found, and when I told her that my birth mom had died, she gave me a great big hug and cried along with me. There are no words for how wonderful my Mom is. Not only is she supportive, but she actually was willing to drive out to our family’s safety deposit box with me at 10pm on a Friday night to get all of my infant records to see if they held any clues. We pored over the pages at the kitchen table and looked up medical terms in her old nursing books.

I found quite a bit, and I haven’t given up hope about finding out more. I would love to be able to know more about my birth mom through her family. I was already able to track down a senior year book from her high school, so I have a picture of her at 18, but of course I would love to have more photos, stories, anything really. I would love to know what she was like. Am I like her? Did she have similar interests? Do I have any of her mannerisms? Why was I given up? Who is my father?

I’m hoping to be able to contact members of her family, but I have to be prepared that they may not want to speak with me (or even know about my existence). I’m not quite ready to do that right now, but I know that it is something I want to do in the future.

As for my birth father, I have no records on him. Unless someone from my birth mother’s family is able to give me more information, or new information surfaces, I may not be able to find out who he is. I am considering contacting the social worker who was in charge of my case and asking what my rights are and if I am able to get any more information.

But for now, what I have is enough.

Friday, July 9, 2010

That Night that Turned into the Bar Scene From Swingers

Have you ever seen the movie Swingers? Came out in 1996? Vince Vaughn was still really skinny? And then Heather Graham shows up in the last 20 minutes and you always forget she's in it until that scene in the swing dance bar? Well, I ended up in that particular Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy swing dance scene during a recent trip to New York. Or at least it felt that way.

Let me back up a little.

So Chrissy, my fabulous friend, has made her home in New York and is living the dream. She’s completely courageous, pursuing a love of acting and holding down pretty much every other job in the book in the meantime. This girl has no money, lives paycheck to paycheck, and folks…I’m pretty sure she’s having the time of her life. Well, Miss Chrissy was recently in a show, and I’ve been meaning to get up to see her anyway, so what better excuse?

Billy was in town and leaving for home from La Guardia, so his dad dropped him off at my house (twenty minutes early while I was still in the shower). After a slow start (read: Bill’s dad detaining us with home improvement stories for an hour and a half), we got out the door, grabbed Kirsten, grabbed coffee, and headed up the NJTP. Let me tell you, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to get an EZPass in all the years that I was trekking up to Westfield every weekend. It seriously saved 20 minutes on this trip. Left from Metropark and the weather was beautiful.

Got into New York Penn in the early afternoon and tried to figure out what next. Bill had a ton of stuff since he was leaving for home, so we needed to find a place to drop the suitcases. So, it was either go to The Producers Club on 44rd and 8th, grab a key from Chrissy, and trek all the way up to her apartment in Washington Heights (read 100+ blocks), or grab a hotel room in Midtown figuring we could just hang around the bars in that area after the show. Well, we got about ten blocks and the suitcase was annoying, so the Edison Hotel worked out just fine. Midtown is expensive. Luckily there were four of us, so it was less awful.

Dropped Bill’s suitcase and headed to Scarlatto, my favorite Midtown restaurant (47th and 7th if you’re ever in town…it’s awesome). Chrissy ended up meeting us there and having a little lunch. We all headed back to the hotel room for a few to cool down and then made an impromptu trip down to Canal Street. It didn’t work out well because there wasn’t anyone selling anything good, and Chrissy had to get back. My last Canal Street adventure with Jenna was much more exciting, but that’s another story for another time. We raced back up to Midtown, Chrissy headed to her call time, we headed back to the hotel and changed, and then headed over to
The Producers Club.

Now, buying tickets at this establishment is a bit of a shady ordeal. Our directions were look for the long haired man with glasses and tell him you have tickets reserved under Chrissy Sheehan. Eventually we bought tickets in what felt like a drug deal type scenario and headed into a tiny, bare bones theatre reminiscent of the bar slash theatres we frequented in London. Fond memories.

Sitting and waiting for the show to start, listening to the Frank Sinatra music they were playing, I couldn’t help but feel all proud of Chrissy Sheehan (listed in the program bio as “a daughter of Delaware” which she swears she didn’t write).

The show itself was a little scattered, but in all honesty, I can say she was the best thing about it. It was fun to see her in her element again, since I haven’t seen her act since high school. She’s most certainly come a long way.

After the play we celebrated with drinks. And then more drinks. And reminiscing about high school and contending with the fact that we’ve all known each other over a decade now.

Billy finished his appletini and got talking to another guy at the Producers Club since we were being all girly and sentimental. Eventually new friend Matt joined in the conversation. We finished up at the bar there and were getting ready to go eat, and since Matt had just joined the conversation, we invited him to come with us.

We headed over to a diner on 8th Ave and got a variety of greasy diner food. I felt like I was in Jersey all over again on one of my many college weekend with Pick an Exit.

At the diner, Billy and I may or may not have used the power of internet on our phones to stalk Matt on Facebook as he chatted up the gentleman who sold us our tickets across the way in an adjacent booth.

After being sufficiently loud and obnoxious at the diner, Matt suggested that we head over to a swing bar he knows because he’s a swing dance instructor. Uh sure, that sounds awesome!

So we head over to Swing 46. And now that I’ve meandered back to the point of this post, let me tell you how awesome this place was. It was the sort of place where a fedora is completely acceptable and ordering a dirty martini is simply imperative. After seeing a play based on Frank Sinatra, it just seemed fitting.

There was a live band and we came in just as they were about to start their last set. Matt lined up Kir, Chrissy, and I across from him and put Billy next to him to give us a quick lesson. After clearing up what “mirror image” meant a few times, we finally got the hang of it and were on our way. Kirsten and Chrissy were swept off by a very talented, sweaty Dominican man and before you know it there were twirling all over the place. Whether they knew what they were doing or not, it looked pretty good. Billy was sort of hopeless but he gave it the old college try, which was commendable. After teaching Chrissy a bit more, Matt got me out there and it was a BLAST! I really want to take lessons now.

Eventually Kirsten and Billy ended up heading back because they were beat. Matt, Chrissy, and I ended up sitting at the bar at Swing 46 for a while and chatting. While I sipped my martini, Matt showed us how light beer can be made better by adding salt. Who knew? Similarly, we learned that “cholula” is an acceptable substitute for “ex-person you used to pseudo date but weren’t really boyfriend girlfriend with.” I thought it sounded like “Cthulhu,” but that’s just me, I guess. There was also a part of the conversation where a D20 was pulled from my purse, but its all a bit hazy now.

Shortly afterwards, we ended up calling it a night and heading back to the hotel to turn in since the morning was coming early. All in all, not a bad visit. A show, a new friend who swing dances, and catching up on old times. Can’t ask for much more from a night in the city.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good book? Check. Glass of wine? Check. Bubble bath. Check? Perfect.

So I got a hold of a few bottles of my bubble bath. Okay, more than a few. Like 10. Also know as the entire remaining stock of the stuff from the London Bathecary in Virginia. Alex was actually the one that found this place. Turns out he does read my blog posts from time to time, despite the fact that he vehemently denies it. True love? I think so.

But anyway, he sent me the link and I emailed to find out if they actually had any stock.
When I didn’t hear back for a week, I gave a call down to Virginny and spoke with a lovely lady that let me know that they had ten bottles in stock — and that she’s pretty sure no one at the store actually knows how to check the info email address on the site, so it’s good that I called. I took them all and had them shipped to my house.

Now, this was my first mistake. In the excitement of actually finding the bubble bath, I managed to forget that anything mailed to our house via UPS or Fedex ends up in a black hole. For example, Will and Anne sent Alex his Fantasy Football trophy the week we moved in and checked to see if we got it once a week for a month. Eventually we got a UPS postcard saying that they couldn’t find our house. This in and of itself cracks me up, because if the postal service can find us to deliver the postcard, why can’t UPS? Well anyway, the trophy ended up back in Vegas about two months later because we weren’t able to locate it in the vortex of UPS mail hell before it was returned.

So of course on Monday, two days after I was supposed to have received my package, I got the postcard. It instructed me to call a phone number to either resend the package from it’s holding location with directions or send to another address. So I pulled out my cell and got ready to dial until I realized that the postcard looked like this.

Good thing that number’s readable. Called Alex to get the number since he’s had quite a few packages lost in the shuffle, so I figured he’d probably still have a postcard. He did. I called.

A guy at a desk in the Newark holding facility answered and asked for explicit directions to the house. So I asked him if I could just start with Route 1 South. He said he’s not familiar with this road. I ask if he’s in Delaware. Yes he is. For those of you who aren’t local, Delaware is tiny. There are basically two major North-South roads in New Castle County — I-95 and Route 1. To not know what Route 1 is is actually sort of mind-boggling. Mind you, it was built in the early 90s, so maybe it is sort of a “new” road. But 20 years is a long time to get familiar with a major roadway. So I try to explain, saying “the road that goes past the mall?” Nope. “The road you take to get to the Delaware beaches? Goes over the big yellow bridge?” “Oh, you mean Route 13?” Urgh.

At this point I just ask him to write down the directions as I say them and let the driver worry about it. Obviously this guy is living in 1991 or isn’t originally from the area.
The good news is, it took them a solid week, but my package did manage to make it to my house. I squeed like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac when the email came through from UPS.
I actually got a little teary when I opened the box and saw the bottles nestled inside. I took them out and now they’re all lined up in neat little OCD rows under the guest bathroom sink.

So since then, I’ve been back to my usual rationing of capfuls of bubble bath. I’ve read at least four books since they’re arrival and if Alex can’t find me in the house, he’s gotten better at guessing where I’ve disappeared to.

Good book? Check. Glass of wine? Check. Bubble bath. Check? Perfect.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Evening With Sir Paul

First let me tell you that I was not a normal teenager. While everyone else our age was rocking out to the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, Katie Kerr and I were playing Beatles 45s and watching Yellow Submarine. There was even an instance where we created water color renditions of what we thought Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds might look like. Of course, being 12, we had no concept of what LSD was at the time, but the pictures are appropriately trippy.

And at the center of our Beatles obsession, was of course, Sir Paul. I remember back when I still had dial-up and WebTV was all the rage, Katie and I would sit in front of the ancient TV we inherited from my grandmother and search for Paul McCartney lore using that magical little box and it’s accompanying wireless (aka magic) keyboard. We had the whole “Paul is Dead” conspiracy memorized and had philosophical conversations as we waited for the little bright green progress bar to creep to 100% on the next crappy GeoCities page covered in low resolution gifs and busy, ever-moving backgrounds.

In high school, we’d listen to the CDs driving around in my little aqua blue Tercel with my bowling ball having escaped its case and rolling around in the trunk. I remember getting my first precursor to the iPod, whatever Dell’s version was, and adding Abbey Road and Rubber Soul along with all of my Jimmy Eat World and Rooney.

In college, my floor bonded over a mutual love of the Beatles. The marching band played the Beatles and even adopted “In My Life” as the official postgame song, singing along to our own music. And at my wedding? At my wedding, I will be walking down the aisle to a Beatles song.

My life started out with an early love of the Beatles stemming from my mom’s own fondness for the mop tops that showed up in the states when she was just 14. So in light of the fact that Mom and I are both huge fans, it seemed pretty much imperative that we got a chance to see Paul when he came to Philly this time around. I mean, how many times in your life do you get a chance to see a real live Beatle? And since Paul has already surpassed the “When I’m 64” that they sang about back in their early years when 64 seemed ancient, I feel more than ever that I’d better get a move on to see him or I might miss my chance.

Of course the concert is only one night. And of course, everyone else in the tristate area is thinking along the same lines as me, so each time I call into the radio station to try to get the pre-sale tickets they’re offering, I don’t even get a busy signal because the lines are so jammed. After a solid week of celebrating Sir Paul’s birthday with my phone alarm set to each time WMMR, WJBR, WOGL, and KISS are giving away tickets and calling and hitting redial a million times with each try, I found myself the day before the sale day with no tickets. Not surprising, but a little discouraging that I hadn’t even come close.

After realizing how crazy the demand is on these tickets, I opted to try to find a way to get them early. American Express has pre-sale specials, right? Whelp, Mrs. U gave me the info I needed to get into the presale site, but if you wanted ‘em you, you were paying $400 per ticket for them. Yikes! So that plan didn’t work out so well.

Sale day rolls around and it’s 5 minutes to go time. I’m at my desk, with ten Comcast Tix windows open to start crazily requesting tickets as soon as the box office starts selling. I also have my cell phone clutched in my hand with the box office number programmed in. I announce to my coworkers that I’m on break, and it’s on.

I’m calling over and over again using my left hand. I’m clicking and typing in captchas with my right. I’m getting nowhere. Server time outs. No ring or busy signal because the line is so jammed. I was afraid of this. And then they close the sale. Fuck.

Alright, over to Stubhub. Tickets starting at $150. Fine. That’s about face value. Grabbed two in an okay section and bought em. Woo hoo!!! I’m going!!!

Except that then I got the email that says I’m not. What the eff does that even mean?!

Urgh. So I’m a little broken hearted at this point. I sat at my computer and went back to the Wachovia site one more time just because I wanted to stare at the “sold out” notice and wallow in self pity. I happened to be scrolling with my mouse wheel and saw at the very bottom of the page, very small, Sunday August 15. Huh? The concert was Saturday the 14th. What is this? A second show? A SECOND SHOW!

So, needless to say I was all over it. Two seats, section 106. If the Wachovia Center is the world’s largest dinner table, I will be at the opposite head of the table across from Sir Paul screaming like a lunatic fangirl for a 68 year old Beatle next to my equally excited Mom. It’s
going to be phenomenal…

According to Elizabeth (my cubicle mate), Sir Paul was so excited that I was coming to the concert that he stopped by work to say hi. Apparently I missed him by mere moments, but he left a note. Interesting that he decided to leave a photo of his 22 year old self and that his handwriting and signature don't match. And for that matter, his signature is taped on... now that's a little suspicious ;-)